Seed Magazine

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winter 2018




making • nourishing




22 MIND, BODY, NATURE A Conversation with Denise Shanté Brown, Designer and Mental Health Advocate

9 HOW TO Make Your Own Cleaning Products 10 COOKING The Joy of Seasonal Cooking Recipe: Root Vegetable Ribollita 12 THE AMAZING ELECTRIC CAR

ideas • society

32 THE WRITING OF SILENT SPRING Rachel Carson and the Culture-Shifting Courage to Speak Inconvenient Truth to Power 38 REVIEW The Death and Life of the Great Lakes 40 ESSAY Stop Sucking



44 POETRY Narration, Transubstantiation

58 SPOTTED IN THE WILD Bugs • Coal Comforts • The North Pole • Bernard Palissy: Art of Wonder

passions • change

45 VOICE OF A GENERATION The teenage activist on the front lines of climate change 47 7 STEPS TO BE A CLIMATE ACTIVIST 48 TOP CHEF Massimo Bottura and his global movement to feed the hungry 54 ESSAY Rethinking the Word ‘Foodie’

exploration • experiences



featured artist

AURORA ROBSON My goal is to employ art as a device for shifting values. As opposed to merely communicating, I am attempting to literally reprogram myself and my audience in terms of our relationship to matter, ourselves, and each other. Every moment I have to practice in my studio is a gift, so I express love and gratitude through my work, focusing on shifting negative trajectories into more positive directions. Transformation, through human energy and consciousness, is essential to my practice. I believe that everything is contagious: I try to infect people with a heightened sense of appreciation. While deeply personal, my work is also a global meditation. Aurora Robson’s recycled artwork is featured throughout this issue of seed. For more of her work and to learn more, visit


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Sustainability is perhaps one of the biggest buzzwords in today’s society. We hear brands, restaurants, furniture stores, university, diets, technologies, etc. described as “sustainable.” The word has an aura of mystery, indicating a practice or product that is more environmentally-friendly than others, though the way in which it is environmentally friendly is not necessarily made clear. Unfortunately, “sustainability” is also tinged with priviledge. It is associated with expensive products and foods available only at certain stores. It costs money to live sustainably, not to mention an investment of time and effort, which many people just don’t have in excess. seed magazine seeks to upend this notion of a sustainable lifestyle. Sustainability (which we’ll define as practices that are mindful of the use of resources and seek to reduce waste and improve the condition of the earth) is not something you buy or consume. It is a way you live, engage with your community and the environment, and see yourself in relation to the earth. And we think this lifestyle isn’t all that radical. In fact, we’ve dubbed seed “A Sustainable Lifestyle Magazine” because we believe our relationship to the Earth really isn’t (or shouldn’t be) put in a different category from everything else we are doing in our lives. Existing in the world comes with a set of responsibilities for all of us. Once we—and, importantly, our governments and institutions— understand that responsibility and the way it affects all other aspects of life, we can start to move towards a healther relationship with the Earth and begin to repair the damage we have already done. The ever-present threat of climate change is a backdrop for many of the pieces in this magazine. However, the focus these stories is the individual: the ways people are currently making a difference (on a personal, local, or even global level), and tools and information to empower you, the reader, to take action in your own lives. The stories here are all seeds. Each of us, alone, is a seed. But with the support of our communities, knowledge, and some drive to change, these seeds will take root and grow into something amazing. Thank you for reading, Katie Mancher

In keeping with seed’s mission, we believe it is important for this magazine to live its sustainable goals as well as promote them. While a magazine may

not seem the best exemplar of these principles, we are making an ongoing effort to meet high standards. The magazine is printed on 100%

CONTRIBUTORS Kelly Coyne & Erik Knutzen “MAKE YOUR OWN CLEANING PRODUCTS,” MAKING IT: RADICAL HOME EC FOR A POST-CONSUMER WORLD Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen grow food, keep chickens, brew, bike, bake, and plot revolution from their 1/12-acre farm in the heart of Los Angeles. They are the keepers of the popular DIY blog Homegrown Evolution and the authors of The Urban Homestead, which The New York Times calls “the contemporary bible on the subject.”

