The following is a a summary of our class review of the “Seedbomb Burlington” class project.
What worked well
Overall the expressed consensus was that the project went well. Materials were easy to get and to work with. The use of media, especially social media (such as Facebook), was considered successful. Many people beyond the class participated in the workshops, with a wide demographic among those interested, and there were expressions of interest from schools and individuals for follow-up workshops. Community engagement — including donations from organizations and businesses — was high. And in the end several hundred — perhaps close to 1000 — seedbombs were created and disseminated. The sense was that we made an impact and that that impact will not have been in vain.
What didn’t work as well; lessons for next time
As we wrap up the course, let’s weave together some of the threads we’ve explored over the last few months.
- We have looked at theories of new media, social media, Web 2.0, and media convergence, and examined a series of definitions of “media ecology.” These included the medium theory of Marshall McLuhan and others; the mental environmentalism of Adbusters; the cultural environmentalism of James Boyle and Lawrence Lessig, with their ideas of a mental or informational commons; the global network society theories of Deleuze (“society of control”), Galloway and Thacker (whose article we didn’t talk much about), and others; the “greening of media” assessments and proposals of Toby Miller and Richard Maxwell; and (briefly, this past week) the “three ecologies” of Felix Guattari.
- We’ve looked at the relationship between contemporary media and the public sphere; distinguished between Read more »
The Boston Marathon bombing forced us this week to reconsider the name of our class project, “Seedbomb Burlington.” We decided to stay with the name for two reasons. First, all of our PR materials — press releases, social media sites, et al. — are well in motion and can’t be recalled at this point. (And even if it wasn’t too late, the obvious alternative — “Seedball Burlington” — just doesn’t sound the same.)
But secondly, we had a general consensus that seedbombs have little to do with real bombs. The only thing they share is a certain incendiary image, which comes from the term’s historical connection to the guerrilla gardening movement. That image, we decided, can be toned down, even if there was some diversity of views about its usefulness. (We were still deciding on our posters, and had good ones to choose from that were less, well, bomb-like. Above is the one being postered around town.)
The goals of the two kinds of bombs are, in any case, antithetical. Read more »
What do the two have in common?
Our class project, Seedbomb Burlington, will involve organizing and carrying out a series of events/actions taking place in the landscape of Burlington, Vermont. It will also be a media event.
The initial actions will be two workshops that will take place on and around Earth Day 2013. But these should be considered as part of a much longer process: a process of remapping, re-seeding, re-wilding, reclaiming. A reoccupation of the city by the earth.
I’ve assembled an archive of readings on various topics related to the project including Read more »
Project: Seedbomb Burlington
Seedbombing, or aerial reforestation, refers to the practice of introducing vegetation to land by throwing or dropping compressed bundles of soil containing live vegetation (seed balls). Undertaken with the goal of re-naturalizing barren or ecologically underutilized land, seedbombing is an ecological practice for reviving urban environments.
Seedbomb Burlington is a place-specific project intended to provide people with skills and knowledge for remapping, reimagining, and rewilding their city through the practice of site-specific seeding with ecologically appropriate plants. It is a project of social and ecological reclamation and information dispersal, involving seeds, soil, boots, bikes, vacant landscapes, maps and smart phones, social and locative media, and time, gentle time.
Media matters, and media matter also matters.
As shown in Richard Maxwell’s and Toby Miller’s book Greening the Media, information and communication technologies are not ecologically benign. They leave behind plenty of residues — mountains of waste, toxic by-products that affect workers and consumers, and much else — and rearrange the materiality of the world in so many ways.
Here is where we can share our thoughts (between classes) about the project we’ve decided to take on as a class. The following are some initial ideas arising from our discussion in today’s class.
Project: Seedbomb Burlington
We are taking this week off from new readings. Instead the class is concentrating on critical analysis assignments and presentations.
Two of these — one on Banksy and the Critical Art Ensemble, the other on Greenpeace and the movement against the Keystone XL pipeline — were presented in class this past week. We are planning to present the remainder in next week’s class. We will also discuss how and what to share online from these analyses, and what form our final applied media projects will take.
Adbusters’ 2012 Meme of the Year video
This week we begin looking at some case studies of media uses — specifically, by “tactical media” activists such as “culture jammers” and other “hacktivists.”
Marshall McLuhan argued that the world was becoming a “global village.” For the theorists we are examining this week, the world has certainly become global, but it is less a village — which implies a stability and a taken-for-grantedness of “what’s what” and “who’s who” — than it is a tempest or a whirlwind. It is a world of ceaseless flux, flow, and modulation, a world of interconnected networks within which we might not know who we ourselves are, let alone who others are.