Monday, December 12, 2011


My mom pointed me to The Happiness Project and on that site I saw the quotation below.
“We are never so much disposed to quarrel with others as when we are dissatisfied with ourselves.”
-- William Hazlitt, "Characteristics"

Damn. Well that sure nails it for me. I have been most quarrelsome of late and slow to recognize the truth of Hazlitt's quotation.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

this too

Monday, November 14, 2011

Open the House

Art, food, drink, and the end of November! A festive time to see the famed 17th Street Studios and-- if you're lucky-- buy art from one of its many talented tenants. Wednesday, November 30th from 7 - 9 pm. The studios are in the attic of Redeemer Church, 1642 Highland Ave. (37916) at the intersection of 17th St. and Highland in the Fort Sanders Neighborhood.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Double Dipping

Come one come all and join the Urban Land Scouts. We will be walking in the 4th + Gill Neighborhood and noting edible plants. All ages welcome. Free.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ross Marble Quarry

This image shows part of the Ross Marble Quarry. It is a fine place to take a walk if you find yourself in South Knoxville.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Yes Men, Yes Lab!

The Yes Men are artists/activists who stage media-savvy pranks to draw scrutiny to corporations and institutions putting profit before people, among other sins. Below is a video of Yes Man, Andy Bichlbaum, posing as a DOW Chemical representative and apologizing for the Bhopal Disaster.

The Yes Men are currently hatching Yes Lab, currently described as "...a series of brainstorms and trainings to help activist groups carry out media-getting creative actions, focused on their own campaign goals." You can fund the Yes Lab via their kickstarter campaign.

Below is a list of actions carried out by Yes Lab (as quoted from the Yes Men mailing list). Pretty savvy stuff:

General Electric Short-Circuited
Activists US Uncut, with a little help from the Yes Lab, sent out a press release announcing that General Electric would repay the $3.2 billion tax credit they received last year despite massive profits. The announcement was momentarily picked up as true by the AP, and the market, unable to leave a good deed unpunished, responded by knocking $3.5 billion off GE’s share price. The result was massive, enlightening coverage of GE’s tax-cheating ways on everything from local TV to CNN.

What the heck is an Asthmaze?
A small group of activists wondered how a big coal company might address the fact that coal causes childhood asthma. The result: “Coal Cares,” a faux greenwashing campaign in which Peabody Coal tried to “make asthma cool” with free themed inhalers to kids living within 200 miles of a coal plant. The site, taken as real by many, quickly went massively viral, which didn’t amuse Peabody one bit but did help publicize coal as a major public health issue. And as it happened, in the week following the launch of Coal Cares, a real-life attempt by the coal industry to mislead children was defeated by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Hooray!

Beat Up On Chevron? We Agree.
Chevron decided to launch a $90 million greenwashing campaign with a street-art aesthetic, and was stupid enough to approach street artists for help. One of them, Cesar Maxit, promptly leaked Chevron’s plans to Amazon Watch. The Yes Lab helped Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network (RAN) release a much more honest version of Chevron’s campaign just hours ahead of the “real” McCoy, generating a deluge of media coverage. Hundreds of user submissions and some amazing videos from FunnyOrDie further derailed Chevron’s $90 million lie, infuriating Chevron even more—though not quite as much as the $18 billion judgment against them in Ecuador, which Chevron has vowed never to pay. The fight goes on.

Coal Burns Wealthy Neighborhood. Neighbors Nonplussed.
Students from Columbia College in Chicago came together with Greenpeace and the Yes Lab to create the illusion that a new coal plant was planned in their city—but that instead of going in a poor neighborhood (like the two coal plants that already exist in Chicago), this one would be built in a rich one. The plans got a rise out of residents and the media, and helped focus attention on Chicago’s much-needed Clean Power Ordinance.

Canada was the victim of two Yes-Lab-assisted actions, both targeting the Alberta Tar Sands, the England-sized mess that has made Canada the worst per-capita carbon emitter on earth.

Hair Clogs Pipeline
In the first Canadian action, a group of activists had Enbridge—who are aiming to build a massive pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands through pristine wilderness to the British Columbia coast—announce “My Hair Cares,” a crackpot plan to sop up inevitable spills along the pipeline route with the hair of volunteers. The resulting press publicized Enbridge’s botched spill cleanup in Michigan, and let Canadians know how stupid it can be to let oil flow through your watershed.

More and More Mordor
In the second Canada-centered action, a group of students, working with Greenpeace, launched a surreal campaign, complete with infomercials, cell phone videos, a tweeting campaign, a Facebook page, etc. to make folks in Canada think that the new Hobbit film was saving money on Mordor scenes by shooting them in the Tar Sands. The “news” went quickly viral and helped to cement the Canadian Government’s reputation as top-shelf planet-killing bastards.

