The Challenge Taken

Well, there are the benefits that got all of us interested in DPs? Here are a few you may recall:
• Preserving our past in the slow crumbling of its pieces: Rather than obliterating them or selecting some point in which to freeze them, as if we could suspend their decay, Decay Preserves let them decay in their own time. Ancient ruins—the Pyramids, or the ruins of Angkor Wat or Rome—are the great example. In Rome, they have such a regard for preserving decay that they will divert streets to either side of a ruin. (Skid once said that in this way, Decay Preserves make time visible, since decay is so much a function of time.)
• Making us reconsider what we think of the parts and people of our world that we might rather avoid. If you look at a piece of decay without making it mean something, it shows you a different face. I went and sat in a vacant lot the other day. Industrial refuse and weeds. A shack with graffiti. A sagging cyclone fence. A wrecked, rusting car and the half-covered skeleton of a boat leaning over on its side. I won’t tell you where it was, or you’ll lecture me on being safe. Maybe it was because it was a beautiful day in this late summer we’ve been having, but I was suddenly struck by the beauty of the place, if you could apply “beauty” to the quality that I felt there. And peace, Vita. I was in a Decay Preserve, even if I was the only one who recognized it as such. I can’t completely claim surprise at my epiphany of decay, since our movement was why I went there. But at that moment, I came into Decay Preserves in a way that I had not yet done. I think what I saw—the face that that ugly vacant lot revealed, was something like what you came to recognize in the Amick Building in your Greater Seattle Decay Tour posts. In my vacant lot, our dislike of decay (within limits) came to seem nothing more than a prejudice, a habitual way of seeing. If we can find a different way of seeing a decay preserve, then might we question other prejudices? Such as the value and rights of the homeless. Does that get closer to your target?
• Providing calming influences, places of mental retreat, of meditation, of removal from the incessant push of our commercial world and life. See preceding bullet. The more I think about it, the more I like this one, Vita.
• Finally, there is the Decay Preserves motto: “Why Decay Preserves? Because decay preserves”—because it preserves the greater life cycles by nourishing new lives and forms of use. This should all sound very familiar to you: These are the examples we’ve used from the start: From nurse logs in the forest sprouting ferns, mosses, mushrooms, and new trees to the Harmony Club in Selma, Alabama, which its owners have transformed (while preserving parts of it in decay) into their residence; to the great decaying buildings of Detroit and other declined industrial bases, which have inspired photographers and documentary filmmakers.
But because I know that you are at least as versed in these arguments as I am, I’m pretty sure that I have completely missed your point. (Although, just to preserve my self-respect, I ask that the record show that I know that this is a setup for us to get to your new concerns about the significance or lack thereof, of Decay Preserves.) So tell me, Vita, what other benefits and values do you have in mind?

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