Friday, March 23, 2012

"Rural" in New Orleans -- or at least uncivilized

That's the suggestion of this feature in Sunday's forthcoming New York Times Magazine, headlined "Jungleland." This quote (from a promotional blurb for the cover story) got me thinking about the tension between "nature" and "civilization"--and how that tension might also be articulated as one between "rurality" and "civilization." Are there ways that rural places--like nature itself--are lacking in civilization?
In the years since Katrina, New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward has undergone a reverse colonization: nature reclaiming civilization.
Here's an excerpt from the story that details the reclaiming power of nature:
To visualize how the Lower Ninth looked in September--before the city's most recent campaign to reclaim the neighborhood--you have to understand that it no longer resembled an urban, or even suburban environment. Where once there stood orderly rows of single-family homes with driveways and front yards, there was jungle. The vegetation had all sprouted since Katrine. Trees that did exist before the storm are now 30 feet high.

The cartoonish pace of vegetation growth resembles something out of a Chia Pet commercial, but it is hardly surprising to New Orleanians long accustomed to roads warped by tree roots and yards invaded by weeds.

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