Onandaga Creek Walk Workshop
The Onandaga Creek near Syracuse, New York is a tributary of the Onandaga Lake, a sacred water source of the Haudenosaunee people. Industrial activity has polluted the waters, filling the creek with sediment, harming fish, and resulting in environmental injustices for the current residents of the surrounding flood plain, particularly poor people of color and immigrants. In recent years, the City of Syracuse has developed the Onandaga Creek Walk as part of an effort to remediate these waters, create spaces of transit and recreation, and create "green infrastructures" in relation to nearby trails. The Creek Walk stretches between areas increasingly populated by recent immigrants into gentrifying downtown Syracuse. As a public greenway, it is also a paved space required to meet accessibility standards. This workshop studied the Onandaga Creek Walk's history and material forms through the framework of accessibility, understanding accessible space in this context to be complicated by histories of colonialism, environmental injustice, and gentrification, as well as by new possibilities for alliance and affiliation for more socially just architecture.
Working with the SUNY School of Environment and Forestry's Landscape Architecture Department and SUNY Upstate Medical School, participants studied these layers of history and structure in situ by exploring a newly-paved section of Creek Walk.
Participants explored questions such as:
What are the politics of access in a colonized space or on uninhabitable land?
How can an accessibility framework informed by Disability Justice re-write the relations between humans, water, plants, and land?
What do the intersections of colonization, immigration, and green development reveal about structure and belonging?