Almost 4 years ago I met a couple of guys slash philosophers who had started to think of how users or citizens were transforming their cities (I will probably make a post further on in their honor). This post is the first of a series on how citizens transform the urban environment by using “informal or illegal” forms of expressions. In favelissues, we have discussed a number of times how citizens transform the urban landscape by building their own houses, in the best way they can and where they find it possible. Favelas/slums are “spontaneous” generation of housing leading – usually – to the permanent transformation of cities’ physical environment. They are, in my opinion, the most visible urban informal expression.
However in this series of posts I will try to cover the not-so evident urban informal expressions and I will start by the Guerrilla Gardening movement. While many of these “urban informal expressions” are very punctual and might have little impacts on their neighborhoods or cities. I believe that some of them have the potential to trigger social movements or more elaborate urban transformations through micro-transformation of the urban environment as seen in “urban acupuncture” movements. Also, since my knowledge of this urban expressions is somehow limited I will try not to make any analysis or judgement in my posts; although I encourage you to start a debate and will be more than happy to participate in it.
On the top an example of LA’s Guerrilla Gardening
So what exactly is Guerrilla Gardening? Guerrilla gardening is basically gardening land without having the legal right to do so. A colleague blogger described guerrilla gardening as a kind of graffity or vandalism – just done with plant instead of spray cans. The land that is guerrilla gardened is usually abandoned or neglected by its legal owner. While it is difficult to say were the Guerrilla gardening movement started some state that the earliest record use of the term was by Liz Chirsty and her Green Guerrilla group in 1973 in the Bowery Houston area of New York where they transformed an abandoned private plot into a garden. The movement has spread to many other cities and has reached places like Botswana but is in general more active in big metropolis in developed countries.
I have added some pictures and links to videos related to the subject. What do you think about the Guerrilla Gardening movement? Do you know if this movement is active in your city? What other Urban Informal Expressions are you aware of?
Guerrilla Gardening STOP MOTION on youtube (would love to see more videos like this)
The Guerrilla Gardening dot org page:
Urban Ecological Subversion: the act of Guerrilla Gardening in public spaces
Guerrilla gardening books