Now

pseudo-journal platform somewhat resembling a blog but mostly a space for documenting current activity

We're Disenfranchised

Yesterday was different.

Usually, I am not walking around Hazelwood with a large group of representatives of institutions and organizations. Typically, I am walking to and from the library by myself or with neighborhood friends on our way or returning from an event. Yesterday was a three hour journey on foot to various sites with people from numerous organizations who have been granted the work of constructing a collaborative program. During this site investigation session neighbors inquired about what we were doing. It's not atypical for groups of people to be walking around so residents know something is in the works and inquire.

The first inquiry came from a library patron. I see her regularly and have had a casual conversation with her before. She asked what was up. Then let it be known that she didn't care if it involved a million dollar grant and she didn't care too much about what was going to take place but she did want to pass on advice. Her advice: "to not fuck it up." Fair enough. This is sage wisdom for all endeavors.

About midway through the walk a group of residents hanging out on their porch asked who we were and what we were doing. After giving them a very brief rundown of the project and showing them the map, which I had been using as a makeshift bandaid, one of the men said, "We're disenfranchised." He repeated this several times and I could only think it was a comment on our group. A sarcastic critique of who we represented and our approach.

The last interchange was at the playground adjacent, but fenced off from the new spray park at Burgwin. A man came up to me and introduced himself. We spoke for a bit. He told me about his family connections and offered up insight for our timeline: "Wait for the first shooting to take place," before you do anything here. He told me his given name again and his "nickname" and walked off. The provocative nature of his message and the others seemed pretty clear to me and like many interactions left me questioning my role. 

Is it possible to be part of this gaggle of institutions and represent or bring in another viewpoint? 

Knotweed as vegetable

Knotweed is here and here in abundance. It's unwelcome and reviled because it thrives and easily reproduces - inadvertently drop a leaf of it and it can generate a new plant. It has been of note as we have been tramping through overgrowth on vacant lots for a site to build outdoor stoves and ovens. I've heard lots of people talk about it with disdain as it can easily take over squeezing out native plant species. It is also a food source. From what I have read the young shoots can be used in the same way as rhubarb. Time to harvest some before the stalks get too woody and bake pies.

Field Stories

A significant portion of my work is based in conversations. Listening. Talking. Fostering space for open interactions. Sometimes projects coincide thematically as they did on Thursday. Maybe it is not unusual to be told by two different people in the span of a few hours their suicide story.

One was related to a portrait project. 250 artists are constructing portraits of one man for an exhibition. He is an artist. Once he tried to take his own life and was on a ventilator. 

The second story was told to me on a hill overlooking the river with the sun setting while shoveling mulch for an urban farm. His tale was about survival and the end of his addiction.