For full details about the conference, please visit hastac2023.org
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Thursday, June 8 • 1:30pm - Saturday, June 10 • 7:00pm
The Gifts of Time, Space & Attention — advocating for biodiversity through foraging, making, and design

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Aligning our work with HASTAC 2023’s conference theme ‘Critical Making and Social Justice’ and the topics of sustainability and environmental justice in projects, pedagogy and design, we offer our project, The Gifts of Time, Space & Attention in an alternative format that will combine a participatory installation and a workshop in order to create advocates for biodiversity and the concept of oneness/interbeing with nature, away from the belief in human exceptionalism.

“Critical making”, the term coined by Matt Ratto, is “process-oriented” and it presents designers with the opportunity to “mindfully reconsider a broader spectrum of human experience” (Hertz, n.d., para. 5). Our project builds on the concept, but from a more-than-human points of view. Let us call it critical (un)making of human-made colonialist artifacts. Starting with the needs of the land, we imagine steps of decolonizing the land to slow down or undo the negative effects of colonialist aesthetics. The project’s title refers to the time needed for the environment to grow and adapt, the space to nourish the species that inhabit it and the attention we as humans need to connect and make mindful, informed decisions.

Similar to extractive methods of manufacturing that are linear, wasteful, and destructive, landscape architectural practices with a colonialist aesthetic, such as a manicured, monoculture lawn, have severe detrimental effects on biodiversity. In Becoming Sensor for a Planthroposcene Natasha Myers (2020) notes that “land needs people and people need land” (1:10:35). This helps shift peoples’ mindset on beauty, beyond a narrow definition of accepted conventions. We propose that what affords for a healthy, biodiverse ecology is beautiful and we want to help bridge the awareness gap in a playful, empowering manner.
Inspired by Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer’s words, “Paying attention is a form of reciprocity with the living world.” (Kimmerer, 2013, p. 229), the Tree Witnessing workshop grants permission to spend time alone with a tree, in order to alter perspective and relationality. With a starting exercise, there will be reflection on the concepts of beauty and how to decolonize our aesthetic and of nature and how to shed the human/nature binary. Each person will take one of 18 possible kits that are symbolically reminiscent of a different type of commitment to relationship, those that Christian wives took for centuries — love, cherish and obey. Guided by their kit, each participant will create an artifact that will be placed in the exhibit. Participants will receive a resource guide at completion. Possible participant outcomes vary widely but may include plans for future gifts to the land, expansion of teaching pedagogy to include other-than-human entities, and the creation of personal micro-rituals.
In The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design, the authors talk about “small-scale bottom-up interventions implemented by everyday urban dwellers” (Mars & Kohlstedt, 2020, p. 323). We hope by presenting at HASTAC 2023 we can offer The Gifts of Time, Space & Attention as a process, rather than a collection of objects and activities, to facilitate those interventions.

Cox, G. W. (1999). Alien species in North America and Hawaii: Impacts on natural ecosystems. Island Press.
EPA Environmental Performance Agency. (2022). https://www.environmentalperformanceagency.com/about/
Hertz, G. (n.d.). What is critical making? https://current.ecuad.ca/what-is-critical-making
Inglis, M. I. (2020). Wildlife ethics and practice: Why we need to change the way we talk about ‘invasive species’. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 33, 299–313. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10806-020-09825-0
Kimmerer, R. W. (2013). Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the teaching of plants. Milkweed Editions.
Mars, R., & Kohlstedt, K. (2020). The 99% invisible city: A field guide to the hidden world of everyday design. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Myers, N. (2020, October 22). Becoming sensor for a planthroposcene [Video]. https://youtu.be/zJYA9tKSP4I
UN Environment Programme. (2020). Making peace with nature: A scientific blueprint to tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution emergencies. https://wedocs.unep.org/xmlui/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/35114/MPNKM.pdf#page=1&zoom=auto,-193,69

avatar for Inna Alesina

Inna Alesina

Professor of Art and Graphic Design, Stevenson University
Inna Alesina is an earth-advocate, and also, a professor, an author, a designer and a maker. Her work has merited over a dozen patents, numerous design awards, and has been highlighted by exhibitions, residencies, and workshops.
avatar for Carter Brigham

Carter Brigham

Good Odds Design, LLC
Carter Brigham is an entrepreneur and designer. Her innovative spirit has led to the creation of products which received Good Design and Red Dot designations. Her work focuses on creating joy, independence, and confidence, and on building opportunities to engage with the environm... Read More →

Thursday June 8, 2023 1:30pm - Saturday June 10, 2023 7:00pm EDT
PS 205 (Design Center)