November 5, 2017

Tending to “Place” in an Unusual Way

By Catherine Hulshoff
Patagonia, AZ
October 16, 2017

A non-profit collective known as Borderlands Restoration of southern Arizona is pursuing experimental theories of collective conservation and adaptive environmental husbandry with a relentless fervor. The assorted collaboration of folks at BR are working in the flood plains of southern Arizona to prevent further erosion of soil within arroyos, or washes, so that vegetation may hold fast.  As humans began to over develop the desert and divert water to unnaturally irrigated landscapes, soil erosion in this environment has been rampant, destroying the biodiversity of the area. So the BR has begun to design and build a series of patterned check dams built from locally sourced mesquite branches, or recycled chunks of cement or “overburden” from local mines. The styles are referred to as media lunas, trencheras, and Zuni bowls. These three shapes create patterns strategically spaced throughout the arroyos and flood plains, beautifully woven into the landscape- indicative of both aesthetic and functional compositions. This type of creative resistance, implemented through the intervention of human hands, is left alone to allow nature time and space to recover, an optimistic salute to art that heals.

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