We’re just finishing a 7 week course at ITP called The Fungus Among Us. It’s an independent project/research studio for 16 students looking at fungus for fabrication, food, as metaphor (eco-systems thinking), and touched on spirituality, network theory (slime mold way-finding and the “wood wide web” even though they’ve been ousted from the Kingdom). We have been growing mushrooms for food, for dye, and working with Ecovative‘s GIY (grow it yourself) inoculated substrate in molds. Students are working on lichen, Co2 sinks, electronics interfaces, material fabrication, pattern sonification… Sue Van Hook gave an incredible overview talk about fungi and Ecovative; Christie Leece talked about her beautiful Gowanus Canal oyster mushroom remediation project; and Corrie Van Sice came and talked about good lab practices around cultivation and inoculation. Students did case studies with a range of “experts.” It was a good trial run, we all learned a lot, and it’s compelling within the context of this program.
Here’s our grow tent
I’m working now on some buoy forms, which I hope will end up embedded with radio controlled LEDs for “the project” in PDX:
And here’s a systems map and catch-all examination of using psilocybin in the health care system for hospice work, therapy, addiction etc, after reading the NY Times article, How Psychedelic Drugs Can Help Patients Face Death — on psilocybin / coping with dying trials:
Many good posts on systems, boundary critique, climate.
…where systems thinking really gets interesting is when we include ourselves as part of the system we’re describing. For example, for the climate system, we should include ourselves as elements of the system, as the many of our actions affect the release of greenhouse gases. But we’re also the agents that give some aspects of the system their meaning or purpose – the fossil fuel extraction and production system exists to provide us with energy, and one could even argue that the climate system exists to provide us with suitable conditions to live in, and that ecosystems exist to provide us with food, resources, and even a sense of wonder and belonging. The interesting part of this is that different people will ascribe different meanings and/or purposes to these systems, and some would argue that to ascribe such purposes is inappropriate.
Robert Krulwich for NPR writes about cartographer Harold Fisk’s visualization of the river’s historical paths here.
This is a map of the Lower Mississippi’s evolving floodplains, lifted from cartographer Harold Fisk’s 1944 report, Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River.
You can download the report in its entirety, including numerous maps like this one, from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers web site (if you’re looking for maps like the one up top, you want to click the link on the lefthand side of the USACE website that says “Fisk 44 Oversized Plates.” (thanks io9)
Went kayaking with Joan Lundell, recent grad from PNCA MFA in Collaborative Design and Sasha Davies of Cyril’s fame; Joan generously hauled her boats up to Cathedral Park where we set off, and in 4 hours of drifting and poking around, got as far as the edge of Swan Island. It’s doleful out there, especially on an overcast day. Across the river, what look like gas storage tanks read like a cluster of blank mosques. Homeless camps dot the shore. “Aquatic squatters” live in boats in Willamette Cove, near-permanent transients in the heart of LWG’s superfund remediation plan, ducks are drifting, dogs are chasing sticks into the water, and people are fishing.
I’m confused by the directive that you’re not supposed to walk in the sediment, where most of the superfund site’s toxins are embedded. This is where people are camping, and dogs are being walked. And none of this gets back into the water, next to a swimming beach? Nothing stirs it up, not even “prop wash” – propeller agitation from the tankers that come up and down the river collecting grain and depositing cargo from overseas?
1. Talked to Dr Elaine Ingham, chief scientist at the Rodale Institute in PA (formerly at OSU). She’s a Soil Diva: an energetic, brilliant, committed soil expert and the author of my favorite quote from the film Symphony of the Soil*:
“It’s Times Square on New Years Eve in the soil, all the time”.
I already found out that half the microorganisms I drew are “bad guys,” which really upset Dr. Ingham. I clearly need some schooling. I’m going to learn this fall, soil analysis and microvideography, at least superficially (bad pun sorry I bet soil can engender lots of those) .
* I’m indebted to Stefani Bardin for turning me onto the film.
2. I went to Pomarius, Peter Schoonmaker’s brother-in-law’s nursery in part because it’s spectacular (and full of foreigners:) but also because the city’s doing sewer lines and there was a big cut outside along the curb, in which a lot of clay was exposed. So we grabbed a shovel and started to make for the trench when a worker came and forbade us to get in there – and dug the bucket of clay up himself. Stinky, but awesome. Now I have material to test this winter til I get back out on the river.
He also gave us a tour inside the manholes – flowing waters, nasty pipes suggesting toilets (as Timothy Morton likes to say, “There’s no there there”), and stagnant shit under the nursery’s plein aire dining area, with strange stumpy crickets clustered around the upturned lid…
My hosts Sasha and Michael, the proprietors of the brilliant wine and food spot in the SE, Cyril’s at Clay Pigeon Winery, think I make all this stuff up, just ride my bike all day long and come home with weird stories:)
It’s been lux, and I am sad to be going home.