Urban Weeds Guide to Border Crossing

The Urban Weeds Guide to Border Crossing is an ongoing initiative of the Environmental Performance Agency to trace multi-species migrations and unmap NYC neighborhoods through the lens of spontaneous urban plants. The aim of the project is to document and reveal the distinct ways “weedy” plants deterritorialize urban space, and to examine relationships between the language used to classify these organisms as “dangerous” or “alien,” and policies used to marginalize immigrant communities.

SITE 1: PACIFIC JUNGLE


LOT AREA:
7,800 sq ft

LOCATION:
Franklin Ave and Pacific Street

SPECIES OBSERVED:
Mugwort, siberian elm, ailanthus forest, wild rose, pokeweed, lambsquarter, daisy fleabane, red clover

SCORE:
Approach the gate and stand an arm’s length away. Close your eyes and peer into the lot.
Slowly move toward the gate. Place your left or right foot through the gate. Firmly plant your foot on the ground. Press your face through the bars of the gate and into the lot. Let your arm extend and greet the weeds. Take 3 breaths and as much time as you need to observe.

SITE 2: FRIENDS & PRINCESSES GARDEN


LOT AREA:
1,630 sq ft

LOCATION:
Classon Ave and Pacific Street

SPECIES OBSERVED:
Princess tree forest, horseweed, west indian nightshade, horseweed, plantain, siberian elm

SCORE:
Work with a partner. Together, carry a ladder to the metal roll down gate. Firmly plant the ladder as close to the gate as you can. Next, take turns ascending the ladder to observe what is growing on the other side. Describe to your partner what you see. If you have a free hand, take notes or make a quick drawing based on what you hear. Switch roles and repeat.

SITE 3: GRAND TERRA CORNER GARDEN

LOT AREA:
10,000 sq ft

LOCATION:
Pacific Street and Grand Avenue

SPECIES OBSERVED:
Ailanthus, mugwort, horseweed, virginia creeper, west indian nightshade, prickly lettuce, rogue tomato and squash

SCORE:
Work with a partner. Approach the fence and take a moment to observe all forms of life you can see. Choose one person to enter the lot by sliding carefully through the chainlink fence. The person entering the site should explore the terrain and blend into the landscape. The partner observing from outside the lot should practice being a witness, try to locate your partner, notice how their body changes. Switch roles and repeat. (Warning, only attempt if you feel safe entering the lot)

Map making with students from NYU in October 2017


Do you know a weedy border the EPA should investigate? Contact us!
Urban Weeds Guide to Border Crossing Pamphlet from 2017 (Download PDF)