Maria Popova “THE WRITING OF SILENT SPRING,” BRAINPICKINGS.ORG Maria Popova is a reader, writer, interestingness hunter-gatherer, and curious mind at large. She is the founder of and has previously written for Wired UK, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, and is a MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

Lucas Peterson “SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL CAN BE BUDGET-FRIENDLY,” THE NEW YORK TIMES Lucas Peterson is the Frugal Traveler columnist for The New York Times. He is a James Beard Award nominee for his work in Lucky Peach magazine and has written for GQ, Eater, LA Weekly and Food Republic. He’s spent years working, studying, and volunteering in countries around the world.

Chris Woodford “ELECTRIC CARS,” EXPLAINTHATSTUFF.COM Chris Woodford has written and consulted on many books about science and technology, including the Cool Stuff and How it Works series, which has sold nearly four million copies worldwide, Science: A Visual/Children’s Encyclopedia with Steve Parker, and his new book Atoms Under the Floorboards: The Surprising Science Hidden in Your Home. He writes all the articles on











post-consumer waste recycled, Forest Stewardship Council and Green Seal-certified paper. The electricity used to manufacture the paper is offset with

renewable windpower. The magazine is designed with no bleeds, so excess paper does not need to be trimmed. In lieu of bold headline type, we

use the typeface Ryman Eco, which was designed to conserve ink. In the future, we hope to print on an eco-friendly press that operates with a waterless

process, and use all vegetablebased inks. In this way, we hope to help create a more sustainable model for other printers and publishers.

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How are we engaging people around the issue? Are we coming to them? Are we presenting the information or ourselves in a way that is welcoming, that feels accessible, that feels inviting? “Mind, Body, Nature,” Page 23

This is open, public, and you can come and find some sort of peace. “Mind, Body, Nature,” Page 23

Every single plastic product we’ve ever created still exists today. “Stop Sucking,” Page 40

A natural and public health disaster unlike anything this country has experienced in modern times. “Nor Any Drop to Drink?,” Page 38

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race. “The Writing of Silent Spring,” Page 32

air winter 2018



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mind, body, nature A Converstion with Denise ShantĂŠ Brown, Designer and Mental Health Advocate Edited by Katie Mancher

winter 2018



n an early fall day I met Denise ShantĂŠ Brown at the Mount Washington Arboretum in north Baltimore. Not far from the city limit, Mount Washington is leafy and quiet; it has more the feeling of a small rural town than an urban neighborhood, and feels miles apart from other parts of Baltimore. Even within this environment, the Arboretum is its own oasis. As you approach, you find a community garden bordered by overgrown wildflowers. The Arboretum itself has an impressive gate decorated with mosaic that welcomes you seamlessly into the wooded area beyond. The unkemptness of the space adds to its charm. It is a pocket nature doing its thing with minimal human intervention. Denise brought me here because the Arboretum is the site of a Nature Sacred Space, an intitiative started by the TKF Foundation. The foundation works with urban communities to create publicly accessible green spaces that offer a place of solace, respite and renewal for city residents. One feature of these spaces is a specially-built bench with a compartment that contains a journal. When people pick up the journal, they are contributed to reflect and add an entry. Denise is a Nature Sacred Fellow. She has a BFA in Graphic Design and last year earned her MA in Social Design from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, where her work focused on issues of mental health for black women. The Nature Sacred Fellowship, a program run through the Institute for Integrative Health in partnership with TKF, has added a new dimension to her work. During our visit to the Mount Washington Arboretum, Denise and I talked about her fellowship and the goals of the program, the relationship between mental health and space, and the accessibility of and opportunities for green spaces in Baltimore. KM: To start, what are the journals and what is the idea behind them? DSB: The intro to the journal says, "This waterproof journal is for the thoughts, feelings, and observations of the physical world around you and


