Giving up the outdated solutions of yesterday for a smarter tomorrow

Solar power is so much smarter

Factory chimney with smoke blocking the sun of tomorrow illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt
Today we can either create the technology for tomorrow, or the limitations for it.

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Solar power and solar technology is now both cheaper, more advanced and easier to install and use to store energy than the old, extremely polluting and cumbersome coal and oil energy sources. With good reason a lot of countries are speeding up to switch to solar, but also wind and other alternative sources.  Some countries are unfortunately going in the other direction…

The tragedy is that this scared run for yesterday, risk to destroy the future for everybody, to favor a few, that are too conservative to make the necessary changes. Fortunately it look like in most of the world, new solar harvesting structures are being build on a scale never seen before, energy structures that can soon support and nurture both new technologies, locals, food and thrive

Hikers and hiking is here on pushing the edge, new solar technologies, ultra-light and effective panels, batteries and less power hungry flashlights, phones and other technologies are tested to their most extreme by hikers on the trails, and what works for hiking – will very likely work everywhere… to the benefit of everybody

The flawed logic of the longest straw

When short term solutions destroy the long term benefits

Drawing and text by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Drawing of a truck with a very long straw stopping by a small well
The flawed logic of the longest straw

Today there is often a huge short term profit connected with clear cutting and ripping the landscapes of any low hanging profits, while the consequences for the biodiversity and locals not even enter into the considerations or spreadsheets of the decision takers 

It’s all about having the longest straw, being able to pull fish from the ocean, water from the rivers and minerals from the mines faster and earlier than anybody else, to gain the upper profit hand.

The problem is that this strategy more often than not destroy the balance and long term sustainability of the resource in question… and when the ocean, forest, mines, river or glass is empty, not even the longest straw can re-create what have been lost for all…

A day with Leatherback sea turtle watercolors

Painting turtles in watercolor

Text and watercolors by Frits Ahlefeldt

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Endangered Sea turtles, Leatherbacks are endangered, I spent today doing sketches of these amazing animals

Viking house inspiration sketch for shelter

Traditional natural architecture watercolor

House watercolor by Frits Ahlefeldt

Back in time buildings was made with local materials and fitted into the landscapes like the most natural thing. This viking house is one of my inspiration watercolor sketches for taking architecture closer to nature

drawing of a small hut with grass roof
Viking house traditional architecture

Coastal paths, research watercolors of animals

Sketching up birds, mammals and fish from along the coastal trails

Text and watercolors by Frits Ahlefeldt,
Here are the bird, fish and mammal watercolors from the last few days:

(Alternative: Click on one of the watercolors to see them all as slides instead )

Sketching grey seals in watercolor

Study of wildlife along the coastal trails

Text and watercolors by Frits Ahlefeldt.

The Grey Seal is a huge sea predator, living along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, the Baltic Sea and other places. The grey seal can reach up to 3.3 m. in length and weight over 300 Kg. (same as four men)

watercolour of Gray Seal
Grey Seal basking on rock (watercolor sketch)
Watercolor of Gray Seal
Grey Seal watercolor study
Watercolor of Gray Seal
Grey Seal watercolor sketch

From car park to National park. A storytelling idea

Making wild nature and hiking trails visible in urban reality through placing scale models

By Frits Ahlefeldt,

Could we “park”  models of national and local nature parks, in parking lots, to help people connect to them?


drawing of a car sized nature model in a car lot
Idea for an art-project: placing scale models of close by national parks in car lots

 Today most city and urban people see a lot of car parks and very few national parks… so I wondered: Could we move small scale models of the national and wildlife parks right into the car parks, to show people a different place to go to, tell stories about and to relate to?

The idea is simply to make car sized scale models of the national parks and place them in parking lots, mall centers, city squares etc. So when people went shopping or went to work in the city they would pass by these 3D models of very different natural worlds and be able to see how they can be hiked and enjoyed… and then they would start to talk about and to relate, first to the models and then to the real thing…

A lot of scale models of cities, historical quarters etc. all-ready exist. But as we today live in cities and need to strengthen our understanding of nature and the landscapes, the idea is to take this tradition of building small models of worlds, and extend it to models of national parks, placed in an urban context to make nature visible even in the middle of towns.

In mountain areas you can often find such models of the mountains with trails shown.  Hikers and locals use them both to understand the landscapes better, to see where they have been and to remember, to tell stories, give advice and connect their experiences to the different locations.

