ISSUE #4 – 2009 STRICTLY UNEDITED JOURNAL ON THE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF NATURE IN THE URBAN ENVIRONMENT
GUUS VAN DER HOEVEN July 1, 2009 “Paps, you rode that horse in your mind all the time!” The god of thunder, called Donar, in mythology of the Old Country and the god Thor in Norway and Scandinavia wanted him, needed him, and took him. He took him by “throwing one lightning bolt down to the earth. He aimed well.” Coming out of the woods, I entered the range by the lower gate close to the big pond, and I brieﬂy smelled the smell of death. I was not surprised as deer, fawn and possums live there and animals hunt and take their prey. I walked along the pond and, along the draw, feeling the coolness of the trees growing there. Close by I saw the horses, the bay and a white. I only saw two but expected the third one to be hidden by the dogwoods. I walked around the pond, crossed the small running rivulet, and stepped out on the open range. The horses had gone up the slope, over the ridge, and out of sight. I followed them slowly noticing the good grass underfoot. The cows slowly circled back to the pond as I walked onwards. I wanted to see all three horses. They always graze close together. PopTart, Flash and Misty. When I got to the top of the hill where the buffalo wallows hold water, I saw them standing in the distance but I still only saw two horses. I expected one to graze the valley and step forward when I would get closer. I whistled and they raised their heads. They both came my way for their handful of grain and being talked to. Misty walked easily. Her foot had healed. As a matter of fact, I had watched all three of them canter, then race up the hills a few days ago.
And once on top, stop, turn their heads and snort, showing off their beautiful form as silhouettes. I love them. Each of them is a character, and they know it. While I gave them their grain and felt their soft lips gently take from my hands and licking salty sweat, I talked. I asked “where is Flash?” I whistled. Flash always grazes next to PopTart. They are mates. PopTart has carried several of his foals, beautiful foals. We had two. Thunder was born during a ﬁerce thunderstorm, hence his name and a year later Misty was born during one of the foggiest mornings over Manhattan. Thunder was a boy, a tremendous jumper. He managed to jump out of the coral as a little foal, leaving his mom behind. I have often wondered what made him do it? The independence of his father? Misty is laid back and easy going. I started walking across the hills in larger and larger circles, looking into the valleys, whistling. At one time, I thought I heard a snort, typical for him. But it was – the cows. I walked for a long time. I went back to the pond and scented the smell of death. This time I took it seriously. It led me up the hill and once on top, I followed it until I saw a raw hump in front of me. I walked up to it. There, laying along the ridge against some sumac, was the carcass of Flash. His legs were stretched out. The vultures lazily drifting high overhead and the coyotes, ﬂies, a bee and maggots had been busy. The rib cage was torn open and I was tempted to look for the missing rib. Flash was an Arabian, at least three quarters. He had the typical short rump and the soft, intelligent, gentle eye. That eye was gone now, ripped out of its socket. His beautiful
mane and tail were torn off, laid matted in the scorched grass. Flash was no longer there. Only his bones, skeleton and stench. I looked him in the face. It reminded me of the horse of the Apocalypse. But no, that is not where this horse is. Flash lived the full life of a horse. He knew freedom. Whenever he was turned loose on the range, he would kick up his heels and storm the hills, stopping on top, turning around and looking at me below him, standing near the gate. It was as my son Martien said, “Dad, that horse was made for you. His temperament was just what you needed to be challenged.” And I was. But Flash knew how to give. A few times he would lay his head over my shoulder. Those were special moments. Other times we would read each other’s eyes. His big and strong, yet soft eyes. His lips would take the salt of my hand. As I said, “the god Donar wanted him.” Flash must have been grazing on top of the ridge as the ﬁerce storm rolled in with dark clouds and wind pushing the rain. His tail and mane must have blown with the wind. He may have raised his head taking the terrible blow as he stood there followed by instant death. He did not crumple. He fell. He was Flash, killed by a ﬂash of lightning. He now will live with me forever. Whenever there is a thunderstorm roaring across the hills, I will hear him galloping in front of the chariot, thundering. I will see him in the rolling black clouds with lightning ﬂashing. He is running with the storm. He is alive and I will ride him – in mind.
