In Case of Emergency, Read This Blog

In Case Of Emergency, Read Blog

A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

“After the Storms, An Island of Calm — And Resilience”

September 11th, 2009 · 1 Comment

I wanted to post an op-ed piece from today’s New York Times by Eric Sanderson, “After The Storms, An Island Of Calm — And Resilience”:
In September 1609, the beach near the tip of the island was surrounded by thickly wooded hills. Passenger pigeons flew overhead; porpoises hunted in the harbor. Around 600 Native Americans lived on the island. And they were the ones who, on Sept. 12, must have watched as a European, Henry Hudson, guided his small wooden ship into the Muhheakantuck (later Hudson’s) River, cleaving the waters with the narrow prow of history that would one day create New York City in its wake.

To the native Lenape people, whom Hudson met and traded with, Mannahatta meant “island of many hills.” Modern ecological research has shown that Mannahatta was an island of remarkable biological diversity. Its 55 ecosystems encompassed stately forests, rich wetlands, sandy beaches and rocky shores, eel grass meadows and deep marine waters. This 25-square-mile island had 66 miles of streams and more ecosystems per acre than Yellowstone; more plant species than Yosemite; and more birds than the Great Smoky Mountains National Park does today.

There is a process in ecology called succession – the orderly advance of ecosystems from one state to another. There are moments of terror and unfathomable destruction, and then stability returns and life takes hold again, often with a firmer grip. This applies, of course, both to nature and to human society. As Jane Jacobs wrote, “Lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration.” Resilience is a hallmark of any successful system, whether for a forest, a wetland or a city.

Today, we honor the memory of all that was lost and sacrificed on 9/11. But in thinking back 400 years, in imagining the Lower Manhattan of the distant past, we can join that memory to another realization: that we, and the world we live in, have a remarkable capacity to recover and renew.

These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Technorati

Tags: Preparedness Ideas

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Alan Bales // Sep 16, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    This is one of the more ridiculous essays I’ve ever read. Comparing 9/11 to the purposeful destruction of the ecosystem described above, not to mention the Lenape Indians, is preposterous. Today’s Manhattan exists on top of the once lively and diverse ecosystem. Nothing regenerated there, except buildings. This comparison is not even close to being relevant to any discussion of 9/11. Is this the best the NY Times Op/Ed could come up with? it’s both offensive to American Indians as well as treehuggers and 9/11 victims and their families. I should hope modern day NY can regenerate a little more successfully than the ecosystem of 400 years ago, which was decimated.

Leave a Comment