What could be great to do is to take these nature scale models and place them in the cities, so people can see how close and connected we often are to nature and the trails just outside town.

The models could be made of wood, bronze or other material and maybe even have the different places, villages and scenic points drawn up and secured by a clear coating. People would be able to explore them, meet around them and they would stand out both as sculptures and as a new kind of map connecting us better to nature outside the cities and malls.

For a second or a minute people could stop in front of the model and daydream / plan following very different, rough mountain and coastal trails in real life…  Or when they came back from the hike, they could go over to the model to remember and recall the experiences, maybe together with friends or family that have yet to see these places, to tell the stories and help them head out themselves.

The idea is to find new ways  to spark and tell stories of how we can connect and relate to nature, the trails and landscapes, even from inside cities.

Frog watercolor sketches

Watching frogs can be part of a great hiking experience

Text and watercolors by Frits Ahlefeldt

Civilization hangover

Time for change?

drawing of the press, politician, business and science sitting at a bar wondering what went wrong

Civilization hangover…

This morning, looking at the news,  I feel like sitting in a bar at five in the morning with a bunch of regulars, wondering over the last round of drinks about what went wrong…

Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

How come global warming, deforestation, war and greed get to take over more and more places, while poverty stretches its arms and most of the 1% of the richest people cruise seas out of reach?

Believe its time to close the bar, and get everybody outdoors to start walking…

Chatting with trees

Walking in forests

Drawing By Frits Ahlefeldt

Drawing of hikers between huge trees
Chatting with trees

Forest trails are very different from highland, mountain and coastal trails, just to name a few. When you are surrounded by trees, the wind is gone and often life is all around you. But more, few realize that the activity continues both far over your head and under your feet, as new research has shown that trees can communicate with each other in several ways both through the tree tops and through their roots. It can feel like the trees are silently chatting away with each other and even with you… 

Free CreativeCommons Drawing


Eco water pump

Designing with inspiration from nature

CreativeCommons Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Drawing of a tree with a water tap
Trees as design inspiration

Hiking seen with focus on design is about simplicity and about understanding how brilliant nature really is.

Inspiration from walking in nature can be used in design, architecture and a lot of other areas of innovation and creativity…

Take trees as an example, they are genius, self-sustainable, adaptable, solar powered water pumps, that grows out of a tiny seed, in ways that has been continuously refined for hundred of millions of years…

CreativeCommons drawing, free to download and use 🙂


Hiking trails in green cities

Thinking inside the Box for a Change

Designing sustainable urban environment has long been a challenge, but by making walking the starting point of the design of new architecture and re-designs in the huge cities, we can start thinking up very different and much greener cities… simply by starting with the connections instead of the buildings

CreativeCommons drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Drawing of a nature architecture cityscape, with design from boxes
Green hiking city – thinking inside the box, for a change

Hiking trails or roads?

Walking vs driving drawing

CreativeCommons drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Sometimes it is as simple as what you do is what you get, so if this is the view from the driver seat of your car and you don’t like it, be part of the solution, instead of the problem… get out and walk instead 🙂 

Make a change, start walking instead. CreativeCommons By-ND Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt
Make a change, start walking instead. CreativeCommons By-ND Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt


Scientific glass jar vs relational nature conservation

Re-connecting people to nature through hiking

Text and CreativeCommons drawings by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Drawing of nature in a closed and open jar
Scientific closed conservation vs open relational conservation

For a very long time it has been good scientific logic and practice to try as hard as possible to separate people from the nature reserves to better protect the last standing patches of nature on the planet. But new trends in nature conservation put this logic on its head. Today more and more people express the understanding that we have to relate to and care for nature to understand and protect it… from us. And hiking happens to be one of the best and oldest ways to do exactly that. 

Learning from indigenous people

To really understand and to appreciate the environment, nature and the incredible biodiversity on this planet  you have to take care and part in it. Indigenous people have put this logic forward for many, many years. But most scientists have been more than skeptical, for how can you save the last snow leopards, jungles, biodiversity and genes of all the more and more endangered species, if you don’t protect them from the hungry, marginalized and often very poor people, wandering around on foot, along the edges of the nature preserves looking for food, income, clothing and firewood?

To protect them, nature preserves and parks has been fenced of for more than a century now, but today it seems that paradoxically, those marginalized locals walking around at the edges might be the only ones that can successfully protect the preserves – But only if they care for them.

