Broken places, also referred to as red zones, are places that suffer from poverty, crime, war, disaster, and environmental degradation. When they are created by sudden disturbances such as hurricanes or war, we call them “sudden red zones.” When they are created gradually over many years by industries abandoning a city, leaving behind unemployment, poverty, crime, environmental contamination, and neglected open space, they are called “slow burn” declines. In some cases, a lake, city or other social-ecological system crosses a “threshold” after a sudden or slow-burn decline, where ongoing social and ecological processes are seriously disrupted. Community gardening in Detroit and Boston, memorial gardens after 9/11 in New York City, and community tree planting in New Orleans all demonstrate how civic ecology practices emerge in sudden and slow-burn broken places.
Keywords: Detroit, New Orleans, 9/11, Community garden, Memorial garden, Community tree planting, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Greening of Detroit, Hike for KaTREEna, Red zones, Disaster, Disinvestment
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