I wrote about the book Feral Cities last week in this post. I am almost done the book and the author is raising some interesting points about how some animals are finding themselves unique niches in cities that allow them to flourish. I am thinking about how this might apply to urban indigenaity. Not to be naïve, as the city has not been good for everybody, but more from the perspective of if that is where you are, how do you make the best of that? How do we as urban dwellers make it easier for those who come after us?
He also speaks about a case in Chicago, where they have reverted concrete to grass lands and where the animals have come back, some species they did not expect. Using this case he raises the question of whether urban areas can be used to support some species that might be vulnerable. Does wildness have to remain outside of the urban or can they be mutually supporting? Does green have to mean a return to the pristine "perfect past" or can we merge with the modern reality?
These questions reminded me of another book I read called "Wild Ones" by Jon Mooallam. In this book he raises some interesting questions around baseline creep - that each generation of scientist spoke of the bounty of their youth (a bounty of bugs) that was lost and should be restored. Each saw as normal their own baseline, none of which would was the undisturbed Eden they imagined. I see this debate around indigenatity as well. What is now does not work, but what past are you imagining when people speak of reclaiming the old ways? How do we weave whatever that past is successfully into a meaningful and healthy future?
As always the animals have a lot to teach us. Through these books I have come to look at the modernity of the animals in a different light and to better understand how they have adapted to navigate changes in their environments. I found a lot of materiel here to puzzle through what that might mean for my own life and in how I contribute to my community.