It’s early summer on the rainforest island where I live and the undergrowth is rustling with intensely kawaii, little black-tailed deer fawns. This one is hiding in one of my bamboo groves.
But I am off to do some work on another island, the *Concrete Island*, which is a ruderal botanical garden on display at the World Urban Festival in Vancouver. People on site can call 1-888-648-0506 with their cellphones to get information about the plants now busy re-colonizing the patch of waste ground that is isolated within the island’s concrete barrier. *Concrete Island* will be the first in a series of cell phone guided botanical tours that I am putting together, to help people navigate through interstitial ecologies of disturbance. It seems no matter how severely we trash the landscape, nature somehow finds a way to reassert itself—in ways that are often surprising.
While I was installing labels on the plants in the *Concrete Island’s* toxic, post-industrial, pit, I was visited by a tiny white-crowned sparrow, which flew down and landed on a Scotch broom branch in front of me.
keep your eye on the sparrow
After that, I started noticing insects in motion all around me: ladybugs, honeybees, bumble bees, parasitic wasps and some tiny thrip-like insect I couldn’t quite identify. They were pollinating and crawling all over the Himalayan blackberry flowers. Since I first visited the *Concrete Island* site back in May, several new plants have arrived, including: tansy, linear-leaf plantain, wild lettuce and fireweed; all brought to the site by wind, or in the droppings of birds. I was amazed at how much the biodiversity has increased in such a short time. In a way, the recolonization process of the *Concrete Island* is similar to what one would see on a newly formed volcanic island, in the middle of the ocean. The only difference is that, instead of water, the *Concrete Island* is surrounded by an ocean of asphalt. I am keeping records of all the new species I see arriving and I will publish a preliminary inventory soon on oliverk.org. Maybe I can get *Concrete Island* designated as Vancouver’s smallest park!