Throughout the development of self-initiated projects like Greenaid, we have often found ourselves grappling with questions that extend far beyond the boundaries of our creative practice. By helping to promote and empower the unsanctioned planting of native seeds in underutilized urban landscapes, one of the most frequent questions we were asked concerned the particular composition of our seedbombs. What species did we include? Where and how did we source our seeds? How did we ensure that whatever was being planted was appropriate? The more earnestly we tried to answer these questions for ourselves and others, the more we realized that we’d wandered into a much larger, and at times heated debate about the very nature of nature itself. And it’s kept us thinking ever since.
It might be best to start by recognizing that the native vs. introduced vegetation debate has been raging among gardeners, landscape architects, conservationists, and restoration ecologists in America and elsewhere way before we arrived on the scene. On one side of the fray is the firmly held belief that the primary role of human interventions must be to restore the “balance of nature” to a former state of glory and equilibrium-in other words, to change it back to a fixed state of edenic perfection. The other side, with a tinge of futility, tends to discuss nature as nothing but a state of constant change, with the destructive effects of human activity as both inevitable and irreversible.
Instead of accepting this stalemate, we’ve come to understand and appreciate that there’s a nuanced and fascinating grey area, worth exploring further. Our four part series “Be Wilder”, will address how and why American sensibilities on this subject differ from other cultures globally, what implications it might have for the future of urban ecology, and the inherent socio-economic potential within our cities diverse landscapes (native and otherwise).
Please stay tuned and feel free to add your thoughts and comments here.