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!

What the plants have to tell me in Berlin?

What happens when I’m (andrea) not in Crown Heights in NYC but in Berlin and encounter the wild urban plants here in Berlin? Is there something else they have to tell me? I’m encounter in Berlin locations where in the past historical violence happened such as second world war and the Berlin wall. I have a kinesthetic movement score to find out what the plants have to tell me. I create name tags that describes my findings. I leave the name tags in the locations. Do I take through this naming the plant out of its European Classification? Can through embodied scientific practice we decolonize science. Is this encounter a philosophical approach? Does the plants gets out of its state of characteristic and into the state of philosophy? Does the plant has more agency by being in a philosophical state? How much history is embedded in the soil of a place and how much it reflects on the plant knowledge?

Kinesthetic Movement Score:

View Embodied Scientific Encounters in Berlin

a survey of anthropocenic surfaces

An initial survey of some endangered anthropocenic surfaces and materials found in the EPA’s urban weeds garden.

A. orphaned asphalt
B. moon rocks
C. slime rocks
D. Frankies artifacts
E. land not sea glass
F. ancient ball bearing
G. urban geode
H. sacred chalk
I. confetti accumulators
J. “real” rocks
K. plastic nubbins

Urban Weeds Guide to Border Crossing

Join us Sunday, August 13 (2:00 – 5:00pm) for another Collective Weed Improvisation Jam — Urban Weeds Guide to Border Crossing.

Help us unmap the neighborhood and trace multi-species migrations. Together we’ll engage in simple movement exercises and conversation, peering over man-made borders to discover the in-between spaces where weeds thrive. What’s growing behind the fence and walls that delineate the city? What can we learn about borders by looking at how weeds adapt and translate across territories? How can we move in response?

Every 2nd Sunday of the month, the dance floor of the EPA (Environmental Performance Agency) becomes a movement learning lab to cross-pollinate weedy practices. The Weeds are our mentors, guides and collaborators. Each jam is facilitated by a rotating roster of facilitators and occurs in our garden and inside the EPA studio space. All bodies are welcome, no experience necessary!

This workshop is co – facilitated by Catherine Grau and Christopher Kennedy @ EPA (1067 Pacific Street in Brooklyn) — Suggested Donation $10
Facebook Event

Shapes of New Pangea

I’ve been starting to explore the shapes and silhouettes of plants found in the EPA urban weeds garden. What wisdom do these forms hold? Perhaps the shapes of future protest and vegetal resistance? (Chris)

Weeds Maintenance and Car Mechanics on Block 1126

Catherine and I, andrea finished to take care of the urban weeds island we call the Lucky Island on Block 1126 sidewalk by picking up the the trash to give air to the soil. In the end we had a big black plastic bag of trash. Across the street Steve, who has is car mechanic business for 10 years waves to us. He wants to fight to keep his place. He wants not to move. I observed the last 4 years many down the block building got sold and with selling the building the new landlords don’t want the mechanic businesses anymore. Such as in this neighborhood the urban spontaneous plants are not welcomed, the car mechanics are not welcomed. A business that uses the sidewalk is not desirable.

Body Transect

At the EPA we’ve been exploring different approaches to field science and ecology — embodied methodologies that include the sensual, the unseen, the metaphysical. In the videos above, the body is used a ruler – a unit and variable to measure the length of the garden. Catherine’s study resulted in 11.5 bodies (5’8”) or 65.17 feet; Chris’ study resulted in 11 bodies (6’0”) or 66 feet.

Surveying Urban Weeds Islands

Today we explored a number of weedy islands that border nearby Franklin Avenue, and foraged for mugwort to make dream pillows. Luck Island was looking flush with life, although we are speculating about the soil quality along the southern edges which are high in sand, glass and have evidence of frequent compaction. We also began to explore in more detail an “enchanted wild garden” on the corner filled with milkweed, a jungle of everlasting pea (Lathyrus latifolius), flowering prickly lettuce, wild grasses, a variety of creeping vines, lambsquarter and other weedy friends. At the base of the southwestern edge of the fence is a small opening where a community of feral cats reside. A perfect hiding place amidst the city’s layers and rhythms.

Between a rock and a plant place

The EPA’s open garden hours continued Sunday with a new score from collective member Carrie Ahern. Carrie asked participants to engage in a collaborative mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris) tea ceremony to tap into the unconscious dream potential of the plant. As a rhizomatic organism, mugwort is known for its ability to enhance dreams, perfect in a tea before bedtime. After touching, smelling, and making a tea, each participant shared a snippet of their dreams on a ribbon now attached to a patch of mugwort in the EPA’s urban weeds garden.

A Brief Romance with a Weed

Today, EPA guides activated the urban weeds garden and engaged visitors in a range of experiences. We experimented with a new score developed by Andrea that continues her Radical Care Sitting practice asking participants to create a weedy collective plant label in response to a series of embodied inquiries. Catherine also shared three new scores developed for the garden, including one called A Brief Romance with a Weed. And Chris began to explore (Outer)Field Science Practices – experimenting with novel approaches to urban geology, plant identification, meteorology, and neighborhood mapping.