Posted on May 20, 2019
Village of Arts and Humanities: http://villagearts.org/
Phildelphia Orchard Project: https://www.phillyorchards.org/
Day five was unexpected. I knew we would be focusing on more city systems but wasn’t ready for what we came into contact with. I found the work being done in the North Philadelphia around Germantown and Temple University area really meaningful. It was inspiring to hear the stories of the area and the mini battles which the neighborhood is fighting to keep its place.
It is so sad to see Philadelphia systematically ignoring the neighborhoods requests and allowing the area to fall into disrepair to benefit developers. I believe it isn’t that the city doesn’t talk between departments but rather it talks between departments for specific entities. Temple’s expansion and the developers pushing it forward are the entities which push this government forward at the expense of Philadelphia history. Why developers can’t incorporate neighborhood history and meaning into the work they do is beyond me. These areas have so much to offer which would enrich any incoming population that infills. Regardless of the carelessness of others the work being done in the area was fascinating. Even the small urban farm which was educating local students was touching. I can only hope that I have time either this summer or upcoming year to visit again or volunteer and learn the tactics behind this localized redevelopment plan.
The images below depict personal neighborhood stories and cultures being assembled to benefit a community and not an individual. They represent christian, muslim, and african cultures and beliefs. The presence of angles, priests, gods, and kind spirits to oversee and guide are central to the work in place. These hopeful motifs are inspiring and deserve better care than the city has shown.
Posted on May 20, 2019
Rushton Preserve: https://wctrust.org/rushtonwoodspreserve/
Day four was delightful. The class traveled to Rushton Preserve to observe both the catching and banding of birds and a tidy urban farm nestled into habitat and research.
The process of catching, tagging and releasing the birds was something I had never seen before. The bird nets were so light I couldn’t believe that they held such vigorous birds. But sure enough as we made the rounds through trails and past nets the birds were held quite safely. Everyone seemed really happy to see, pet and help release the birds. I was surprised by how soft the were. I had attempted to release a Cat Bird which squacked so painfully when I went to hold its neck that I released it in fear I hurt it. Clearly its scare tactics work and it flew away happily.
The farm was quaint and I have happily added the free plants we received to my window garden. The following lunch was perfect and the kickball game clearly more telling of group dynamics than probably any field trip. Our class definietly needs to play kickball again sometime soon!
Posted on May 20, 2019
Day three was long only due to the soreness from Day Two’s hike. We went many places this day of which I will only discuss two. I cannot discuss the wonderful things we saw and learned about the wildlife in this area to protect them from others. As such no photographs will be included or linked to this post.
The first trail through the swamp was delightful but clearly not good for the general public. I never anticipated that beavers could create such damage remotely. The beaver deceiver device was intriguing. This device essentially is a hidden pipe embedded within the dam which diverts water from one side to the other avoided detection and removal by the beaver. It would have been nice to be able to see it or the dam particularly as examples of water edges and water ecosystems greatly disrupted. While we didn’t see beavers we did hear a multitude of birds, a wonderful introduction for Day Four, and interacted with a number of snakes.
Soon after our wander through the swamp we came across a series of pine forests. Some of these were intact and other patches had undergone controlled burns. I was surprised that despite the controlled burn so many creatures and plants were showing back up in those areas. I understand that overtime that is what will happen in a controlled burn area but everything there seemed so freshly burned it really made an impression. The pine trees had cute little green sprouts and all around blackened pine cones made the perfect natural charcoal to create patterns with.
Of this day I made only patterned sketches from the charcoal bits.
Posted on May 20, 2019
The Lehigh Gap Nature Center: http://lgnc.org/
Day two was a day of difficult terrain. The class traveresed up the mountainside of a superfund site. This location, once barren, had been brought back to life and is now a thriving parkland with many trails. Of these trails the one up over the ridge is quite spectacular but physically draining.
The superfund site, ie the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, hosted a number of test plantings. The whole site was a sort of farm blanket of test patches for plants and their corresponding animals attracted and their ability to thrive and clean up a toxic place. Perhaps in future the Lehigh Gap Nature Center employees can discuss more in depth the planning and data collection of these sites.
It seems like an amazing asset to have a nature center at the site of a clean up particularly to revitalize not only the natural elements of the area but also the social elements. More superfund sites should consider the social and economic impacts and results of successful clean ups.
Posted on May 20, 2019
ReTURN The Favor: http://returnthefavornj.org/
Day one focused on shorelines and water-based ecosystems. We were scheduled to visit three locations. The first a farm protected by dams and dikes built all around it. The second a shoreline protected for the variety of species it is home to. The third a unique area, a mix between commerce and parkland centered around crabbing and shellfish.
The first stop of the day was a unique farm constructed on borrowed land from the river. The system of dikes, ditches, drains, and water gates reminded me of Venice, Italy. Venice is also combating a serious flood which rises with each year. On the farm it seems that the water is seeping in straight from the ground up rather than flowing in over the dikes. This suggests that soon the water control tactics in place will no longer sustain it and it will dissolve into marshland much like the surrounding farms before it. The destruction of the once farmland was bizarrely beautiful. The islands of varying heights which accepted flooding would have been excellent case studies for my studio project this semester. I may have to study the area more closely to better develop a planting scheme for my own design.
The second location, along the bayshore, is home to many species. We were fortunate to be toured by Meghan a volunteer with ReTURN The Favor. The mile walk to the shore was breathtaking. The grasses went on endlessly to the horizon. Only minute shifts in grade altered water content and so grass type. Even then one would have to look closely to see, and only at the trails edge be able to tell. In the vast continous marsh-scape the differences blended into a whole. The real drama appeared in the change from marshy grass to sandy dunes, on one side covered in grass and the other in sand and shells. To the sandy side only 6-10 feet, I would estimate, of shoreline existed, left to the mercy of the tide. As we walked this shoreline hoards of horeshoe crabs awaited us. These creatures, whose bloodline runs as old as the dinosaurs, were helpless to the tide. Many were stranded on their backs, legs wiggling in the air, awaiting either a tide to tip them right or a bird to devour them. Many of us hurried along the shoreline to flip these poor beings and point them back to the water. Of the many tidbits of information we learned the infographic, copyright to Rebecca Sibinga (a classmate), passed along to us was a helpful visual to understand the connectivity between species and the role a single place can play in the success of many.
After aiding an ancient friends, we traveled on to see a living water edge near a crabbing facility. This edge was not only planted as excellent muddy, grassy crab habitat but also had little bags of mussels/oysters placed along its side for cultivation. I enjoyed seeing the seafood industries tactics as it begins to mimic a traditional farm only in non traditional territory. As well the architectural elements integrated into this landscape, the unique docks, boats, launches, and bridges, were a joy to study.
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