Canadian War Room Defeated
Another Canadian action on the same subject took place way back in December 2009, before the Yes Lab really existed—but it happened according to the same model, so the Yes Lab is claiming it. Read about it here!

France Remains Offensive
An ad-hoc group called CRIME (Committee for the Reimbursement of Indemnity Money Extorted from Haiti) announced, on France’s behalf, the repayment of €17 billion to Haiti in relief aid—a payment equal to that which France extorted from Haiti in 1804 as a condition for their independence. Because of France’s ham-fisted reaction, the story received global attention, alerting many to the deep colonial roots of Haiti’s problems. The media attention was also used to launch a campaign that further built pressure on France to do the right thing.

People Bite Apple
It’s a bummer that our shiny tech toys are made using the blood of people—or, more precisely, the “conflict minerals” that play a big role in the violence and instability of Central Africa. So a group of students, together with Friends of the Congo, produced a fake Apple ad campaign touting a “Conflict-Free iPhone,” and calling for the citizen’s arrest of John Paulson, whose company finances some of the worst extraction practices. The project received hundreds of media hits worldwide.

Unnatural Gas
Students and local activists launched a campaign to cover Manhattan with stickers warning residents that if a ban on hydraulic fracturing is not extended in New York State, they’ll soon need to test for their water’s safety by trying to light it on fire. The project communicated viscerally just what’s at stake if gas companies are allowed to drill in New York’s aquifer, as the companies are demanding.

Shell Game Uncovers Oil Slick
In the Hague, activists impersonated oil giant Shell and publicly apologized for devastating the Niger Delta each year with oil spills larger than that of the Exxon Valdez. The action generated hundreds of stories—all highlighting Shell’s atrocious record.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Near Florabama

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Madeline Rogero for Mayor

Knoxvillians, I want to publicly endorse Madeline Rogero. I have met the women several times and am deeply impressed by her bearing and experience. I believe she would be a tremendous asset to Knoxville and the East Tennessee region. I am especially impressed by her goal to make Knoxville the "greenest city in America." You can read more about her platform at her website: Madeline Rogero for Mayor.

If you care to donate to Ms. Rogero's campaign, this link will take you straight there: Donate to Rogero's Campaign

Sunday, July 24, 2011


A neighbor sent me this link about "guerilla gardeners" and other creative activist in Berlin. He knows I like to garden and he knows about the Urban Land Scouts. In fact, he's come home to find us out front making seed bombs for various ULS workshops and events.

Stephen Evans, BBC News, Berlin
I read the article and was immediately struck by the foolishness of Petrus Akkordeon's planting. Not because I disagree with his hope that
"...if you plant one flower, the whole place changes. For several seconds, it's a nice place. People see these flowers and feel better for a moment."
but because I think it is a waste of a complex living thing to plant a flower in the shallow crack of a modern sidewalk. Where will the flower root? What will happen tomorrow when the workers paid to maintain the plaza come and find a clump of dirt and this sad wilted plant? They will sweep it up with the cigarette butts and cellophane wrappers.

It is not enough to plop down plants for a couple of hours and congratulate yourself on fighting the capitalist system...or whatever system you think your flowers are fighting. Cultivation takes time and several inches more soil. If you want to use planting and growing as tools in your activism, learn how to do it right.

These are the things I think every time I introduce seed balls (or seed bombs) to Urban Land Scouts. I consider them more successful for the poetic way in which holding one causes us to look at the landscape with new intention and expectation. They can hover between a purposeless object d'arte and a functional tool. What's more, if they are to work, that is, to grow plants in places where they might otherwise not grow, we've got to get deep into the specifics of what we grow, where it grows, and what happens after that. The examples I gave at Urban Land Scout camp were that we would never make seed balls with kudzu in them, nor would we try to lob seed balls with heat-loving plants into damp and shady areas.

You've got to work with the "genius of place" and if the place is a corporate office plaza in Berlin then you've got a radically different set of circumstances in which to support plants. I would encourage Mr. Akkordeon to start smaller and more insidious: mosses or small ferns planted in the shady cracks at the building's foundation. Then, prepare to tend to your plants every day...if not weekly. In this imagined case, it would be Mr. Akkordeon's presence, rather than that of the plants, that might change the whole place.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


sketches for jsa poster, originally uploaded by kt.ries.

Images made working on a poster for a conference held by the Justice Studies Association. The conference was called "Reducing Social Harms: Seeking 'Just Living' in Our Communities and Our Selves" and was June 2 - 5 , 2010 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Good Omen

This was one of the first things we saw when we got to Jess Wilson's farmstead home in Monteagle. I took it as a good omen.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Carson Fisk-Vittori

My friend Blaise recently pointed me to the website for Carson Fisk-Vittori. It's beautiful stuff. Go and browse.

