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red treeplaceblog’s most recent post about maps talks about how artists are drawing on mapping conventions to question territory and re-imagine place.

In the daily life of cities, people are always on the move and always heading somewhere in the random harriedness of the streets; passengers anxiously straining to catch sight of their bus heading towards them. Looking into these works, there is the lure of other kinds of movement – of journeying elsewhere – while simultaneously straining to know our place. In tracing their pathways, we might end up in the middle of nowhere, though not before exploring that unquenchable longing to be if not somewhere then somewhere else.

I’ve said it before, mapping is so hot right now, and it seems that the link between urban living and mapping is particularly strong.

Last post, I talked about the work of fallen fruit and a project that I love, public fruit maps.  I also wrote that I would be looking at some Australian sites and projects that use food to build community. While it seems that Melbourne plays host to a particularly vibrant food-community-activism scheme, I couldn’t find much in the smaller cities at all, and sadly, there also aren’t many that involve art activism. I’m not sure what that says about our artistic community.

Certainly here in Hobart I haven’t heard of a formal food mapping project, but local knowledge about food-sharing is around. So far, by talking to locals, we’ve discovered the location of trees laden with apples in autumn, and fresh hops for beer-making.

So here are some Aussie examples from the web:

The VEIL Food Map is an online, urban food production map of Melbourne. Examples of urban food production include: community gardens, commercial production and market gardens, shared private gardens, and food produced on public space.

The Sharehood is all about sharing resources within your neighbourhood and helps you to meet and make friends with people in your local area. All sorts of things can be shared, such as sewing machines, vegetables, wheelbarrows, tools, cars, books and computers. Skills can be shared too: gardening help, bike fixing, accountancy, language skills, childminding, how to make wine or dance the tango.

Live Local is a place to share stories about improving our communities. Use the website to document your neighbourhood experiments – your stories about your experiences and adventures meeting neighbours, discovering neighbourhoods, improving your local economy, saving energy and making our air and water cleaner.

And of course, there is the vibrant Transition Towns movement, which has reached most regions of Australia. If you know of a local example of food-art-activism-community-building, drop me a line.

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Last post I talked about the community collaboration potential in underground supper clubs. I think they are one expression of a growing movement that uses food to build community.

Well, it looks like there are actually a few supper clubs in Melbourne and Sydney. A recent article in the Australian, while rather trite, talks about how

Young food-lovers with “restaurant fatigue” are turning to word-of-mouth recommendations – on food blogs, or elsewhere on the internet, usually – to join these secret assignations. We’re talking inner-city folk in their 20s and 30s who are looking to socialise with like-minded people. As one underground diner says, “The food is usually pretty good at these things, but it’s more about community and sharing – sitting next to a stranger and becoming friends over a meal, like it used to be.” I ask if he fears getting stuck next to a loud-mouthed bigot for four hours. “Sure, you’ll have your annoying guest, but most people are cool. They’re interesting and they’ve lived a bit, because the people who seek out these dinners aren’t people who reckon a $10 parmigiana is a top meal – it’s hard [to find them] on purpose.”

Meanwhile, another phenomenon I am observing is in the art scene: the rise of art activism and community driven art projects that involve food. They are hot right now.

In Somerville in Massachussets, a spaghetti dinner and theatre event in May:

Performers included the following artists, thinkers, and doers :

  • Milan Kohout is a member of the Mobius artists’ group. He is a political street performer as well as a visual artist. Originally from the Czech Republic, he now teaches Tufts University and performs in the Boston area.
  • John Bell is a co-founder of the HONK! Festival in Davis Square as well as the NYC-based theater company Great Small Works–as well as a co-organizer of these dinners! He will be taking a historical perspective on the theme, looking at how our relationship to public space and performance in that space has changed over time.
  • kanarinka, a.k.a. Catherine D’Ignazio, an artist and educator, will discuss her project It takes 154,000 breaths to evacuate Boston, and examine the role that fear can play in public space, especially in the form of public transport awareness campaigns, terror simulations in public space, and so on.

18 reasons engages the community through food and art. They offer an ongoing programs of wine tastings, art shows, community dinners, food classes and interactive workshops.

In Toronto, Hart House Social Justice Committee, Art Committee and Farm Committee explored the connection through a panel discussion, “From Field to Art: Discussing the Link Between Food, Art and Social Justice.”

Finally, the fallen fruit project, created as part of an artistic collaboration by David Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young is

Using fruit as our lens, Fallen Fruit investigates urban space, ideas of neighborhood and new forms of located citizenship and community. From protests to proposals for new urban green spaces, we aim to reconfigure the relation between those who have resources and those who do not, to examine the nature of & in the city, and to investigate new, shared forms of land use and property. Fallen Fruit is an art collaboration that began with creating maps of public fruit: the fruit trees growing on or over public property in Los Angeles.

Over time they have expanded. Projects now include:

  • Public Fruit Jams in which we invite the citizens to bring homegrown or public fruit and join in communal jam-making;
  • Nocturnal Fruit Forages, nighttime neighborhood fruit tours;
  • Community Fruit Tree Plantings on the margins of private property and in community gardens;
  • Public Fruit Park proposals in Hollywood, Los Feliz and downtown LA; and
  • Neighborhood Infusions, taking the fruit found on one street and infusing it in alcohol to capture the spirit of the place.

Here’s a good overview of the community garden scene from the Guardian:

Artists are engaging with issues around the environment and society. Suddenly, there is an abundance of projects that seem to be affecting the way America’s cities think about themselves…”What artists do is seed things. They plant ideas,” says Michaela Crimmin, head of the RSA Arts and Ecology Centre. Which maybe explains why these cheap, relatively small-scale projects like Franceschini’s can have such an influence.

