As Homeless Find Refuge in Forests, ‘Anger Is Palpable’ in Nearby Towns


“To millions of adventurers and campers, America’s national forests are a boundless backyard for hiking trips, rafting, hunting and mountain biking. But for thousands of homeless people and hard-up wanderers, they have become a retreat of last resort.

Forest law enforcement officers say they are seeing more dislocated people living off the land, often driven there by drug and alcohol addiction, mental health problems, lost jobs or scarce housing in costly mountain towns. And as officers deal with more emergency calls, drug overdoses, illegal fires and trash piles deep in the woods, tensions are boiling in places like Nederland that lie on the fringes of the United States’ forests and loosely patrolled public lands.

‘The anger is palpable,’ said Hansen Wendlandt, the pastor at the Nederland Community Presbyterian Church.

Some residents have begun taking photographs of hitchhikers or videotaping confrontations with homeless people camping in the woods and posting them online, including on a private Facebook page created recently called Peak to Peak Forest Watch. Some say the campers have cursed at them for driving past without picking them up, or yelled at them while they were cycling or hiking. They say they no longer feel comfortable in some parts of the woods.

But as a homeless man named Julian, 30, hiked down from the hills and into Nederland one rainy afternoon, guitar and knapsack slung on his back, he said a passing driver yelled at him to get out of town. He said he, too, felt uncomfortable and was heading toward Estes Park, Colo., then on to Oregon. He did not give his last name because he said he did not want friends and family reading that he was homeless.

Mr. Wendlandt serves lunch and hands out socks to needy campers every Thursday. But he has stopped provisioning people with blankets and sleeping bags, worried that what seemed like compassion could be exacerbating a problem.


How Cuts to Public Universities Have Driven Students Out of State


“Declines in state support for public universities have helped reshape the geography of public college admissions, leading many students to attend universities far from home, where they pay higher, out-of-state tuition. An analysis of migration patterns among college freshmen shows the states students leave each year and where they go.



“South Beach residents woke up to a grim prediction painted in neat block letters across the top of the old abandoned South Shore Hospital: ‘YOUR MILLION DOLLAR HOUSES WILL SOON BE UNDERWATER.’

Stephen Cohen, a resident of the Icon Condominium tower across Fifth Street, snapped a photo of the message and posted it to Facebook around 10 a.m.Tuesday.

‘Icon condo got a lil wake up message today,’ he wrote, adding the social media hashtags #fsociety and #sobelife.”

Deep in the Swamps, Archaeologists Are Finding How Fugitive Slaves Kept Their Freedom


“Wherever Africans were enslaved in the world, there were runaways who escaped permanently and lived in free independent settlements. These people and their descendants are known as ‘maroons.’ The term probably comes from the Spanish cimarrón, meaning feral livestock, fugitive slave or something wild and defiant.

Marronage, the process of extricating oneself from slavery, took place all over Latin America and the Caribbean, in the slave islands of the Indian Ocean, in Angola and other parts of Africa. But until recently, the idea that maroons also existed in North America has been rejected by most historians…By downplaying American marronage, and valorizing white involvement in the Underground Railroad, historians have shown a racial bias, in Sayers’ opinion, a reluctance to acknowledge the strength of black resistance and initiative. They’ve also revealed the shortcomings of their methods: ‘Historians are limited to source documents. When it comes to maroons, there isn’t that much on paper. But that doesn’t mean their story should be ignored or overlooked. As archaeologists, we can read it in the ground…’

‘Traditionally, we’ve studied the institution of slavery, not enslavement as it was lived,’ [Nancy Bercaw] says. ‘Once you start looking at our history through an African-American lens, it really changes the focus. Maroons become much more significant.’

The largest community of American maroons was in the Great Dismal Swamp, but there were others in the swamps outside New Orleans, in Alabama and elsewhere in the Carolinas, and in Florida. All these sites are being investigated by archaeologists.

‘The other maroon societies had more fluidity,’says Bercaw. ‘People would slip off down the waterways, but usually maintain some contact. The Dismal Swamp maroons found a way to remove themselves completely from the United States, in the recesses of its geography.‘”

“City Shadows and a DIY toolkit for art in abandoned spaces”


“A small but energetic non-profit, Mahatat has taken it upon itself to do two things since its inception in 2012: bridge gaps between contemporary artists and the public, and explore new spaces for art. Its main activities have centered around creating opportunities for artists to show their work in public spaces in Cairo and, perhaps more importantly for a country with such a centralized arts scene, beyond the capital, with a focus on Damietta, Mansoura and Port Said.

Egypt is full of abandoned spaces, but this new project’s pilot experiment took place in Port Said on July 16 and 17 in an derelict yard behind two buildings. One of these is the remarkably grand and ornate romanesque building known as Villa Fernand on Abdel Salam Aref Street — it’s among the city’s many neglected heritage sites and is slowly disintegrating.