Summerset, Carson Fisk-Vittori, 2010
Archival Inkjet Print

Untitled (Tasty Tunnels), Carson Fisk-Vittori, 2011
Ant food gel, plant food get, harvester ants, plexi, shrub

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Future is Always Wide Open

There are certain life lessons I have to learn over and over again. In no particular order they are:
Be patient.
Be still.
Be kind.
Do not worry about things you cannot control.
Know where you're aiming before you fire.
Do not talk about important things when you are hungry or tired.
Good shoes and good food are worth the money. 
In particular, I find it hard not to worry about what work I will find in the coming months as my stint at Beardsley Farm winds to a close. While I've enjoyed the radical change of pace and the knowledge I've gained at a demonstration farm, I miss teaching. I also miss making more money. There, I said it. I want to pay off my student loans AND eat well. Can't do that on an AmeriCorps living allowance.

I don't know if you've heard, but this is not a great time to be job searching. (And I'm one of the lucky ones!) With that in mind, I began to imagine what I would like to do if money were no problem. It is this: I would like to establish an Urban Land Scouts program in which we could work with students daily on both the land-craft elements of the scouts and the critical thinking and making that fuels reflection and greater awareness. Since my time at the Outdoor Academy, I've joked about wanting to start things like The Katie Ries Farm School for Young Ladies, but now I find the joking falling away as I consider what it might actually take to realize an established Urban Land Scouts program.

An established program, even an after-school program, is a two to five year goal. What I can do right now is this: Urban Land Scout Camp at CAC Beardsley Community Farm. I'm partnering with Schools of Influence Education Foundation and CAC (the parent organization of Beardsley Farm) to try and pull this camp together for this July! What's more, we're trying to get it funded so that our campers can attend at no cost to their families. We've generous local sponsors (like the Tomato Head, Cruze Dairy Farm, and Community Television of Knoxville, among others) and will be asking individual donors to step up and donate whatever they can. I know that money is tight, but this project won't cost much and it will give a lot to people in our community-- both by supporting Beardsley Farm's work and by increasing educational access for sixty Knox County students. If you would like to read or disseminate our one-page proposal of the project, you can find it here.

So there you are. The Future remains unknown and daunting, but I've got this project in my sights. Please stay tuned for when I come asking you for money to fund the project. Ha.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Before I Die

My dad sent me a link to this neat project. Let's put one up around Market Square.

Before I Die

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Violet Vinegar

I'm trying to cook more and cook better. So far, it's slow progress. Who knew? Violet vinegar is hardly cooking, but it was satisfying to make and even more so to use (although I am currently underwhelmed by the flavor). My two kind friends, Rachel and Christy, helped pick violets in Morningside Park. Thanks ladies! You can usually find violets in moist shady spots. Some have whiter flowers. Those are fine to use too.

I found several recipes for violet vinegar online. The gist of them is to put clean picked violet blossoms in rice vinegar for a while. One recipe mentioned that leaving the jars to sit in the window would increase the spiciness of the vinegar, but I cannot speak to that (yet). So far mine tastes much like the original vinegar, but now it's a pretty color.

You should pick only healthy young flowers. Gather a lot. Let's say at least a half a brown paper bag full. Rinse and drain the flowers gently. Pick off any stems. Put the mound of flowers in a glass half pint jar and pour the vinegar over them. Let set. Ta da, vinegar made purple.

This is on the first day. As time wore on, the vinegar turned color and the flowers lost theirs.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wisdom from my Momma

This is not original to her, but she quoted it to me on the phone yesterday and it rings true:

You can either be right all the time or you can be in relationships with people.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Blooming Earth

Stacey Adam, of Blooming Earth Flowers, is bringing all sorts of good things to Knoxville. In addition to fair trade flora, Ms. Adam will be teaching interested folks the fine art and craft of making soap. Here's the skinny.

This image comes from
Luffa Soap Making Class-
Sunday, March 20th, starting at 5:30 pm, $18

This is a melt and pour class focusing on using our farm grown luffa. We will be using essential oils to create our own scents, and the soap base is SLS free. The end product will be 6 round bars with luffa in the center (They make great gifts).
Bring a bottle of wine or other beverage and snacks to share (if you would like, this is not a requirement). I will have an appropriate spring time drink available to warm up with if necessary. Glasses and napkins are provided.

We will need at least 12 people to sign up in order to have the class.So if you have friends or would like to make more than six bars of soap let me know (i.e. 12 bars would be $36).

Read what Christina blogged after our December class. It is a delightful read! Thanks Christina!
Great, right? And...check out these other workshops coming up at Blooming Earth Flowers. Stay tuned for more information or email Stacey at bloomingearthflowers (at) gmail (dot) com to stay in the loop.
Saturday, April 9th
Home Brew Demo
Lots of yummy samples and food by Mockingbird Events

Sunday, May 1
Lye Soap Making Class
Get a demo on how to make lye the old school way and then actually make some soap with it.

