rural urbanization, santa rosa, sonoma county

It’s true, I’ve learned to see other landscapes by way of Shenzhen. This morning, for example, I walked settlements in Santa Rosa, a small city in Sonoma County, CA. What did I discover? That the patterns of rural urbanization are everywhere apparent — the abrupt shift in landscape, an underlying yet blurred grid, and holdovers from that earlier time. Indeed, the signs that China and the United States really are the same country continue to beg the question: if it’s all about the money, when is enough, enough? Moreover, as in Shenzhen, ultimately the trees and the quality of their flourishing inform the city’s vitality. Impressions, below:

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old trees

It’s true, there’s a category of cultural relic known as “old tree (古树)”. These old trees root the community in histories that stretch back to the late Ming Dynasty (early 1600s). Moreover, their beautiful limbs create poetic interludes throughout the remnants of Shenzhen’s old village homesteads. Buildings may decay through lack of care, but the trees grow despite threat of urban renewal.

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orange tubes

This morning while touring an abandoned factory in Shekou, I encountered massive orange tubes. By themselves somewhat uninteresting, yet arranged beneath a banyan tree suddenly transformed into art. And that seems the way of it. As a new friend commented recently, “In a city, despite the buildings, ultimately the trees speak to the human soul.”

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trees for sale

Three indications that trees in Banna are up for sale. What’s more, the terms of trade are transforming the landscape.

  1. Since the 1990s, local farmers have been actively razing rain forrest to plant rubber trees. According to a local friend, it takes about 400 trees to support one family in modern style. Also, rubber trees need a lot of water and this has already changed the water table. Less obviously, this evening at dinner, another friend explained that because families can now live off their rubber tree holdings, they’ve stopped traditional cultivation. Entrepreneurial farmers are claiming this fallow land by moving in and planting other crops.
  2. On the road from Jinghong to Mengla, I learned about mahogany — it’s a hard wood, Chinese literati have filled their homes with mahogany furniture for centuries, and there is so little left in Yunnan that Chinese entrepreneurs are harvesting mahogany in neighboring Laos.
  3. This afternoon, I visited the sky tree park, and walked one of the highest treetop rope corridors in the world. High end eco-tourism in a small bit of rain forrest that has been cut off from remaining bits of rain forrest. Indeed, one of my companions mentioned that these rain forrest islands are too small and so the Central and Local governments are investing in building connections between these islands so that the animals have enough room to roam and reproduce.

Impressions of a day in the trees, Mengla, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, just northwest of the Laotion border.

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flourishing

Walked the Peak today and remembered why I love trees.

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afternoon sun, tianjin

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