|throw stones at glass houses: between Windsor, Canada and Ann Arbor, Michigan
25 July 2012
a) walk through the street.
Shafts of glass elevate squares of pavement in the gallery at Cave (www.cavedetroit.org) on the third floor of building four of the Russell Industrial Center in throw stones at glass houses. Walking through squares of pavement that are arranged in order to stand in front of concrete and glass, the sections of the street become capitals. A capital is “the uppermost member of a column or pilaster crowning the shaft and taking the weight of the entablature” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/capitals). Glass shafts that mimic corporate architecture’s use of a transparent and reflective surface on buildings are held together with 90 degree clamps to open the seams. The use of pavement as capitals is a reference to both capital as things and, specifically, the architectural use of a capital. The proverb “all roads lead to Rome” becomes “all of Rome leads to roads” to state an inversion applied to city planning. Empire (Rome) is in a double bind when the roads it builds to expand its territorial boundaries are used against it in a number of sackings. In Tahrir Square, demonstrators broke pavement to use as barricades and ammunition. In throw stones at glass houses, squares of pavement cut from a vacated gas station on the northeast corner of Grand River Avenue and the John C. Lodge Freeway are placed on display in the gallery while Autumn Red Blaze Maple and Burr Oak trees are planted in the holes left in the pavement from its excavation.
b) plant trees in squares.
Across the John C. Lodge Freeway from the gas station is the Motor City Casino. In throw stones at glass houses, two Autumn Red Blaze Maple trees and two Burr Oak trees provide shade and filter the air to reduce carbon in the atmosphere when planted next to the gas station. As mentioned earlier, the concrete squares cut from the pavement lie atop the glass shafts in the gallery at Cave. The vacant gas station is both urban blight and a turning point in industrial sprawl. The trees continue Detroit within and beyond its industrial history.
Many cities in the United States planted elm trees in neighborhoods in the 1930s (http://apps.detnews.com/apps/history/index.php?id=9). Detroit planted nearly 400,000 elm trees. Epidemics of Dutch elm disease destroyed many of the elms in the twentieth century, demonstrating the need for a variety of tree species to use in urban planning.
The Burr Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) is a large tree ranging from 30 meters – 37 meters in height with a trunk diameter of up to three meters when mature (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quercus_macrocarpa). Among the white oaks, the Burr Oak is one of the more tolerant species in urban conditions. Growth for the Burr Oak ranges from the Appalachian Mountains west to the middle of the Great Plains and extends to central Texas, across southernmost Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. The Burr Oak extends to southern New Brunswick and to Delaware on the Atlantic Coast.
The Autumn Red Blaze Maple, Acer fremanii , is a cross between the Silver Maple (acer saccharinum) and the Red Maple (acer rubrum). The Autumn Red Blaze Maple grows quickly to maturation between 50 to 60 feet tall and 30 to 40 feet wide and grows in USDA zones 3-8. The fall leaf color turns bright red. The Autumn Red Blaze Maple tolerates a variety of urban conditions.
c) traverse the city of Detroit: between Windsor, Canada and Ann Arbor, Michigan
While the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Region according to the United States Census Bureau is the 11th largest, with a population of about 4,296,250 in 2010, only Los Angeles claims a larger geographical area. Bus in Detroit is the only public transit excluding the inglorious People Mover. The city saw an increase of highway construction due, in part, to the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which funded 90% of the costs for interstate highway construction. The construction of highways in Detroit during the 1960s demolished neighborhoods. Interstate 75 Chrysler Freeway targeted the largely African American centers of commerce and residence including “Black Bottom” and Paradise Valley. African Americans were segregated from the mostly European American communities by discriminatory housing practices (housing was more expensive for African Americans than European Americans). Such a practice continued with the Federal Housing Administration’s redlining, which marked African American neighborhoods as areas for disinvestment by banks. The construction of highways exacerbated segregation by the ensuing “white flight” and suburban sprawl facilitated by easier commutes from suburbs to downtown Detroit via car. The privatization of transit via the automobile has meant segregation of communities along paved lines and lots meant for stationary vehicles.
In throw stones through glass houses, walking through the street places the city in a liminal frame of reference whereby it becomes possible to imagine the city beyond the walls formed around freeways and, simultaneously, supports the travel of squares of pavement (squares also refer to open city blocks) to the gallery at Cave, allowing trees to grow where once cars refueled.