The more or less ‘friendly’ discordance between cantons is nothing new for people living in Switzerland. Earlier this week I received the Retail Market Report 2012 from the Location Group stating that, according to their latest study, retail locations in Zürich recently reached a staggering SFr. 12 500 per square meter. The Economist reported on this fact mentioning that Zürich has now become the most expensive city in the world, pushing Tokyo from its former position at top of the list.
A well-known Basler columnist took this information as stuff for a wonderfully witty essay which almost reads as if it were a ‘Letter to Zürich’ written from a little brother. A little brother however, who has outgrown or rather never saw the need to show-off or scream about its own worth. Basel is seldom mentioned in such ratings and more often than not, passes as invisible but this doesn’t seem to bother the Basler at all or in any way shake their self-esteem. There is a wonderful word that comes to mind. On Isola Bella it’s omnipresent, everywhere you look – on the gigantic lemon- and orange-tree flower pots, on the coat of arms, on the stone pathing, in the woven wall tapestries there it is – the symbol of three intersecting rings and above it written, carved in stone or woven in coloured threads – the word, Humilitas.
Humilitas, the Latin root of our modernday word humility, meaning not only the idea of being humble but also connotating the concept of an intrinsic sense of self-worth. To be ‘grounded’ or ‘of the earth’ are other possible interpretations because of the word’s connection to the word, ‘humus’ (earth).
As for Basel, speaking to a fashion designer recently about the city and its self-confident and undeniable presence in Miami, the plee for independant coverage in journalism (BAZ) etc. I concluded, ‘For me, it feels like Basel still belongs to the Basler’.
I like that!
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