Common Ground

Satyagraha: Gardens as Acts of Resistance

An update from Metabolic Studio featuring Dr. Vandana Shiva, Lauren Bon, Nance Klehm, & Milli Macen-Moore.


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Please join us on The International Day of Nonviolence for our fifth installment of Common Ground with Dr. Vandana Shiva, Lauren Bon, Nance Klehm, and Milli Macen-Moore, who will share their reflections on ecological stewardship of the past six months.

In this talk

Please join us for our fifth installment of Common Ground as we partner with our friends at Metabolic Studio for a conversation on ecological resilience, food sovereignty, environmental stewardship, and soil-building and seed-saving as crucial acts of resistance. We will be joined by environmental activist and physicist Dr. Vandana Shiva in conversation with Lauren Bon, Los Angeles-based environmental artist of the Metabolic Studio, Nance Klehm, Chicago-based ecological systems designer and permaculture grower, and Milli Macen-Moore, regenerative urban grower and director of Metabolic’s Farmlab program which works to combat climate change and mass extinction through the study of living systems.

This conversation marks six months since we first heard from Dr. Shiva, tuning in from her mother’s home in Dehradun, India, as part of Metabolic Studio’s Interdependence Salon #3. Back in May, Dr. Shiva encouraged us all to get planting as an act of resistance. This week’s Common Ground will build upon this first conversation earlier in the year, and the deep history of collaboration and cross-pollination between Dr. Shiva and Lauren Bon, and will offer a space for us to reflect on our institutional memory and share all that has happened in the six month space between now and then. We hope to hear from Metabolic Studio on their network of Satyagraha gardens they have been cultivating across the country, from Nance Klehm on her recent projects with indigenous ecology, and from Dr. Shiva on the Commons of the Mind, and beyond.

We will close with a reading by Afghan American poet Zohra Saed.

About this series

At the start of quarantine, the Brooklyn Rail asked how might we stay connected to each other in a time of self-isolation? Now we ask: How can we stay involved and engaged in upholding our civic responsibility to one another across communities? How can we deploy this community built through the New Social Environment—through hundreds of conversations and meals shared over the past six months—to mobilize daily action for grassroots movements, social justice and equity projects, and for the political good of our most marginalized communities across the nation? Tune in Thursdays at 1pm for Common Ground, a new lunchtime series featuring weekly conversations with social justice practitioners, changemakers, and activists on how we can mobilize our daily actions to radically reimagine our democracy.

More from Metabolic Studio

For the next twelve weeks, Metabolic Studio will be educating themselves and others about the “Fires of the West” with a specific focus on Native land management and sovereignty, the history of fire suppression, and how we can decolonize our understanding of fire moving forward to create a safer and more resilient West.

Join Metabolic for their first conversation on The Fires of the West Learning and Native Plant Embroidery Circle Friday, October 2 at 8:30pm EST / 5:30pm PST. For more information and to RSVP, click here.

Dr. Vandana Shiva

Dr. Vandana Shiva
Photo by Katrikey Shiva
Dr. Vandana Shiva is a world-renowned scholar and tireless crusader for economic, food, and gender justice. Dr. Shiva was trained as a physicist, and later shifted her focus to interdisciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy. In 1982, she founded an independent institute, the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology which was dedicated to high quality and independent research to address the most significant ecological and social issues of our times in close partnership with local communities and social movements. In 1991, she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, and to promote organic farming and fair trade. In 2004, in collaboration with Schumacher College, U.K., she started Bija Vidyapeeth (Earth University), an international college for sustainable living in the Doon Valley in Northern India. Time Magazine identified Dr. Shiva as an environmental “hero” in 2003 and Asia Week has called her one of the five most powerful communicators of Asia. Forbes magazine in November 2010 identified Dr. Vandana Shiva as one of the top Seven most Powerful Women on the Globe. Among her many awards are the Alternative Nobel Prize (Right Livelihood Award, 1993), Order of the Golden Ark, the UN’s Global 500 Roll of Honour, and The MIDORI Prize for Biodiversity in 2016.

Lauren Bon

A photograph of Lauren Bon
Lauren Bon is an environmental artist from Los Angeles, CA. Her practice, Metabolic Studio, explores self-sustaining and self-diversifying systems of exchange that feed emergent properties that regenerate the life web. Some of her works include: Not A Cornfield, which transformed and revived an industrial brownfield in downtown Los Angeles into a thirty-two-acre cornfield for one agricultural cycle; 100 Mules Walking the Los Angeles Aqueduct, a 240-mile performative action that aimed to reconnect the city of Los Angeles with the source of its water for the centenary of the opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Her studio’s current work, Bending the River Back into the City, aims to utilize Los Angeles’ first private water right to deliver 106-acre feet of water annually from the LA River to over 50 acres of land in the historic core of downtown LA. This model can be replicated to regenerate the 52-mile LA River, reconnect it to its floodplain and form a citizens’ utility.

Nance Klehm

A photograph of Nance Klehm by Jason Crebs
Photograph by Jason Crebs
Nance Klehm’s work and being lies at the complex intersections of the theory and practice of land politics and soil health. Her work as a communicator, translator, curator, provocateur, and medium is internationally recognized in communities of practice ranging from publishing to fine art, environmental justice activism to philosophy, growing to podcasting. She lives her work—she writes, facilitates, lectures, teaches, consults, makes, and does. She marries these two sets of practice under two organizing structures: Spontaneous Vegetation and Social Ecologies.

Milli Macen-Moore

A photograph of Milli Macen-Moore
Milli Macen-Moore is a regenerative urban grower and a steward of the environment. She directs Metabolic Studio’s Farmlab, under the mission to combat climate change and mass extinction through the study and applied science of living systems. Milli’s work at the Metabolic Studio explores the many roles that vegetation plays in remediation, food systems, soil building, restoration, and community science.

The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poetry reading, and we’re fortunate to have Zohra Saed reading.

Zohra Saed

A photograph of Zohra Saed
Zohra Saed is a Brooklyn based Afghan American poet. She co-founded Upset Press with the poet Robert Booras, and teaches literature at Bard High School Early College, Queens.

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.