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The Ecology of Dereliction


The Ecology of Dereliction explores the ecosystems that flourish in the limilalities of our cities. These transitory places allow for multi-species biomes to burgeon, filling in our negative spaces, softening their contours with fluidities of vegetation, and enlivening them with the animacy of more-than-human beings. From the lattice of mortar that cements a brick wall, to the warren of train-tracks that webs a city; these spaces exist not in isolation but as parts of a broader network of which our urban environments are comprised.

Dereliction comes from human abandon: the antithesis of progress; regress. In the context of this essay I use Anna Tsing’s definition of progress: the assumption of improvement and a human need to move forward. Regress, then, is the return to a former or less developed state. The two are juxtaposed; a contradiction of terms. Dereliction challenges progress by allowing for natural regress, and in so doing changes the parameters of what progress and regress mean to us. These derelict spaces bridge the gaps between culture—in its’ human context—and nature.

Borrowing from ecology, leaning on experience, and animating through imagination: the derelict lot profiled here is a fictional one. Its location is intentionally ambiguous to encourage the reader to imagine this space within their own environs—one that might be passed on a daily commute, or glimpsed from the windows of a moving train. By illustrating the interconnected nature of urban ecologies, and highlighting their processes, I hope the reader will look differently at the next derelict lot they pass, and begin to see them as the feral, multi-species neighbourhoods they are.

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