Entitled City Shadows, the pilot was a two-day exhibition curated by photographer Nadia Mounier that included her work, old found objects (such as a Titanic soundtrack CD case, a toy gun and a tea cup), and selected works from local artists. It revolved around Port Said’s popular culture and inhabitants’ relationship with the city’s history and urban fabric. Mounier incorporated dim yet colorful lighting, a projected film, and an experimental performance by Cairo-based musicians Nancy Mounir on violin and Omar Mostafa on electronics. On the second night, musicians from Port Said came with their instruments to jam with Mounir and Mostafa.

Fernand Deligny: Mapping Autistic Gestures and Trajectories, and the “Wander Line”


“Fernand Deligny found many ways of describing himself: primordial communist, nonviolent guerrilla, weaver of networks, cartographer of wandering lines. A visionary but marginalized figure often associated with the alternative and anti-psychiatry movements that emerged in the decades after World War II, Deligny (1913–1996) remains difficult to categorize — an enigmatic sage. Beginning in the 1950s, Deligny conducted a series of collectively run residential programs — he called them “attempts” (or tentatives, in French) — for children and adolescents with autism and other disabilities who would have otherwise spent their lives institutionalized in state-run psychiatric asylums. After settling outside of Monoblet in the shadow of the Cévennes Mountains in southern France, Deligny and his collaborators developed novel methods for living and working with young people determined to be ‘outside of speech’ (hors de parole).

It was [outside Monoblet] that Deligny consummated his longstanding preoccupation with mapping the gestures, movements, and trajectories of the autistics living within his networks. He first experimented with cartographic tracing in the late-1960s in collaboration with a young militant filmmaker, Jacques Lin, who joined the group’s small desert encampment. Deligny, Lin, and their collaborators began to follow their autistic counterparts as they made their way through the Cévennes’s rocky terrain, making rudimentary line drawings to indicate their direction of movement across the rural encampment and into surrounding wilderness.

The tracings soon became a central aspect of the group’s activities, and the maps grew steadily more detailed and elaborate. They developed visual systems for designating the various sounds and gestures encountered along their pathways, and started to use transparent wax paper to trace the children’s daily routes. No attempt was made to interfere with their movements, or to explain or interpret them. The focus remained on the process of tracing itself. Yet distinct patterns began to emerge: certain trajectories tended to be repeated from one day to the next, and Deligny noted that some of the wandering lines seem to correspond to the conduits of underground waterways.

In his writings, he calls these cartographic trajectories lignes d’erre. This phrase might be translated as ‘wander lines,’ ‘errant lines,’ or ‘lines of drift’…The concept of the wander line…condenses, in a single stroke, his lifelong pursuit of ‘draining off stagnant humanisms’ by unsettling the primacy of speech. He undertook the process of mapping the lines ‘in order to make something other than a sign.’ Before phrases, words, and letters can form, there must first be lines. Tracing the quotidian trajectories of his autistic collaborators, it seems, was an attempt to return to writing’s origins, before it became codified or standardized, and when it still resembled the outlines of things encountered in moving through the world.”

Thanks to Liz K. for the link!

Not Just Dots on a Map: Life Histories Alleviate Spatial Amnesia in San Francisco


“There are the indignities of being priced out, of being evicted, of doubling up with family members and friends, of not being able to hang out on the streets of your own neighborhood. There is the insidious realization that folks from outside your neighborhood are entering it as consumers, buying expensive, boutique versions of the food you eat and the clothes you wear. Certainly, there is never any shortage of rumors, legends, or nostalgic laments about the way things were. But really—how were they? Who remembers?

One problem is, there’s no sense of the whole—the scale of change throughout the city. Worse, there’s no sense of the history of these changes, of the protracted dialogue between two or more communities that has been taking place for decades. Being able to buy $8 artisanal mayonnaise in Bushwick isn’t an abomination of only the last ten or fifteen years. These ironies are the results of processes that unfold over the course of entire life histories; and life histories, in turn, can help us encapsulate and preserve the original spirit of these neighborhoods.

That’s [Manissa] Maharawal’s intervention, in the context of the San Francisco tech boom. The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project: Narratives of Displacement maps no-fault evictions and collects and attaches interviews with the victims of these evictions, creating a living archive that deconstructs the collusion between tech-industry corporate interests and the city. It’s a wedding of data visualization and narrative that ensures no one is reduced to a dot on a map. And these aren’t eviction stories alone—they’re life narratives, which come much closer to capturing the complex, subtle processes comprising neighborhood change that we are embedded in. These ‘located’ narratives provide an antidote to our spatial amnesia…

Life narratives can powerfully expose the nexus of gentrification and ever-entrenched structural racism that, unfortunately, so many in this country still deny. Taken together, maps and narratives allow us to pinpoint each tragedy in time and space, and ask, How did we end up here? At once, the viewer is able to perceive the killings concretely, as events, and abstractly, as structuring a status quo. In this way, the project informs public dialogue by providing a spatial and temporal awareness that contextualizes the disturbing and often bewildering visible symptoms of these obscured and elongated processes.