‘Sod It! Radical Gardening?’ article in STIR magazine

I’ve written a piece about the new book for STIR, a recently-established online magazine, founded on politically engaged, internationalist, and creative commons principles. Or, as STIR editor Jonathan Gordon-Farleigh puts it in an explanatory preface, riffing on Alain Badiou’s idea of the ‘local victory’:

Well then, what does a local victory look like?  It is when academics publish their works in open access journals, it is when airport expansion is resisted and the threatened area is transformed into a community garden, it is when thousands of collaborators build a free software operating system, it is when those maintaining the commons from the intense privatization of our woods and forests defend them, as Edward Abbey always insisted, by using and enjoying it – cycling, walking, foraging.  It is when medical researchers make their findings freely available by publishing under a creative commons license (Public Library of Science) that permits any company to manufacture generic reproductions of lifesaving drugs, it is when students find they cannot rely on suppliers to guarantee their food is ethically and locally grown so they teach themselves to set up member-owned and user-driven cooperative cafes that enables them to reclaim control over their food production, and when resident groups who are resisting energy monopolies find that the current legal system is inadequate to their problems and decide to create their own ordinance – a new Bill of Rights.

It is encountering these inspiring and encouraging examples where people and communities have built, as Lawrence Lessig of Creative Commons asserts, their “own open, commons-friendly infrastructure”, that we are roused into action.

I hope this magazine will become what academic and activist David Bollier has called ‘The annals of the inalienable’: a collection of all the courageous and inspiring communities whose innovations have empowered them to take back control over all of the aspects of their lives.

My article charts some of the terrain (you know, plots x3) of Radical Gardening:

…all I want to do is to convince the reader-gardener that those notions of a horticountercultural politics you suspected were in your earthy practice and pleasure (I agree that you probably didn’t called them horticountercultural politics) have a rich and challenging tradition, a significance, as well as a trajectory of energy and import that makes them matter for our future.

After all, ‘why’, asks writer-gardener Jamaica Kincaid, ‘must people insist that the garden is a place of rest and repose, a place to forget the cares of the world, a place in which to distance yourself from the painful responsibility with being a human being?’ I follow Kincaid, and other writers like Paul Gough, Kenneth Helphand and Martin Hoyles, each of whom has helped shape my own understanding of the garden as a place that actually confronts and addresses the cares of the world.

Read more here: ‘Sod It! Radical Gardening?’ in STIR (August 15, 2011), and then read the rest of the articles in the magazine too….

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