EPA Visits UPenn – Liquid Histories, Floating Archives

The EPA visited UPenn this week to work with students in Professor Bethany Wiggans course, Liquid Histories and Floating Archives. We introduced our Embodied Parkour project and led students through a series of intimate encounters with disturbed and weedy landscapes outside of Goddard Labs.

An excerpt from the syllabus:
Climate change transforms natural and built environments, and it is re-shaping how we understand, make sense, and care for our past. Climate changes history; rising waters make it soggy. This experimental seminar in interdisciplinary, embodied learning explores the Anthropocene, the present age in which humans are remaking earth’s systems, with a perspective on/near/in/above/within water. How are rising waters transfiguring our heritage, history and its practice–as well as our present and future? Readings, discussions, and field work invite trans-historical dialogues with a focus on the riverscape of the tidal Schuylkill and the colonial and industrial-era infrastructure that transformed the mid-Atlantic’s vast tidal marshes and wetlands.

Photos by Patricia Kim (PPEH)

EPA Included in NURTUREart’s 2018–2019 Exhibition Season

The EPA is featured in NURTUREart’s 2018–2019 Exhibition Season in a exhibition called The Department of Human and Natural Services, curated by Mariel Villere. The show will feature artworks by Nancy Nowacek, Allison Rowe, Li Sumpter, and the Environmental Performance Agency (EPA)

More about the show:
The Department of Human and Natural Services presents alternative arrangements of the bureaucracy surrounding climate change and possibilities to reclaim agency for environmental justice and resilience. The exhibition is comprised of works by four artists/collectives that propose strategies and actions in response to the current course of global warming. The project is a platform for visitors to envision their own future and a bureau, or a point of exchange for these visions, their material outputs, and a place to borrow or share resources in a new climatic reality.
Opening reception: Friday, April 19, 7-9pm
On view: April 20–May 19, 2019

Exploring the Schuylkill River Watershed

The EPA team went to Philadelphia this past week to begin research for our Ecotopian Fellowship project at UPenn in collaboration with Professor Bethany Wiggins. Starting at the banks of the Fairmount Waterworks we began to explore several sites including a small park at Forgotten Bottom, and a new park area south of Bertram Gardens. Thanks to collaborator Thomas Choinacky for all the tour guiding!

Interspecies Memo: Scott Pruitt Resigns

Dearest friends,

We write to you in the wake of the resignation of US EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. While the plant experts at the Department of Weedy Affairs welcome Pruitt’s departure, they are equally concerned with the interim appointment of Andrew Wheeler. A former coal lobbyist for Murray Energy who has spent his career representing the fossil fuel industry, Wheeler also worked directly with James Inhofe (R-Okla), arguably one of the biggest climate change deniers in the Senate’s history. Wheeler is expected to not only continue the unprecedented rollbacks and reversals of environmental protections that began under Pruitt (see what’s changed since 2017) but may also prove even more dangerous (see resources below).

In this time of transition we look to the wisdom of the weeds. As we write, Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), who’s been nominated to the Science Advisory Board, is taking root in the front lawn of the US EPA Headquarters in Washington DC. Since June 15th they’ve been extending rhizomatic networks and cultivating interspecies alliances to resist the dangerous changes underway (Watch the EPA meets EPA Video). Like Wheeler, The Department of Weedy Affair’s Herbicide Branch Chief, Horseweed (Erigeron canadensis) is also prepared — strong, grounded, rising and making decisions in its vertical dimension with clarity and precision despite compacted soils.

We have also reactivated the web platform OnBehalfOf.Life to encourage the submission of public comments on behalf of local plant experts in the Bronx in response to a newly proposed rule, “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science.” Despite the deceptively benign title, this new rule will prevent vital forms of public research from being carried out by US EPA officials, weaken the role of science in the development of environmental policy, and open the door for corporate and private interests to conduct misleading research with severe consequences for human and more than human health.

We invite you to draft a comment by listening to a local plant expert. Go for a walk to find the plant. Listen, move, and allow your writing to be truly imaginative, poetic and scientific by entangling the plant’s voice with your voice. Consider what a plant would say about this new rule.

Finally, while we expect things at the US EPA to worsen, the Environmental Performance Agency continues to find strength, gratitude and inspiration from weedy plants and multispecies networks all around us. Every hour of every day, the weeds remain persistent, scratchy, sensual and they continue to show up. If you want to truly resist, listen to the weeds, let them be your guide, and we’ll see you in streets.