Sunday, June 12
The Blueberry Lavender
Our First Annual Blueberry and Lavender Festival! Food will be provided by Bruce Bogartz of Rouxbarb and cocktails crafted by Laura Sohn of Mockingbird Events. Along with music and dancing and blueberries of course. It will be an evening to remember!
On a slightly unrelated note, I would like to propose renaming the May 1st workshop "Lye to Me." Oh! Punny? No. Ok. Enough.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Green Tunnel of Great Dizziness

I recognized several locations in this. And then I got dizzy and had to turn it off. It is mesmerizing and beautiful. Maker, Kevin Gallagher, describes himself as an "amateur naturalist" and teaches art at Virginia Commonwealth University.

A six month journey along the 2,200 mile long Appalachian Trail, condensed and reinterpreted into five minutes of stop-motion.

A full quality version is available for purchase on DVD. Go to​ and look for it on Stephen Vitiello: Soundtracks.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rival Collective

Here's to collaboration and ambition. Ben and Greg (together Rival Collective) are two young designers about to launch from the University of Tennessee. Their thesis project, Rival Collective, involves "exploring the the nature of change in collaboration and limitation as they relate to the transition from being a student to working in the professional world."

They wrote to me (among others) to solicit prompts, assignments, briefs, etc. In response I asked that they help me promote an upcoming series of Urban Land Scout workshops at CAC Beardsley Community Farm. Their work arrived this evening and I am buzzing. The ten posters they designed are, in my humble and unbiased opinion, near perfect. I could not be more pleased.

I was also pleased to find various iterations of the posters posted on their tumblr.

Monday, February 21, 2011

New Shoes

I made my first pair of shoes under the kind tutelage of Daniel Scott. He'll be teaching at least two more workshops (if not more) at the Knoxville Birdhouse in April. Stay tuned to their calendar to sign up.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Emerging Artists

Image by the talented Jonathan Bagby.
I am honored to join a fine crew of young, local emerging artists whose work will be featured in an upcoming show at the Emporium Center. The Arts and Culture Alliance, whose work fills the Emporium Center's gallery month after month, is a great resource for anyone wanting to plug into the local art scene.

Below are my fellow emerging artists. Check out our websites and consider buying our work while we're young and relatively undiscovered. You can also read the full press release from the Arts and Culture Alliance here.
Ashley Addair -
Jonathan Bagby -
Julie Bernal -
Robmat Butler -
Antuco Chicaiza -
Hannah C. Holder -
Heather Ann Jackson -
Jessie Morris – Photography -
Erin Mullenex -
Katie Ries -
Jessie Van der Laan -

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

just ripe

just ripe is a worker-owned food cooperative that's been selling delicious and seasonal prepared food at the Knoxville Farmers' Market on Market Square for over a year now. They're about to take the big step of moving from charming-but-transient-gypsy-caravan to a brick and mortar store in the Daylight Building in downtown Knoxville. As you might imagine, this is an expensive project. In the same spirit that inspires their products and business model, just ripe has launched a Kick Starter campaign.

For the uninitiated, Kick Starter is a website that allows people with a vision (like the women at just ripe) to crowd source the funding for said vision. They've set a goal of $12,000 and have until Sunday, February 13th to raise the money. If they don't reach their goal by then, all pledged monies will be returned to the donors. If they do reach their goal Knoxville's food and culture scene will be so much the richer.

It is cliche but true to say that every bit helps.  Five or five hundred, the women at just ripe will be grateful for your help.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Monday, January 10, 2011

Provenance and Consumption

I am making drawings about skinning deer in anticipation of doing the actual work. It is an odd mediation. This drawing was a test run for a print to go into a portfolio exchange. If you're so inclined, you can buy it for your very own.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Worthy: 3

This clever image comes from an interview in the Nashville Scene which you can read here.
 Sam Smith (Sam's Myth) is the kind of wonderkid you think doesn't exist in real life until you meet him and then it seems perfectly normal, albeit a little unfair to the rest of us, that someone should be able to do so much so well. I first knew Sam as an eager little kid in lower school in Nashville. As we progressed through middle and then high school Sam was to me the guy-who-could-draw-really-well and I looked up to him (and envied him) forever and ever, amen. (He was also and remains today a talented drummer and musician among other things.) One of the things I took away from Sam, and for which I remain very grateful, is the model of putting your work out there. Or as was said in my sunday school, "Don't hide your light under a bushel."

Fortunately for all, Mr. Myth burns brightly and in many directions. If you live in Nashville you can go see his fantastic movie posters at the Belcourt. The rest of us can content ourselves with browsing through his blog, flickr stream, and portfolio.