Connectivity of green and blue infrastructures: living veins for biodiverse and healthy cities

Milton St., Northampton, MA, USA

I was taking a walk in Northampton, Massachusetts, when I found this fantastic abandoned lot.

It used to be a parking lot. I don't know who would park there-- it was in a residential area along the river. Across the street was a small old abandoned building of obscure function, which didn't seem large enough to merit such a parking lot.

The shrubs with the red berries (red choke berry, Aronia arbutifolia?) and the sumac had torn their own paths of propagation across the tarmac. The plants were making landforms of leaf litter, captured by their stems. The regular yellow parking lines were faint and struck me as absurdly irrelevant, instructing no one. My movements and the movements of the falling leaves were guided by the edges of the accreting proto-soil.

I was struck by the over-excited abundance of the creepers. They wound intensely around the sumac, and when they couldn't find anyone else, they wound around each other. Life on life. Where there is a plant, there is accumulation. Unlike the tarmac, which is just a surface that things fall onto and sweep across, the body of the plant is a multiplying impediment around which to form an ecology.

Even in winter these plants stuck me as alive and dynamic. There seemed to be a big story here, narratives, intrigues, relationships, scandals. Who had broken off the choke berry branch and thrown it on the ground? How did the sumac snap and fall over? How I would love to interview all the plants and hear the story of the place. I look at the photos and I think, wait, who is that? What are they doing exactly?

Photos (c) MR-B

--Meredith Root-Bernstein