The EPA met in Troy this past weekend to plan and sow seeds for the upcoming year. With the 2020 election approaching, we again look toward our vegetal allies for guidance to catalyze conversation, experimentation and action around current environmental policy and its implications for the well-being of all members co-creating and regenerating our urban ecosystems. This Fall we will begin to develop an EPA Antiracist Guide to Thinking with Plants in response to popularized narratives of invasion ecology. We are also planning a project at the Old Stone House in the Spring of 2020 called the Multispecies Community Care Unit, a platform for exploring and enacting a collective response to the ongoing climate crisis by developing reciprocal care practices within multispecies communities. Stay tuned for further updates and gatherings!
Department of Weedy Affairs Interoffice Memo
TO: All Human Allies
FROM: Department of Weedy Affairs
RE: CALL OR TEXT THE EPA HOTLINE (240) 808-2372
Dearest friends and supporters,
I send this message from the Department of Weedy Affairs (DWA), the Environmental Performance Agency’s new office in Washington, D.C. As the Chief Safety Officer of a department founded to take “environmental protection” beyond humans, I want to alert you to the many threats to multispecies well being that have been ignored or actively exacerbated since US EPA administrator Scott Pruitt took office. Issues such as:
- the rollback of car emission standards, and cuts to climate and clean energy programs
- the rejection of proposed bans on harmful pesticides
- the removal of “climate change” from US EPA and FEMA strategic plans
- the rollback of key toxic air pollution regulations
- the approval of Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines
- a proposed rule change that would restrict threatened species from receiving the full protections of the Endangered Species Act
- and the rejection of the Bureau of Land Management’s public land use planning process, among many others.
As the Chief Safety Officer I assure you that our staff at the DWA, made up of the most resilient of your kingdom Plantae, can handle these threatening environmental conditions. We’ve been evolving to endure the excesses of post-industrial Capitalism for generations. However, the other nonhuman species with whom we share this world will not be able to cope so easily, and place human well-being in further danger.
In response, the Department of Weedy Affairs has activated the web platform OnBehalfOf.Life to encourage our human allies to submit public comments to the US EPA on behalf of another species. We urge you to raise your voice and call or text the Environmental Performance Agency’s hotline (240) 808-2372 and leave a message for Scott Pruitt and US EPA officials on behalf of a species who can’t.
Let them know what you think about these changes, and help us imagine a governmental agency that advocates for ecological justice in a multispecies entangled world. Your contribution will be hand-delivered on June 15, 2018 to the steps of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters in Washington DC. All comments will also be displayed online at OnBehalfOf.Life
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.
Department of Weedy Affairs, Chief Safety Officer
1404 P Street NW, Washington DC
Soft Precarious Openings
The Soft Precarious Openings space is coming together with a special installation by andrea haenggi. Get an up close view and encounter on December 1st!
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.
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
Mycoremediation test patch for desert island
Today we started to experiment with mycoremediation strategies – using fungi to build and stabilize damaged soil. Using pearl oyster spawn donated by Chloe Zimmerman and Jan Mun – we’ve created a one square foot test patch in a particularly toxic area of the Urban Weeds Community Garden know colloquially as desert island. The soil is currently high in heavy metals like lead and copper, as well as oil from its past use as an auto repair shop. To provide coverage and food for our fungi friends, we also spread a layer of excess sawdust from a local furniture maker down the street. After a month we’ll test and compare soil samples from the test patch and surrounding area.
Radical Care Sitting: Offering refuge to a crown vetch and other weedy species
Artist andrea haenggi engages in her practice of radical care sitting, providing refuge for the spontaneous urban plants of Pacific Street in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Today we start by surveying a nearby lot that will soon be paved over with cement and asphalt. We look closely amongst the rubble for plants that need a home. At first we only see nightshade, tree of heaven, and a field of knotweed.
We then find a young crown vetch (Securigera varia) and what we think may be the humble beginnings of a devil’s beggarticks (Bidens frondosa). In the video above, andrea extracts the crown vetch to begin its relocation to the Urban Weeds Community Garden at the Environmental Performance Agency.
We hope these plants will take root and find refuge here at the EPA.
Airing Out the Mugwort + Plant-based Dye Making
At the EPA today, we’ve been caring for the Urban Weeds Community Garden by “airing out” some of the Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris) that has taken root throughout the site. As a rhizomatic plant, Mugwort extends its roots horizontally and is able to develop a complex and thick network with just a small amount of soil or permeable surface. Rather than merely disposing of our Mugwort friends and mentors, we are experimenting with natural dye making – using the leaves of the Mugwort as a pigment for textiles. Above is documentation from some of our experiments. We used a recipe of boiling water for 90 minutes with the plant fully submerged. We’ll let it cool over night, and boil again for 60 minutes, and then the dye should be ready for dipping.