Philadelphia and the Rise of Interspecies Representation
The Ecotopia 2121 Project details the futures of 100 cities across the globe as though they've somehow overcome all the grave environmental challenges our age and grown to become super-Green and super-ecofriendly. Today, this July 4th, we highlight the future of Philadelphia.
The story of Philadelphia 2121 goes a little something like this...
On a sunny early July morning in 2121, a group of high-spirited citizens are arguing with city officials in the park of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. The subject of the argument is a tree; a chestnut marked with a big red painted circle, occupying one corner of the park. The circle signifies it is scheduled for immediate felling.
The tree’s ongoing presence is had been debated about in the press and in official meetings for a year or two. Some officials declare the chestnut infected with some grotesque plant disease that might spread to all the other trees. Other officials report that the chestnut was dropping it’s leafy limbs upon the ground far too regularly, endangering passers-by.
Many Philadelphians did not buy into these stories of the chestnuts risky character and they thought the stories were made-up by a property developer trying to open up the protected green space of independence Hall Park for a new project of theirs.
The chestnut had been living on its corner ever since the founding fathers were drafting up the Declaration of Independence right here some three-hundred years ago. One eccentric old Philadelphian of 2121 is so outraged by the impending execution of the chestnut that he walks to the park at 5am in the morning to chain himself to the tree.
The city workers didn’t arrive until 9am and the city officials not till 10:30am so there was plenty of time for reporters to set up their equipment in order to capture the proceedings. The old guy, standing bound to the tree, is making an impassioned speech to the whole city:
"This tree’s even older than me. Why do we protect 300 year old buildings and not 300 year old living beings? We need trees to survive. Who do you think gives us the air that we breath?. So here today, on this auspicious site, I call for a Declaration of Interdependence. We have no right to kill this tree. It is part of our community. Plants are people, too!"
By midday, the tree’s destruction was officially put on hold pending an investigation.
By late afternoon, the old man was being interviewed by statewide media.
By sunset, thousands had come to honor the chestnut in the park and to celebrate it’s survival.
By midnight that day, engaged Philadelphia citizens had planted trees all around the city at sites suspected to be subject to dubious development plans.
In this way, Philadelphia started its journey toward Ecotopia.