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POLDER JOY DIRK VAN DEN HEUVEL If you walk to the end of my street – the Willem de Zwijgerlaan, a monumental 1930s street lined with fantastic plane trees and brick housing blocks in typical Amsterdam School fashion – you arrive at a tram stop just before the bridge over the canal of the Kostverlorenvaart, which then takes you to the old city centre. It is a crossroads in time. The tram still follows the same route as the former railway line in a westerly direction, toward the former village of Sloten – swallowed up long ago by the city. The late nineteenth-century properties that are built along this track form a chain of neglected but elegant speculative buildings for the well-to-do middle classes of the day – think pretty balconies, high ceilings. Most of the houses have now been refurbished and resold to the new urban class of people from the creative industries, fashion, TV (check the casting agency on the corner for Dutch soap-stars…), music and design. For the past couple of years the back gardens have become the stage for endless BBQs and wine parties. You can actually see it all on Google Maps – the tram stop, my street, the new and old shops, the bars, and the locals: a fashionista with an oversized handbag busy text-messaging, muslim girls with headdresses, a young father with a baby saddle on his bike who is nearly run over by a tram etcetera. But the Google streetcam fails to capture the most characteristic part of the neighbourhood: the Slatuinenweg – literally: the lettuce gardens road. A narrow brick-paved road takes you one or two metres down to the old polder level along small, now refurbished farm workers’ houses, which narrowly escaped demolition by our local council. There is also some bleak urban regeneration terraces from the 1980s and a row of sleek, modern style gable houses, now some ﬁve years old, but the history is still directly tangible. Before the city swamped this rural area – the name Slatuinen says it all – the city’s market gardens were located here. Literary critic Kees Fens once wrote about how here, in bygone days, just across the Kostverlorenvaart, you could get a breath of fresh air on the outskirts of the city. The only thing that actually refers back to those times is a small greenhouse that is squeezed between the brick premises on the Admiraal de Ruijterweg, 04 < CLUB DONNY #4 2009
providing a glimpse of the collective garden behind the blocks. Such urban setting, where architecture planned in the nineteen thirties, stylish-but-shabby speculative building and the remnant constructions of farm workers and market gardeners are interlocked, cannot be designed. Planners consider them failures. Historic building committees will not list them as protected cityscapes, as is the case with Mercatorplein, the square built by Berlage further along in the neighbourhood, the classic example of total aesthetic control as envisaged by the famous Amsterdam city architect. In the opinion of local politicians, after the big cleanup of the square in the 1990s, having chased away the dealers and the junkies from the arcades and doorways, after the reconstruction of the housing blocks and their italienate towers, after the ban on alcohol and marijuana, the square should ﬁnally become the beating heart of the neighbourhood with a design pavilion and quality restaurant. Will it happen? Polishing, cleaning, raking, sweeping, tidying everything up and if necessary, beginning all over again, it just runs in the blood of Dutch planners. This is the mentality to which our manmade landscape is indebted. But, with today’s technological possibilities and the regulation rage of our bureaucratic mandarins, within the space of one generation the landscape can be entirely ploughed over three, possibly four times. The so-called Reconstruction Act is but one example demonstrating the violence that ofﬁcial technocracy can unleash. On the one hand agriculture is intensiﬁed even further with industrial production in mega stables and on the other hand the farmed land has to make room for super nature, a sort of Jurassic Polder. Everything in between is under threat of being swept away. And there is much more to come. The Government Architect has decided that the present crisis affords an excellent opportunity to unite unemployed architects in a research laboratory. In order to think up even more schemes, and to re-plan the whole country. But shouldn’t just the reverse happen? Surely fewer plans are needed. Instead of setting up another planning machine wouldn’t it be better to devise real unemployment relief work for
architects, something like the Amsterdamse Bos at the time, from which, after all, we still derive great pleasure. Perhaps we could construct a slowspeed track now the high-speed train between Amsterdam and Rotterdam is ﬁnally there, a slowing down counterpart as a new variety of the Slatuinenweg. For example, on the route projected for the A3 motorway through the Green Heart that never materialised. A tramway service then, threading its way from place to place at a speed of no more than 20 km/h. Starting from the existing railway line, behind the old Olympic Stadium, running to the Amsterdamse Bos, and then further past such typically Dutch villages as Aalsmeer, Kudelstaart and Alphen, via Gouwe, through Boskoop and Waddinxveen, past Gouda and the old toxic landﬁlls in Gouderak and its surroundings with what is by now an entirely authentic, characteristic ecosystem, via Capelle and the Alexanderpolder to Kralingen, in order to eventually arrive at the Binnenrotte and Hofplein. The tram stops every 500 metres. The route is bordered on both sides by a 200 m wide zone of gardens, 500 metres max., with DIY country cottages. Property developers and other speculators are banned. Only owneroccupiers and owner-gardeners are allowed free rein. The line connects picnic spots (every km), inns (every 2 km) and markets of course (every 5 km). Technically speaking, it can be constructed in a year. Where ever the ‘lettuce tram’ runs it livens up villages and suburbs. Ponies in gardens, chickens strutting around in the street, horse stables and bridle paths, pollarded fruit trees in beds and hornbeam hedges along the pavement, unsprayed fruit and pear juice. It is the perfect mix of the new trend of urban farming and edible city concepts, nostalgic ‘small-is-beautiful’ and bottom-up planning, plus the Dutch tradition of allotments and pleasure gardens: Ons Genoegen – Poldervreugd – Vredelust – Ons Lustoord – Bos en Lommer – de Baarsjes. More BBQs and wine parties. Why not? It beneﬁts man, beast and plants. Construction work is at a standstill any way. Architects of the Netherlands, why don’t we just give it a try?
