by Phillip Agnew
For 364 days, at least, I found myself in a constant state of conflict.
Almost daily my alarm clock awoke me at the corner of a crossroad: asking that I decide
… And every day I oscillated away.
I was readiness & unsteadiness, joy & sadness,
deletion & depletion, Completion;
I was cool confidence in a cracked case.
I was the reluctant leader, the forlorn follower.
I was a horrible mentor, a deplorable mentee.
Always kept it together, rarely kept in touch.
I was here, there, everywhere and no where.
I longed for home and grew restless for the road.
I moved too fast and proceeded with much caution.
I served and rarely felt deserving.
I was selfishly selfless.
I spread love and squandered it.
I sailed in the sure serenity of certainty & in the swaying seas of insecurity.
2 over-ripe nectarines, cut into strips
1 medium-sized over-ripe apple, cut into strips
1 lb of spinach
2 thin stalks of rhubarb, sliced diagonally
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp olive oil
Following chef Google, I boiled the rhubarb with sugar and water to cover until sugar dissolved in a skillet, put the rhubarb slices on bowl of spinach, added balsamic vinegar (was supposed to be red wine vinegar) to the rhubarb-sugar-water, boiled on medium for 10 minutes, mixed in olive oil after removing from heat, poured hot dressing on top of spinach, and then added fruits!
Why do we run from it? It fills our bodies, it fills our oceans; it cleanses and replenishes, soothes and refreshes. Yet streets empty as puddles fill.
We need to stop and see everything that happens while we’re rushing under umbrellas or hiding indoors.
Where the curb meets the asphalt is now a flowing stream. Bumps and cracks in the sidewalk fill and overflow into pools outlining the geography of the concrete paths we’ve formed with our movements. The street trees are sipping slowly as water seeps into their small homes. This life-giving substance cycles through everyone and everything, but our connection to it is more invisible than ever as we’ve distanced ourselves physically and mentally from its necessity and power. It moves through the streets and spaces we share with eight million other people and carries our urban sediment towards water bodies of many other organisms before mixing into global ocean currents that interact with the atmosphere to control climate for seven billion people and infinite creatures of all kinds.
How can we reconnect to water more intimately and understand its role as a shared resource moving through our coastal city? Public infrastructure is one potential point of intervention for integrating social design with ecological function. Starting with places where waiting is inevitable, like a bus stop, we can create structures that shelter people and showcase the beauty and purpose of rain. We can provide a subject for conversations between strangers, passersby and passengers. We can expose the history of the streams beneath our city and the problems caused by our combined storm sewer systems and impermeable surfaces.
The form I imagine is a spiral cascade of surfaces that catch and direct rainwater into tree beds and rain barrels. Drops converge into waterfalls between each level, giving people, underneath or passing by the structure, access to interact with the fresh flow of water. In larger public spaces, this idea can be scaled up to create seating areas where people can gather and experience the textures and sounds of water as it collides with our urban surfaces and moves toward soil and rivers to feed local plants and global currents.
My hope is that when individuals are exposed to and understand this kind of connectivity, there will be more potential for collective action in protecting the world we share.
Design proposal from years ago, I’d really like to make something like this happen…maybe in the community garden! :)