Reading List

To accompany each monthly Landscape program in the Twin Cities we will post at least two pieces of inspiration (mostly readings).The list will be finalized about a week before the program. Click on the photos to access the pieces.

 

Field Experience #7: Phytogeography (August)

Ursula Le Guin’s short story  The Author of Acacia Seeds  (from the book The Compass Rose) is a mythical satire exploring secret non-human languages, and reminding us that humans are not the center of the world. MK Smaby has posed these questions: How might we “read” wheat? Can we parse 10,000 years of its infrastructure as a sort of vegetable lyricism? What is wheat’s art form? Its agency?

Ursula Le Guin’s short story The Author of Acacia Seeds (from the book The Compass Rose) is a mythical satire exploring secret non-human languages, and reminding us that humans are not the center of the world. MK Smaby has posed these questions: How might we “read” wheat? Can we parse 10,000 years of its infrastructure as a sort of vegetable lyricism? What is wheat’s art form? Its agency?

Chapter 1 from  Ingrained: A Human Bio-geography of Wheat  by Lesley Head, Jennifer Atchison, and Alison Gates will open your eyes to how central wheat is to our culture (spoiler: it’s not just in your food). In this chapter they lay the foundation for their arguments about both the global dominance and daily invisibility of wheat.  (Note: I will put a proper photo here soon - I’m still waiting for my copy to arrive!) .

Chapter 1 from Ingrained: A Human Bio-geography of Wheat by Lesley Head, Jennifer Atchison, and Alison Gates will open your eyes to how central wheat is to our culture (spoiler: it’s not just in your food). In this chapter they lay the foundation for their arguments about both the global dominance and daily invisibility of wheat. (Note: I will put a proper photo here soon - I’m still waiting for my copy to arrive!).


Field Experience #6: Impermanence (July)

In  A Flower with Love , Bruno Munari offers ideas on how to make simple, humble, and beautiful arrangements. He also recommends using a potato as a base (which we will do at the event).

In A Flower with Love, Bruno Munari offers ideas on how to make simple, humble, and beautiful arrangements. He also recommends using a potato as a base (which we will do at the event).

Two audio recordings about Letting Go from a Buddhist perspective. One is by  Ven. Chung Ohun Lee  the other by  Gil Fronsdal .

Two audio recordings about Letting Go from a Buddhist perspective. One is by Ven. Chung Ohun Lee the other by Gil Fronsdal.


Field Experience #5: Forest Bathing (June)

Our Forest Bathing guide has recommended two readings. First is an  article summarizing Forest Bathing  and the healing properties of nature. Second is the article  Listening to Silence .

Our Forest Bathing guide has recommended two readings. First is an article summarizing Forest Bathing and the healing properties of nature. Second is the article Listening to Silence.

The chapter “ It Goes on like a Forest ” from the book  The Word for World is Still Forest  addresses the consequences of the modernist perspectives on forests. Reading it led me to ask the question: How is our relationship to the forest changing?

The chapter “It Goes on like a Forest” from the book The Word for World is Still Forest addresses the consequences of the modernist perspectives on forests. Reading it led me to ask the question: How is our relationship to the forest changing?


Field Experience #4: Ramps (May)

This program was inspired in part by German Forest schools where children play freely in the forest. The schools value learning through physical and emotional connections to nature rather than information taught separately from the experience. This video shares the story from a school in Berlin (sorry about the advertisement!). Also check out the T Magazine article, Running Free in Germany’s Outdoor Preschools.

From Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book Braiding Sweetgrass the chapter Mishkos Kenomagwen: The Teachings of Grass. While it focuses on sweetgrass, the larger ideas and lessons apply to ramps (and all plants we take from nature). I also highly recommend reading this book- she presents beautiful arguments about multiple ways of knowing.


Field Experience #3: Propagate: A Plant Clipping Exchange (April)

The first chapter of  Root Nurture Grow  offers helpful and beautiful instructions on how to make a variety of plant cuttings.

The first chapter of Root Nurture Grow offers helpful and beautiful instructions on how to make a variety of plant cuttings.

Once Upon a Windowsill  Chapter 13, “Horticulture Changes the Home” explores the role women in the Victorian Era played in the development of houseplants. See the note below about this book - I recommend reading it with a very critical lens.

Once Upon a Windowsill Chapter 13, “Horticulture Changes the Home” explores the role women in the Victorian Era played in the development of houseplants. See the note below about this book - I recommend reading it with a very critical lens.

A note about this month’s reading selections: It was challenging to find the right set of readings for this program. Most of the literature about plant clippings (and house plants) exist in two categories: 1) instructional (which are quite useful) and 2) the history of science (which are masculine histories of scientific power). What is not reflected in the literature is how the history of house plants is deeply rooted in both a colonial history and women’s history. The practice of keeping plants in the home emerged from the rise of botanical gardens, and most of the literature about these gardens focuses on science with some discussions of the colonial power that comes with having “the world in your garden.” In addition to the scientific practices of propagating plants, the rise of house plants was due to (middle class white) women who were sharing and experimenting with growing plants.

The scientific point of view skips over these details likely because of the long standing perception that women’s work is considered unscientific and therefore unimportant. I cannot find great examples of writing with arguments that women were also doing scientific work through intuitive experiments in the home and that they were developing new forms of aesthetic and creative practice through botany and horticulture. The reading included here from Once Upon a Windowsill captures part of this story, but it was written in 1988 and takes a very pro-Victorian era, pro-white middle class stance without acknowledging the roots of power structures and colonialism. I’d love to see a feminist book that explores the historical development of house plants through women’s contributions to both science and creativity, while acknowledging the ways they benefited from colonial power. If you know of such a book (or article, dissertation, lecture), please let me know. Or maybe you’d be up for writing something?

Finally, many excellent books address the colonial history of botanical gardens and plants. Two are Botanical Drift and Plants and Empire.


Field Experience #2: Dormancy Walk (March)

From the  Triumph of Seeds , Chapter 6: Methuselah addresses the extraordinary capacity of dormant seeds.

From the Triumph of Seeds, Chapter 6: Methuselah addresses the extraordinary capacity of dormant seeds.

From  Walking Sculpture , the essay Stepping Out offers an overview of an exhibition exploring the various forms walks have taken in contemporary art. We are curious if a walk through the park can be art?

From Walking Sculpture, the essay Stepping Out offers an overview of an exhibition exploring the various forms walks have taken in contemporary art. We are curious if a walk through the park can be art?


Field Experience #1: Plant Sounds and Listening (February)

Sonic Meditations from the doyenne of Deep Listening, Pauline Oliveros.

Sonic Meditations from the doyenne of Deep Listening, Pauline Oliveros.

From the Secret Life of Plants , Chapter 10: The Harmonic Life of Plants.

From the Secret Life of Plants, Chapter 10: The Harmonic Life of Plants.