Winter Buddies: Building a More-than-Human Community for Spring

Move into the new season with intention, as you meet and get to know a tree neighbor with the aid of human friends!

Winter Buddies: Building a More-than-Human Community for Spring is the fourth iteration of a series of protocols developed for the Multispecies Care Survey — a public engagement and data gathering initiative meant to provoke and articulate forms of environmental agency that de-center human supremacy and facilitate the co-generation of embodied, localized plant-human care practices. 

Following a series of protocols developed throughout the pandemic for spring, summer, and fall 2020, this protocol invites you to immerse yourself in winter by building a community of relations and exchanges with a tree and an extended support network of friends – together exploring care practices to sloooowly emerge into spring while shaping a future of more-than-human communities. The multi-step protocol encourages a series of exchanges and multiple visits with one tree. Offering this example by EPA agent andrea haenggi and majestic oak for reference, the protocol will invite you to document your exchanges and share a report by the end of March. Visit the Multispecies Care Survey website to get started.

Winter Buddies: Building a More-than-Human Community for Spring was created in collaboration with EPA guest agent Georgia Silvera Seamans. Some of the concepts animating the process of building the protocol are explored in her article “The Risks and Rewards of Being Black in Nature.” 

Asphalt Cut-Outs for Staying with the Trouble at GraftersXChange

From March 28-31st the EPA participated in GraftersXChange in Hamilton New York. We brought our practice of breaking down pavement to allow for remediation and rewilding in the form of a durational performance and workshop. As we described in the publication for the event:

We offer “Asphalt Cut-Outs” as a small physical and sensual gesture for interacting with paved land that has suffered disturbance and accumulated toxicity. Carved out by hand with chisel and mallet, Asphalt Cut-Outs are minimalist in shape and humble in size, ranging from six to seventeen inches wide, and taking geometric or organic shapes, some referencing human or plant bodies, like the vulva or the leaf. Removing the asphalt in this way allows for the “airing out” of the compacted soil below, creating a small “(re)disturbance” that begins the process of rewilding, eventually creating a small weedy island ecosystem in a sea of asphalt. 

The Cut-Out process as we practice it is laborious. It is intentionally time-consuming, precious and delicate while simultaneously loud like a jack hammer, destructive but also rhythmic, demanding and invigorating. The opener must be attentive to small, slow changes as their body vibrates against, into, and through body of the land. This invites us to attend to land that has been traumatized, to soil compressed under the asphalt. We face our own complicity in the sociocultural structures that made it possible, even preferable, to take this life-giving substrate and lock it away. The opener of the Cut-Out travels forwards and backwards in time, contemplating past and future, while anchored in the present by the crumbling of the asphalt and the breathing and expanding of the moist, perhaps toxic soil, infused with the detritus of generations colonization and industrialization. Through repetitive movement and slow progress, the process asks that we stay with the trouble, opening up to multisensorial inputs (grasping, rocking, singing, dancing to the rhythm of the pounding mallet). 

What does it mean to unlock soil that is both life-giving and toxic, to take that airing out into your own body, and let it leave again? Is this a healing process? Of What? Who heals who? In the small gesture of an Asphalt Cut-Out, we seek to face entanglement with past damages, and perhaps take a small step on a path leading towards decolonizing nature and ourselves. Thus we offer Asphalt Cut-Outs as a recipe for Reciprocal Healing for a Multispecies Commons.

Thanks to Margaretha Haughwout, Colgate University, and all the amazing participants who labored with us over the weekend! We leave the rest of the process to plants, weather and time…

Don’t Weaponize Transparency! New OnBehalfof.Life Campaign Launches for Ecological Consciousness at Wave Hill

On Sunday July 1st, the Environmental Performance Agency, in collaboration with Dan Phiffer, launched a new iteration of OnBehalfof.Life! This time we’re focused on gathering public comments in response to Scott Pruitt’s proposed “transparency” rule. You can participate online at OnBehalfof.Life or visit our gallery installation in the Bronx at Wave Hill’s exhibition Ecological Consciousness: Artist as InstigatorOn the evening of August 1st we’ll host a workshop for those interested in submitting comments together on site at Wave Hill!