On Saturday, November 13th (details), Emily Rose Michaud and Owen McSwiney are presenting the Roerich Garden Project at the DIY Citizenship conference in at the University of Toronto. Leslie Reagan Shade is moderating the panel, called Making Space. They’ll also have a spot in the Hack Space. How cool is that?
This was the first time I ever submitted anything to an academic conference (see PDF of call for papers), so I was thrilled that we were selected. Here’s what caught my eye:
A renewed emphasis on participatory forms of digitally-mediated production is transforming our social landscape. ‘Making’ has become the dominant metaphor for a variety of digital and digitally-mediated practices. The web is exploding with independently produced digital ‘content’ such as video diaries, conversations, stories, software, music, video games — all of which are further transformed and morphed by “modders,” “hackers,” artists, and activists… Many of these individuals and collaborators understand their work to be socially interventionist. Through practices of design, development, and exchange they challenge traditional divides between production and consumption and to redress the power differentials built into technologically-mediated societies.
You can download all of the abstracts. Here’s ours. So little, yet so much sweat in here:
The Roerich Garden Project, a collaborative landscape-scale artwork instigated by artist Emily Rose Michaud, was created in 2007 to provoke dialogue about the future of lot #2334609 — known locally as the Maguire Meadow or simply le champ — one of the last undeveloped spaces in Montreal’s Mile End. The project also documents community uses of the meadow and explores concepts of public space, citizen participation, and the open city.
The Roerich symbol was originally used during World War II to protect buildings of historic, scientific, or cultural significance from aerial bombing. The garden in lot #2334609 is a 312-square foot living Roerich symbol made up of plants, rocks, and mulch, and maintained year-round over a period of three years by Sprout Out Loud! — a gardener’s ensemble borne from the project — with the help of neighbors and friends.
The project’s efforts sparked change: Citizens gathered, defined their priorities and dreams, and the city’s $9-million “development” plan is now under closer community scrutiny. A new nonprofit, Les Amis du Champ des Possibles (Friends of the Field of Possibilities), has been created to preserve the field and to raise awareness about the cultural, ecological, and social importance of wild urban spaces.
The Roerich Garden Project and the activities surrounding it are documented online at roerichproject.artefati.ca through a growing collection of more than 40 texts and 500 images, all distributed under a Creative Commons license. A book will soon follow, and subsequent editions will incorporate shifting community stories and perspectives. Visit roerichproject. artefati.ca to explore and learn more.
You can see all of the images we’ve gathered so far on Flickr. And the book is coming along, slowwwwwllly (we all, after all, have dayjobs!). Our tenacity is paying off. The first layouts are really beautiful. I was touched. One of those examples of where people together can create something beyond what we can do alone.