Botanical spelunkers unite!

Participants from the first Prairieform Vacant Lands event, Botanical Spelunking 1, which took place in Berkeley and Oakland, California, on May 24, 2015.
Participants from the first Vacant Lands event, Botanical Spelunking 1

The first citizen-science event as part of PRAIRIEFORM‘s Vacant Lands project was held on May 24, in Broakland, CA. We didn’t know what we’d find when we set off to explore what was actually growing within vacant and neglected spaces within the study area. One possibility was: a whole lot of nothing. However, very shortly into the initial scouting and recording we quickly realized just how much plant diversity within the study area there truly is. It was actually pretty astonishing, verging on somehow moving.

We found plants we had never seen before growing in the most unlikely of spaces – cracks between asphalt and concrete, along busy, trafficky thoroughfares, and within narrow, completely unirrigated medians in the middle of multi-lane boulevards. Some were overtly beautiful, some oddly beautiful, some forbidding, others surprisingly detailed as long as you crouched down to get a closer look. All of them, though, we observed admirably eking out an existence within dismal growing conditions. There was something poetic and lovely about this, and I don’t think any of us expected to have that reaction. We felt like we were actually discovering something, something that you would think was so obvious that it wasn’t possible to be discovered in the first place, but it was. So the moniker Botanical Spelunkers, while crafted to be a bit cheeky and just somewhat apt, turned out to be particularly apt.

Over the next few weeks we will be uploading all of the plant data onto the Vacant Lands website. Stay tuned.

John Kamp

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