Wilkinsburg Weekly: Abandoned Lots And Thoughts For Blooming

Photo by Callie Oliver

This is part one of my four-week Wilkinsburg Weekly project, where I will be posting a photo or two of nature and environment in the borough of Wilkinsburg, which is just outside the City of Pittsburgh. Abandoned lots and vacant homes are common in the borough, and many sites throughout are utilized for creative purposes to clean up the area not only for “aesthetic” reasons, but to inspire, and improve the local environment in some way.

An unknown person planted these wildflowers, made the post signs, and placed them for an indefinite period of time. Quotes painted onto these signs are by Black feminist poet nayyirah waheed. She is known for her use of lowercase letters, minimalist punctuation, and a focus on nature-connected themes. She weaves heavy topics of love and life into poetry by tying concepts to nature, as seen in the examples above. nayyirah waheed utilizes communication in brilliant ways to convey a message that can take whatever shape the reader decides. You can find more of her work on her Instagram and Twitter, but she is notoriously private and absent from the Internet. She rarely posts anything other than her poetry.

Photo by Callie Oliver

I found myself in front of these signs on a daily walk and paused in awe. Whoever put them there was conscientious, and it certainly benefited the local environment, including animals and insects, the soil, other plants, and people who might happen across it.

Reflecting on those poems and wondering how I, too, could make this mountain taller, I decided to share with all of you. “Speaking in flowers” is an idea that supposes compassion, consideration, and giving. What are some ways you can speak in flowers to uplift your community’s environment? What can you do to “make the mountain taller” for not just women, but all who come after you? Share your ideas in the comments, and remember that there’s no wrong answer!

[Image Description: Two photos of the same abandoned urban lot in Wilkinsburg, PA. One with tall trees in the back, and a brown wooden sign with painted white letters that says, “I stand on the sacrifices of a million women before me thinking what can I do to make this mountain taller so the women after me can see farther” The other photo with bright pink and yellow wildflowers, green overgrown weeds and grass, and a teal wooden sign with painted white letters that says, “can we speak in flowers it is easier to understand”]

2 Comments Add yours

  1. tabitha.weaver says:

    I love that you decided to do a series, I am looking forward to seeing the next three! The focus on nayyirah waheed is very compelling for this first post, her poems are very inspiring as you noted.

  2. Dr. Katherine Cruger says:

    This reminds me of my favorite kid’s book: Miss Rumphius where the “lupine lady” sprinkles seeds all over her community as a legacy and makes the world more beautiful.

    Free little libraries, Plogging and picking up garbage others deposit in our communities are other ideas in this vein.

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