Wild Ways 3.0: California Connectivity

Site: Territorial California, from Death Valley to the Central Valley and the Sierra Madre Mountains

This studio will explore themes of peri-urban, rural, regional, and continental connectivity and resilience through the lens of wildlife and landscape infrastructure projects throughout California.

Our work will be grounded in the intertwined challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss in the Anthropocene – now understood as a global polycrisis.  We will engage conversations, projects and precedents that address our relationships to other species and the environments we share and on which our futures depend. We will consider new and reciprocal relationships with the creatures that co-exist with us. We will explore the conceptualization and development of new hybrid assemblages, new infrastructural ecologies, new imaginaries that foster deeper relations, entanglements, and kinships between and among all of earth’s inhabitants.
Importantly, this is not an anti-human endeavor; rather, and perhaps most profoundly, it an attempt to re-establish lost connections, re-affirm the culture of nature, re-embrace the living world, and re-engage us as social and ecological creatures through the multiple lenses of all who dwell among us – from surviving, to thriving and flourishing into an uncertain future.

In this complex set of contexts, then, we will ask: Can we imagine a new civic landscapes and infrastructure that re-stitch California’s wildlands and re-connect humans and creatures in new, empathetic ways?  The work will interrogate and explore what large-scale urban habitat and civic infrastructure projects across California’s biodiversity hotspots might look like and how they might work—in the face of increasing urbanization and intensifying climate change. Proposals will be generated from the primary lenses of different endemic, endangered and introduced species; will layer in humans as both users and audience (on/in the connectivity infrastructure versus driving, moving or inhabitating them); and will account for intensifying threats of wildfire and biodiversity loss.  The goal is to invent the basis for new infrastructural and creature-based ecologies—mixes of habitat, culture, geography, ecology, food webs, mobility networks, and lifestyles—adapted to a rapidly evolving and warming climate.

For us, though, we want to approach this through various non-human lenses first, excavating understandings of animal and plant worlds and the various interrelationships and evolutions that are at the basis of non-human sustenance in this arid environment. We want to see, hear, smell, feel and move through wildlife senses.  We want to understand how the logics of animal movement, plant growth and habitat connectivity might shape a strategic re-tooling of terrirotial-scale infrastructure networks in order to allow creatures to better thrive, and for ecosystems to flourish, to become a positive contributor to climatic and urbanistic forces.  

Importantly, we will do so by creating a new civic imaginary (perhaps re-capturing a sense of civic pride and expression that accompanied early motorway infrastructure) that fully engages humans within these environments and raises our collective consciousness—by integrating live-giving landscapes with human and wildlife use and bold civic expression, as appropriate to the contexts and environments in which you will work.