Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Head Is Bursting With Ideas...

A common occurrence: Too many (seemingly) good ideas and not enough time, energy, human power, or money to do them all. Perhaps writing them out will either make them magically happen, give them life and allow others to expand/improve/rebuff them, and most immediately, make me feel less crazy!
Here is the list from this week, geared towards Columbia, Missouri (where we are currently based):

Supporting Local Farming...
Restaurant-Supported Agriculture: Create a hub that coordinates the ordering and transport (and education about) fresh, local, and preferably organic/pesticide-free produce for local restaurants and businesses.
Locally-made corn and flour tortillas & chips: People got so excited about artisanal, local, fresh bread. Maybe they can get excited about this instead of buying plastic bags of half-filled air and GMO corn shipped from all over the country.
Fresh, local food in the schools!

Tool Library


Printmaking workshop, studio, educational center, and artist residency

Public art everywhere...
Murals on all the blank, depressing walls downtown

Gardening better...
Education, subsidies, and support for rain gardens, native plants, and turning lawns into sustainable green spaces
City-wide an on toxic and environmentally-damaging chemicals for gardening
Edible plants all over
Free soil testing and help with remediation
City-wide composting or private composting business

Friday, May 28, 2010

Homemade Rooting Compound

We're trying to grow some bamboo from cuttings, so here is our latest research on rooting compounds.

Although store bought rooting compound isn't too expensive, it can exact a heavy price on the environment and can be toxic due to the fungicide included to protect plant cuttings from disease.
Rooting compounds use plant hormones to stimulate growth - the first such hormone to be discovered is auxin. The synthetic version of auxin is what is in commercially sold compounds today. The willow tree is a natural source of auxin and can be used to make your very own all-natural, homemade rooting compound whenever you need to plant some new cuttings.

Willow Tree Tea:
Gather a handful of willow branch tips and chop or mash them into smaller pieces
Put the willow tree pieces into a small container (e.g. a mason jar) and fill it with enough water to submerge all the pieces
Let it sit 24 hours (or at least overnight)
Remove the willow pieces and dip your cuttings into the water
Put your cutting into your potting mix
(You might want to cover your cutting with a plastic bag to retain moisture)
After the roots form, transplant (into the garden or a larger pot)

Don't spill out the remaining willow water when you're done with your cuttings. Save it to water your plants or store it in the fridge/freezer for the future.

I have also read that if you don't have access to willow, you can dissolve a few aspirins in a jar of water. Aspirin is made from willow bark, so it can have the same effect as the willow water. Crazy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Yes! Celebrating Idle Parenting!

The Manifesto of the Idle Parent

We reject the idea that parenting requires hard work
We pledge to leave our children alone
We reject the rampant consumerism that invades children from the moment they are born
We read them poetry and fantastic stories without morals
We drink alcohol without guilt
We reject the inner Puritan
We don’t waste money on family days out and holidays
An idle parent is a thrifty parent
An idle parent is a creative parent
We lie in bed for as long as possible
We try not to interfere
We play in the fields and forests
We push them into the garden and shut the door so we can clean the house
We both work as little as possible, particularly when the kids are small
Time is more important than money
Happy mess is better than miserable tidiness
Down with school
We fill the house with music and merriment
We reject health and safety guidelines
We embrace responsibility
There are many paths
More play, less work

Monday, May 24, 2010

Your fears confirmed...

THE PLASTIC PANIC: Toxic chemicals and their effects on the body 
A well-researched, thorough article in the latest New Yorker magazine:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Looking from a Bomb-Proof

The back reads: "This picture, taken from one of the bomb-proofs in the rear of the fighting line of the Japanese, gives a very good idea of the heights of Port Arthur on which the frowning forts were erected...."
The text ends with an enigmatic "A8833". Hmmm.
And what are "frowning forts"?

This stereoscope was found at a flea market in Columbia, Missouri amidst antique cracked tea cups, photographs of other people's ancestors, and bird feathers. Strange and amazing in its simultaneous banality and poignancy, the photograph on the front shows a blurry and oddly framed landscape partly obscured on the top by what appears to be a clumsy photographer's equipment. Actually, the photograph was taken below ground level from inside a bomb-proof shelter. The The back recounts a story of war on the frontlines of the Battle of Port Arthur - the hazy mountains in the background. An oddly calm and bucolic image for the bloody skirmishes. The awkward composition - seemingly made in an attempt to place the viewer "in the thick of battle" inside the bomb-proof - has the effect of inspiring strange narratives: What spy is looking out on the range? Are we seeing the world from the eyes of aliens crawling out from their space ship? Who else would photograph this seemingly unexceptional scene? Is this a glimpse at the apocalyptic future? And for whom was this stereoscope made for and what did they glean from it?

About the Battle of Port Arthur:
The Battle of Port Arthur (February 8-9, 1904) is considered the starting battle of the Russo-Japanese War. It began with a surprise night attack by a squadron of Japanese destroyers on the Russian fleet anchored at Port Arthur, Manchuria, and continued with further skirmishing until May 1904. Losing at Port Arthur for the Russians — and especially for Tsar Nicholas II — was fraught with dire circumstances for the Imperial Russian regime as the Russian people lost confidence in the military and government. The Russo-Japanese War is believed to have been a direct causal factor for the Russian Revolution of 1905.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Kindred Spirits!!!

