WELCOME to the Kickstarter page for our revolutionary cookbook:
Eat Your Sidewalk
Our book is as challenging, and absurdly pleasurable as it’s title. It’s about how our curiosity to discover our urban environment and eat from it could transform us, and our perception of the world.
The aha! moment that led to this cookbook came about when we realized that eating doesn’t have to begin in a store, a market or a garden -- we asked ourselves, what if eating begins right under your feet wherever you are?
As avid foragers and amateur urban ecologists this question hit home when we challenged ourselves to live for a week by foraging our sidewalks-- surprisingly it was easy; then we did it with a community -- and it caught on as grandmothers, freegans, and foodies joined forces -- and now we would like to share our ideas with you via one of the great modern art forms -- the cookbook.
Currently we’re deep in the research phase of this book and your support will help us complete it. This summer we’ve been hitting the pavement from NJ to Detroit and beyond. Where we challenge communities to live for a week at a time by only eating their sidewalks. Our research involves inventing new ways to cook, forage, challenge old habits and even take on the best local chefs -- all to accomplish delivery of The Eat Your Sidewalk Cookbook this fall.
So far what we can tell you, is that it will be no ordinary cookbook. It’ll lay out our ideas to reinvent practices of eating that capture what’s most astonishing about foraging. It’ll weave between experimental recipes, stories, guest writings and tools for action. We’re designing the cookbook so that the tools are removable -- there’ll be fold-out diagrams, a pop out codebook, and a stencil. We’re offering these components as rewards from 5 dollars to 35. And the cookbook from 60 bucks for the compact edition, to 120 for the complete edition.
So why the focus on foraging? Well, we have to say a bit about spurse. We’re a collective of systems thinkers, and designers who’ve spent the last decade researching how humans and their environments shape each other. We’ve done fieldwork in many remote hunting, fishing and mining communities and along the we’d often all stop to gather a spontaneous meal. This led us to see foraging -- what some of us still remember our grandparents doing -- is neither quaint nor exotic -- it’s how we change from being shoppers to stewards, activist, foodies, and ecologists without realizing it. It’s crucial to transforming us, our perceptions, and our fundamental engagements with the world.
That’s where this book comes in -- it’s our most passionate project -- the culmination of a many years of thinking, testing and doing. And your support is the key to finishing this timely endeavor. Please don’t wait, click on your favorite reward and be part of the future of eating!
For us it is in the very words:
EAT: eating is what links us to all life -- when we eat a dandelion growing on our street what has happened to it now happens to us. Our health and its health are linked. Its concerns and ours meet. We can no longer separate our fates.
YOUR: You are not alone as you pick this plant -- others want it (both human and non-human), you have to negotiate, work together -- this means forming a community based on shared concerns (health, sustainability, pleasure...). Not a top down community, or a community in name only, but a co-evolving community of partners.
SIDEWALK: So often we talk about local but we skip over our actual place to get to the parts of our environment we more easily recognize because they are more like products or have been defined for us as important. But this means we are not addressing our actual environment fully. How do we do this? Begin with where you are -- your sidewalks, yards, neighborhoods, and the systems that they are part of -- and pay attention to everything. When this really happens a place comes alive.
!: Lets not forget the thin bit of punctuation! The exclamation mark is there because it has to be as urgent and as it is fun. (It can’t be all doom and gloom). Eat Your Sidewalk! celebrates the excesses that just might come with a less dependent way of life.
Please join us on this adventure to reinvent place and further the possibilities of a richer path through life.
