Mapping the US EPA: Sensing the Bureaucracy, Who Has Agency?

This weekend the EPA hosted a research-a-thon to better understand and sense the federal environmental bureaucracy, the US EPA*.

Since US EPA administrator Scott Pruitt took office in 2017, a number of environmental regulations and policies have been overturned, rolled back, or are in a period of limbo. With a further “re-organization” of the US EPA already underway, what implications does this have for human health and the environment?

Collectively we began to review the US EPA’s 2018-2022 Strategic Plan and map how the US EPA operates both locally and nationally. Together we discovered that the the US EPA** is accepting public comments until October 31, 2017 on the 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, which redefines their mission for the next four years. We feel the strategic plan does not adequately ensure the “protection” of human health and the environment.

With the help of EPA** Agents and friends, we developed a resource that invites you to submit a comment on behalf of a nonhuman species called

We encourage you to share this tool with your networks, on social media, and through conversation with friends, colleagues and family. 

In a time of extinction we need to make space for more life.

*US EPA = United States Environmental Protection Agency
**EPA = Environmental Performance Agency (No affiliation with the US EPA)

Asphalt Rupture: Breaking Through

Last week at the EPA we dug deep. And broke through some asphalt in the urban weeds garden.

The action was partly inspired by an improv movement workshop that we organized this summer called CRACK the Patriarchy — where we traced the cracks in the asphalt and starting to think about our own bodies as a radicle that can get into all the openings where weeds push through. The movement and conversation from the workshop got us thinking about notions of value, comfort/discomfort, maintenance, emotional labor, healing and care, cultivation and gender.

It was quite satisfying to break through. The asphalt is actually really spongey and malleable when you get down an inch or so. Almost like a thick cake or membrane. When the soil was exposed we placed our hands on the surface together and speculated on what seeds will take root. The square of asphalt was placed on each EPA agents chest to feel the literal weight of the ground on our bodies. We’ll keep you posted on any developments.

Weedy Dance

A video project documenting some improvisational movement in the urban weeds garden created by Daniel Wirtheim and featuring EPA Agents andrea haenggi, Catherine Grau and Christopher Kennedy.

Making Time for Soil

“…testing soil as “tasting soil,” treating soil as family, notions of immersing into soil and comingling with its substance, speak of sensorial involvements with a soil that is not conceived as separate.” – Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More than Human Worlds by María Puig de la Bellacasa, p. 197-98

This month’s collective weed improvisation jam explored urban soil as a platform for movement research and weedy agency. Special guest Moira Williams shared a little bit about her practice and reflected on a past project called DIRT Shirt/EXCHANGE where Williams germinated Hairy Vetch seeds in her armpit as a means to address contaminated soil in a Brownfield site in Brooklyn. Moira guided us through a collaborative score to embody what it means to be soil, to be in soil, and to make soil. We explored the urban weeds garden and dug a hole to investigate the soil’s texture and quality. The event ended with an open movement jam.

Embodied Mapping with NYU Students

Nick Mirzoeff’s Media and Environment students from NYU visited the EPA this week. Together we explored embodied mapping strategies to better understand our relationship to urban weeds and multispecies entanglements! Shown above is a full body transect to begin measuring the amount of impervious surface area in the garden.

Maintenance as Care at the Environmental Performance Agency

The EPA was recently featured in Issue 5 of Culture Push’s online journal Push/Pull edited by Linnea Ryshke! In our piece, “Maintenance as Care at the Environmental Performance Agency”, EPA Agent’s Andrea Haenggi, Christopher Kennedy, Catherine Grau and Ellie Irons explore the politics of pest management and rat-human relations at our urban weeds garden in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

To read the full article click here


EPA Summit!

Please join us for the first EPA Summit!

When: September 23rd, 9:30am – 5:30pm
Where: EPA Headquarters at 1067 Pacific Street, Brooklyn, NY

The EPA Summit is cross-disciplinary gathering bringing together artists, thinkers, scientists and others in the fields of urban ecology, art, dance, movement and performance to explore the possibility of embodied research, and the value of urban weeds as collaborators, guides and mentors.

The Summit is a public day-long event rain or shine. We invite you for the duration of the gathering, but if you cannot dedicate the whole day, RSVP either for the morning or the afternoon.

Suggested Donation of $20/person

Any questions please contact:


9:30 AM – 10:00 AM
WELCOME with Fresh Foraged Chicory Coffee

10:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Catherine Grau

10:30 AM – 11:15 AM
Welcoming remarks by EPA artist collective

11:15 AM – 12:30 PM
Chris Kennedy

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
guided by Catherine Grau
with special guests Darryl Montgomery-Hell, Moira Williams, Johann Diedrick and Thomas Choinacky

2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
RADICAL CARE SITTING: Guerilla Encounters with Weedy Islands
andrea haenggi

3:30 PM – 5:00 PM
NEXT EPOCH SEED LIBRARY: Time Capsule for Pacific Street Futures
Anne Percoco + Ellie Irons

5:00 PM- 5:30pm
End remarks by all participants

*Several sessions involve actions out in the streets and are not suitable to casual drop-in mid way. Thank you for being considerate!

Anthrobotanical at the Schuylkill Center

The EPA is participating in an exhibition at the Schuylkill Center in Philadelphia next week! We’ll be sharing research and ephemera from our summer field work. The opening is Sept. 7th, 6-8pm. More details about the show below:

Most people know that we rely on plants for the food we eat and the air we breathe, but the interconnections between plants and people actually go much deeper and are more nuanced. Scientists continue to discover the complexities of how plants take in and respond to information, even communicating with each other through underground networks and chemical signals. Human systems powerfully influence plant communities, locations, and health – and they also exert a powerful influence over us. Yet, despite the intricacies of the plant-human relationship, plants are often overlooked, even compared to other aspects of the natural world.” [More info]

Open Garden Session: Weedy Resistance, Border Crossings and Decolonizing Science

The EPA was a flurry of activity yesterday during our 3rd Open Garden Session. Collective members andrea haenggi, Carrie Ahern, Ellie Irons and Chris Kennedy offered a variety of experiences for visitors. Chris and Carrie co-led the second part of the Urban Weeds Guide to Border Crossing involving a neighborhood walk and mapping session that focused on two living lots near the EPA Headquarters. Using a ladder and our bodies, we peered over barriers (a metal gate and chain link fence) to observe and speculate on the spontaneous urban plant communities along Pacific Street. What can we learn about borders by looking at how weeds adapt and translate across territories? How can we move in response? [two new islands have been named as well – Friends and Princesses garden at 620 Classon Avenue; and Grand Terra Garden on the corner of Grand Ave and Pacific Street)

Ellie led a weedy pigment making workshop, showing us how to create watercolor paints from a variety of plants found in the EPA’s urban weeds garden and surrounding area. We also developed signs for ongoing demonstrations using Pokeweed ink and recycled cardboard as materials. andrea also continued her radical care sitting practice offering a plant naming score, and a special iced tea made from foraged weeds in NYC!