Brown Island- the Perfect Blend of the Natural and the Urban (Reflection Spot)

Sometimes when I got off work at the RedCross chapter early, I’ll swing by Brown Island to get my outdoor fix. I might grab some coffee and listen to some tunes on a bench, just slowly admiring the pristine flow of the James River. It is quite impressive that there can be a quaint piece of nature like the Brown Island tucked away in the urban heart of Richmond. It promotes recreational activities and for people to get out. You can always find several others walking their dog and/or going for a running. However, deep down, the Brown Island isn’t really a true piece of frontier as portrayed by Cronan. It is an artificial island manipulated for the enjoyment of the urban dwellers such as myself. There is little life in the Brown Island and the water is relatively shallow and slow moving. The area is littered with several structures that detract from its natural presence. It is contained and the grass is flat. I can imagine a lot of sediment and toxic run-off that comes by due to the large hill and proximity to the city. After hearing this, I realized how the Brown Island got its name.

I took that!

And that!


I took that!

Yet, I don’t want this blog post to simply be a criticism of the Brown Island. It is still one of my favorite spots and definitely offers a different sight to the cityscape of Richmond. As McKenzie states in her blog, people are always in a rush and/or always have something else on their mind. Thus, having this little piece of outdoors is a great way to break that habit and offer a much needed escape. The Brown Island is a central hub of Richmond and hosts many different events and activities such as the Richmond Marathon and the Folk Festival. Its true purpose isn’t to be a pristine piece of nature, but as we discussed in class, a backyard gateway to further appreciation for the outdoors.


The bridge that connects the Brown Island


The Anthem 8k finishes at Brown Island

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2 Responses to Brown Island- the Perfect Blend of the Natural and the Urban (Reflection Spot)

  1. TRL says:

    That is a great idea to fit your micro reflections into your every day life. Is Brown’s Island not “nature in your backyard?” Isn’t grass nature? Isn’t shallow, slow moving water still water? And soil, soil. And a hill, a hill. Different perspectives. Lots to think about. Thanks for the reflection.

  2. Yi-Hsin Lin says:

    Till Next Year Brown Island: So today I went back to my favorite spot since it was my last day at the RedCross Chapter till next semester. Same jazz as usual: got off work a bit early, walked down that steep hill, and crossed that same bridge- already makes me kind of nostalgic. It’s been a while since the last time I’ve been here and I feel that there’s a subtle difference to the scene. The weather is now much cooler- dipping into the low 50’s. I’m not quite sure why, but it seems like there’s not a cleaner, more pristine feel to the island: much more like a true frontier. When I came here for my last reflection, it was much hotter and humid which gave the island a grungy, musty, and more urban sensation. However, that feeling is completely absent today and the whole island feels a bit purer.

    Thus, I’ve come to realize something today. Colder climate leads to a more frontier impression of an area whereas hot/humid climate leads to a more urban consciousness. I’ve come to a few conclusions as to why this may be the case. It might just be my personal psyche since I have lived in humid, hot, and urban areas all my life such as South Florida and Taiwan. Thus, when cold temperatures are associated with a nature scene, it seems more unfamiliar and distant to the type of climate I grew up in. Like I have mentioned in previous post, the frontier to me has to be very isolated and distant from the urban scene. As a result, cold weather subconsciously feels different and distant to me which is why the Brown Island feels more like a frontier than a backyard right now.

    The other explanation I have applies to the majority of people. With temperatures rising and climate change becoming a more pressing issue, people subconsciously feel like hot weather is unnatural and a result of human influence. Thus, cold weather is considered as purer and unaltered. It resonates with people as the original state of the Earth which is associated to that true frontier feel.

    A bit of food for thought for any of my readers out there. See you next year!

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