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your inner spirit speaking. It is here not only as a means of personal integration but also for the community that occurs with the shared experience. Feel free to read and write but be respectful of this place and this book as people's hearts and minds have been touched and shared for all." Sixteen of these journals have been placed around Baltimore, and my role is to go to these sites and start to try to analyze these stories people share. I look at the qualitative data, the personal narratives, the themes that come up, either individually or as a whole. How do the stories relate to the that particular space or the surrounding area? What makes this Mount Washington site different than, say, the journal on St. Paul Street? I am trying to figure out nature's role in supporting someone's mental and emotional wellbeing.

Are people just happening upon these journals, or is there a way that they find out about them? Right now, they're happening upon them, which is something that we're having conversations about as Nature Sacred Fellows. In the journals you'll see some people writing, "I was just walking with my husband and we saw this bench and then we looked down and saw this journal!" We are thinking about how we can have better signage and awareness and even security to protect the journal, because at some of the sites, the journals aren't there because they've been taken.

What have you started to learn about people's reactions to the spaces? The common thread that comes up the most is identity. I see people writing in the journals who want to say, "I am here, I exist." You'll see a lot of initials being written; you'll see a lot of people signing their names. Even if they aren't necessarily writing an entry, they just want to mark their place. This raises the questions about how we see ourselves and how we, as people, just want to be seen and heard and valued in someway. "I'm here, I'm a person, I exist, this is me." There are people that get into more stories about something

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they're experiencing, but the idea of identity is still consistently coming up in that.

Why do you think identity is coming up so much for people? does nature and people's surroundings inspire them, or just the having the opportunity to express themselves in a journal? I think space and place inspire a lot of things, and I'm reluctant to say it doesn't influence what people write, because I think our environment and the context of where we are inspires and influences a lot. If someone is here in this particular moment and has access to this thing that they've stumbled upon, I think that that definitely inspires or motivates a particular response. People here also have the opportunity to be anonymous but are making the choice to either sign their name, in a signature that may not be completely legible, or print their name, or leave initials. They don't have to, but they still decided to leave that kind of mark.

How do you see this work relating to or growing from your previous work with mental health? In my thesis, I was thinking about black women and black culture as it relates to depression and anxiety. I was focused on the mind-space—the mental part of our thoughts, our emotions, and our feelings—and on our soul, our connection to spirituality. There was a disconnect, though. For one, I recognized that we have a mind-body connection. Based on my own experience as a type-1 diabetic, and someone who is anemic, I know that what's happening in our minds or bodies influ-


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ence the other. They are responding or reacting to each other all the time. If I'm not taking care of my physical health or if my sugar is really high one day, then that affects my mood, which can put me in a state of depression. So there's this body thing, and the mind-body-spirit framework is something that we're very familiar with when it comes to holistic health. There was a huge piece missing though around space: thinking about our homes, our neighborhoods, and nature, and how factors make us feel and impact our mental and emotional wellbeing. In Baltimore and urban environments, you also have to talk about the history of black people in the outdoors and the oppressive experience of nature. There is slavery, where you are tending to the land on a plantation. Or you are trying escape to freedom and you're running through the woods to get away from your master. These are the experiences of a lot of black people that turn into generational and historical trauma, experiences that don't really leave. I think that there's a very special and unique connection we have to nature, but on the flip side, this connection to the land can be traumatic and oppressive, especially for black women. I wanted to explore that area and make a full circle: we cannot talk about healing or holistic health without being mindful of where we live, our homes, and the spaces that we have access to where we can find some sort of solace and solitude and peace. What is nature's role in that? I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley where I had access to nature, where a lot of my memories were spent at my grandma's house, in her big yard, catching fireflies and riding bikes in the park, and that was just a natural part of my own childhood and something that I had the privilege to have a connection with. Coming here to Baltimore, I wanted to figure out where those places are and how to make them not feel so distant or so disconnected from our everyday experiences. The conversation around sustainability or environmentalism is often presented by white people, not people of color, and comes off as this elitist, privileged thing. However there are many black environmentalists who are focused and do-

ing work around the natural world, around food and gardening, and around the history of the land and how it can be a source of healing for black communities who are experiencing systemic and institutional racism and oppression.

