A Walk with the Rocky Mountain Land Library

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Editor’s note; a version of the below text appeared in the May 10th Walk2Connect Co-op newsletter

See also; over at Twitter

I had the pleasure to spend May 4th walking and workshoping in Globeville, with the Rocky Mountain Land Library; a 501c3 nonprofit co-founded by Jeff Lee and Ann Marie Martin. Two long-time employees of the iconic Tattered Cover Bookstore. Their “ultimate vision is to open Buffalo Peaks Ranch as a year-round, residential retreat center and library, while hosting additional programs and outreach through our Metro Denver locations.

The Globeville location is one of three locations they have. I visited their Waterton Canyon branch on one of the early High Line Canal walks, with Chris Englert aka “the Walking Traveler”. Last year I visited their location on the South Platte in Fairplay, to attend Re/Calla curated art and communal experience that celebrates the natural environment…the intersection of art and nature…the ethereal and tangible.” The Globeville branch is their current/main book storage/processing location. It also has a special ‘Walking and Trails’ collection/room.

Our group, led by Ann Marie, spent the first part of the morning walking along the South Platte. After foraging for ink-making feedstock, we spent the next few hours experimenting with: charcoal, terra-cotta, willow-flowers and more. Do you even know how to mordant..? I didn’t before, but I do now!

On our walk we encountered a rich urban ecology of flora/fauna: dicots, wild-rose and willows. Birds of prey, coyote tracks and hooded merganser ducks. We even saw signs of beavers rewilding.

As I read that day, Wendell Berry writes

“Think of the genius of the animals,

every one truly what it is:

gnat, fox, minnow, swallow, each made

of light and luminous within itself.

They know (better than we do) how

to live in the places where they live.

And so I would like to be a true

human being, dear reader – a choice

not altogether possible now.

But this is what I’m for, the side

I’m on”

re: infrastructural resistance et al.

In the months that followed, as the movement bloomed into North America, Africa, Latin America, Asia and Oceania, the community-owned and operated infrastructure we deployed soon became the migration target for a vast movement. Proprietary platforms were all but left behind, with social media used solely for public outreach. That infrastructure – from team chat to forums, cloud storage and collaborative editing tools – now supports some of the largest populations in the world, with over 1100 local groups in 83 countries and has become both central and critical to the movement’s functioning and work.

by Julian Oliver and Crystelle Vu via Transmediale

Design thinking and Gainesville

As a sort of coda to my 2016 Working Out of the Box: with Scott Paterson of IDEO, I recently read with interest an essay in N+1 (Fall 2019) on IDEO’s time in Gainesville. The ideated up Department of Doing served as a foil for reflection on the larger failures of design thinking.

I don’t think Gainesville’s design experiment did irreparable damage to the city. I do think that it promised much more than it could have delivered…You face wicked problems by struggling with them, not by solutioning them. You argue, you iterate, you fail, you grieve, you fight.

Otherwise

what you get is a solution that can be tidy exactly because it doesn’t touch the deep causes of Gainesville’s economic stagnation. You get a solution that’s indifferent to the legacies of slavery and segregation, to the highway projects that systematically cut off and blighted East Gainesville, to East Gainesville’s miserable public transportation, and to Florida’s $8.46 minimum wage.

On empathy vs “radical otherness” / solidarity et al.

sometimes you only identify with those whom you recognize. That’s a problem because part of solidarity is the people you don’t recognize. The people who you don’t see yourself in. And we’re raised in this particular era of liberal multiculturalism to see ourselves in others…I’m much closer I think to Dr. King in this when he talks about what agape actually means. The constant struggle to create community. Constant struggle! You can’t stop fighting. And creat­ing community means creating community with those you don’t like. And people who don’t like you. And trying to figure how to move forward to something better.

via Robin D. G. Kelley, Distinguished Professor and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U. S. History at UCLA in Black Ink

From American landscapes to, as American as landscaping

In American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn, Ted Steinberg tallies up the costs (ecological, economic and to our own health) of America’s obsession with the green lawn and provides overview of it’s history.

The rise of the lawn to dominance in suburbia represents one of the most profound transformations of the landscape in American history. If it does not quite rival in its scale the Great Plow Up of the Southern Plains that precipitated the Dust Bowl or the massive deforestation of the Midwest and South during the nineteenth century, then it is at least not far behind….It was no accident that grass became the dominant suburban plant. Grass is the Francisco Pizarro of the plant world, a species with a knack for conquest…That it became the signature landscape of postwar suburban development — the greatest surge in home building in American history — owes as much to ecology as to expedience.

Excerpt via Longreads from back in 2006

Five guiding principles from The Committee to Abolish Outer Space (C.A.O.S.)

1 Humanity will never colonize Mars, never build moon bases, never rearrange the asteroids, never build a sphere around the sun.

2 There will never be faster-than-light travel. We will not roam across the galaxy. We will not escape our star.

3 Life is probably an entirely unexceptional phenomenon; the universe probably teems with it. We will never make contact. We will never fuck green-skinned alien babes.

4 The human race will live and die on this rock, and after we are gone something else will take our place. Maybe it already has, without our even noticing.

5 All this is good. This is a good thing.

via New Inquiry

R.I.P. Biz Markie

Biz mastered the art of being a character without being a caricature. His stories often bordered on unbelievable—there was the time his crates of vinyl stopped a bullet outside a show (a rare Michael Jackson single was lost in the kerfuffle) and his claim to own a never-before-seen Bob James record that vexed everyone from the average collector to Questlove. But there was something deeply human about the Inhuman Orchestra.

via The Ringer

h/t @Andrew Barber

circa 1993

Bringstogether a range of voices — from botanists and arborists, to historians and anthropologists — this project of writings compilation reformulates a politicized conception of urbanization that for the most part emerged prior to the turn of the 21st century as resistance and subversion to the educational institution and political establishment…Systemic injustices are at the core of this 25-year compilation…As part of a small and emergent body of work in the early 1990s, the readings compiled here respond to the disciplinary exclusion and marginalization of the field of landscape itself, including its attendant urban and environmental relationalities within design discourse.

Via OPEN SYSTEMS aka OPSYS®

re: How running fails Black America

Peoples, I invite you to ask yourself, just what is a runner’s world? Ask yourself who deserves to run? Who has the right? Ask who’s a runner? What’s their so-called race? Their gender? Their class? Ask yourself where do they live, where do they run? Where can’t they live and run? Ask what are the sanctions for asserting their right to live and run—shit—to exist in the world. Ask why? Ask why? Ask why?

Via Runners World