Thursday, October 9, 2008

What's in a name?

[photo: buffalo along broadway extension, near nw 36 in oklahoma city. sorry for the blur, but it's hard to shoot photos and drive at the same time ...]

By John Sutter

Drivers on Broadway Extension in north Oklahoma City may have noticed the herd of concrete buffalo running alongside them recently. The buffalo -- which are chiseled and painted into a barrier wall near NW 36 -- are part of a $30 million construction project, and new ones are popping up every day. Exit at NW 23 and you'll find statues of buffalo standing in prairie grasses that have been plugged into a field of mowed Bermuda.

It's a striking image, I think -- the buffalo and the prairie being brought into a new urban home. It seems that the more modern our society becomes, the more instinct we have to reach back to nature, letting it inform our decisions and our designs.

Oklahoma's going through a throwback of this sort right now. People are paying to go on tours of farms and making a vacation out of being able to pick blueberries and strawberries (check out the state's "agrotourism" site here). What once was work is now a stress reliever. People are riding bikes in bigger numbers. Home gardens are back. And, apparently, so are the buffalo.

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