Are the Joshua trees extinct?

Neighborhoods # 2 Joshua Groß - An ambience against abandonment

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The lockdown elevates the neighborhood to the center of life. It can be beautiful or terrible. We got writers to think about their neighborhood. Joshua Groß prefers to explore this at night.

Status: 07.01.2021 | archive

When I am undisturbed, I love my neighborhood the most: When I walk through the empty streets with the dog again, usually after midnight - over the smooth, worn cobblestones, past the garbage cans towards the park. Here in the western ring area of ​​Braunschweig, the light pollution is so low that, when it is cloudless, I can see many star formations. It amazes and calms me to look up; I only recognize constellations occasionally - but I like the fact that I am so noticeably in a structure that is vast and inexplicable.

In any case, nutrias and rabbits get to safety, some bushes rustle unusually loudly. At night the parameters are shifted - I perceive what surrounds me without distractions. Sometimes engine noise swells up behind the noise barrier and fades into the silence again. The leafless branches of the trees rise above me; they seem relieved to me, more preoccupied with themselves than during the day. Meanwhile, the bitch sniffs her way through mountains of autumn leaves that have not yet rotted away.

Undisturbed, the world becomes more noticeable

Only a few apartments are lit around me, and at most the climbing pyramid on the playground shines half-silky in the moonlight. I have to think of the word contemplation, in the sense of: that the night will come true in me. When I'm back in the stairwell to get back to the third floor, I am greeted by stale food smells and silver plastic stars are spread out on the steps. I'm happy about traces of this kind from other lives, but also that I don't meet anyone. I think the world becomes more noticeable when you are undisturbed.

On rare nights, the remote mood is torn apart by sirens. In August 2020, I happened to be able to observe the string of SpaceX satellites perforating the sky; shiny dots, evenly spaced; at first I was scared, then euphoric. Or deep clouds become impenetrable in winter: over the center they are rust-colored or almost pale purple. I'm wearing my wife's down coat, a few chubby snowflakes can be seen in the light of the lanterns, but nothing remains.

Repealed because not obliged to belong

Precarious environment: western ring road Braunschweig

Something fascinating and disturbing is going on in the computer game Cyberpunk 2077: If you play the game on an older console that is not up to the graphical requirements, you can find yourself in an eerie version of Night City in which all passers-by and all traffic - everything, what is not absolutely necessary for what is happening - can be calculated out. On YouTube you can see videos of how players drive through an abandoned metropolis, whose futuristic and at the same time ruined architecture looks completely out of place - bridges, skyscrapers, tunnels: all just ornaments of loneliness. I don't find that tempting. I don't want my neighborhood to be deserted, on the edge of a deserted city.

I have mostly lived in precarious surroundings, in quarters that seem to have been forgotten, where people hang around, to whom the low rents of the cooperative housing mean more than togetherness; Purposeful places that are not necessarily shared, but just happened to be used at the same time. I have never felt strange in such places, but rather sheltered - probably because I am not required to belong.

The passers-by of the others

Despite everything, a silent complicity develops with some neighbors, a strange solidarity that requires little interaction - you nod, exchange a smile, show that you recognize yourself. Here we are all left to our own devices, in a depressing and at the same time liberating way. On the other hand, it is like this: our cars are the traffic and we ourselves are the passers-by for the others, so we create the atmosphere for each other, which seemingly uninvolved counteracts the abandonment.

Texts about neighborhood

Because the topic of neighborhoods is generally interesting in times of Corona, we invited authors to think about their respective neighborhoods. Especially in times of limited radii of movement, the direct environment comes more into focus again. Besides Joshua Groß also have Helga Schubert and Ronya Othmann exclusive texts contributed.