VISIT THE TEMPORARY EMBASSY IN CLEVELAND:
Salon des Refuses, 1387 East Boulevard, Cleveland.
THE DOAN BROOK WATERSHED IS A RIPARIAN CITY, A LIVING TERRITORY CREATED WHERE A FLOWING STREAM MEETS THE LAND.
It is formed by an urban waterway (The Doan Brook) over 8 miles in length that receives water from almost 12 square miles of densely populated urban land and carries it to Lake Erie. As a watershed, Doan Brook defines one type of ecosystem, a collection of geological forms populated by plants and animals that has been altered by urban and suburban development. The Brook begins near a series of lakes constructed in the 19th Century by the North Union Shaker Community; at its end sits Dike 14, a man-made peninsula in Lake Erie formed by sediment removed from Cleveland’s harbor and the Cuyahoga River in order to make the river accessible for shipping. In between, it makes its way across the land, periodically forced underground, carrying whatever flows into it.
THE DOAN BROOK WATERSHED IS NOT A SELF-DEFINED TERRITORY, HOWEVER.
The rattlesnakes, wolves, chestnut trees, salamanders and other once thriving human and non-human inhabitants surely knew it by other names long before Nathaniel Doan arrived here in the late 18th century. Since the earliest human settlements over 11,000 years ago, the watershed has been defined by interactions between humans and non-humans. Just as humans respond to their surroundings and each other, non-human forces respond to each human intervention, often in unpredictable and unforeseen ways, perhaps most visible when the Brook’s waters overflow its banks, unable to handle the volumes resulting from engineered containment and increases in paved surfaces.
The boundaries of the Doan Brook watershed form an often unrecognized border that binds people, plants, animals and land together as fellow citizens of a shared territory.
The borders of a nation, state, county and city may be invisible to us as we move across the land, but we know they exist because we are regulated by all kinds of visible symbols that make them real. We are forced to recognize passports, drivers' licenses, ports of entry and various other kinds of things (like maps and road signage) that reinforce our relationship to place as one defined by political territories. The movement of air, water, plants and animals, pollution and minerals, all function with no regard for political territories. They follow more fluid boundaries defined by things like the flow of water over land, what we call a watershed.