Is anyone that you know of in Baltimore making that connection and trying to let people know about these parks and resources around them? As far as people talking about nature in Baltimore, there is a black naturalist named Brittany Oliver who has been doing some gatherings. I went to one called “Nature for Black Lives” at the Living Well Center downtown, where she was talking about her studies through the university of Maryland, her naturalist work, and talking about healing. So there are people having that conversation.

we cannot talk about healing or holistic health without being mindful of where we live, our homes, and the spaces that we have access to.

How would you like to see that sort of movement expand or do more work about that? I think these spots are great meeting places. I would like to see something similar to what Brittany Oliver is doing, but she was based at an organization, in a building. We did some stuff outside and there was some green space in the area; you don't necessarily have to be at a nature site and forest just to feel the air and take some breaths and have a connection to that. I think that something could be very powerful in having conversations in healing workshops and talking about our health, our wellbeing in a nature space like this. It makes that connection to sacred space and sharing stories—storytelling that is so deeply and richly embedded in black culture and history—and reminds people this is here and they have access to this. This is a part of your community. This is open, public, and you can come and find some sort of peace and solitude throughout your life or your days. It is just a matter of how you get people here, how does the first

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conversation happen, who's involved. These are just questions that will have to be figured out.

You talked a little about where you were from in the Shenandoah Valley and what differences do you feel from there to Baltimore? I grew up in Stanton Virginia. I think there were about 30,000 people, with one middle school and one high school. One difference with Baltimore is it's the kind of town where it's normal to have access to trees and green space—it's a part of where you live and how you spend time with family. Being outside, having cookouts and family gatherings and going to the park, riding bikes when we were kids, green space was everywhere. In Baltimore, access to nature or trees is a privilege. I moved into Bolton Hill, not just because it's close to MICA and wanting convenience, but because there were trees. It is something I knew would benefit my own health and wellbeing as I went into this intense study for my Masters. I know I'm someone who experiences depression and anxiety. I made a choice to take out this kind of Grad Plus loan and get this amount of money because I knew I needed to live in this particular area in order to make sure that I am setting myself up to be well. The space I chose to be in was very intentional and I had the privilege of being able to make that decision. So we're talking about class too, in addition to a race and gender issue. I think that that is the difference in Baltimore. In my town it didn't really matter what level income you had when it came to natural space and environment. You still had access to trees and green space. You still had access to parks. You still more than likely had access to a backyard or a front yard or some sort of green space around you in your home. Whereas here, it really depends on your income level and what neighborhood you're in, and more than likely if you're a black person, you won't have that kind of access, and over 60% of Baltimore is black. What you're making and what you're bringing in determines how well you can live. We immediately start associating food and type of housing with quality of life—that stuff is very important, obviously I'm not saying that it's not. But we don't really talk about as much what are we seeing. Can you look out of your window and


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see a tree? Can you walk down your street and go to an area of grass? That sort of divide, I would say, is the big difference.

There are so many interlocking issues like you mentioned that it seems like such a big thing to surmount. What are steps that Baltimore or people can take to start to overcome that inequality in terms of space? It's not something that people are aware of. I think of the Baltimore sustainability department. This

is their language, this is what they do. The challenge is how do you start to talk about the value of green space and nature with people who have become used to it not being a part of their lives. It's the norm to not have it. It's about culture shifting. A lot of it has to do with how these conversations around sustainability and nature happen, the spaces that they happen in, and who's being invited. I think a lot of it has to do with civic engage-

how do you start to talk about the value of green space and nature with people who have become used to it not being a part of their lives?

ment. How are we engaging people around the issue? Are we coming to them? Are we presenting the information or ourselves in a way that is welcoming, that feels accessible, that feels inviting. Before you even start to raise that interest, I think there are other barriers that need to be addressed and a lot of it has to do with who's starting the conversation and who's a part of it.

