As an organizer, urban farmer, activist artist, and designer I end up participating in and creating some pretty amazing stuff in and around NYC. I’ve posted some of the things I’ve done here for myself to look back on and remember. I hope it offers a glimpse into my life and perhaps some inspiration.
I have to start this off simply. Smiling Hogshead Ranch has been my heart center and is the thing that keeps me in NYC. This link to the SHHR events page is pretty exhaustive, but it is demonstrative of the work being done there. I have not organized all these events, but a lion’s share of them:
I know, it’s a huge list, so here are some highlights form the Ranch:
This is a potentially huge development and we are organizing a larger community of folks to help us create a vision for the adjacent railroad property. The first meeting brought over 35 people out to participate.
Outside of cultivating community, building soil is probably the most crucial function of an urban farm. I am passionate about the soil food web and proudly proclaim to compost seven different ways at the Ranch. We are a community composting site in Queens, open 24/7/365 for residents to drop off their kitchen scraps. We collect from commercial businesses for a fee (described below), we tour other sites (also described below) and we accept tonnage from GrowNYC GreenMarkets to build biodynamic windrows. I also was involved with starting up the collections at several Western Queens Library branches.
Vokashi Worker Coop
After collecting commercial food scraps as a direct action for 4 years at Smiling hogshead Ranch. We are now working with Vokashi Kitchen Waste Solutions to convert a sole proprietorship that provides micro-carting and composting services for commercial and residential clients in NYC to a worker cooperative. Working through the legal agreements, working relationships and insurance issues has been an amazing earning experience. This conversion will allow the Ranch to participate directly in the transformative economy we want to see in the world.
I am an active member or TimesUp, Right of Way and Public Space Party, I also host social bike rides with Flux Factory and Smiling Hogshead Ranch. These range from fun rides to the beach, and treks through Queens to visit various compost sites to direct action, ticketing police vehicles parked in bike lanes, and hanging guerrilla signage in order to reduce the speed limit to safe levels.
As a radical mycologist, I have been teaching people how to grow mushrooms for edible, medicinal and bioremediation uses. I always incorporate the idea of underground fungal networks as analogies for the intentionality that humans can bring to our work together. I have taught this class at multiple Queens Libraries, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Smiling hogshead Ranch, The Base (Brooklyn anarchist collective), Flux Factory, North Philly Peace Park, Block and Noble (indy bookstore in Philly) and Baltimore Free Farm.
Funded by the Citizens Committee for NYC and Manhattan SWAB’s Compost Grant, I organized this ride to highlight folks working on the front lines of waste and reuse. With over two dozen participants starting at the Queens Botanic Garden, we visited 7 sites, ending with a tour and BBQ at Smiling Hogshead Ranch. See all the pictures and read all about it here.
Three days of fun including a comedy show, a variety show, skillshares, film screenings, potluck dinner, sing-song rounds, open movement, raffle prizes, and two dance parties. The Ranch’s first fundraising event demonstrated how to turn a gallery into a community center, have tons of fun and raise money for a cause. More text here and more pictures here.
I participated in the Two Row Camp for the past few years, kayaking down the Hudson in solidarity with the indigenous peoples. We host the final potlatch and camp at smiling Hogshead Ranch. This year this catalyzed a weekly potluck where we used transparency tools to begin knowing one another more deeply. These Tuesdays at SHHR over the 2015 growing season have been profoundly meaningful to our growth as a community.
Additionally, I regularly host and co-host Flux Thursday, a monthly salon style potluck at the Flux Factory. I tend to bring entomophagy (bug eating), facilitated food justice conversations (with QuAC, see below), and local documentary screening when I am Flux’s hosting resident.
Queens Action Council (QuAC)
I am an active member of the Queens Action Council (QuAC) and have hosted meetings and potlucks (at both Hogshead and Flux Factory), and tabled at events with them. QuAC is a coalition of Queens residents, advocates working together on food justice for our community. Amplifying the voices of Western Queens to raise awareness, and collectively build a more just and sustainable food landscape from the ground up.
As a member of the MoS Collective (Masters of Succession) I host this street theatre at the Ranch from time to time and lead bioremediation bike rides tossing beneficial MudBalls into polluted bodies of water on our way to MudBalls happening in different areas of the city. We also participate annually in FIGMENT on Governors Island.
PARK(ing) Day is an international event. We created a pop-up park in a parking spot in front of the Ranch, we invited local workers to an after work BBQ and gave free lemonade to pedestrians and cyclists as they passed by. One of the best community engagement days of the year with over 40 people visiting the garden for the first time despite working or commuting through the area regularly.
I am involved with a group of collaborators that put together regular farm to table dinner and yoga events on an organic farm in Pawling, NY. These are fun, heart centered events that regularly draw 50-60 participants from NYC, Pennsylvania and even further afoot.
After 3-1/2 years of operating a guerrilla garden, we held an event celebrating our new found legitimacy. After incorporating as a non-profit organization, purchasing insurance and signing a Garden License Agreement with the MTA, we put on a spectacle. Ending a 30 rider strong, tri-boro urban agriculture bike ride with a ribbon cutting ceremony and BBQ, which brought an additional 30 participants to the Ranch. We spread our message of direct action and autonomy, had fun and demonstrated our gravity. It also garnered a good amount of press.
We teamed up with More Gardens! and a musical group touring the nation to bring young fans out to the Ranch the day after a NYC concert. We planted crops, turned compost and made banners. After half a day of work we mobilized the group and banners to create a demonstration outside the Boardwalk Community Garden which had been illegally razed. We hung our banners and had people on the Coney Island boardwalk call 311 and demand that the mayor return the garden to the gardeners.
2014 Timeline of Smiling Hogshead Ranch Events