Sustainable. Organic. Stewardship. is a multi facet and year long horticulture and cultivation project that includes social, cultural and artistic practices. By acknowledging the shortage of food on the global scale, we should look at how we eat, what we eat and how we can grow our own food and understand the origin of food and the labor, the politic that involved to grow these perishable items that we consume that have direct effect on our health and well-being.
S.O.S. is very much a local and grass root project and is closely link to the neighborhood of St. George, Stapleton and Clifton/Park Hill in Staten Island. Staten Island is New York’s often forgotten borough when it comes to progressive food programs aimed to cut across class and neighborhood lines. Borough representatives and residents are rarely integrated in city-wide conferences, events, and policy development. This exclusion is due in part to Staten Island’s unique geography, low overall population density, limited public transit system, and unfamiliar neighborhood characteristics. Thus programming and initiatives that might apply to other New York City neighborhoods are rarely extended to the borough.
Specifically the under-served communities of Stapleton and Park Hill, which may seem surprising in contrast to the stereotypical image of Staten Island as a homogenous, suburban borough. These neighborhoods, however, are served by only a small number of food retailers and supermarkets that are particularly difficult to access on a regular basis, which negatively influences residents’ food purchasing habits.
Citizens rely primarily on public buses with limited routes and schedules. Thirty-three percent of individuals living in zip code 10304, one of the lowest income areas in the borough, do not have a car and most shopper need to call for a cab for their grocery trips. Additionally, there is only one Greenmarket serving these neighborhoods and the entire borough of half a million people.
Staten Island has experienced the highest population growth of any borough since 2000 with a growth rate of 8.8 percent. A recent influx of Hispanic, West African, Eastern European, Caribbean and Middle Eastern immigrants to these neighborhoods has both complicated and diversified the food landscape. For instance, while ethnic food stores proliferate, access to quality and affordable produce remains a concern. Compared to the rest of the City, the borough offers less social services and outreach to recent immigrants and low income families, and a lack of youth programming and activities are consistently voiced concerns.
Health is closely linked to our diet, and with healthcare quality declining and insurance costs escalating. Chronic disease due to the subsidized production of corn and soy products has been needlessly on the rise in our children for years, and has put a strain on our medical system. The economy is linked to agri-business’ dependence on oil and pharmaceuticals for the cheap production of food-like substances: we need education regarding the real price of sustainable, healthy food. The food industries uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy, between 19 and 37 percent depending on the study. Contributing to the fossil fuel costs of the food system are: gas-powered farming equipment; chemical fertilizers made from natural gas; pesticides made from petroleum; gas-powered food processing machines; oil based packaging materials; and refrigerated transportation. Our food system is at a critical point: we either reconnect to local resources, or we risk the health of ourselves, our communities, and the land. The scare of tainted food supplies, in our food production and delivery system need to be re-exam and overhaul.
We should search, relearn and revive the lost knowledge of natural apothecaries, herbalism and foraging.
Understanding the Gaia principle that we are all one organism and need each other to survive and complete the cycle of life. All the living creatures on earth, from the tiniest of the bacteria to the largest of the mammals, are contributing in maintaining an optimum environment for life. In other words, activities of life on earth are ensuring its own survival.
Based on S.O.S., I manage to create projects that is independent but all under the vision on Sustainable. Organics. Stewardship.
Perhaps most important, Conceptualists indicated that the most exciting "art" might still be buried in social energies not yet recognized as art. The process of discovering the boundaries didn't stop with Conceptualist art: These energies are still out there, waiting for artists to plug into them, potential fuel for the expension of what "art" can mean. - Lucy Lippard from the essay "Escape Attempts" in Reconsidering The Object of Art, 1995
"Everytime you make a decision about food, you are farming by proxy"
- Wendell Berry
The sign of times
People don't see the sign, watchin' money all the time, the environment is fragile and we been on the gradual decline. Open up your eyes, you can see things rearrangin', the world is ending' and if they says it's gonna be okay, they just pretendin'. Lord, come down and help us out. These are lyrics from will.i.am song S.O.S. which I just found is similar to my project title and topics. Truely this is the sign our our times and all artists are doing their part calling out. How about you?
The rhizome - local horticulture gardens
In this project I like to shift from a concept of art based on self-expression to one based on the ethics of communicative exchange. The act of establishing exchange among gardeners, is an integral part of the artistic practice, constituting a kind of "aesthetic of listening, sharing and networking" creating a hub for urban farmers to share both their knowledge and harvest. This dialogical practice is a quotidian experience that is long-suppresed by the culture of one way communication that involved in speaking, molding and informing but have little familiarity with what it means to listen and learn. I myself falls into this category but soon realize that every story has two face and begin to acknowledge the long-suppresed role of listening as a creative practice.
By visiting and creating a dialog about gardening and sustainability is important to foster relationships and create awareness of the organic food issue. These relationship also florish into collaboration and information sharing among these eco-villagers.
Each garden is unique in its approach and method, but they all are passionate growers and generous key player in their community.