Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Where Most of the Cloth Comes From

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.


  1. Uk have done this alot on old railway lines, making them wildlife sanctuary spots for dog walkers and bikers. Its been well recieved and means that even urban areas have access to soem wildlife and wild flora too.
    Not sure our local ones are always swept clean and junk picked up though, so that needs to be kept up of course.

  2. Liniecat, thanks for this. I like that they are "wildlife sanctuary spots" for urbanites. You are so right, and this is such an important quality of them that I hadn't articulated.

  3. my first sense in reading this beautiful post
    is that any change in it's present state will
    of course, Change it. as habitat. a habitat
    that has reclaimed what was claimed before and
    wants to claim again. it goes back and forth.
    to be left as a peripheral space tho...threaded
    thank you Wendy...

  4. For some reason this brought tears to my eyes. The image of the space and the collected fabrics. It brought up memories of places I explored as a child and how you can never go back to those places, not really. For me they don't exist anymore. This post in combination with Grace's and Jude's about studio space and the materials in them...all the comments I have been reading tonight ...all of it just really has me thinking. Thank you for this.