"Eat your Sidewalk" is a startling title for a startling art project. It demonstrates that food can be acquired without purchasing industrially grown and processed commodities, and without growing it in a garden. The alternative is free. It takes little effort. It is called foraging. Spurse provides a timely lesson in urban sustainability by utilizing tasty and nutritious edibles that pop up in the cracks of urban pavements. Support this effort and you will improve human health, the economy, and the environment.” Linda Weitraub (Writer, Critic, Artist and Ecologist)
“How would it feel to have to pay that much attention to your surroundings, not just for an afternoon exercise in mind-sharpening, but in order to survive? In my research on wayfinding, one of the strongest themes I've noticed is that those cultures in which one finds the most highly cultivated sense of place and space were also characterized by this exquisite sensitivity to one's surroundings--a kind of mindfulness. And what inevitably followed from this kind of place tuning was a deep reverence. What if there was some way to capture a little glimpse of how that kind of reverent connection to place might feel? Can modern, urban human beings live off the land? And if they do, what new connections might form between themselves and the sidewalks under their feet? Or with one another? Well, an ambitious project by the fabulously clever and creative grouphttp://www.spurse.org/, called Eat Your Sidewalk, has been proposed to answer exactly these kinds of questions. Take a look. You should give them some dough to make this happen. It's important.” Colin Ellard (Philosopher and researcher of Place)
1. Foraging: Eat Your Sidewalk begins with the simple act of sleuthing for and gathering wild things. This is not just plants for eating, it also involves sleuthing out material, ideas, and habits.
2. Become Local: When you eat what grows under your feet you become part of your environment. This form of Eating links us directly to other living things. When we eat a dandelion growing on our street what has happened to it now happens to us. Our health and its health are linked. Its concerns and ours meet. We can no longer separate our fates.
3. Re-skilling: As we became consumers we lost many skills. Eat Your Sidewalk has a core set of techniques to helps us regain lost skills and invent new ones that take us beyond a passive consumer approach to reality and evolve skills from foraging to permaculture, civil disobedience, urban gardening, preserving, fermenting...
4. Community Driven: All of the skill building activities, locations, and concerns come from the community that hosts the Eat Your Sidewalk Challenge. We work with as many local partners as possible to foster an initiative that lasts and evolves long after the challenge is over. The deeper the collaborative becomes, the more robust our skills for foraging can develop.
5. Immersive: This is critical for us -- there is a difference between a workshop or a class and an intensive week long challenge. It takes time and an intensity of experience to come to certain insights and to break old habits and form new ones. The challenge is somewhere between a “Tough Mudder”, the “100 Mile Diet” and foraging with your grandparents.
6. Making Community Making Commons: When we forage we have to become sensitive not only to what we are gathering but to who else is gathering. And this is not just fellow humans, we have to negotiate with other critters. At this point a new form of collective begins to form. This collective consists of people, plants, other critters, habits, practices, ecosystems, ideas and much else. We enter a wonderful and complex dialog across species that co-shapes our shared environment.This is what we consider to be the “commons”.
7. Wayfinding: With foraging your perception of a place really changes, you move differently and the world becomes a lot more concrete -- full of actual plants and not just general stuff (the lawn, the field...). You become tuned to the weather, the seasons, chemicals, and social dynamics. A very different reverence for place develops, a reverence that it is active, and engaged (not just the "take photos and leave only footprints...).
8. New self: It is hard to say “me” or “I” when foraging -- what I pick is not something I grew, nor do I own it, and in a real sense I didn’t even “find” it. As well if what is happening to a plant is also happening to me then in a very real and concrete sense we are interconnected. Foraging makes you less of an individual and much more of a distributed creature where it is very hard to separate the self from the environment.
9. MacGyver the World: Remember that crazy tv show in the 80's where MacGyver transformed random things into planes, lockpicks, bombs, phones and the like? We need to think more like that: a couple pens, some matches, an old phone book and gum... Take nothing at face value -- MacGyver everything!10. Nature is Urban: So often we forget that we are part of nature and that cities are complex ecosystems. We have reached a point where the majority of us humans live in urban environments. We need to reconsider these environments beyond seeing the concrete jungle.
11. Here Comes Everything:With foraging you start with where you are -- you walk out the front door, you pay attention to your surroundings rather than imagine you could be elsewhere. You deal with your world -- the good and the bad -- the everything (but concretely and pragmatically). Race, pollution, globalism, unwanted critters... You celebrate and you transform the best you can.
12. Problems Are Created: Yes, you read that right -- we want to make problems. It is a mistake to think that problems pre-exist. Problems need to be created. The goal of Eat Your Sidewalk is to create problems worth having and worlds worth making with a community of humans, plants and other critters.
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