Explore unused parts of your community, and consider ways to make them useful.
I’m trying to fire up a horticultural development program, and I need rooftops. Rooftops offer ideal growing environments: sunshine, easy drainage, and distance from pests. Indeed, rooftop is more valuable to me than indoors or farmland. Yet, rooftops cost less. So much so, that I secured 2600sqft of rooftop essentially for free. Why is that?
Well, ‘lemme rant about Gainesville’s "anthropology of space," that is, how its culture understands, modifies, uses, and values the space it occupies.
• Infrastructurally, Gainesville is a mid-sized college town, with tree-shaded urban areas, surrounded by farmland and wildlife preserves.
• Environmentally, Gainesville suffers from Florida’s punishing sunshine, rains, and semitropical humidity. Yet, it sits too far inland to enjoy much sea breeze.
The resulting culture doesn’t really see its urban areas as places to grow food, and it values indoor spaces with air-conditioning and no leaks. Rooftops offer neither of these benefits, and remain largely out of sight. Therefore, rooftops rarely get used. One landlord stammered at the thought of renting his rooftop, and didn’t even know what to charge. This knowledge proves useful during negotiations.
For those native to places like Gainesville, it’s easy to take unused rooftops for granted. So let me put things in perspective, with commentary from one of my readers, a property-developer and anthropologist-of-space, named Lauren Kent:
"Quite interestingly rooftops are an important part of life in Stone Town, Zanzibar – it is ridiculously hot and humid there. However, if you climb two or three stories high you will find the most wonderful of sea breezes blowing all through the day and night. This is the express reason why the houses were built to the height they are, and why there is almost always a way to the top – otherwise people would not have survived living there. This is where people escape to at the hottest times of the day. This is where women meet before Eid to be decorated with heena and piko (I joined the women when I was there, getting ready for Eid celebrations), where laundry and washing is done, and where food is eaten."
What do people do with their roofs, where you’re from? What’re some other unused, or under-used, parts of your community? Of course, any other thoughts are welcome, too. I put a lot of thought into these posts, and I sure do love it when people leave comments. Even short, stupid ones. So be awesome, and click here to say something. No registration nor email required. Yay, free speech!