Standing in the town of Appleton, I am on the corner of College and S. Appleton roads. I am mostly surrounded by tall buildings which block my view of the surrounding area. Most of the buildings have more than one storey. Most of them are three or more. Most of these buildings have some sort of business inside them. I see colorful signs and symbols that designate places to shop, museums, banks. Cars are constantly moving around on the streets, filling my ears with the sound of engines roaring and my nose with the smell of gasoline. The warm sun on the streets brings out the smell of countless rubber tires that have traveled this way before. I hear the hum of them as the engines pick up speed after passing through the streetlight. Given that this is supposed to be the urban environment, I didn’t really think about the idea that there might be trees, but there are. Several line the street in one direction and a small park is nearby. It is mostly empty, but I can hear birds singing in the trees in the moments when the cars are still.
For the natural environment, I went to nearby Heckrodt Wetland Reserve. I went for a walk down one of their trails. Standing in one place on the trail, I was able to turn around and see almost nothing but forest – thin trees and thick undergrowth. The terrain was rough enough that this part of the trail was actually on an elevated boardwalk that made dull, hollow noises under my feet as I walked. The silence around me was a bit strange. I could hear birds in the trees, but only caught glimpses of them as they flitted from here to there in the branches. I didn’t see many animals, but I did see a few deer making their way through a clearing along the walk. Although I felt like I was in the depth of nature, I couldn’t help but notice that this wasn’t the ‘real’ nature as it might have been untouched. Although they did seem to work hard at keeping things ‘natural’, the presence of the boardwalk and the path alongside it were clearly maintained ‘built’ environments. 360 degree observation – see, hear, smell, feel
Compare and Contrast
In both the urban and the natural environment, I was comforted by the presence of trees and green growing things. I could hear and sometimes see many different kinds of birds, although there seemed to be a greater variety of birds out at the nature preserve. In both locations, I was aware of the presence of cars in the general vicinity, but it was much easier to let the noise of them slip into the background in the nature preserve. While both places also had elements of a built environment, the urban center was clearly more built. Both places had a rich variety of things for me to experience, but the types of things I experienced in each place were much different.
Each location in this project provided vastly different feelings based on how they were different from each other. In the urban environment, there were constantly cars and people around me. I felt comfortable with the trees nearby which were safely contained in small planter boxes or a very well-maintained park. It was easy to feel alive there with all the energy of the activities around me and the choices of things for me to do. I also felt very alive in the nature preserve, but in a different way. The world seemed quieter and I felt much more isolated, more introspective, and more relaxed. I didn’t feel the need to rush through the day or to do anything other than take in the scenery and breath in the fresh smells of the trees coming back to life after the winter. Even water seemed to behave differently from one place to the other. In the city, it was very tightly controlled in very specific places while it simply existed where it wanted to in the park.