People talk about nature as if it were outside the city: “This weekend let’s get out into nature. Let’s go for a hike.” However, such statements create a division between humans and nature, as if we were somehow separate from the biological processes of the earth, an idea that stems from Judeo-Christian beliefs that the world was created for human beings: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” This dangerous notion leads us to treat nature like a park that can be visited, a product that can be marketed, a commodity that can be exploited.
But nature is not outside the city. There is no border dividing our communities from the natural world. Life flourishes in the most inhospitable environments, including poisonous deep-sea vents with temperatures up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit, so why not in the cracks of our sidewalks? To remind us of the continuity of nature in our urban landscapes, I love finding plants that reach sunlight in spite of our efforts to pave over and sterilize the earth.
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