Beyond the multitude: Restorative maintenance, storytelling, and a walking tour above a buried urban stream
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The Beyond the Multitude Inspection, Maintenance, and Tourism Agency (BMIMTA) is a performative art project proposing a speculative alternative model for public engagement, ecological research, and environmental management. In June 2013, BMIMTA led the Scajaquada Drain Expedition, a hybrid public maintenance inspection and walking tour following the course of a buried section of Scajaquada Creek, an urban stream that runs through Buffalo, NY. This essay evaluates the results and findings of this event and explores at some length the methodologies and framing concepts ("matters") behind the BMIMTA project, describing and unpacking some related projects by others that explore similar conceptual territories. Methodologies to be discussed include tourism, performance, spatial articulation, walking, pilgrimage, and the cultural practice of "experimentation." Conceptual "matters" include human waste, stream daylighting, urban ecologies, and ecological narratives. I conclude by considering how these projects might provide a novel framework for constructing scenarios to encourage environmental and social engagement. Essential to this speculative framework is the idea of "restorative maintenance," an approach to environmental resource management that includes a broad set of practices focused on the inspection, repair, revitalization, and sustenance of (eco)systems with a deep consideration of each maintenance act's individual and communal implications.