Biophilia: ‘love of life or living systems,’ the theory of an ‘instinctive bond between human beings and animals‘.
We’re not sure about the accuracy of the biophilia hypothesis and we haven’t deeply concerned ourselves with it as we tend to avoid broad generalizations such as that. We often encounter both people who are intrinsically and undeniably drawn to animals and/or plants and others who are ambivalent towards towards nature, or find it boring.
But what we have seen and experienced over the last 8 days during our goat-driven maintenance experiment thus far is noteworthy: hundreds of people getting out of their cars to watch the goats and take pictures. Folks aggressively pulling weeds out of the cracks in the sidewalk to feed them to the goats (or in a generous, yet potentially problematic gesture, offering their dinner leftovers). Many people have asked, and some have nearly begged, to be allowed into the fenced enclosure. We seemed to have inadvertently cross-programmed into a cognitively dissonant petting zoo where we offer the frustration of not being allowed in. Regenerative landscape maintenance as semi-public amenity. Also of interest, many people I’ve had the pleasure of talking to over the last week said they didn’t notice or see this vacant two acre lot until the goats were there…psychologically it was a giant void that didn’t exist.
Similar to biophilia, it has also been empirically argued that humans seem to intuitively prefer open savanna-like landscapes, or clearings at the edges of forests – a persistent evolutionary or Jungian archetype dating back to our early hunter-gatherer and herding lifestyles. Landscapes that might look a bit like this:
Part of the attraction is surely, and more immediately based on the contrast to the adjacent inner city industrial context:
Like everyone we have photographed here, we are very drawn to this space and have been for years. We like its wildness, its doing its own thingness in relative obscurity. Interesting because the whole landscape is constructed, or rather built upon the ruins of construction (all the buildings on the site burned down in 2002. Everything growing has spontaneously generated over the last 8 years); a natural ecological response to human alterations. Depends a lot on how you see it.