Concrete+water encounters: Unsettling nature/culture divides

After following the creek through concrete tunnels and pathways, an invitation was given to children to visually express their relations with the creek and its travels with more-than-human others including concrete, waste, and algae. In offering this invitation to the children, Nnenna intentionally referred to the creek as a living being, such as by using “she” to speak of the creek. This is part of our ongoing efforts as educators to be aware of the ways in which our modes of expression highlight the liveliness and agency of the creek.

A: I think the creek likes this side because it gives sticks to people that it can play with. The other side is sad because of the algae. I’m not sure if the algae is good or bad.

Z: I think that this side is happier because there’s more trees for kids to climb on. This side is sad because of the concrete.

A: what’s wrong with concrete?

A’s complicated question: “what’s wrong with concrete”  is an important opening towards the complexities of nature-culture relations, particularly as we noticed with the children how beyond the school,  the creeks flows through many man-made tunnels and concrete pathways, passing close to apartment buildings and underneath roads.

What is wrong with concrete?

The effects of concrete production on greenhouse gases are significant; clearly for this and many other reasons, concrete is not an innocent material – yet the question is perhaps a reminder wonder about easy moves to divide good/bad in ways that reiterate the nature/culture divide.