PieLab was originally conceived during a 2009 session of Project M in Belfast, Maine. Project M is John Bielenberg’s design-for-good movement, intended to inspire young creatives that their work can have a positive and significant impact on the world. Since 2003, Project M has been bringing young people together in various places all around the globe to develop projects and initiatives that contribute to the greater good at a local level. During this 2-week M session, the group came to understand the importance of healthy and supportive communities. Free Pie was a response to this discovery. On March 14th, (Pi Day) the designers set up a pop-up pie stand on a central corner in downtown Belfast, serving over 200 slices to hungry locals. Each slice was served on a real ceramic plate and eaten with a real fork, encouraging citizens to hang around and interact with their neighbors while enjoying their dessert. The message was simple: Sometimes life is bad; free pie isn’t.

The success of this inaugural event encouraged the designers to develop the Free Pie Movement as a way of motivating others to offer the same simple gestures within their own community. Again, the approach was uncomplicated and direct: make a pie, choose a spot, give it away, bring people together. The idea was eventually explored in several cities across the U.S. including Atlanta, Brooklyn, Richmond, Columbus, and Washington DC. What developed not long thereafter is today called PieLab, a multifaceted approach to small business that addresses this need for united and empowered communities in a way that is self-perpetual and fun.

In May of 2009, a handful of designers from the March Project M session relocated to Greensboro, Alabama and brought PieLab to life. Located within the Black Belt Region of Alabama, and situated within Hale County, Greensboro is a quaint Southern town restrained from substantial progress and economic growth. Since 2007, Project M has been working to develop projects in Greensboro, through a strong collaboration with HERO* (Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization), a non-profit housing resource center. Within three weeks time, the crew transformed one-half of the Project M Lab (an old home converted to a permanent studio space by the 2008 Project M team) into a real, live, functioning pie shop. They built tables and signs from salvaged wood and purchased plates and jars from the local flea market, keeping up-front investment costs very low. Then they opened. And the people came. Visitors of all ages and backgrounds could enjoy a slice of pie ($2), a cup of coffee or lemonade ($1), and some good conversation (free!). All revenue generated from pie sales went right back into the pot to make more pies. Still the concept was simple: pie brings people together, conversation happens, ideas are created, and the result is positive change through design. Moreover, what PieLab provided during this preliminary stage was an interface for the people of Hale County and the designers to interact, share stories and get acquainted, allowing for an accurate look into the community’s assets and needs.

Read more at the PieLab site. Amazing!

Monday, May 17, 2010

And, this too!

Our friend who is an artist but also a gallery. Really.
Ben Russell

And... ACRE Project (The Artists’ Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions Project) is a non-profit based in Chicago devoted to developing new systems of support for emerging artists and to creating a regenerative community of cultural producers. ACRE investigates and institutes models designed to help artists develop, present, and discuss their practices by providing forums for idea exchange, interdisciplinary collaboration, and experimental projects.

More Chicago Goodies...

After learning about InCUBATE, we found a whole host of other interesting and experimental cultural projects based in that fine Midwestern metropolis... There are surely others, but here is a start.

AREA Chicago
Backstory Cafe and Social Center
Baltimore Development Cooperative
Chicago Underground Library
Devening Projects & Editions
FEAST Brooklyn
G Rad
Groups & Spaces
Harold Arts
Hideous Beast
Joe Post
Marc Moscato
Mess Hall
Portland Stock
Saturday Soup
Spring Break: Publishers/Curators
Sweet Tooth of the Tiger
Tanda Foundation
The Artist Run Credit League
The Department of Aesthetics
The Stockyard Institute
W.A.G.E. (Working Artists and the Greater Economy)


From their website:
InCUBATE (Institute for Community Understanding Between Art and The Everyday) is a research group dedicated to exploring new approaches to arts administration and arts funding. We at InCUBATE act as curators, researchers and co-producers of artists projects.  These activities have manifested in a series traveling exhibitions called Other Options, an artist residency program, and various other projects such as Sunday Soup (a monthly meal that generates funding for a creative project grant). We don’t have non-profit status, instead we are interested in what kinds of organizational strategies could provide more direct support to critical and socially-engaged art and culture beyond for-profit or non-profit structures.  Our core organizational principle is to treat art administration as a creative practice.  By doing so, we hope to generate and share a new vocabulary of practical solutions to the everyday problems of producing under-the-radar culture.  Currently we do not have a physical location and we work together on an ongoing project basis.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lost in the supermarket

An experiment conducted in 1954 by the Kroger Food Foundation set 50 children loose in a Kroger supermarket to buy what they wanted without any supervision. 
Photography by Francis Miller (Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images)

LA Ladies Choir
Hooray for this project!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bless This Mess!

Columbia, Missouri, USA / February 2009 / The Archaeology of the Recent Future Association

The Beginning of the Misfortune

Inspired by today's article in the New York Times about strange and sometimes poetic translated signs from non-English-speaking countries. The article is here and readers' submissions of similar photos is here.
Sanqing Mountain, China / May 2007 / Image by The Archaeology of the Recent Future Association