This October, the EPA piloted the first iteration of Embodied Scientist Parkour, a training for interspecies communication and deepened relationships with the in-between landscapes of the Schuylkill River. Reimagining a conventional fitness course, the project invites participants to engage in a series of site-specific movement scores situated along the Grays Ferry Crescent Trail to expand the possibility of how we collect and co-generate embodied scientific data. In collaboration with the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities, we facilitated a soft-launch of the Parkour Course inviting participants to entangle their bodies with wild urban plants, vibrate with the multispecies highway, and develop new forms of intimacy with the river’s edge. (#embodiedscientist) Above is documentation of our workshop in Grays Ferry.
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)
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
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!
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
- EPA Press Release on Andrew Wheeler
- New Yorker: Scott Pruitt Is Gone, But The Trump Administration’s Climate Negligence Remains
- The Verge: The EPA’s deputy chief may be an even bigger threat to the environment than Scott Pruitt
- NY Times: How Andrew Wheeler, the New Acting E.P.A. Chief, Differs From Scott Pruitt
- The Hill: Andrew Wheeler has the potential to be even more dangerous than Scott Pruitt
- Chicago Tribune: EPA’s acting administrator has long lobbying record on issues before the agency
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.
The EPA’s exhibition at Transformer in Washington DC was recently featured in a Vice Article by Claire Voon. To read the full article click here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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.