Sunday, March 21, 2010
Do You Hear Birds? is a simple intervention in my neighborhood and paths I travel. Chalking this phrase on the sidewalk allows me to document places where I hear birds with the hope that this phrase also allows other people to become conscious of the birds around them. These moments also offer some relief by demonstrating that my neighborhood can still attract and provide habitat for birds. In addition to chalking, a button bearing this phrase that I give to people I meet further extends this phrase into our daily environments and interactions.
Birds and their song offer us a tangible measure of the health of our environment, but we also have to be conscious of, and paying attention to, their delicate notes. As Rachel Carson wrote in Silent Spring, “[In] over increasingly large areas of the United States, spring now comes unheralded by the return of the birds, and the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song.” When Carson wrote her landmark book forty-eight years ago, birds were being eradicated through widespread application of pesticides. Today birds still face many challenges in their cohabitation with people, but with cell phones and iPods in our ears it is too easy to be distracted and not even know whether birds are present where we live.
To get involved in this project you can chalk this phrase wherever you hear birds.