OSLO TRIP DAVID POWELL August 2009. The ﬁrst thing I notice is the view from the plane of the landscape of Oslo, it’s uncannily like Edvard Munch’s paintings, psychotic. Descents into a planes destined landing path almost always yield a character that conﬁrms the countries nature very speciﬁcally; the ﬂat geometric ﬁelds in the Netherlands are like a Mondrian, the higgledy piggledy rolling hills of Britain are like a Constable. The next thing is that the weather forecast is terrible, and it rains heavily for over half of my stay. It’s a straight line from the train station to the Grand hotel, (I got a good deal) so even I couldn’t get lost. You know that feeling when you enter your Hotel room and everything is immaculately pristine, as if you are the ﬁrst person to use that room? Then ones neurosis starts to kick in, why is the space underneath the sink looking like some builder ran out of polyﬁller and he thought ‘fuck it’ they won’t notice? Or that the symmetrically placed bath hooks are askew, or that the rubber trim around the edge of the tub has human ﬁlth of the last 30 years embedded in it, or that someone moved the showerhead 5cm to the left and didn’t bother to retile the former hole. It’s supposed to be really posh here. My ﬁrst stop is the Edvard Munch museum in Toyen, very strange, I had to compose myself in order to not start crying in public, very rare that I can ﬁnd myself wanting to blub from Art. The museum has a strict screening policy, due to the number of thefts that have occurred their over the years; The Scream being one of the most notable, so the entrance is like an airport security gate with ‘guards’ nervously hovering around. Back at the hotel, breakfast is akin to the feeding of the 5000 but with little white hatted chefs running around amidst a clamour of barbarian hordes devouring everything in their paths, I ﬁnd I
can only manage a bit of fruit and yogurt in these situations. So this trip was pretty much about museum visits, I took a boat to Drammensvelen to see the Vikingskiphuset; that’s really worth looking at, if I was sitting on some beach whittling a piece of wood or smoking ﬁsh and saw one of those ships coming towards me, I can tell you now that a serious excavation of my lower intestine would take place. I had to get out of Central Oslo, see a bit of natural nature, I visited Hovikodden, nice stretches of sand and sea, people taking advantage of the sunshine. It seems that the town is directed to outdoor pursuits, particularly yachting, they must be very rich here. The Henie Onstad Art Centre, located on a headland, has to be one of the craziest museums I’ve ever been to. Upon entry to the museum you are greeted with a truly bizarre ﬁlm/documentary (pity it was not for sale). It begins with a sequence of ﬁlm showing Sonja Henie pirouetting on ice, to the point where she becomes a hallucinogenic abstract blur, her disembodied voice ﬂoats over the sequence – “I believe there is a connection with ice skating and painting”. Drug induced ‘60s synthesizer music abruptly cuts into different scenes of inauguration ceremonies, parties, interviews with artists, building construction footage and excerpts from her Hollywood ﬁlms. Go to this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Sonja_Henie#External_links where you can ﬁnd a little about the historically glossed over aspects of her life, a kind of overly ambitious, sex crazed, temperamentally volatile, Nazi sympathizer. Having said that there is a delightful Per Kirkeby brick sculpture situated on the outer most point of the museum’s headland. My next stop was to Damstredet, a small 18th
century village with beautiful period wooden houses, kind of like Beatrix Potter like world, except with people not rabbits and squirrels, it would be nice to live there. Nearby is a graveyard ‘Var Frelsers Gravlund’ where Ibsen, Munch and Bjornstijerne Bjornson are buried. I went twice to this place where my presence as ‘an agent in social space’ was indeed conﬁrmed by the fact that my being there ‘crystallized a typical instance of the ﬁgure in a ‘perfect ‘landscape, the cemetery marking the liminal threshold of the approaching and unapproachable phenomenon of death’.1 Another day I visited the Botannical Gardens, which were very pretty and well maintained. I spent a few hours there and decided to make a couple of drawings and of course there is always some kind of episode that makes the day stick in ones memory. I call it ‘The Mad Woman’. It’s a beautiful day; I’m minding my own business, strolling around amidst the ﬂora and fauna. I decide to sit down to make a drawing a ‘keyhole’ park view, (a compositional device that the 18th century painter Jean-Honore Fragonard frequently used) where a silhouetted foreground frames a ‘beyond space’ giving a ‘keyhole’ effect. An old woman sits to my right on the next bench, she is talking to herself and occasionally this mumbling gives way to a rancorous contempt, pouring scorn on the world that at ﬁrst almost causes me to fall off my bench, my pencil lines ﬂy off the page. I calmly adjust myself to the situation and my keyhole drawing ﬁnally has a direction, I supplant the ‘beyond’ with a small factual description or text of the events unfolding around me. Notes Paraphrase of Jeff Wall ‘About Making Landscapes’ 1995 exh. cat Wolfsburg: Kunstmuseum Jeff Wall, Selected Essays and Interviews, Moma 2007
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THE SOLANACEAE IS A FAMILY OF FLOWERING PLANTS CONTAINING A NUMBER OF IMPORTANT AGRICULTURAL PLANTS AS WELL AS MANY TOXIC PLANTS. THE NAME OF THE FAMILY COMES FROM THE LATIN SOLANUM “THE NIGHTSHADE PLANT”, BUT THE FURTHER ETYMOLOGY OF THAT WORD IS UNCLEAR. MOST PROBABLY, THE NAME COMES FROM THE PERCEIVED RESEMBLANCE THAT SOME OF THE FLOWERS BEAR TO THE SUN AND ITS RAYS AND, IN FACT, A SPECIES OF SOLANUM (SOLANUM NIGRUM) IS KNOWN AS THE SUNBER
