“A big problem is what they used to call ‘cabin fever’ brought on by bad lighting and lack of colour,” explained the guide. “We tried all the usual remedies, but of course we can’t use the best method and simply send people outside anymore.”
“So colour and light solve the problem?” The guest from another, newer and smaller but rapidly expanding arcology looked hopeful.
“Not entirely,” the guide admitted. “Stimulation is important. Light, colour and other people will all provide some stimulation but no one component is enough. In the long term, and we do have to think in the long term given the current situation, even that basic triad simply isn’t sufficient to support psychological health in the majority of the population.”
“So, how do you do it?” The guest did not try to conceal her interest. “Your psychiatric crisis rates have dropped to half of anyone else’s.”
“We listened to our greatest critics,” admitted the guide, “the ones who kept telling us that we needed to be closer to nature.”
“Have they been outside and seen what nature is doing these days?” The guest asked the question with some asperity.
“Of course not,” the guide almost laughed. “What they wanted was the nature of a children’s picture book. Most of them have never even applied to leave the arcology, but we gave them what they asked for.” He opened the door out of the administration section for her and closed it behind them with a snap. “We’ll need to take the travel ramp to see the best examples,” and with that he led her to the moving beltway in the middle of the thoroughfare.
It didn’t take her long to see what he meant. “Decorative plantings!” Her exclamation made several of their fellow travelers look at her with amusement.
“Yes,” agreed the guide, “those ones are flowering cherries. There are only five of them and it’s just a tiny wedge of space, but the effect is much bigger. We’re just coming into one of the sections we’re proudest of. The oldest areas of the arcology were our greatest challenge, small, narrow, cramped and too tight to renovate.” He paused, “Look up.”
She did. Just above their heads was a riot colour and texture as the flowers grew down from the roof.