And they care, if they gets to be a natural part of them again so they can re-establish a long-term sustainable two way relationship to the preserves. If this happens, then the chances are much better that locals will be proud to once again be the guardians and caretakers of their forests, mountains, rivers and lakes.

The challenge of keeping a relationship to nature in the cities

People living in modern cities, at least as these cities have been designed up till now, lose their ties and understanding of nature, as they move away from the trees and animals and stop relating to the environment around them, instead tuning their lives to the screens, entertainment and complex shopping and logistic of the urban reality.

But things are changing, new green designs, urban gardening and farming are sweeping through and transforming cities beyond recognition. making them much greener and better to live in… simply by making it possible for people to relate and re-connect to nature again, even in the center of the big cities.  This trend has gained speed for many years now and has finally reached within the thick walls of the scientific, closed conservative departments of biology and nature conservation.

Glass jar Conservation

The scientific tradition dictate that to study and understand something in nature, you shall try your very best not to disturb or interfere with the ongoing natural flow of processes. But instead observe these processes from a safe distance, or by advanced remote transmitters, sensors and cameras, if possible.

Drawing of nature inside a glass jar
Nature conservation drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt, CreativeCommons BY-ND license

For new scientific knowledge about nature to be exact, it has up-till now been considered very important that the scientists carefully, over as long time as possible, measure and count any subtle changes taking place out in these “biotopes”.  For this model to work, and for the scientists to make their observations plausible ( so the results can be published in the right, peer reviewed journals and new researched sponsored), nature needs to be protected like a delicate untouched flower behind walls, fences and “no trespassing” signs.

But the problem is that the challenges and the threats that are changing this planet at a global scale at the moment, make any undisturbed scientific observation an illusion. Nature is simply collapsing all over Earth, even in the most protected areas, in front of the carefully, not interfering, but observing scientists. The global changes Earth face, from pollution, to climate change, to ozone holes… etc. does not respect the closed borders of the nature preserves.  And even the most conservative scientists are now giving up on the chances of observing nature as if it is kept in huge undisturbed glass jars.

Conservation through relating to nature

Drawing of a tipped over glass with nature, setting nature free
Relational Conservation Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt, CreativeCommons license By-ND


If we can’t protect nature by removing us from it, then what?  The best chance is that a very different logic might work… the logic of relating, of caring, of taking part of and becoming guardians of the planet on a global scale. It is a much more humble – and at the same time more ambitious strategy. Where humans will need to see their role as facilitating thrive in all natural systems, setting nature free and remove the separation to become part of it again.

Hiking as relating

If we start to take on a very different role and build a different relationship to the planet. It could be that we realized that there is a trillion more ways to relate to a planet, than there are short sighted ways to exploit it.

Just one of this trillion relational ways are hiking. It is one of many, but one than can be practiced all over the planet, by everybody, as it used to be.

The front drawing, by Frits Ahlefeldt for download:

Drawing of nature in a closed and open jar
Scientific closed conservation vs open relational conservation, CreativeCommons license by-ND

Crossing a river of cars

Connecting hiking trails across roads

Text and Creativecommons drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Check out this duck mother taking her chance with her small ducklings:

Luckily they all made it across, but it gives a good impression of just how difficult crossing roads is for wildlife.

Hiking between green villages

Building green communities by walking

drawing of a green village in letters
Green village with hikers illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt, CreativeCommons license

Text and CreativeCommons drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Walking can build up local, sustainable communities by connecting them along foot trails as a linked network of green villages. Something that benefits both the environment, locals and visitors (and  tourism)

Whenever and wherever we build trails we strengthen local communities and relationships. People start to know each other and appreciate the places they live and visit more when they can get around on foot, meeting, and experiencing  their local villages in new ways.

At the same time people will use their cars less often, prefer to shop more locally and start buying more from the farmers they now know building new relationships through the new trend that is known as “relational eating”.  In this way building a network of foot trails can strengthen villages, turn them more green, less polluting and much nicer to live in and visit.

This is something that not only strengthen the villages but also the surrounding landscapes as people starts to relate to the landscapes, visiting and walking between local villages.

In most places this is easy, as many of the old trails often still exists, from time before the cars took over. So one of the best ways to build better local communities  is to (re-) connect the local farmers, plazas and marked squares along trails between the villages, connecting them in a sustainable network of  thrive, made simply by walking.