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lisagye

RESEARCHER   +   ACTIVIST   +   EDUCATOR   +   PHOTOGRAPHER   +   THEORIST   +   WRITER   +   NETWORKER   +   VIDEO_FILM_MAKER   +   INTERVENTIONIST

The Pleasure of Radical Gardening
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“Certain gardens are described as retreats when they are really attacks.”
Ian Hamilton Finlay cited in George McKay’s Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism and Rebellion in the Garden.

When I first saw the theme for this year’s Memefest Friendly Competition, my instant response to the word ‘Pleasure’ was gardening. Not very radical might be one’s first response but for me the pleasure of gardening does lie in its radical ‘roots’. Whether it’s planting indigenous Australian plants, growing organic fruit and vegetables, raising chickens and sharing the bounty with neighbours and friends or saving heritage seeds that can be used again and again, my politics underpins and is underpinned by my gardening.

Being able to cultivate a patch of land, as an individual or as part of community, should be a basic human right. And for millennia it was taken for granted. Once the commons began to be foreclosed and the world colonized, people have had to fight for their right to plant and nurture gardens. As large agribusinesses swallow up the land and patent our seeds, the need has grown for a concerted “horticountercultural” [1] politics – what Peter Lamborn Wilson calls “avant gardening” [2]. As he notes:

Voltaire’s cynical advice in Candide – “Cultivate your own garden” – can no longer be considered simply an amoral bon mot. The world has changed considerably since the Enlightenment. Meanings have shifted. “Cultivate your own garden” sounds today like hot radical rhetoric. Growing a garden has become – at least potentially – an act of resistance. But it’s not just a gesture of refusal. It’s a positive act. It’s praxis. (Lamborn Wilson, 1999, 9-10)

I know that I am privileged. I live in a house with a garden. I can afford to water our plants, feed our chickens and buy seeds. My house stands on the lands of the traditional owners, the Wurundjeri people, and it is through their dispossession that I have come to be here. It is important to acknowledge this.

Gardening is never far away from politics. George McKay’s wonderful book, Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism and Rebellion in the Garden, traces this relationship, in a mainly British context, by examining the urban allotment movement, the politics of the Garden City, organics, the fascist origins of biodynamics, flower power, peace and memorial gardens, land cooperatives, community gardens and guerrilla gardening.

Gardens don’t just support plant and animal life. They ground our ethics and values. Tending a garden teaches patience. Plants and animals have their own time and we have to adjust to them. Being in the garden helps us to acknowledge the interconnectedness of our lives and changes in the climate, to think about what will and won’t go together and to remember that what ever is taken out must in some way be restored or returned. Our successes and failures are actually life and death issues for the inhabitants of our gardens so we need to be mindful and attentive to their needs before we can meet our own.

As I’m writing this, a Red Wattlebird has landed on the flowering Grevillea outside my window. Before I can take a photo it notices my movement and moves away. It’s a fleeting glimpse but one that recurs each day as the birds come to suckle on the sweet nectar in the winter flowering native bushes. I’m reminded again that our imposed European ‘seasons’ don’t align with those as described by Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years. In southern Australia, the plants that are indigenous to the area flower in what we have come to call ‘winter’ but was known to the Wurundjeri people as Berrertak Darr – Karr (Cold West Wind), a time for artefact making. [https://vimeo.com/133830628] Another lesson from the garden.
What has gardening taught you? What pleasures does it bring?
Share your transformative gardening story.


[1] McKay, George, Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism and Rebellion in the Garden London: Francis Lincoln, 2011, p.7.
[2] Lamborn Wilson, Peter, “Avantgardening” in Wilson & Weinberg (eds) Avantgardening: Ecological Struggle in the City and the World, New York: Autonomedia, 1999, pp. 7-34.

Invasion Day Rally Melbourne 2015
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As many of you know, Memefest has been working with Aboriginal activists in Australia for a couple of years now. As part of last year's symposium and workshop we made contact with many new friends in Melbourne who are working towards genuine recognition of the sovereignty that was never ceded to the colonial invaders 277 years ago in this country. Australia is the only Commonwealth country that has failed to negotiate a treaty with the First Nations people of this country and that still incarcerates Aboriginal people in disproportionate numbers compared to white "Australians" and child removal from communities has increased five fold since the Bringing them Home report written in 1998 (3000 Aboriginal children then - over 16000 now). You can find more information here http://treatyrepublic.net/

On Monday 26 January 2015, a day white Australia celebrates as "Australia Day" and a day of mourning for those people whose country was stolen from them 227 years ago, 2000 Aboriginal people and non Aboriginal accomplices gathered on the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne to remember all of the ancestors who died trying to defend their lands from the Colonial invaders. We laid flowers and listened to stories from the past and present. We then marched down one of Melbourne's main streets where we managed to break through the barriers that had been erected for the "Australia Day Parade" and crash the official party. It was amazing. Posters that had been produced by Sandy Kalternborn's Memefest workshop group had been made into shields and were proudly displayed by young and old. Other posters created in support of the Grandmothers Against Removals GMAR, who we worked with at Memefest 2014 also present and had been postered around the streets the day before by Vida Voncina Vodeb and her family.

It was a privilege and an honour to be able to participate in this event alongside other Memefest comrades - Oliver, Adam, Kristy-Lee, Vida and many others.

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=516318298508451&pnref=story

lisagye
ABOUT ME

Username

lisagye


Name

Lisa Gye


Gender

female


Country

Australia


Website

http://www.lisagye.com


Description

I'm an educator, activist, media maker and sometime writer who is interested in social justice, social change, critical theory and media practices.


I have joined the Memfest community becasue i am interested in

making a difference. I believe in making media that matters and I am passionate about sharing this with other people who feel the same way.


Education

Politics and Media


Working place

Swinburne University


Collaborators

Oliver Vodeb, Darren Tofts, Danny Butt, Andrew Dodd, Fibreculture network, my colleagues & students


Music I like

Calexico
The Avett Brothers
Neil Young
Bob Dylan
Joni Mitchell
Beck
Billy Bragg
Aretha Franklin
Cowboy Junkies
Sonic Youth
Gillian Welch
Too too many others


Books I like

Anything by Jacques Derrida
Doreen Massey For Space
Wanderlust Rebecca Solnit
Debating Derrida Niall Lucy
Memory Trade Darren Tofts
Applied Grammatology Gregory Ulmer
The Medium is the Massage Marshall McLuhan
A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia
The Practice of Everyday Life Michel De Certeau
A History of Reading Alberto Manguel
Anything by Gabriel Marcia Marquez, Milan Kundera, Jorge Luis Borges, Kurt Vonnegut, Ian McEwan, Greil Marcus, Mark Amerika.
Zadie Smith On Beauty


Films I like

Django Unchained
Pulp Fiction
Once Upon a Time in the West
Fargo
Whatever happened to Baby Jane
To Kill a Mockingbird
Cape Fear
Spirited Away
Once upon a time in America
Inglourious Basterds
Unforgiven
La Dolce Vita
Wings of Desire
Cigarettes and Coffee
All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace
Midnight in Paris


Communication projects I like

Memefest :)
The People's Tour
The Yes Men
Soda Jerk
Engage Media
Media that Matters
Reel Lives


People I like

Too many to mention


COMRADES