• 194 pages
  • 5.5 x 8.25
  • 24 color photos, 2 halftones, 5 maps
  • Price: $24.95
  • EAN: 9781439921951
  • Publication: May 2022
  • Price: $99.50
  • EAN: 9781439921944
  • Publication: May 2022
  • Price: $24.95
  • EAN: 9781439921968
  • Publication: May 2022

Loving Orphaned Space

The Art and Science of Belonging to Earth

Mrill Ingram
  • 2022 John Brinkerhoff Jackson Prize, American Association of Geographers

How we relate to orphaned space matters. Voids, marginalia, empty spaces—from abandoned gas stations to polluted waterways—are created and maintained by politics, and often go unquestioned. In Loving Orphaned Space, Mrill Ingram provides a call to action to claim and to cherish these neglected spaces and make them a source of inspiration through art and/or remuneration.

Ingram advocates not only for “urban greening” and “green planning,” but also for “radical caring.” These efforts create awareness and understanding of ecological connectivity and environmental justice issues—from the expropriation of land from tribal nations, to how race and class issues contribute to creating orphaned space. Case studies feature artists, scientists, and community collaborations in Chicago, New York, and Fargo, ND, where grounded and practical work of a fundamentally feminist nature challenges us to build networks of connection and care.

The work of environmental artists who venture into and transform these disconnected sites of infrastructure allow us to rethink how to manage the enormous amount of existing overlooked and abused space. Loving Orphaned Space provides new ways humans can negotiate being better citizens of Earth.


“Mrill Ingram gets it right in this hopeful yet haunting book: the only way to restore purpose and power to abandoned, uncared-for spaces is to re-story them as places of the heart. Always a deep, compassionate thinker, Ingram now joins the ranks of America’s most compelling writers—Robin Wall Kimmerer, Gretel Ehrlich, Janisse Ray, and Rebecca Solnit—who help us reflect on broken landscapes and our longing to heal them to heal ourselves.”
Gary Paul Nabhan, editor of The Nature of Desert Nature and author of Food from the Radical Center: Healing Our Land and Communities

“In a time when people need places to gather and be outside in nature, Loving Orphaned Space is an essential guide for how to activate forgotten spaces in our landscape. It strikes the perfect balance of being inspiring and practical. With lively examples and impressive research, Ingram took me by the hand and walked me through the nuances of working with orphaned spaces. If only I had this book when I started out as an eco-artist!”
Stacy Levy, artist

“In this remarkable book, Mrill Ingram challenges us to think of vacant land not as abandoned but as orphaned. She takes us on tours where we meet communities and artists who have adopted orphaned land and are using community art to care for these places. Ingram’s stories have changed the way I see and think about the land around me. I now see orphaned land wherever I go, and because of this book, I know how—and why— to love and care for these places.”
Samuel Dennis Jr., Professor of Planning and Landscape Architecture and Director of the Environmental Design Lab at the University of Wisconsin–Madison

"Ingram explores the forgotten spaces of both urban and rural landscapes, and finds grace in neglected pockets of human landscapes.... Ingram’s writing is evocative, spare, and efficient—appropriate for a meditation on the significance of these forgotten pockets of humanity’s infrastructure and industry, like a cornfield after harvest.... This is a book that will appeal to those who enjoy finding beauty in the unexpected, and to urban explorers and adventurers."
Wisconsin People & Ideas

"As a result of the book’s cross-categorical structure, it has a broad range of appeal, connecting ecological restoration to activism, social justice, art and environmentalism, and public engagement. It also presents a model for collaboration: bringing together artists and scientists to work with community groups. I can envision an urban planning studio project focusing on caring for orphaned space as a rich and meaningful life experience for students."
The Journal of Urban Affairs

"Loving Orphaned Space offers important insights into nature-society relations regarding dwelling, home and belonging, and a conceptual framework about processes of disconnection that also materialize in housing.... (T)he book is recommended to urban scholars, artists, activists, or anyone with an interest in ecological restoration, maintenance and repair studies, feminist ethics, or creative and collaborative knowledge production."
Housing Studies

About the Author(s)

Mrill Ingram is a Geographer and Participatory Action Research Scientist at the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the author of many articles on the environment and past editor of Ecological Restoration and at The Progressive magazine. She is coauthor of The Power of Narrative in Environmental Networks.