------------- BITTERSWEET (SOLANUM DULCAMARA) is a common, perennial plant and a member of the (Solanaceae). Popular names include blue bindweed, fellenwort, climbing nightschade, snakeberry and woody nightshade. The English and Dutch names are a translation of the botanical name. Dulcis meaning “sweet” and amaris meaning “bitter”. The stalks are thin, climbing and woody at the base. The plant generally twines itself round other plants. In this way a plant can reach a height of 4 m, although 1-2 m is more customary. De inﬂorescence is a simple, forked cymose. The 1 to 1½ cm-large purple-blue ﬂowers are star-shaped, with ﬁve petals and 06 < CLUB DONNY #4 2009
yellow stamens. The plant ﬂowers from June to September in loose clusters or groups of three to twenty ﬂowers. The fruit is a 1 cm berry which is ﬁrst green and later turns red. When ripe they are soft and edible for birds but poisonous for humans. Birds play an important role in the dispersal of the seeds. As with almost all Solanum species the leaves are poisonous. In traditional herbal medicine, three handfuls of dried leaves were cooked with 100 g of linseed meal in a litre of (red) wine. Together with an ounce of lard it was reduced to a pulp. This pulp was used on boils. An overdose can lead to loss of voice. In pharmaceuticals the plant is used for a number of skin disorders. The ancient Egyptians used the plant. It probably had a ritual signiﬁcance for them. A necklace of bittersweet berries was discovered round the neck of the mummy of Tutankhamen. In Germany farmers used to hang bittersweet round the necks of their cattle to protect them against evil spirits. Enchanter’s Nightshade is not a member of the nightshade family. ------------- BLACK NIGHTSHADE (SOLANUM NIGRUM) generally grows to 40 cm in height, it is an annual and a member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae). The plant has an erect, hairy, often slightly black stalk. The white ﬂowers have ﬁve-pointed, recurved petals. The recurved petals are white to off-white with yellow anthers. After ﬂowering (June to September) green berries develop that later turn black. The sepals do not enclose the poisonous berries. The seeds only germinate in warm < SOLANUM NIGRUM
> SOLANUM DULCAMARA
weather in April and May. The plant contains solanine, saponine and solaceine. Plasters can be used to cover superﬁcial abscesses. Take a handful of leaves, wash and dry them. Break or press the leaves to extract the juice, put this on gauze on the abscess. ------------- BRUGMANSIA is a genus of six species of ﬂowering plants in the Solanaceae family, native to sub-tropical regions of South America, along the Andes from Colombia to northern Chile, and also in south-eastern Brazil. They are known as Angel’s Trumpets, incorrectly sharing that name in the past with the closelyrelated genus Datura, commonly known as “Thorn Apple”. As with Datura, all parts of Brugmansia are highly toxic. The plants are sometimes ingested for recreational or shamanic intoxication as the plant contains the tropane alkaloids scopolamine and atropine; however, because the potency of the toxic compounds in the plant is variable, the degree of intoxication is unpredictable and
^ BATTATA VIRGINIANA BRUGMANSIA
< DATURA SUAVEOLENS
> SOLANUM LYCOPERSICUM
can be fatal. Ritualised Brugmansia consumption is an important aspect of the shamanic complexes noted among many Indigenous peoples of western Amazonia such as the Jivaroan-speaking peoples. Likewise, it is a central component in the cosmology and shamanic practices of the Urarina peoples of Loreto, Peru. The use of angel trumpet as a landscape plant is banned in some municipalities. The effects caused by ingesting these plants are that you may feel very “high”, similar to having taken an overdose of Dramamine. You begin to realise that something is wrong and you can lose consciousness. After that you have difﬁculty breathing or walking. The effect can last as long as your body endures the toxins. The hallucinogenic effects of ingesting or smoking the Angel’s Trumpet plant are similar to those of belladonna, an extremely deadly, poisonous plant. The atropine contained in this plant dilates the eyes. For the night garden, Daturas and Brugmansias are a must. These
beautiful, fragrant plants, commonly known as Angel’s Trumpet, open up after dark and remain open until the sunlight falls on them the next morning. ------------- POTATO (SOLANUM TUBEROSUM) The potato is a member of the nightshade family, as are the tomato, paprika and tobacco plants. The green parts of the potato are poisonous. In addition to tubers, potato plants can also form berries which, as opposed to the tomato, are highly poisonous. The formation of berries differs greatly depending on the potato variety. Spanish explorers brought the potato from South America to Europe. Diego de Amalya probably brought the ﬁrst plant with him in 1536 from Peru or Chile, where the potato was called chunu. The Incas had been growing the plant for centuries. The potato plant also grew at high altitudes in the Andes, where other plants cannot survive. On the basis of DNA research it has been demonstrated that all potatoes stem
AS WITH DATURA, ALL PARTS OF BRUGMANSIA ARE HIGHLY TOXIC. THE PLANTS ARE SOMETIMES INGESTED FOR RECREATIONAL OR SHAMANIC INTOXICATION AS THE PLANT CONTAINS THE TROPANE ALKALOIDS SCOPOLAMINE AND ATROPINE; HOWEVER, BECAUSE THE POTENCY OF THE TOXIC COMPOUNDS IN THE PLANT IS VARIABLE, THE DEGREE OF INTOXICATION IS UNPREDICTABLE AND CAN BE FATAL. RITUALISED BRUGMANSIA CONSUMPTION IS AN IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THE SHAMANIC COMPLEXES NOTED AMONG MANY INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF WESTERN AMAZONIA SUCH AS THE JIVAROANSPEAKING PEOPLES.
