A thriving coexistence: cultivating Zoöpolis.
Zoöpolis is a new word for me. Maybe you already know it? It has a z and an umlaut, so I already liked it, before I knew what it meant. Jennifer Wolch, a geographer coined this term.
Definition: The place where the polis meets the zoo, an overlap of human and animal geographies. A zoöpolis happens when we create landscapes in which humans and animals coexist, or even thrive alongside each other. I saw this word in Crow Planet, Essential Wisdom from the Urban Wilderness, by Lyanda Lynn Haupt.
I like to make signs. So it came to be: zoöpolis holds its place in my homemade trellis. It was there for one day when I saw a pair of crows carefully choosing old dry plant skeletons for their nest build. They looked like a couple at home depot choosing fence boards. Did they read my sign? I mean, they ARE smart. I’ve seen crows in my yard before, picking at things, strolling about. But, with the sign blessing their presence, everything looked different, more unified, more alive and thriving.
Resources are meant to be shared. I suggest making a yard that provides offerings, both for human and animal. For me, this means plants for pleasure, and harvest. Many options provide both, for example, patches of sunflowers are visually sensational, while serving as pollinators. Bees buzz over them in the warm sun, heavy with thick pollen panniers. After a few weeks, the dried sunflowers become feeding stations to chickadee, golden finch, and squirrels.
You must throw in some art somewhere. I have twig structures. They are great to hang bird feeders from. People also like points of interest that move. I have a palomino. It is not a real horse, but a small replica. It is in a constant grazing pose. Every few days, when I’m out working in the yard, I’ll move it around. People are wild for this, often commenting that they enjoy looking for it. This little horse has stolen the show, and it’s the least amount of work for me to maintain.
Nest material can be fluffed with little effort. Crows mate for life and both the male and female collect nest materials and put it together. They look for pieces of straw, twigs, stripped bark, and feathers. If you want to offer some additional materials, put out yarn, brushed out animal fur, or bits of twine. Don’t put out dryer lint. It’s soft but can be an irritant to young birds.
Zoöpolis: It’s got something for everyone.