Lisa Lee Benjamin wants you and everybody you know to get excited about the bugs that live in your city. Through the invention of urban lands, she hopes to make space for the flora and fauna we desire for a healthy environment — and encourage people to”grapple with where they draw the line between rampant insect and neighbor.”
Urban Hedgerow is a group of San Francisco”instigators” and musicians, formed by Benjamin and horticulturalist Jason Dewees, aimed at creating public awareness of the outstanding — and necessary — environmental processes happening around us every day. By creating pockets of nature deep within the city, they hope to redefine what makes a landscape great.
Urban Hedgerow team members reuse urban legends to make wall-mounted shelters for pollinating insects and even migratory birds.
Hedgerows were initially used in farms as property divisions and lane lines. To Urban Hedgerow, a traditional hedgerow is”a row of shrubs and trees in the margins of state spaces, one that people gently manage and partly neglect. It is a space that attracts and harbors wildlife also offers people wind protection, enclosure and pest management.”
The classic hedgerow is a clear interaction of the wild and managed landscape — darkened trees beside closely planted farm areas. In a similar way, Urban Hedgerow installations like this one bring fragments of the wild into the city, redefining the fringe.
Public awareness and support are all critical to Urban Hedgerow’s achievement, so the team aims to create pieces that are appealing, possible and fun.
This weapon of foraged and recovered substances designed and built by Benjamin and Kevin Smith hangs at Flora Grubb Gardens at San Francisco. This art piece and possible habitat invites us to inquire just how willing we are to invite nature into our domestic arenas, even in a subtle way.
This Urban Hedgerow prototype is designed to hold bundles of foraged twigs and plants for bug habitats. It was exhibited at the Farmer’s Block exhibition at San Francisco.
Benjamin and collaborator Moose Curtis made an Urban Hedgerow installment at London’s 2012 Chelsea Fringe Festival. It focused on building awareness of 2 species of a neighborhood blossom: Vanessa cardui and Vanessa atalanta.
In an installment titled”I Love Vanessa,” Benjamin tagged countless street plants and weeds with butterfly-size tags identifying them as critical butterfly habitats. Being presented with sidewalks as hosts to the beautiful Vanessa blossom, passersby may rethink the value of”weeds” and what they mean to animals.
Curtis power washed images of the butterflies on walls and sidewalks surrounding the installation as an additional reminder of the wild animals that occupy spaces that are managed.
Take a look at a map of butterfly image places. The installation will stay intact in Chelsea until the artwork naturally weathers away.
Many things go into the choices of places chosen for Urban Hedgerows. Public spaces are significant, because they optimize exposure and enable pedestrians to take note and ask questions. Proposed habitats in San Francisco match critical avenues for migratory birds.
“Reclaim Market Street!” (shown here) was made as a temporary green space in the center of San Francisco’s Civic Center. By simulating a native habitat in this political and pedestrian center of San Francisco, designers, artists and plant experts were able to talk about their expertise and collaborate with the public on a communal stage.
Nesting birds and insects can find shelter inside this habitat built with Green Roof Shelters. Native plants and collected organic materials like wool and bark are tucked within recycled and reused construction materials.
While Benjamin works with artists to make attention-grabbing shelters, the real needs of nesting birds and bees still must be met. Even after that, the end result is not always foolproof. “I watched a bee go straight into a screw hole following a week working on a hand-crafted sand concrete panel for nesting bees,” Benjamin says.
Little hedgerow prototypes, such as this, empower portability.
There is still a lot left to be found about the lasting importance of these mini urban habitats. The environmental benefits that humans receive from indigenous plants, bugs and insects is undeniable — pollination, decomposition and carbon removal are only a couple. Benjamin believes that consciousness at the personal level will determine the way we influence our environments moving forward.
“The pests will well survive without us, but we will not survive without them,” she says. “Overall we are just a different animal, so we should begin behaving like one.” Pay attention to what is happening right around you and respect what is there, she says.
Rolled burlap, twigs and other organic materials cost small and create vibrant and textural habitats.
Benjamin suggests leaving some areas of your backyard organic, or planting host or pollinator plants. Think about backyard”problem” regions differently. If considering your hedgerow, Benjamin reminds us to to be creative, intentional and resourceful with materials. Ask yourself if they were in your place, exactly what the animals would select.
Urban Hedgerow invites everybody to effort and collaborate together on their own for”the unseens that fuel our existence,” Benjamin (revealed ) says. “I hope soon we could only be a place for people to give all the fantastic things they find to inspire each other to create.” Check out Urban Hedgerow to Learn More.
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