^ SOLANUM TUBEROSUM
from one plant from southern Peru. Carolus Clusius planted the ﬁrst potato in the Van Pitsemburg garden in Mechelen in 1558. In 1601 he described the propagation of the potato from seed. People discovered that, from the seed of a purpleﬂowering plant, white-ﬂowering plants were also produced. Thanks to selection, various varieties must have been grown all over Europe. The farmers initially would have nothing to do with the plant. Because the stalks and berries are poisonous they thought that the tubers would also be unhealthy. It was only in 1727, in Friesland, that the potato became recognised as a food. Gradually in the 18th century it was grown all over Europe and it became a popular dish. Because of the high vitamin C content the tuber was also used on long sea voyages to prevent the outbreak of scurvy. ------------- TOMATO (SOLANUM LYCOPERSICUM) Tomatoes originated in the Andes where they had been grown for more than two thousand years. Tomato cultivation stretched as far as MesoAmerica, and it was there where the Spanish conquerors ﬁrst came into contact with the plant. In those days they were not much larger than yellow-coloured berries. When ripe, the fruit is healthy, but this is in contrast with the rest of the plant which is poisonous. The toxic substance in this plant is called tomatine. The plant produces the substance as an antibody against a wide range of pathogens and it is also poisonous for humans. As the fruit ripens the poison disappears, this makes it edible but also more susceptible to moulds and bacteria.
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VOICES FROM DETROIT CORINE VERMEULEN KURT “I’ve been here for ten years selling these plants. But I used to be a real bad boy; I got into all kinds of trouble. I used to be in a gang, the Earl Flynns, but we got busted. This was when Coleman Young came in to office; he got us all locked up. When I was incarcerated somebody gave me books, agricultural books, I read them all. That’s how I got into plants. Every day I drive out here with my plants, I just roll them up in a ball and put them in the backseat. But the price of gas is so high now...”
“It’s not actually legal to keep livestock in the city, not even chickens, but quite a few people do it. I’m now trying to convince my boyfriend to get two baby doll sheep. They are very small but you can still use the wool for making things.”
HOWARD “Everything I know about working the land I learned from my mother, she taught me everything. She’s from Alabama and 82 years old now, she can’t work in the garden anymore. I’ve been gardening here for 23 years. When I XAVIER, Birdtown Community Garden go out there I’m really in my comfort zone; “We started gardening here about four years gardening is my therapy, it keeps me sane.” ago, it’s a good thing to do, a positive thing, there’s so much carbon monoxide in the air. In EMLEE the 80’s I got involved with Farm-A-Lot. There “I bought this house last year. It’s a great were so many empty lots in the city, you could location, I feel like I’m out in the country but just pick one, register it at the city and it would in fact downtown is only a mile away. I’m be yours to take care of. Do you know you can lucky too because there’s an empty lot on each still do that now? I love this garden here but side of the house. We’re not actually sure how I get worried sometimes. We don’t know who much of the land came with the house, but the land actually belongs to, someone might were cutting the grass about ten yards on each come and claim it back, and then this party is side, so that’s definitely our property. over. That would be a real shame.” Today I’m working in the garden; we’re LEAH, Birdtown Community Garden making a vegetable patch. There’s a huge rose “I met Xavier at the library I used to work in. bottle bush in the back as well. I’m planning We became friends and one day he asked me if on making beauty products, like facial cream, I would be interested in starting a community out of it. I’m going to call it ‘Emlee’s special garden. So I said: ‘Yes, for sure.’ And that’s rosehip elixir.” how it got started. We now have a steady group of volunteers who come help out in STARLET, Catherine Ferguson Academy the garden every week. We prepare the soil, “I’m an artist, I write poetry and I sing. I’m plant crops, water, weed and harvest together, employed as a freelance landscaper at the usually on Wednesday evenings. We also sell moment. I graduated from this school in early some of the surplus harvest at local markets 2007. It was a great experience; it’s a small on the weekend, we have tons of tomatoes at school and it felt like one big family, everyone knows each other. We spend about a third of the moment.” the time outside the classroom, working on the farm. I took care of the bunnies, milked the KARA, Greenline Community Garden “We just got three new chicks. I think this red goats, planted crops, that sort of thing. One one here is going to be real beautiful. Some of day I pulled a carrot out of the ground and it them we raise for the eggs and the meat. We was really deformed; it had two bottom ends. try and not get too attached. I just learned how I thought: ‘Now why is this happening? I’ve to slaughter a chicken, it’s pretty intense. You never seen one like this in the supermarket’. take a traffic cone with the top part cut off and Then I understood; it’s not perfect because life put he chicken in there with its head sticking is not perfect, it comes in all sorts of shapes out. Then you cut the head off... it’s a good and forms. I think that’s one of the great things way of doing it; the chicken will die instantly about working on the farm, you learn all kind and since its body is in the cone it can’t move of things, but mainly you learn about life. Real around and break a wing.” life.” 32 < CLUB DONNY #4 2009
