Deb G over at Bee Creative showed a picture of a path she walked along the other day- a former rail line now converted to a pedestrian path. Our city is considering the same kind of thing with some of the excess edges of the railway lines that crisscross our neighbourhood. I like the idea, because it would formalize the way many of us already use this space. These informal uses are illegal, of course, and while not really dangerous (we only walk the edges), we are of course treading on private property, no matter how unmonitored it is.
The railway lines are treated as an informal commons around here- this is a car-free shortcut between two homeless shelters, a quiet breezy space in the evening, even on the hottest day, a place to rest and have a break, a place to walk an inquisitive dog. This is where we find most of the cloth I use, left behind by people sleeping out rough for the night.
The railway lines are also an unmanaged green space- a wildlife corridor linked up to the river in fact. Moles, snakes, mice, rabbits, groundhogs all make a home here. Falcons and hawks hunt here. We found the wing of a wild turkey not far from where this picture was taken, late last fall, so big predator mammals find a home here, too.
As an unmanaged green space, full of the native meadow plants that can thrive here, it is also prime pollinator habitat, and every summer evening you will see any number of butterflies.
I worry, a bit, about the potential of formalizing it. I won't miss having to know the shift schedule of the railway police, but I worry a bit that we will lose the commonality of access this place has. If you are willing to risk passing some time with the train cops....
So this is where most of my cloth comes from, where it gets its marks. I think this place gives it identity.