Connecting to Nature - An Austrian Perspective

Connecting to Nature - An Austrian Perspective


Bertram Meusburger
Office for Future Questions
State of Vorarlberg, Austria

In my childhood nature meant playing in the fields and woods for hours and hours and forgetting myself (and my mother) while discovering how to find little animals or building tree houses. Playing in that period meant nature was a great teacher, more a master in showing you what you are able to do and what is asked from you. Wilderness can sometimes be pretty scary when  - sleeping outside on a mountain – fingers get cold, noises turn out to be disturbingly loud in the silence of the night and demons wake up in your head and open your spirit to mystery of nature and life itself.

From being in nature, it became working in nature. Having a big family of farmers where we were together many summers throughout my youth opened up the dimension that nature forces you to know more about it´s circles, its unpredictability.  Sometimes it meant even getting your adversaries when it was necessary, to get dry hay into the barn before the thick dark clouds sent down the heavy rain. Only the collaboration of all the muscles and good minds brought us to an exertion of force or surrender to what cannot be changed. With more mechanization every year the experience as a whole did not improve.

Becoming a biology teacher and sustainability coordinator I learned that nature is not just a playground, a mystery, a working place or a teacher. Nature became a partner for my personal development and the leading path for the human potential that is to be discovered every day. Only in seeing things as a gestalt does it allow the understanding that some things cannot be changed, but having the courage to do what has to be done and the wisdom to see the difference is an essential outcome of my experiences with nature. 

Bio: Bertram Meusburger worked for ten years as an AHS teacher of biology and physics, before joining the office for future affairs in 1998 as a supervisor of school projects. In the meantime, he is responsible for the area of ​​"Sustainable Community and Regional Development" at the office for future affairs and is deputy head of the office for future affairs. 

He is a friend who has helped many of us understand "true" sustainability in the context of helping small, mountain communities to continue, to value their rich history, and to promote those gifts each community has to help them stay viable. 



One of the most difficult things is to think in your native tongue and try to express yourself in another language. As my music teacher used to tell me when I played the piano, expressing feeling in music when you play is hard to learn. Bertram wrote this piece above in English. He speaks great English...and you can see he has a passion for what he does and how nature has impacted him. I asked him to share his feelings and I could feel them jump off of the page. I am proud of him for being willing to share with us and know he wrote this not in his mother language, but in ours.