You mentioned you feel that black people working in the sustainability space have been left out of that movement. Do you know who the black activists are who are working on that and what types of things are they doing? How can they be included in the conversation more? I don't know of specific names. I'm still doing that research process myself because it's very new to me. I think about being in design school and only being exposed to white designers and mostly men. It wasn't until I got out of design school that I realized that there are women and people of color who are in that space. We—black people or even other people who are interested in diverse experiences and perspectives—have to do the work ourselves. It's not being presented to us. So I'm still in the process of figuring out who is in the environmental space. I found a couple of articles that listed black environmentalists who have been doing this. I found a book called Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry. So it's around. Especially when you start looking at the history and the writing of black people's experiences with nature and how we write about it, what it feels like and looks like to us. That's another thought that I had, because that brings back the storytelling element that is so strong within the black community, of what would it look like to bring nature poetry into these spaces as well and talk about writing and expressing ourselves in a poetic form. I'm still discovering, but I know that it's not that we aren't here or haven't been, but the voices have been left out for whatever reason. Sustainability and the environment have become a very privileged thing, and why? We're talking about Mother Earth and land and connection and something that we're all a part of and our history and our ancestors are all a part of. Again it goes back to money, and you can't really talk about that without talking about slavery, about black people and our ancestors who

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I walk around these spaces and appreciate the beauty and the landscape, being aware of my connection to it and it to me, and letting it be. have tended the land so that other people can make profit and money off it, specifically white people and white families here in America. Then there were black people who owned land who were forced away during the Great Migration, and came to places like Baltimore or went out to Detroit or the West. It feels like just another area—education, food, health, housing, and now, land and nature and environment—that black poeple are being left out of that we are tied to and have a perspective and a right to be a part of.

How has spirituality impacted your feelings about these issues or your interest in mental health and nature? When I was in Atlanta I would go on silent retreats at the Ignatius House. It was a Catholic space, though I'm not Catholic. We practiced silence, going into this deep personal reflection while also being among other people, being out in a beautiful nature space and reflecting on scripture. I would specifically go when they did the MLK work and feature in January and February. It was a combination of spirituality and activism I had to really sit and reflect on what that meant for me as a person. I was also at this transition point of wanting to do something more with design and recognizing that no matter what I did, though I knew I wanted to get into some sort of mental health, I couldn't separate spirituality. For me, it was something


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that would have to be naturally embedded in the work. How I saw people, how I saw myself, how I saw the value of lives and purpose and intention, I didn't see it as separate things. For me it couldn't be. Because when we talk about holistic health or the makeup of someone and how we are with each other, soul and spirit are a part of that. There had to be some space to talk about it, and as far as nature goes, of not having all of the answers. I think about when I was at the retreat and just walking through the land and the area and it was being in nature that made me remember and that is always a constant reminder whenever I come to one of these spaces that everything is connected. And I think that it comes up moreso in the natural environments because you see the way things grow, the extension of the plants and how it is always changing and evolving and it it's working and living in a way that we often aren't. It's doing its thing... it's responding to the sun and the moon and all of these things around us. It's a state of being that I often want to have and so for me when I come back to natural places, it's like a shared state of being. That's something that I want to embody and remember and try to carry with me and also leave behind. I think about being able to walk by a flower and not pick it out of the ground, but acknowledge it and appreciate it for what it is and not feel like you have to own it. So I walk around these spaces and appreciate the beauty and the landscape, being aware of my connection to it and it to me, and letting it be. I think that's something that ties into the process of social design: understanding that when you're working with people, you can't control everything, that you can have a plan and a strategy but you have to respond in a way that is with integrity and intentionality and really respects and trusts the process. It's about trusting what is coming and what is happening, and knowing that it will do what it needs to do. â—?

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