imported greenspace, clear skies, and sun

clear skies have returned and shenzhen shimmers, entices actually. when the horizon opens, walking settles the heart and has me thinking that we need sustainable worlds for no other reason than the joy they bring; smog discourages in all senses of the word.

yesterday, i wandered through some of the universiade greenspace/ coverage to prevent visitors from seeing nearby construction sites and noticed, once again, the extent to which the city and developers have taken to importing foliage to create beautiful spaces. the (malaysian, i believe – if you know please tell me) trees grow here. and yet. bringing this foliage requires uprooting other landscapes, burning fossil fuels, and (in houhai) filling in coastal waters with imported soil. moreover, these high end landscapes do not flourish without extensive care, so that this beauty remains entangled not only in unnecessary, but also unsustainable inequalities.

shenzhen is not the only city importing foliage in order to make a more perfect world. certainly los angeles and las vegas have set the global standard for transplanting eden. and perhaps that’s the point. in our rush to build a perfect world, we fail to realize we’re already there.

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wutong mountain


wutong mountain

Originally uploaded by maryannodonnell

Went to a wedding yesterday at the Wutong Restaurant (梧桐山酒楼) in Shatoujiao, Yantian District. The wedding itself was fun and I’m grateful for the opportunity it gave me to visit Shaotoujiao, one of the more interesting parts of the city.

Shatoujiao is famous because its the location of Chung Ying Street (中英街), which explicitly actualized the One Country, Two Systems policy with Chinese stores on the southern side of the street and British stores on the northern side. For the historically minded, you can also look at boundary stones from the March 16-18, 1899, when the boundary was marked at the end of the Second Opium War. Chung Ying Street is also one of Shenzhen’s 8 contemporary sights (a direct quotation of Xin’an County’s 8 classic sights). Continue reading

coastal thinking

this past weekend, i was in seattle visiting friends and revisiting my past. yes, the older i become, the greater the twists and turns of who i thought i was and who they thought i was and the distances between all that thinking. mahsheed reminded us that scientists (of the empirically experimental sort) contend that memory is 70% recreated and 30% actual content. however, little is known about how and why that particular ratio or how and why some information is shunted onto one side of the equation or even how recreated memory is plotted… yes, this is the basis of my anthropological musings.  i’ll see your “hmm” and raise you three.

hmmmmm.

caveat given, i’ll move onto thoughts inspired while walking in seward park.

moss on fern green

walking in seward park (as it was when i walked along the salmon river, oregon a year ago), the ferns, red cedars, and douglas furs viscerally reminded me that i was in a coastal ecosystem. mud cold water seeped into my shoes, pulsing bark tempted me to raise my eyes, and a great blue herron stilled my circumnavigation of washington lake.

in contrast, while walking in shenzhen, i find it difficult to remember that we inhabit an estuary. i walk through smog and landscaped greenspace, note new buildings and speculate about economic boomings of one sort or another. i frequently read about mudflat wetland protection, the deep bay oyster industry, marine pollution and mangroves. all this to say, shenzhen’s ecological status strikes me as an abstraction, a category of thinking rather than an experience immanent in the environment itself. thus, my mind invokes “estuarine ecology” as a critical standard by which to hypothesize what might have been and imagine what could be. 

the difference is where lived – right brain or on a path at dawn. now, what to make of it?

tangtou, baishizhou

 

tangtou old housing, new village

Baishizhou has the distinction of being Shenzhen’s “city that isn’t a city, village that isn’t a village (城不城,村不村).”

The first stop (bus or subway) after Windows of the World themepark, Baishizhou has come to refer to a 7.5 sq km sprawl of handshake buildings that was originally part of the “Shahe Overseas Farm (沙河华侨农场)”. This highly congested and irregularly built area is also the first stop for many new migrants to Shenzhen because of its central location, convenience, and lowest of the low priced housing.

Inquiring minds ask, “How did (one of) Shenzhen’s most beautifully landscaped high end residential, tourist and arts area (OCT) end up next to what is acknowledged to be one of the city’s largest slums?” Continue reading

greek with chinese characteristics – yuanling 1

this weekend, i walked yuanling (园岭), one of the first industrial and residential areas to be developed when shenzhen was officially special.

printing factories still operate in the shrinking industrial area park, however, those that have not been razed for upscale housing development have been and/or are being upgraded to storefront for warehouse like stores for ornate furniture and luxury bathrooms.

it sobers me to think that only ten years ago, this area was a vibrant industrial park, the realization of a particular understanding of modernization, when production and manufacturing were the at the core of shenzhen’s economic development strategy. suddenly and abruptly, individualized consumption has been enshrined as economic productivity in the (literal) wreckage of those past ambitions.

when i first came, shenzhen speed was defined in terms of accelerating 100 years of western modernization into a few decades. but all this instant upgrading has me wondering just how fast is an economic cycle anyway? and what comes next? restructuring and economic depression? pics of upgrades, here.

shit


shit

As I have wandered the edges of Shenzhen and as those edges have shrunk to the narrow spaces between the city’s elegant tree-lined boulevards and some kind of wall, I have noticed how easy it is to stumble into impromptu latrines.

Lines that redefine the territory: The road, a sidewalk, and a dirt footpath, which followed the river behind the row of bushes and trees that shaded the sidewalk. This particular latrine is located at the Sungang Bridge over the Buji River.

Once upon a time, maybe as many as ten years ago, this walk was part of Shenzhen’s official greenspace. Indeed, old tile walkways still connect the river path to the sidewalk. Consequently, I also stumbled upon chipped bits of walking path and several benches that provided a view of the Buji River.

The speed at which Shenzhen changes is the city’s identity. A popular saying has it that “To see thirty years of Chinese history, visit Shenzhen; to see one hundred years of Chinese history, visit Shanghai; to see 1,000 years of Chinese history, visit Beijing; to see 2,000 years of Chinese history, visit Xi’an (想看三十年的中国,到深圳;想看一百年的中国,去上海;想看一千年的中国,去北京;想看两千年的中国,去西安).”

A friend recently mentioned a twist on this theme, “Shenzhen took ten years to construct a new city; twenty years to construct an old city; and thirty years to construct a garbage city (深圳以十年建立一座新城市;以二十年建立一座旧城市;以三十年建立一座垃圾城市).”

Sigh.

shenzhen university misty afternoon


lychee

Originally uploaded by maryannodonnell

had one of those delicious afternoons when the beauty despite blossomed. more snaps of shenzhen university trees, here.