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.

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


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

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.