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Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in L.A.
Alex Steffen, 5 Apr 06

Ally and nature writer Jenny Price has an absolutely terrific piece (or, more acurately, the first half of a terrific piece - the rest will be published next month) in the current issue of The Believer. Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in L.A. explores in ways both poetic and practical what it means to see cities and nature as opposites, and how we might begin to heal our thinking -- something we need to do if we're serious about building sustainable cities. Hghly recommended:

"To define nature as the wild things apart from cities is one of the great fantastic American stories. And it’s one of the great fantastic American denials. ... Ideally, if there’s any one argument I could persuade you of, it’s that our foundational nature stories should see and cherish our mundane, economic, utilitarian, daily encounters with nature—so that what car you drive and how you get your water and how you build a house should be transparent acts that are as sacred as hiking to the top of Point Mugu in the northern Santa Monica Mountains and gazing out over the Pacific Ocean to watch the dolphins leap, the ducks float, and the sun set. True, there’s a lovely yearning in the American vision of nature as a wild place apart—for simplicity, for a slower life. There’s great wonder about the natural world, and terrific love for wild places and things. There’s legitimate bewilderment, in response to the mind-boggling complexity of modern connectedness (how could I possibly keep track of where the nature in my Toyota wagon comes from?). There’s a large dose of real regret, for the wanton destructiveness of toxic industrialism and excessive consumerism. And there’s powerful, overriding denial, in the service of powerful self-indulgence and material desire, that pushes us to imagine nature out of rather than into our lives."

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