The Singing Wall

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Video credit: Jonathan Rausseo

A couple of times a year the Office of Campus Sustainability gives sustainability tours of the campus. We give tours to student groups and to administrative groups. We give tours to prospective students and delegates. We give tours to friends and we give tours to strangers. I have even giving tours to an MPP and to foreign students.

The tours are pretty standard. We show people some of the good things about the campus and we mix in a healthy does of the bad as well. It mean we can't be perfect right? And if we were perfect than I wouldn't have a job would I? 

Now where was I? Oh yes... we talk about some of the cool green technology on campus and some of the great social programs that are hosted on campus. We usually take a tour around the green roof and of course no tour would be complete without a look at the worm compost!

But the one thing I love talking about during our tours are the really cool micro features. Maybe I should elaborate with an example. If you walk just in front of the Perez building you will see the little semi circular stage made out of concrete. If you stand in just the right place you can create a small pocket of constructive harmonic resonance; basically your voice becomes amplified by the arrangement of the concrete. I always love the faces of the people I am touring around when they say something and are instantly taken aback by the magnification of their voice.

It is exactly those special magical spaces that I think make this place more than just a group of buildings with people in them... these spaces are what make a campus.

You see, some of the spaces on campus are temporal in nature, meaning they only last for a couple of days every year before they disappear (for example, the family of ducks that live on campus for a week or two in the Spring). And, if you watch the video above you will see my most favourite space on campus. It is called the SINGING WALL. 

Every year on the wall just beside the community garden behind the University Centre, hundreds of birds get together and have a signing party. They nest inside the vines that grow on the wall looking for a warm place to hang out as the cold fall weather advances. Yesterday I went and took a video of the Signing Wall. There were at least 80 to 100 birds chirping away. 

I love this space because of how fleeting it is. The birds will be gone in just a couple of days. The leaves on the vines will fall as the winter approaches. And I will have to wait another year before I can sit and listen to the orchestra of nature.


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