Next post I’ll talk about local projects and organisations.

One should never mix them, probably.

Here’s a photograph of one of my cheeses next to Billy (Billy is the yellow one), a hard goat’s cheese from Tongola.

A wonderfully stinky cheese, Bill is aged for six weeks and has his rind smeared daily, according to his maker.  Its a pity we don’t have smellovision though!

I enjoyed Billy very much. Hard cheeses will my next experiments in cheese-making over winter, when its cooler here.

Meanwhile, we have a caretaker government in Tassie. Everyone’s waiting anxiously to find out if the Greens have won a fifth seat. It’s predicted that it will be Labor 10, Liberal 10, Greens 5, but Andrew Wilkie could be the spoiler. For a better analysis for what’s going on than I could ever attempt, read the Tasmanian Times.

I am reading a book from the library about a Collective based in Berkeley that was set-up in the 60’s. What is so extraordinary about The Cheese Board Collective is that they are still alive and well today.

Based on the kibbutz model, all the workers are paid equally. They have no hierarchy, and every member of the collective has equal power. Important business decisions are made by consensus.

As Olivia says in the book “I actually enjoy coming to work…I feel that I have a luxury of time that somebody earning six figures doesn’t have. Its very precious to me. Only in a place like this could I have that.”

This extraordinary worker-owned business grew organically, starting as a cheese shop. Soon they expanded to making their own bread, then started making pizzas in the 80’s. The pizza shop is actually run as an independent business alongside the original cheese and bread shop. Each day the collective makes a “Pizza of the Day” –

(Friday’s pizza (03.05.2010):

Asparagus, Shitake mushrooms, mozzarella and Montalban manchego cheese, garlic olive oil, fresh herbs.

Saturday’s pizza (03.06.2010):

Roma tomatoes, onions, mozzarella cheese, pinenuts, garlic olive oil, basil parmesan cheese.

Their website states that:

For tax and liability purposes it has been incorporated, with each collective member an equal shareholder and member of the board of directors. Upon joining each member is given ten shares worth $100/share. When a member leaves these shares are sold back to the corporation. All members are paid an equal hourly wage. Profits go to buy new equipment, raise wages, or are placed into our retirement fund. Moneys placed into this fund are distributed based on hours worked.

Pam: “Making food is both an art and a craft. To me, it’s life. My mom was a good cook. She had a wok in the fifties, a nice Jewish lady with a wok. I love shopping. I love to watch food grow. I love to play with it. I love eating.”

These workers feel that they are contributing to something important and nourishing of life. How satisfying.


For truly sustainable cities the former mayor of Curitiba says first you must get rid of your car.

Living without a car doesn’t have to be a total drag. While I have at times found it difficult to do without one, it certainly saves me money!

For the most part you can easily adapt to life without a car if you live in a city or large town that has good public transport. You will never miss your car, and the cost of bus tickets will be quickly off-set by the money you save by not having to pay for parking!

To continue to live without a car it is essential when moving house to live as near to trains, trams and buses as possible. The rent may be slightly higher, but just remember you are not paying to run a car.

The only times I miss having a car is when doing the weekly shopping (for instance, when it is raining, not so much fun!), picking up big loads, or to take a trip out of town on the weekend.

If you want to try living without owning a car try these strategies:

  • Join a car-sharing company (In Australia I use one called Flexicar)
  • Try a car-pooling site
  • Alternatively you could set up your own car-sharing arrangement, (It works best if you car-share with your neighbours, or someone living very close by)
  • Buy a bicycle with a trailer attachment (or panniers)
  • Take a taxi (even one trip a week will be cheaper than running a car!)
  • Rent a car (especially good for weekend trips out of town, and even a few trips a year is cheaper than owning your own car)

Read more here: Science of 350350 Science

350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

Accelerating arctic warming and other early climate impacts have led scientists to conclude that we are already above the safe zone at our current 390ppm, and that unless we are able to rapidly return to 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.

There are three numbers you need to really understand global warming, 275, 390, and 350.

For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Parts per million is simply a way of measuring the concentration of different gases, and means the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide molecules per million other molecules in the atmosphere. 275 ppm CO2 is a useful amount—without some CO2 and other greenhouse gases that trap heat in our atmosphere, our planet would be too cold for humans to inhabit.

So we need some carbon in the atmosphere, but the question is how much?

Beginning in the 18th century, humans began to burn coal and gas and oil to produce energy and goods. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere began to rise, at first slowly and now more quickly. Many of the activities we do every day like turning the lights on, cooking food, or heating or cooling our homes rely on energy sources like coal and oil that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. We’re taking millions of years worth of carbon, stored beneath the earth as fossil fuels, and releasing it into the atmosphere. By now—and this is the second number—the planet has 390 parts per million CO2 – and this number is rising by about 2 parts per million every year.

Scientists are now saying that’s too much – that number is higher than any time seen in the recorded history of our planet – and we’re already beginning to see disastrous impacts on people and places all over the world. Glaciers everywhere are melting and disappearing fast—and they are a source of drinking water for hundreds of millions of people. Mosquitoes, who like a warmer world, are spreading into lots of new places, and bringing malaria and dengue fever with them. Drought is becoming much more common, making food harder to grow in many places. Sea levels have begun to rise, and scientists warn that they could go up as much as several meters this century. If that happens, many of the world’s cities, island nations, and farmland will be underwater. The oceans are growing more acidic because of the CO2 they are absorbing, which makes it harder for animals like corals and clams to build and maintain their shells and skeletons. Coral reefs could start dissolving at an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 450-500 ppm. These impacts are combining to exacerbate conflicts and security issues in already resource-strapped regions.

(Text from the 350 website)

http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/SaveTheNet/442

I think its worth a post.

cheers

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