In weedy solidarity,
The EPA team

Resources and Info about Andrew Wheeler

Weedy Borderlands: An EPA Field Study of Swale and the Brooklyn Army Terminal

This weekend EPA agents Catherine Grau, andrea haenggi and Christopher Kennedy led a performative field study exploring the agency of spontaneous urban plants (aka weeds) found on Swale and the surrounding borderlands of the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We discovered an rhizomatic network of knotweed breaking up the recently paved asphalt, aquatic weeds growing on the hull of the barge, a multispecies food forest, and feral shorelines among other things.

EPA’s Department of Weedy Affairs announces Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) for US EPA Science Advisory Board


EPA’s Department of Weedy Affairs announces Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) for US EPA Science Advisory Board

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Environmental Performance Agency’s Department of Weedy Affairs (DWA) announces the nomination of Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) for the US EPA Science Advisory Board.

“Mugwort has a proven record for fighting and not giving up and will go deep to find new territories and new perspectives for the challenges facing the US EPA right now,” says EPA Agent Andrea Haenggi.

We invite you to join us at 2pm on June 15th at Transformer for a ‘meet the candidate walk’ and kick off event. The event will include public readings of comments collected at the DWA office, embodied actions, and a public address at 3PM at the US EPA Headquarters in Washington DC.

As the DWA’s resident Rhizome Biologist, Mugwort’s platform is multi-pronged and multi-species, using its root system to address a range of regulatory rollbacks including Scott Pruitt’s recently proposed rule “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science.” Despite the deceptively benign title, this new rule will prevent vital forms of public research from being carried out by US EPA officials, weaken the role of science in the development of environmental policy, and open the door for corporate and private interests to conduct misleading research with severe consequences for human and more than human health.

Mugwort invites you to stand in solidarity on behalf of all life to imagine a world beyond human. Come meet the candidate and join the entire EPA team for an afternoon of embodied action, reflection and a public show of gratitude to current US EPA employees.

The Environmental Performance Agency (EPA) is an artist collective using artistic, social, and embodied practices practices to advocate for the agency of all living performers co-creating our environment, specifically through the lens of spontaneous urban plants, native or migrant. Contact EPA agents andrea haenggi, Christopher Kennedy, Ellie Irons, and Catherine Grau at environmentalperformanceagency@gmail.com

The event takes place June 15th, 2pm at Transformer, 1404 P Street NW, Washington DC, arrive 3PM at the US EPA at Federal Triangle, 12th St NW and Constitution Ave

Weedy Resistance on the National Mall

This weekend EPA agents Ellie Irons and Chris Kennedy (with indigenous activist Sebi Medina-Tayac) led a Weedy Resistance Walking Tour of the National Mall. They led participants through a series of embodied actions, observations and discussions on the complexities of land management practices, colonial occupation, and the possibility of spontaneous urban plants to inspire new forms of political and cultural organizing in the so-called Anthropocene age.

Department of Weedy Affairs Interoffice Memo

TO: All Human Allies
FROM: Department of Weedy Affairs

Dearest friends and supporters,

I send this message from the Department of Weedy Affairs (DWA), the Environmental Performance Agency’s new office in Washington, D.C. As the Chief Safety Officer of a department founded to take “environmental protection” beyond humans, I want to alert you to the many threats to multispecies well being that have been ignored or actively exacerbated since US EPA administrator Scott Pruitt took office. Issues such as:

  • the rollback of car emission standards, and cuts to climate and clean energy programs
  • the rejection of proposed bans on harmful pesticides
  • the removal of “climate change” from US EPA and FEMA strategic plans
  • the rollback of key toxic air pollution regulations
  • the approval of Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines
  • a proposed rule change that would restrict threatened species from receiving the full protections of the Endangered Species Act
  • and the rejection of the Bureau of Land Management’s public land use planning process, among many others.

As the Chief Safety Officer I assure you that our staff at the DWA, made up of the most resilient of your kingdom Plantae, can handle these threatening environmental conditions. We’ve been evolving to endure the excesses of post-industrial Capitalism for generations. However, the other nonhuman species with whom we share this world will not be able to cope so easily, and place human well-being in further danger.

In response, the Department of Weedy Affairs has activated the web platform OnBehalfOf.Life to encourage our human allies to submit public comments to the US EPA on behalf of another species. We urge you to raise your voice and call or text the Environmental Performance Agency’s hotline (240) 808-2372 and leave a message for Scott Pruitt and US EPA officials on behalf of a species who can’t.

Let them know what you think about these changes, and help us imagine a governmental agency that advocates for ecological justice in a multispecies entangled world. Your contribution will be hand-delivered on June 15, 2018 to the steps of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters in Washington DC. All comments will also be displayed online at OnBehalfOf.Life

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.






Buckhorn Plantain
Department of Weedy Affairs, Chief Safety Officer
1404 P Street NW, Washington DC