COREY “I spent about one hundred dollars this year on the vegetable garden. I could spend much more and do it fancy but, you know, we’re in Detroit so you gotta make do. We’re growing all kinds of vegetables, but I like the Roma tomatoes best. I could just sit here with a saltshaker and eat them all day long, they’re so good. You see that big field there in front of the house? My family has been cutting that for over twenty years, the city doesn’t do it. I’ve been pushing the lawnmower since I was eleven years old; it took a long time to cut that field. But now I go on this riding mower and it takes about an hour. We don’t mind doing it but we do spend a lot on gas. And we’ve been taking care of that field for so many years, we just consider it ours, we’re together.” VIBEKE, Phyto-Remediation Garden, Ellery Elementary School
“This plot here used to be heavily contaminated from all the industry; it contained a high level of lead. In 2002 we started planting native grasses and wildflowers propagated from seeds. The plants are used to extract the pollution from the ground, this process is called phytoremediation. Numerous volunteers and school children have helped out with the garden over the years, and the contamination levels have dropped significantly. This soil is actually safe again now.” TOM “When you’re homeless you don’t lose your sense of home, that never goes away. Home is knowing where to find home. And home is within. What is poverty? It’s a state of mind, a concept. I don’t feel poor. I’ve been at this spot for three years. I try and keep my place organized and cozy, you know; homely. It’s been pretty good but it’s cold in the winter. Sometimes people have come up here when I’m not around and they took some of my things. But other than that I’m pretty much left alone. I’ve got a birdhouse as well, for a red winged blackbird, but I’ve never seen it go inside. It’s a typical city bird, and city birds never want to go in a box like that, they want to find their own place.”
SERGEI’S HOUSE RON STEINER Eight years ago I received an invitation to participate in a design workshop in Russia. It was to take place in Samara, a city of one and a half million souls on the Volga, at the end of May, into the ﬁrst week of June. I really didn’t care where is was, the last time I was in Russia it was still the Soviet Union, and I was excited to be going back to that land of extremes. Strange thing; when I opened my atlas, and searched through my map collection, Samara was not to be found. I was told it had been a closed city and the Samara region was strictly off-limits to foreigners since World War Two because of its military-industrial and aerospace complex, but nobody mentioned the city was renamed Kuibyshev between 1953-1991. But this simply added a sense of mystery to the coming adventure. The trip was long due to the fact one must change from international to the national airport terminals in Moscow to make the connecting ﬂights. During the ﬂight I came across a curious little news item in the International Herald Tribune. It reported that in the city of my birth, New York, the building code has been changed so that apartments no longer required kitchens in order to pass the building regulations. The article explained that so many New Yorkers dine out and eat take away meals to the extent that the kitchen was surplus to requirements. I thought of it more as a developers dream: how much money can be made if all the plumbing and ﬁttings are excluded when they convert old ofﬁce buildings or commercial space into small apartments? Samara airport is quite far from the city center, being strategically located between Samara and Togliatti (Lada-city). I was picked-up at the airport by the brothers Malikov: Matvey and Goshen, both young architects, sons of Sergei professor at the Institute of Architecture and organiser of this international seminar. The long drive to Samara was amazing. In true Russian style, Matvey, the older of the two, drove like a madman, while Goshen very calmly briefed me on the events and schedule of the coming weeks’ work, as well as imparting some local geographical and historical information along the way. The main road followed
