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Master's thesis: Faux creeks with a focus on Temescal Creek, Oakland, Calif.

Jon Bauer's master's thesis titled, "Potemkin Creek: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Nature," about local and regional faux creeks is now available at his blog of the same title. Jon writes in his abstract:

Temescal Creek in Oakland, California has experienced over 150 years of anthropogenic change since it became part of the United States. Those changes were continually motivated by finding new ways to utilize the creek as water supply and sewage conveyance and as the location of highway networks, until in the 1970s and 1980s it was determined that no new benefit could be derived and the uncertainties of flood outweighed any remaining benefits. Like other East Bay creeks, it was culverted. Thirty years later, Temescal Creek has reemerged in the landscape as an engineered faux creek. These landscape features demonstrate new ways that nature is conceptualized and incorporated into the urban built environment. I examine the reasons for the construction of these faux creeks by public agencies and private developers to demonstrate the ways that commodification of nature is masked as restoration.

Jon ends his thesis with an ironic epilogue about creek protection. Thank you to Susan Schwartz of Friends of Five Creeks for bringing this publication to our attention. (All photos by local ecology.)


Anonymous said…
Thanks Georgia. My next project is to make a self-guided walking-tour ‘zine of the faux parts of Temescal Creek (both existing and proposed). Stay tuned!
Anonymous said…
Please send us an email (info at when your 'zine is live.