We The Weeds

1. Describe the project a STAKE Grant would help you accomplish (100 words):
WE THE WEEDS is a botanical arts and outreach project aimed at expanding common knowledge of the wild plants of Philadelphia. Its multi-phase process includes:
- Recruiting local artists to design and screenprint herbarium-style labels for fifty common self-seeding plants (“weeds”).
- Working with the city and/or private institutions to establish a project site that will serve as an outdoor classroom/nature trail/gallery.
- Hosting on-site plant identification workshops for the public that feature temporary/biodegradable labeling.
- Creation and distribution of an ethno-botanical walking pamphlet that further explores plant origins, paths of travel, uses and cultural significances.
- Hosting of additional educational events throughout the summer and spring.

2. How will you use the grant toward the realization of your project? $800 is your imaginary budget (50 words):
The grant will enable the realization and implementation of WE THE WEEDS printed materials, including the artist-designed, hand-printed weed labels, and an informational field guide to Philadelphia’s weeds. Funds will cover: printer’s ink, chemical-free paper, silkscreen materials (emulsion, degreaser, screens, exposure unit rental time), wheatpaste, printing and labelling time, and field guide production. Any remaining money will go toward educational outreach, including walks, workshops, and labelling tours for the public.

3. A little about yourself and what led you to your current creative goals. This may include a previous project of yours, ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal) (100 words):
WE THE WEEDS is a collaboration between artist Kaitlin Pomerantz and botanist Zya S. Levy.

Kaitlin Pomerantz’s work explores the history of natural science and the relationship between humans and nature, and is informed by her experiences in agriculture and marine aquaculture (oyster farming). This fall, Kaitlin completed her first large-scale public eco-sculpture for the collection of Annmarie Garden arts and environmental center, in the Chesapeake. She is currently a resident artist at Philadelphia’s community print shop, Second State Press, where she is working on a series of fossil-themed lithographs.

Zya S. Levy, a field botanist with the USDA, has over ten years of experience working with flora of North America. In love with plants since her earliest recollection, she is inspired by the resiliency and beauty of nature within the city ecosystem. Zya is the founder of the Collecting Collective and the Philadelphia Investigative Institute of the Wild which hosts plant walks, identification workshops, botanical cocktail parties, urban research projects and herbal study groups.

4. Why is this project important? How will it benefit the community? (100 words):
“Naming the world” is an age-old practice that helps humans to connect meaningfully with their environments. Most city dwellers learn that nature is elsewhere, and are taught to ignore the plants and animals within their urban space-- to see them as intrusive weeds and pests, instead of the resilient, powerful, and often beautiful, creatures that they are. WE THE WEEDS plant-labeling, field guide, and participatory education project uses the work of local artists to reconnect the public with the nature within their urban landscape, teaching youth and adult audiences about the history, uses and unique characteristics of local plants. WE THE WEEDS ultimately seeks to give the public a vocabulary with which to better understand, and therefore more consciously inhabit, their city.