the long, sweeping curve of the river. Samara is on the west side, stretching out along its banks for over 50 kilometers. Every so often there were very young boys in their underpants squatting next to small wooden crates and long upright poles with baggy nets hanging from them; they were selling Raki – small, sweet crayﬁsh, freshly caught. The local delicacy I was told. Across the river was a beautiful, wild landscape. Rolling hills and mountains, all covered with dense forest. This is the Samarskaya Luka national park, and I was viewing the Zhiguli mountains. “This was the stronghold of Stenka Razin”, Goshen pointed out. “Stinker who?” I asked. This Cossack hero (bandit) and revolutionary (terrorist) is the equivalent of Sherwood Forests Robin Hood. I found out much later the music we know as ‘The Volga Boatmen’ in America, is actually entitled ‘Stenka Razin’ (Alexander Glazunow, 1885). Talk about local heroes... “Oh, and by the way, tomorrow we are having a beach party at our family dacha in that park.” The next morning I was brought down to a jetty not far from the waterfront hotel. I was happy to see some new friends I met the previous evening at Sergei’s studio among a group of people milling around, dockside. After a bit of arranging and packing, our group of about 15 members boarded an old rust-bucket of a boat, rented for this special outing. Sergei explained that normally one would negotiate with smallboat owners for a ride across, a sort of informal water taxi service, but as he had just recently opened the cabin up for the season, he still had things and supplies to bring over, and with a group this size going across just for a day, renting a boat was a good option. More people will arrive later on, and we could all return together. As we were about to arrive on the beach, I asked Sergei about his dacha. His story was fascinating: as this territory is a national park, there can be no private ownership, and no permanent structures are allowed to be constructed. But since his family has been using this site for generations, they have a common law claim for its seasonal use. Their cabin has to be de-mountable because the waterlevel can rise up to ﬁve meters, caused by
the end of the winter, springtime thaw. Every year, sometime in September, the structure is taken apart, wrapped-up and buried on the beach. As he was telling me this, images of Blackbeard and his pirate crew ﬂashed through my head, digging for buried treasure every springtime. Of course, this was the domain of Stenka Razin and his Volga Boatmen. The dacha turned out to be an untreated plywood box, a two meter cube. A small door on the side facing the forest, and on another side a top-hinged ﬂap, one meter high, two meters wide. The beauty of this structure was actually what was inside: a primitive, yet well appointed kitchen. This box was about ten meters from the shoreline, next to a large, shady tree. A large fallen tree trunk was close by, facing the open ﬂap of the kitchen, and offered the perfect seating arrangement for everyone. The group split in two – a small group started cooking and preparing special treats, the majority perched themselves on the log and proceeded drinking beers, talking, laughing and eventually, singing. I headed for a swim in the river, where I met a doctor named Sveta. For me, the highlight of the afternoon was ﬂoating on the water, face-up, eyes closed, as the doctor rubbed my belly and recited Pushkin softly in my ear... Samara was a new experience. Cities on rivers, with rivers running through them, usually occupy both embankments. Samara was special because from the city side, the park appears as a decor, a green lung to be enjoyed across the expanse of Mother Volga. From the Samarskaya Luka side one could view the city, primordial nature to your back, with a refreshing sense of escape. During the course of the summer, during weekends or the vacation time, as more family and friends drop by to stay, more tents, tarps and sleeping bags will appear around the kitchen cube, the beating heart of this ephemeral settlement. Is this Adam’s house in paradise? The river is the bathroom, the forest the toilet, and the beach the living room. This was the curious part to me: yesterday I was reading about the city where one could live in a home without a kitchen, today I was visiting a home that was only a kitchen. I know which one I prefer. CLUB DONNY #4 2009 > 33
STINZENFLORA NOORDELIJKE STADSBUITENGRACHT UTRECHT The Stinzenﬂora project is situated along the Noordelijke Stadsbuitengracht. The project is a collaboration between the residents and the municipality. Stinzen plants were originally exotic plants planted in the gardens and parks of manor houses owned by the nobility or wealthy families. They are chieﬂy bulbous plants that bloom in the spring. Examples are the snowdrop, the sweet violet and the wild daffodil. The advantage of these plants is that they require little maintenance. Each autumn the people living in the neighbourhood, volunteers and the municipality plant a section of the stinzenﬂora. Each spring their success or failure is recorded. Stinzenﬂora project group >Noordelijke Stadsbuitengracht >+ 31(0) 30- 272 28 88 GRIZZLY BEAR VECKATIMEST I realise that Grizzly Bear can come across to some as boring. But this little microcosm of imperfection that has been working its way through the rock lately could use a foil like Veckatimest, an album that, in searching for perfection through meticulousness, feels beautifully ﬂawed and gloriously off-kilter without either aspect serving as the entire narrative. Really, in a world far too concerned with background stories and