Reply To: 24.3 Urban Ecology

Author Replies # Posted on March 27, 2015 at 10:30

Ghide Habtetsion Gebremichael
Reflection of Current debates 4th seminar (Workshop)
Urban Ecology
Uppsala University, 24 March 2015

My reflection rested on the idea of Jonathan Metzger [ from the Division of Urban and Regional Studies, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden] which [he] titled as ‘the city is not a Menschenpark: rethinking the tragedy of the urban commons beyond the human/non-human divide’. Basically his article was tried to draw a clear understating with the questions of ‘how can we understand the urban commons beyond a taken-for-granted ontological divide between humans and non-humans, nature and culture? How can we learn to recognize the deep entanglements in urban areas between those things we normally categorize under these labels in the complex and constantly evolving milieus we describe as ‘urban’?

Thus, with the above question in our mind, we made our excursion to the ‘Gränby Centrum’ in the outskirt of Uppsala where different animals are kept and portrayed in their natural state. The places were designed in a way that different domesticated animals are kept in cages and give an open access for anybody who wants to watch them while they are doing their daily activities. In the small area [park], it was clearly manifested the domination of human being on the other part of nature (specially animals) and alienation of human kind from nature as being seeing themselves as supernatural. However in some sense it is seeing, as they [human being] are practiced their nostalgic idea by making some little commons like making animal zoo, botanical garden and keeping a lot of pets on their houses. We also observed that the built environment designed only for the sake of imaging nature in its natural phenomena. Interesting here is, this captivation also attracted some other animals and plants. For example we observed birds, rabbits and other small organisms like flies come in to being with the animals already on the cages.

But as we traveled towards the center of the city, the presences of animals and plants and commons were decreased significantly. However, our imagination continued on how much small organisms like bacteria, birds, pets [like dogs and cats] and plants are still parts and parcel of the urban area and urban population. As Jonathan Metzger argued in his article, ‘we [human beings] are also not only built from our tiny cells but also from numerous bacteria and other small organism which constitute our body. Thus, this interpretation will lead us to support the argument of Metzger ‘we can’t alienate ourselves from nature rather we are pretty much cemented with nature’. In this sense, urban planning needs a lot of care in to consideration and give enough space for other organisms. I totally agree with his article of saying the tragedy of commons and commers too. We discussed also about special studies should need to include other organisms [other than human] in urban space. It was very common specially these days that people know animals only on TV show though they eat their meat and drinks their milk.