I started a new volunteering gig on Tuesday afternoons, and the road home takes me through some perfectly astonishing parts of the east side. I don’t ever want to lose those outsider’s eyes, no matter how long I stay. I wish I’d stopped to take some pictures, but the light was fading, and the longer I live here, the less I want to be the slumming suburbanite snapping pix for her stupid blog. Trust me, though, you never come across a single house sitting on an otherwise empty block often enough to fail to be amazed by it. Parts of the city look like rural Mississippi, complete with chickens and goats, or else feral pit bulls and god-knows-what. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone was feeding a baby dragon back in there.
I wonder what the occupant of this house thinks, for example:
I have a feeling I know: I won. Once upon a time that house was surrounded by others. Then abandonment came, then crack, arson, the aforementioned god-knows-what. Nowadays night falls, and it’s nice and quiet, except maybe for the animal sounds (barking, dragon roars), distant gunshots and the freeway off in the distance. If you survived the crack and the fires, it would feel like victory.
So with the theme of abandonment established, let’s go straight to the bloggage from faraway Chernobyl. This story isn’t really new — you can find photo galleries of the abandoned amusement park at Pripyat, Ukraine everywhere — but the wildlife angle is newer, and the GIFs within the story are amazing. The animals are coming home to Chernobyl, to the still-glowing but rapidly reasserting primeval forest, which now belongs to the wolves and boars and “rare European lynx — predatory cats the size of a Great Dane with tufted ears and glimmering gold eyes.” They don’t miss us at all:
“It shows I think that how much damage we do,” said fellow co-author Jim Smith, an environmental science professor at the University of Portsmouth. “It’s kind of obvious but our everyday activities associated with being in a place are what damages the environment.”
“Not that radiation isn’t bad,” he added, “but what people do when they’re there is so much worse.”
Yes, Sheriff Know-Nothing, let’s all take a vow to never speak the same of the Oregon killer out loud. After all, we wouldn’t want to learn anything about him, would we?
Finally, an obit of a Detroit original, Grace Lee Boggs, who died Monday but left the legacy of 10 lesser souls. We forget what it meant to be a Dee-troit leftist at one time; it meant something special, and noble:
For years they also identified closely with Black Power advocates across the country. Malcolm X stayed with them on visits to Detroit. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was said to have monitored their activities. When arson fires and rioting erupted in the city in 1967, Ms. Boggs described the violence as a rebellion against rising unemployment and police brutality.
“What we tried to do is explain that a rebellion is righteous, because it’s the protest of a people against injustice,” she told Mr. Moyers. But the violence, she said, also became “a turning point in my life, because until that time I had not made a distinction between a rebellion and revolution.”
Ms. Boggs eventually adopted Dr. King’s nonviolent strategies and in Detroit, which remained her base for the rest of her life, fostered Dr. King’s vision of “beloved communities,” striving for racial and economic justice through nonconfrontational methods. As Detroit’s economy and population declined sharply over the years, Ms. Boggs became a prominent symbol of resistance to the spreading blight.
She founded food cooperatives and community groups to support the elderly, organize unemployed workers and fight utility shut-offs. She devised tactics to combat crime, including protests outside known crack houses, and in columns for a local weekly newspaper, The Michigan Citizen, she promoted civic reforms.
With that, we carry ourselves over the hump of Wednesday. Hope yours is great.