Invasive Species Creative Proposal Series
The series of virtual lectures proposes creative solutions to the toxic, capital centric, xenophobic, war-like paradigm of invasive plant species management. In order to set up a space for alternative practices, it presents a selection of artists, herbalists & ecologists exploring creative ways of addressing the problem of plant species invasion and challenging the current policies for the management of these green beings.
The events which are, initiated and hosted between June 2021 and June 2022 by Krater (Gaja Mežnarić Osole) & Eclipta Herbal (Alyssa Dennis), present each of these earth workers as practitioner of the land. They provide a collective platform to share the values and approaches to their work regarding holistic understanding and interaction with novel ecosystems.
If you would like more information or would like to join the conversation please drop us a line: Alyssa Dennis: firstname.lastname@example.org, Gaja Mežnarić Osole: email@example.com
In this talk Alyssa Dennis of Eclipta Herbal, addresses the social and ecological motives of her project, the Invasive Apothecary, and discusses the medicinal attributes of some of the “worst of the worst” in terms of invasive plant species. More importantly she takes a look at how the erasure of traditional ecological knowledge, about these plants, has been abandoned at the expense of dissociating the fact that their curative human virtues directly mirror the remedial virtues for the land. Her work deploys ecological literacy through the culturally invisible practice of herbal medicine and land stewardship. She is particularly interested in accepting & integrating the virtues of plant intelligence as a solution to climate change that positively restructures our relationship with the environment; one that is rooted in place-based identity that reestablishes reciprocity, respect & responsibility for our non-human kin.
Invasive species are often viewed as the drivers of ecosystem change, and the practice of landscape management often focuses on their removal as a means to improve ecosystem function and enhance biodiversity. A more holistic view of invasive species places them within a larger social, economic, and ecological context as symptoms, rather than causes, of changing ecosystems. Factors including climate change, historic changes in land use and management, and even the modern concept of nature and wilderness contribute to the status of ecosystems we live in today, many of which are declining in health and productivity. People have an important role to play in accounting for and mitigating these forces as they make plans for increasing biodiversity, beauty, and ecosystem function over the long term, and working with invasive species is part of re-weaving these relationships of care and stewardship. Author of the book, Beyond the War on Invasive Species.
Talk 3: Invasive Japanese Knotweed:
A Soil Fertilizer
w/ Rozalija Cvejić
Japanese knotweed is an invasive plant that has spread rapidly in cities, reducing the diversity and activity of native ecosystems while accelerating soil erosion, and affecting soil nutrient availability. Despite the various mechanical, chemical and biological approaches that are used to adapt to knotweed presence in urban areas it remains a challenge for urban land use and management. However, Japanese knotweed is also known for its ecosystem services. It has been used as insecticide, fungicide, medicine, paper, textile fiber, biofuel and briquettes for heating, carbon adsorbent, glaze, and in production of seedling cups. New applications are being developed daily. Together with the community, Rozalija and her research team have started to develop and test an organic fertilizer made from Japanese knotweed. They have found organic fertilizer to be a suitable alternative to farmyard manure in urban environments. The organic fertilizer produced could complement existing approaches to limiting Japanese knotweed in cities.
Talk 4: Skincare with Weeds
w/ Herbes Folles
Mariana Santos shared the magic behind her unique weeds-based skincare brand Herbes Folles. Created to celebrate the power and resilience of our potent weedy allies but also to demonstrate the important role these plants have in our ecosystems which harbor a powerful source of nutrients and antioxidants that we can benefit from. For Herbes Folles, natural beauty means to embrace our own, singular and unique beauty. This can be hard, especially for women, but it is a rebellious, beautiful and needed exercise! Her products are cruelty-free and vegan & do not contain palm oil. They are carefully formulated with high quality ingredients to offer protection and balance to the skin.
Talk 5: Feral and Invasive Pigments
w/ Ellie Irons - scheduled for 20/1/2022
This talk focuses on Feral and Invasive Pigments, Ellie’s ongoing art project about the migration and proliferation of certain plants in tandem with dense human populations. She gathers plant parts—berries, leaves, blossoms, pollen—from her spontaneous urban plant neighbors (also known as “weeds”), and processes them to create plant-based watercolor paints. She also teaches others how to do the same through walks and workshops. She uses the paints to construct portraits, maps and field guides that explore these plants, from their local presence, to their growth habits, to their migration around the globe. Other aspects of the project take a range of forms, from videos to sculptures to gardening experiments. By gathering and processing weedy species on an intimate scale, the project encourages dialogue around the implications of labeling certain life forms as “alien” or “invasive” (and thus dispensable) and develops plant-human connections in habitats where people are often alienated from the vibrancy of plant life.
Invasive Species Creative Proposal Series is part of the project RUK (2019—2022). RUK is a network of art and culture research centers on the crossroads of art, science, and technology. The project is co-financed by the Republic of Slovenia and the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund.
Illustration: Emmy Reis