Spending your vacation next to thousands of other vacationers was a daunting idea even before the Corona virus outbreak. Together with an inner human need to get back to nature, travel behavior is slowly but surely changing. aware_ met Julian Trautwein for an interview – he is co-founder of Raus, a Berlin-based start-up that meets all growing demands for sustainable travel with its cabins around Brandenburg.
Something that almost everyone re-integrated into their daily lives during the Corona pandemic was going for a walk. While the news and case numbers were rolling in, getting out into nature was a brief escape, the logical consequence to the isolation within the never changing four walls. Out into the fresh air, to the city park or the nearest forest. This impulse shows how important nature is for us: This is where we look for recreation and to come to rest. Nevertheless, nature is often suppressed when it comes to human needs, is trampled to create building space and pushed aside when it is convenient.
“To understand the value of nature for our well-being and its role in the fight against climate change, you have to find your way back to it,” says Julian Trautwein, “and to do so you have to get to know it better.” Together with his school friends Johann Ahlers and Christoph Eilers, he is co-founder of the Berlin-based company Raus, which offers cabins in Brandenburg as nearby vacation accommodation. Although all three founders enjoy city life, they realized once the pandemic hit that a balance to their busy, stressful daily lives was needed, and only a place in pure nature would do.
“We were looking for a destination that is easily accessible, a place where you can switch off, recharge your batteries and decide entirely for yourself what to do with your time,” says Trautwein. It was to be an alternative to camping, which is often uncomfortable, and to arguing with 40 other hotel guests at the buffet. “Raus offers the necessary technology and logistical concept to make your stay in nature as comfortable and seamless as possible. The rest comes naturally,” Trautwein said. “We develop the back end, and nature is the front end, doing most of it itself.” Nature, seamlessly accessible, is the key. Watching the tops of fir trees or sleeping in the middle of a wild fruit tree meadow, you immediately feel as relaxed and peaceful as you do on your general vacation, without even having crossed the national border.
And that is becoming an increasingly important factor when it comes to travel, especially among Generation Z, which Trautwein says takes the concept of sustainability for granted, not as an option. “Consumer trends are changing tremendously right now, accommodation should be closer to home, and guests are prioritizing socially distanced, contactless options – mass tourism as we know it will fundamentally change.” Instead, he says, getting away is no longer just about a roof over our heads: “Vacation is a form of self-care, we want a positive impact on our mental health from our stay.” Mindfulness and sustainability are some of the values Raus ties into their concept.
“We do not necessarily see Raus as an educational business mode, but a long-lasting, sustainable approach to nature is fundamental, the basic principle for everything else, and we offer that.” To that end, the whole concept is designed to be nature friendly. “Our cabins are as minimally invasive as possible. Because they are on wheels, the ground underneath is not sealed. Most of our locations are off-grid and the cabins work self-sufficient, so we do not rely on public utilities like electricity and water. We can thus use the spots temporarily and the earth can regenerate fully afterwards,” Julian Trautwein explains. The transportable cabins are made mostly from natural or recycled materials, solar panels are placed on the roof to generate electricity, and a freshwater tank with filter system at the cabin supplies guests with water until it is empty.
“It was very important to us that we stimulate an awareness of mindful usage of resources among guests. Via small displays, one can watch the consumption of electricity and water and thus help to save both resources”, Trautwein explains. “It is not meant to be a strict finger pointing, but part of being economical with vital resources.” The land on which the cabins are located is owned by farmers with whom Raus works, providing organic and local food – farm to table. Modern, contemporary and a high level of comfort – these are the hallmarks of Raus’ Cabins.
Guiding people back to nature, giving nature its space, finding back to a symbiosis where people and nature live together and not against each other – in this process Raus plays only a small part, says Julian Trautwein. Nevertheless, the processes’ importance is omnipresent. “Valuing nature and thus acting sustainably should be the new normal; it must become a way of seeing ourselves.” In the future, Raus would like to go even further, to not just be residue-free in nature, but to have a positive impact. They want to invest in local projects in the regions where the cabins are located, to give back right what benefits nature. Reforestation, permaculture promotion, Julian Trautwein has many ideas. And he is quite certain about one: “To relax, you do not have to go far at all. You just need to get out!”
If you want to book your stay – find all information here.
– by Leonie Wessel
Disconnecting from nature is one of the biggest challenges humans are facing today. aware_ gives a guide on the importance of reconnecting with human nature.
There is a meme floating through social media which reveals an ugly truth: The scrabbles of the logos of six mega brands – for example the big M – are juxtaposed to six leaves of different trees. Then you are asked to name as many as possible from both sides. And sadly, but not surprisingly for most of us, it will be the same: Facebook, Lacoste, Nike – easy. But then? Oak? Maple? No idea. And therein lies the problem: We replaced soothing mother nature, that calms us, teaches us and is a part of us with huge aggressors for our mental and physical wellbeing. So, the question is, how can humans reconnect to nature? And why is this so important?
„One of the biggest challenges for humans is that we have lost the “nature” in our human nature,“ wrote activist Julia Butterfly Hill 2021 in the essay titled “The Disease of disconnect” for Atmos magazine (Atmos). The activist had spent 738 days on the redwood tree Luna in 1997 in protest of deforestation to prevent logging by the Pacific Lumber company. “Up here, I learned not only that I can survive on a tree, but that I can thrive here,” she said at the time (Deutschland Funk). In nature, we humans thrive, too.
Scientists suggest we may seek out nature not only for our physical survival, but because it is good for our social and personal well-being. And that experiencing nature even in brief doses leads to more kind and altruistic behavior (Greater Good Magazine). But in order for humans to be well, nature also needs to be well. Nowadays everyone is at risk from the loss of habitats and a warming planet. The climate crisis, wildlife emergency and Covid-19 pandemic show that the existing relationship between people and the rest of nature is broken (Finding Nature).
„As I climbed, a realization came to me that the wounds we see on the Earth and with our human family exist within us first – then we act it out on the Earth and each other. I realized in that moment that every single issue we are facing are the symptoms of one disease: the Disease of Disconnect,” Hill writes in her essay, getting to the heart of the problem: We have distanced ourselves from nature, no longer seeing ourselves as part of it, but juxtaposed with it.
This is a big problem – also explained by the philosopher Andres Weber in an interview (SRF). He stopped talking about “nature”, because it is problematic to see “that out there” as an opposition to oneself. “But there is no such opposition, we simply cannot draw a line. We ourselves are a part of nature.”
In the 1990s, American sociobiologist Edward Osborne Wilson developed the theory of biophilia, which holds that over the course of evolution, humans developed an affinity for the many forms of life and the habitats and ecosystems that make life possible (Deutschland Funk Kultur). By being attracted to nature, we sustain it. However, at one point, we have begun to alter the original nature, molding it into a concrete jungle. As a result, we have lost important places for positive memories to heal.
All guides in the same direction – we need to reconnect with nature, make it a part of ourselves again instead of an enemy that we are working against. So, here is a simple guide how to start the reconnection to be able to live in the human-nature symbiosis again that will let us bloom:
As Hill says it in her essay: “We don’t only have to restore the planet, we have to restore our relationship with the planet,” – this would be a start.
– by Leonie Wessel