Projecting the Flash animation we created for the Model Decay Preserve at Westlake Park on October 15 didn’t work out as well as we’d hoped. We want to share it with you, though, so here it is. We hope These images give you an idea of the potential for turning decay into Decay Preserves.
Dash, here, again:
Regarding Decay Preserves, I seem to be at heart an old-fashioned sort of purist. There’s a lot of talk of usecreeping into our discussions of DPs. Places that could be Decay Preserve appeal to me for their own sake, not because they serve any purpose that most of the people most of the time take to be useful. In the interest of full disclosure, as public radio is always saying, I have my own use for DPs: putting little pieces of writing in them, maybe making a little music, with no audience at all except for any homeless people who might happen to be hiding out there. I suppose that simply to have the community convert decay into a Decay Preserve doesn’t really seems to be much more of a use. But feel like making like some old druidy phantasm with eyebrows you could stand on, pointing and moaning, “Beware the slippery slope!”
I can’t really argue with what you guys are saying about Party People. Maybe it’s bad on me, but I just can’t get motivated to give actual time helping others. I know I should, I know it’s important work on real needs. No argument. And if I ever have enough money to spare a donation, I will. But what I care enough about to actually spend time on is making music and writing. People who work in nonprofits and community organizations do incredibly dedicated work, and on one level, I can’t really defend my lack of involvement that way. But maybe it’s like the city’s One Percent for Art program. How can you justify spending money on art, when people, including old people and kids, are still homeless and hungry? But despite that, the city still has its One Percent for Art. Maybe that’s the one percent that I’m part of. Even if my one percent are self-centered bastards as much as the fat-cat one-percenters. Wait, this argument has kind of backfired on me. Umm, maybe when the DP initiative effort is over, I’ll see about donating time.
Your most excellent post, Red, shows a clear road for Decay Preserves to have a substantively positive influence (which makes one feel convinced anew of the value of DPs—quite reassuring!)! Making a decaying resource a community asset seems like a long shot, but it makes sense, too. And it’s really what we’ve been proposing all along, isn’t it? Gasworks had to have been the most unlikely of long shots when it was first proposed—and for the very same reasons.
Decay Preserves are not intended to designate entire communities or cities. Good grief, that would be not just flippant disregard, but a face-slapping insult. Instead, we have in mind individual structures, spaces, or pieces of ground, that a community designates as a Decay Preserve. (It occurs to me that a vacant lot is much more than a space. Space by itself probably is the one thing that cannot be a decay preserve; it is the one thing I can think of that cannot decay.)
As limited entities, uncharacterized pieces of blight can become positive community assets when you convert them to Decay Preserves. You don’t even need to make them the centerpiece of a park (I refer our readers once again to Seattle’s Gasworks Park, a treasure both for the city and for the community of Wallingford). Simply by putting a presentation frame and name around a single decaying piece of the community, the community rises above, becomes greater than that decay and makes the decay into something that serves the community. By the community’s having converted decay to an asset, the community empowers itself. DPs thus become a point for fighting back against blight. More than that, the community can decide the use that it makes of the DP, whether it’s housing for the poor, or a park, or a meditation space, or, as happens in Detropia, letting a building “return to the prairie.”
This is how Decay Preserves can be a lever for community revitalization…over and above personal transformation.