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.