Marisa Prefer marisa at pioneerworks.org
Wed Nov 6 06:57:39 AEDT 2019

So excited to be in conversation here- many thanks, Margaretha, Oliver and
others, for inviting a feral multi-species-ness to convene in this digital
space in a time when the relationships between physical and ethereal matter
feels increasingly slippery.

I am slowly gathering steam that builds around this waxing moon in
Capricorn; I write from a low-lying seaside community in Red Hook,
Brooklyn; near the harbor where we recently gathered to honor the ocean
waters in this seventh year after strong floods (unprecedentedly for our
times) blanketed streets and sidewalks. Are they not simply waters in
pursuit of reclaiming their home, that has been concretized by humankind?
Much of Red Hook is built on landfill, atop a salt marsh estuary that was
once full of the 'native' Salt meadow cordgrass, or spartina.

Spartina now blankets many of the wetlands across the eastern US, and is
feared as an 'invasive', although it is often also endemic to nearby
regions where it stands. It thrives alongside polluted wetlands, spreading
by its roots, sending signals to encourage microbial life below ground. The
linguistic demarcation of binaries (native v. invasive) as related to
control or valuation / eradication of plant beings sets a tone similar to a
common us vs. them dynamic, a reminder of the structural logic that was
employed by the cultural purges of the early modern European witch-hunts,
and is all too familiar in American politics around gender and cultural
variances. Though humans have created drug compounds extracted from
phytochemicals found within plants, we do not know them by their names. The
hemorrhaging of connective tissue between consuming and experiencing plants
is a wound that can (must) be treated, locally.

In searching for the incantatory amongst the edges; I find many of the
plants that APRIORI has created signs for– in the slivers of soil in
sidewalks and alongside street side tree-pits. This landscape that has been
re-inundated with saltwater is, in its seventh year, full of ruderal plant
magic - a derelict ecotone where plastic bags soaked with pet dander cling
to Knotweed, Mugwort, and Plantain whose roots exude organic compounds into
soil helping to bind carbon from the atmosphere. Empty lots radiate with
this intermingling; Seaside goldenrod, Jimson weed, Mullein, Evening
primrose - which all thrive in sandy, disturbed, salty soils, are
"following us" as armenian-american writer, activist, herbalist, and one of
my dear teachers, Rosemary Gladstar says of her favorite plant beings (the
'weeds')– they're ones that are right there when and because we need them.

I cultivate the 'weeds' that live in the streets of my neighborhood-
growing them in rich humus in raised beds far from immobile heavy-metal
contaminants that lie dormant within human-altered soils of Red Hook's once
fertile red clay- (for which it gathered its name) to make decoctions with
their leaves, stems, fruits, roots and seeds. Many of these plant elixirs
are macerating on my shelf, waiting to be strained for next year's
allergies, inflammation, coughs and infections. I share them with fellow
city dwellers; neighbors, friends, and strangers. I believe that the term
'weeds' is more of a descriptor for a human's state of mind than a name for
a category of plant- an act of deeming a plant who is growing where a human
wishes they wouldn't. But feel it is important to recognize how humans have
demoralized them merely for holding this transitory space, the queers and
in-betweens who reclaim the streets as a vibrant, messy places for all
kinds of phenotypes to gather.

To cultivate the 'weeds' might be seen as an unpopular tactic, eschewing
the neat and narrow rows of kale and brussels sprouts, (is it me, or did
brussels get a PR team this year like kale did back in 2010?) but perhaps
it is those who hold the hold the powers to thrive amidst, that are the
technologies (and are extracted for use in our technologies) who remind us
of the presence of magic within all beings.

I aim to practice the work of taking more time sensing in these 'weedy'
spaces, - for feeling the prickliness of Japanese hops as they catch on my
skin, sending me nerve-numbing medicine as I try to pull them from the
fence. As the spines of get stuck in our arms and fingers, can we be (with)
them, embodied at the edges– before pulling them out?

*Marisa Prefer *
*(they, them, their)invisiblelabor.org <http://invisiblelabor.org/>*

On Mon, Nov 4, 2019 at 11:13 PM Oliver Kellhammer <okellhammer at gmail.com>

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Yes to the 'rudeness' and category-defying ferality! One of the things
> that can be maddening to purists is the Interzone between the ruderal and
> indigenous, the hyper-ecologies that self assemble into novel ecosystems. I
> have fond memories of stumbling through a Superfund site next to the
> Willamette River near Portland and coming upon the indigenous Madrone and
> Cottonwood trees growing cheek to cheek with Paulownia and Robinia.
> Red-tailed hawks and western fence lizards took advantage of the thermal
> opportunities afforded by weedy expanses of abandoned pavement, while
> homeless folks made funeral pyres of salvaged electrical wire with which to
> burn off the insulation before selling it for recycling. Yet toxins were
> leaching into the water table and the fish were too contaminated for
> healthy consumption.
> The ruderal may be empowering but not perhaps for those that ruined it.
> Yet the ruderal is playing out a longer game of earth repair that may or
> may not include us.
> On Mon, Nov 4, 2019 at 10:57 PM WhiteFeather <
> whitefeather.hunter at gmail.com> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Hello, empyrites!
>> I can't express how excited I am to see this topic of discussion come up
>> here, and to learn from you in this shared space, about what magic and
>> witchcraft mean from your different contexts and positions. My current PhD
>> research is very much centred in practice-based (witch)craft, in
>> relationship with biotechnology (I have a practical background in cellular
>> and microbiology), and of course with a very keen eye on feminist
>> witchcraft historians such as Federici, also Barbara Ehrenreich and Dierdre
>> English before her, as well as favourite feminist technophile philosophers,
>> such as Donna Haraway, and very (most?) importantly, other (bio)tech-witch
>> practitioners.
>> I'm very much interested in 'troubling' scientific narratives and
>> methodologies through practice and philosophy, where they historically and
>> contemporaneously intersect with mammalian bodies/selves especially, but
>> also expanding this to better reflect multiple senses of
>> other-worldliness--including deviants, hybrids and more-than-mammals (for
>> example, microbes essential to the nutrient uptake and growth of our plant
>> foods/medicines as well as those that emerge, feeding on and reducing
>> toxicity in spaces such as the 'ruderal').
>> What a magnificent word ruderal is, for it contains the word, *rude*.
>> Some of the most rude experiences I've had in the field have been with
>> regards to confronting ideologies around ecosystems and “protected”
>> (pristine/pure) areas, particularly where privileged systems of knowledge
>> production influence policy that restricts, undermines and suppresses
>> lived/embodied/anecdotal knowledges, when those knowledges run counter to
>> capitalist imperatives. I can expand more on these experiences later where
>> there is interest or opportunity.
>> So looking forward to reading everything,
>> WhiteFeather Hunter
>> :::she/her:::
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
> --
> http://www.oliverk.org
> twitter: @okellhammer
> mobile: 917-743-0126
> skype: okellhammer
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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