A Natural History of Trash

The natural habitat of the modern rat, like that of the modern human, is the city. Over many thousands of years the rat and human have evolved a symbiotic relationship shaped by the structure of streets and avenues.

Over these millennia, cities, rats and humans have grown successively larger and more powerful. In time, great cities arose, grew in stature and influence, so that they came to compete against one another to produce more riches and technology, up until our modern era, the greatest era of city and rat population growth, enabled by rapid industrialization. The modern city functions as one vast industrial machine for the production of finished goods from raw materials.

But through greed and neglect the great machine of America’s cities became rusty. The factories and shops closed down, the products and materials stopped flowing. Corporate overlords who controlled the machinery left the factories to ruin and moved their production lines overseas for cheap non-union labor to satisfy big-box suburban consumer demand.

The great era of city growth and industrial production is over, but what about the age-old symbiotic contract between human and rat? Is our relationship over now that most of our raw materials have been exhausted and the citizenry have lost their taste for labor-intensive manufacturing processes?

Instead our cities have become producers of useless and ephemeral “info-tainment,” “multi-media” and “knowledge-ware.” Just how long our city machinery can continue fueled by these gassy products remains to be seen. The citizenry remains obsessed with production and consumption of these virtual items, but can they bring real prosperity to the brick and mortar world where humans and rats live?

Down below these heady vapors floating among the mirrored skyscrapers there is hope. There is yet one real product that our city citizens are diligently and excitedly producing in great quantities. This product is trash.

Yes, trash, ordinary yet everpresent! A vast unstoppable torrent of trash effuses from the back doors of the city. It’s flow is strong enough to create entire mountains and raise valleys. And so we see that our post-industrial city has not moth-balled those busy dynamos of industrial might, but simply redirected their mythic energy into hidden underground and unseen channels.

In our industrialized urban past, all energy forms were controlled by privileged masters of commerce. But this new energy source is free for all to access, a democratic resource with endless power, free for the taking. We are on the threshold of a new era of citizen-based empowerment and possibility. Tapping into this excretory energy is a joyful opportunity.

Take part in a new future now! Step out your back door and peruse all the products in the dumpsters and trash heaps on your block, free for the taking. Not only will you find something useful and entertaining, you’ll be building a better urban tomorrow today!

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