SPURSE is a "creative design consultancy that focuses on social, ecological and ethical transformation." Their new book, Eat Your Sidewalk, is part-manifesto, part-cookbook, part-urban foraging cookbook. The book reflects SPURSE's particular approach to socio-spatial practice, a combination of rigorous theoretical exploration with lifeworld experiments. At the Society for Social Studies of Science meeting this year, SPURSE led two workshops on urban foraging and more-than-human relations.
The first took a group of about 15 people out of the conference hotel to surrounding parklets and unbuilt lots, where we found edible chickweeds, dandelions, and hostas. We contemplated the life cycles of urban rats in relation to urban trees and connected the plants that we saw to histories of colonization. We also discussed ideas about the non-singularity of human life, given that our skin and guts are teeming with micro-organisms that are part of our lively ecologies.
In the second workshop, we sat on the floor before a spread of dishes and drinks to listen to scholars presenting research on foodways, water purification, and eating as an embodied activity. We ate corn grits and pears prepared three ways (fresh, pickled, and jelly bean) from small plastic cups, drank water treated with chlorine, and ate fresh foraged dandelion leaves with a foraged herb sauce from "bowls" shaped like the potter's cupped hand, giving the impression of eating and drinking from an unfamiliar (yet intimately present) body.
SPURSE's socio-spatial practice asks scholars, artists, and activists to consider whether we are as singular and disembodied as our work habits would have us believe. How can we de-naturalize items of work such as office chairs, keyboards, and tables to feel thetraces of the bodies for whom they were designed (recalling SPURSE's bowls, shown above)? And how can cultivating new relationships between ourselves and spaces of work reveal places for design and invention?