far too lacking in good old dedication to craft, Grizzly Bear is just about as boring as they come: four guys who very quietly set out to make a fantastic album, which they did. APPLES SPRINGERTUIN ZUILEN “De Grote Plukdag” (The Great Picking Day) will once again be held on 10 & 11 October. We will be picking thousands of kilos of apples and pears to make what has become our world-famous fruit juice: Vechten. De Springertuin Zuilen >Burgemeester Norbruislaan 17-21 Utrecht >Line 3 to Zuilen, alight at Sporthal Zuilen DE BIKKERSHOF ECOLOGICAL GARDEN De Bikkershof residents’ association is an ecological municipal garden in the Wittevrouwen neighbourhood. Nationwide it has become a well-known example of the versatile way in which you can convert a former industrial site into a courtyard garden. The garden is situated between the housing blocks on Bekkerstraat, Goedestraat, Bouwstraat and Biltstraat in Utrecht. The site comprises a natural area (including a botanical garden and pond and a more cultivated area. The garden also has chicken, geese, bees, rabbits, a goat and a playground for young children. The people living in the neighbourhood are involved in the management of the garden as far as possible and everyone has their own “small job”. WELCOME TO THE GREEN ROOF The ﬁrst environmentally-friendly housing project in Utrecht! By now almost ﬁfteen years old. The project comprises sixty-six housing units. There is a communal courtyard garden with a summer house which the residents themselves manage. The residents seldom move away. In short, people enjoy living here in this green oasis in Utrecht Voordorp, right next to the A27 motorway. SPACEBUSTER At invitation of Storefront for Art and Architecture, Raumlabor (Berlin) developed and designed the Spacebuster to explore the qualities, the Spacebuster was developed and designed to explore the qualities and possibilities of public space in New York City. Spacebuster interacts with the architectural and the social space and its conditions. It creates an urban “bubble” for temporary collective uses. The Spacebuster is mounted to the back of a van and it is an inﬂatable dome that can accommodate up to 80 people. SHELTER WWW. SHELTERPUB.COM With over 1000 photographs, Shelter is a classic book celebrating the imagination, resourcefulness, and exuberance of the human habitat. First published in 1973, the book’s preface gave birth to the “Green Building” revolution of today. The building crafts and other skills to meet life’s basic needs were generally passed on from father to son, mother to daughter, master to apprentice. DE AARDVLO ’T WINKELTJE ORGANIC BIODYNAMIC NURSERY From May to November you can buy fresh biodynamic fruit and vegetables in ’t Winkeltje. Opening hours: Saturday 10.00 - 15.00 & Wednesday 13.00 - 17.00, Koningslaan 13achter, Bunnik During opening hours you can pick-your-own ﬂowers in the garden and pay for them in ’t Winkeltje. The shop is in the woods, a few minutes’ walk from the Amelisweerd information centre. BELLE VAN ZUYLEN MADAME DE CHARRIERE (ZUILEN 1740 – COLOMBIER 1805) There is a series of country houses along the river Vecht that belonged to noble families and merchants in the eighteenth century. In one of these, Kasteel Zuylen, Isabella Agneta Elisabeth van Tuyll van Serooskerken was born in 1740. In the summer the family lived at the castle, which was barely two hours away from Utrecht by canal barge. The Van Tuyll’s winter residence was located in Utrecht where, near to the Dom, the house still stands on Kromme Nieuwegracht at number 3/5. 34 < CLUB DONNY #4 2009
Club Donny is a biannual magazine on the personal experience of nature in the urban environment presented by Frank Bruggeman, Ernst van der Hoeven and Ben Laloua/Didier Pascal. PAGE 01 / 36 Deventer, ’t Joppe , Roderick Hietbrink PAGE 02 / 35 Eindhoven, Dahlia's Strijp S, Ernst van der Hoeven TEXTPAGE 03 Flash, Guus van der Hoeven TEXTPAGE 04 Polder Joy, Dirk van den Heuvel TEXTPAGE 05 Oslo Trip, David Powell TEXTPAGE 06 Nightshade PAGE 07 / 30 New York, Gift of Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, 1964, Jannes Linders PAGE 08 / 29 Amsterdam, Contactweg, Anne Holtrop PAGE 09 / 28 New York, Fur, Jaap Scheeren PAGE 10 / 27 Cerna-Sat, Romania, Chris Kabel PAGE 11 / 26 Minsk, Belarus, Susanne Helmer PAGE 12 / 25 Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, theatrumorbisterrarum. com, Marjolijn Dijkman PAGE 13 / 24 Saboudia, Italy, Petra Noordkamp PAGE 14 / 23 Utsje Pskov, Russia, Ksenia Galiaeva PAGE 15 / 22 Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Bertjan Pot PAGE 16 / 21 Berlin, Teufelsberg, Roel van Tour PAGE 17 / 20 Eindhoven, Allotment garden Nieuw Gennep, Boudewijn Bollmann PAGE 18 / 19 Detroit, Kurt’s car, Corine Vermeulen TEXTPAGE 31 Nightshade TEXTPAGE 32 Voices from Detroit, Corine Vermeulen TEXTPAGE 33 Sergei’s House, Ron Steiner TEXTPAGE 34 Donny’s Favourites TRANSLATION / Sarah Jane Jaeggi-Woodhouse PRINTING / Thieme MediaCenter PUBLISHER / post editions www.post-editions.com Club Donny email@example.com © 2009 Club Donny The authors and contributors. Reproduction without permission prohibited. This publication was made possible by Utrecht Manifest 2009, Biennial for Social Design 3rd edition.