Musings from Oliver…

I haven’t said this in online yet, but I am working on a book project with New Society Publishers, set for release fall 2014. The book will be titled: Common Threads: weaving community through collaborative eco-art. One of the chapters of the book is of course focused on the happenings at MOP, specifically on how this kind of public space is required to support ongoing  environmental art explorations. Oliver Kellhammer provided me with this musing on his original intention for MOP and it was so  succinctly  put, I thought it worth posting  right away.  “The inspiration for the Means of Production project came to me during my work founding the nearby Cottonwood Gardens, where I initiated some plantings of bio-materials ( bamboo, willow, Paulownia and Black Locust) so we could make stakes, trellises and fencing for our produce gardens. It occurred to me then that there were a lot other areas of waste or underutilized urban land, perhaps less suited to the intensive production of food, that could be producing useful bio-materials and perhaps this could form the foundation of community micro-economic enterprise in the way that the traditional ‘commons’ has functioned for centuries in the context of Europe. The additional services such as wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, recharging the water table and of course, community empowerment that such a scheme could provide made the concept seem all the more viable and thus the proposal for the ‘Means of Production’ project was born, its name an obvious reference to Karl Marx’s notion of the physical infrastructure required to produce so-called ‘wealth.’ My idea to focus initially on the production of art and craft supplies came out of my proposition that the landscape itself could be an ongoing art piece, which, when managed by creative people, could serve as a kind of lab or platform where ongoing experiments with biomaterials could be carried out and the public engaged in wider aesthetic discussion as well as encouraged to participate in the site’s ongoing stewardship. “ And that, folks, is just  what we are doing at MOP. Funny how things come full circle. It was    early gardening volunteering at MOP that began my own journey into “art farming versus art gleaning” and my experiences at MOP have pushed my own creative practice and intellectual interest  to  looking at those other interstitial spaces that might not be suitable for food  production, but perfect for art or clothing  agriculture initiatives. What Oliver put in motion 11 years ago when he planted MOP continues to grow!


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