A fascinating overview of the thesis-in-progress of Kevin Anderson, a geography doctoral candidate at UT-Austin. I could spend a fortune tracking down his bibliography. A former philosophy student, he’s able to tackle the big questions, like “what is nature?”, that I only daydream about till my head hurts. He describes his own background that led him to study nature in urban margins:
A rundown railroad town has a wealth of marginal sites where nature reasserts itself and makes a home. Through vacant lots, unpaved back alleyways, neglected woodlots, and that magnificent trashed-out creek, my friends and I encountered nature through our own explorations. These places defined my geography of childhood and served as a necessary supplement to my formal education in school. They were places of exploration and imagination, of scrapwood forts and freedom from adult supervision, of uncertainty and practical learning about nature. No sublime wilderness or pastoral beauty resided in these places. I did not go there in search of the “wild” – such terms are adult concepts of nature. As a child, I immersed myself in these marginal places without the need to conceptualize my relationship to nature nor to judge them against other standards of nature. These were degraded habitats, but, in a basic phenomenological sense, they were my natural places, and I am still drawn to them .
Stay tuned for my own prose, in weak imitation of the above, over here (but without the phenomenology)…
Kevin Anderson also runs an interesting project at a marginal natural area called
Hornsby Bend is – Austin’s recycling center for sewage and yard trimmings – the most popular birdwatching site in the Austin area – the first Anglo settlement site in Travis County – a research site for riparian ecology, biosolids, and the soil food web – a demonstration site for Green Building.