An essay from Reflections of The Land

Fearing porosity, we burn our bridges. Like Sidaway Bridge, Cleveland’s only suspension bridge, spanning 680 feet and once connecting a black neighborhood to a white neighborhood. It was damaged and burned in the midst of what is obliquely called the “racial tension” of the 1960s; it is more accurate to describe these events as repeated assertions of white supremacy during the height of the civil rights movement. The city never fixed it, and now it’s also a ruin, a memorial, a testament to that time and all the time since, cables hanging from the vine seen from the transit line on the way Besides.

“Haunted places are the only ones where people can live,” says Michel de Certeau. Porous places are haunted places, where buildings were almost always something else, and wastelands evoke the presence of memory through the absence of what was there before. But haunted does not mean dead; instead, the haunted places crackle with the energetic collisions of noisy ghosts, inviting the rest of us to see and make history worthy of their din.

The twisted river itself can cut the city in two, but it’s also a jagged point that holds us together; its bridges feed the streets of the industrial valley, beautiful sutures spanning the city’s original thoroughfare. We are connected. We are porous. We are broken and we are beautiful; we have so many places where light enters.

Quotes:

Benjamin, Walter, EFN Jephcott and Peter Demetz. Reflections: Essays, aphorisms, autobiographical writings. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978. Print.

Benjamin, Walter and Rolf Tiedemann. The Arcades project. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press, 1999. Print.

Certeau, Michel de and Steven Rendall. The practice of daily life. Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1988. Print.

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