Earthlings is a collaboration with Hari Byles, a community gardener, researcher, and compostist. We create participatory projects which respond to community, accessibility, sustainability, and soil through poetry, performance and conversation.

Photos by Hari Byles

Soil Ecologies, 2018

Hari and I first worked together in summer 2018, exploring our relationships with soil at Bethnal Green Nature Reserve along with ecologist Olly Edmonds – part of the Compost Mentis project. We developed a full day workshop: DIY soil science, including testing the soil at the Nature Reserve, was followed by an afternoon of writing exploring soil further through imagination and words. A month later, we held a performance and discussion which brought together creative, philosophical, ethical, poetic and political concerns in relation to soil. Academics Maria Puig de la Bellacasa and Dimitris Papadopoulos shared their research, and some of the workshop participants performed their work alongside Ama Josephine BudgeHelena Hunter and myself. We brought the work from the project together in our first zine, Earthlings.

Open Gardens Treasure Trail, 2019

We loved working together, and came up with a second project – this time linking Bethnal Green Nature Reserve with the many community growing spaces around it. We were awarded the Live Art Development Agency (LADA)’s Garrett Centre Commission, which is intended to link LADA up with the communities around their building. We secured further funding from the Mayor of London’s Culture Seeds, and put together a series of workshops and collaborations, working with local growers to create installations from their stories of gardening in Bethnal Green. We brought it all together in an Open Gardens Trail, with a map designed by Soofiya, and workshops run by local people – all finished off with a feast and performances. You can read more about it and download Connecting Words, the zine we made to record it all, here.

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