Funded! This project was successfully funded on September 2, 2012.

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An experimental cookbook to transform eating and our urban environments via a new idea of foraging

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!

FAQ

  • 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.

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  • "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)

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  • 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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  • Pledge $5 or more
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    The Minor Act of Re-Inscription Kit: The key argument of our cookbook is that world beneath your feet is teeming with potential -- but just how do you change your neighbors perceptions of your local weed fringes? This kit contains a PDF stencil of the text "EAT YOUR SIDEWALK". Print out this full-scale template, cut along the dotted lines and tag your sidewalk curbs (or t-shirts, hoodies and the edges of your grandmother’s favorite foraging park). Get the word out and change perceptions!

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    Eat Your Sidewalk Codebook (PDF): Hidden within the heart of our cookbook is a codebook. This pocket sized companion is a field guide to the core experiments and procedures of Eat Your Sidewalk. We have honed in on our ideas and condensed them into a 9-point approach to an experimental life (from cooking to ecosystem shaping). Simple, direct and groundbreaking. PDF version.

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    Eat Your Sidewalk Codebook: The softcover edition of the codebook ready for your next adventures in the field.(See above for details).

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    Interventionist Kit: Codebook + Stencil Ready to transform the local and start experimenting with everything from cooking to ecosystem design? Get out into the field -- mark your ecotone with the "Eat Your Sidewalk" stencil and the use the Code Book as you hop fences to cook up a storm of possibilities. (Stencil cut from a durable plastic with a the softcover edition of the code book).

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    “Tools to Make Tools” Poster: From our cookbook’s chapter on “Tools for Change” comes this foldout poster. One thing that we have learnt the hard way in developing new ideas about foraging is that it's the tools that make the tools that change things -- so if you’re using the existing tools odds are that nothing is changing. Our great mentor in the reimagining of tools is our dear friend Jason Krpan - a long time back-to-the-lander, and collaborator on this project. In this signed, limited edition poster (18” x 24”), Jason lays out 40 years of secrets to make tools from anything... literally! Our personal favorite.

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    The Emergent Commons Poster: Behind the ideas in the cookbook is our deep curiosity in the Commons. One of our most important chapters will be on “Making Things Common”. This poster diagrams our ideas in one beautiful synthetic overview and is a fold-out in the book. It is also our tribute the the magnificent thinker of the Commons Elinor Ostrom who passed away earlier this year. Suitable for framing and close study.

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    The Eat Your Sidewalk Cookbook (Compact Softcover Edition): There was The Futurist Cookbook, The Modernist Cookbook, and The Anarchist Cookbook - manifestos disguised as cookbooks. Now, it’s time we concocted new recipes for social, ethical and ecological possibilities, from knotweed cakes to mashed potentials. One part culinary to two parts conceptual our beautiful foray to meet you on your streets. Note: The compact edition is without the foldout posters, codebook or stencil.

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    The Complete Edition (Soft Cover): Here is where everything comes together in one remarkable package. In its own front pocket is the Codebook, glued into just the right section is each of our two fold-out posters, and tucked into a back pocket is the stencil. Signed edition.

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    The Deluxe Edition (Hard Cover w/ slip case): For the book collector in all of us who love a beautifully made object. Hardcover edition with custom slip case. Contains: hardcover cookbook, the codebook in front pocket, fold out posters tabbed in, and stencil in back packet + slip case. Hand made limited edition of 100. Signed with a personal thank you from spurse.

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    $500 Eat Your Sidewalk Foraging Master Class: Spurse will drop by your home and forage your block with you for a light lunch and discussion of the big ideas behind the Eat Your Sidewalk Cookbook and answer any questions. Note: For two, two and a half hours approximately. The Eat Your Sidewalk Hardcover Complete Edition is included. We will travel within a 1 hour drive of New York, Austin or San Francisco. For distances and group sizes beyond that, travel and material expenses will be covered by the backer. Class led by 2 spurse members.

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    The Sidewalk Commons -- Do you want to kick off the evolution of a commons in your neighborhood but are unsure how? We will visit with you and walk you through our poster on the commons. Develop a plan and share our expertise. Notes: An intensive workshop for 2-3 people, two and a half hours approximately. Includes two posters and two codebooks. We will travel within a 1 hour drive of New York, Austin or San Francisco. For distances and group sizes beyond that, travel and material expenses will be covered by the backer. Consultation team led by 2 spurse members.

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    Fieldwork Picnic: Slip on your hip waders and go out in the field with spurse and 11 up to of your friends! Spurse will lead an afternoon exploratory foraging adventure to rethink your region culminates in a delicious experimental “sidewalk” picnic. You choose the area - or let us choose from one of our favorite secret spots - within a three hour drive of New York, Austin or San Francisco. A custom map/guide for all participants is included. For distances and group sizes beyond that, travel and material expenses will be covered by the backer. Fieldwork led by 2 spurse members.

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    “A Problem Worth Having” -- The Code Book Crash Course for re-imagining the local: This is the Code Book, brought to you live, unedited and completely decoded! Designed to jump the reimaging of our local with our 9-point approach, spurse will conduct a workshop that accommodates specific questions, problems or issues (up to 15 participants). Codebooks and commons posters is included for all participants. We’ll come to any area within a three hour drive of New York, Austin or San Francisco. For distances and group sizes beyond that, travel and material expenses will be covered by the backer. (Workshop led by 2 spurse members.

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    The Sidewalk Dinner Party. A dinner for you and 9 guests foraged and prepared by spurse. We will discover and transform your urban patch into the most magnificent of experimental multi-course dinners. We will present you and your guests with a custom guide to your patch. We’ll come to any area within a three hour drive of New York, Austin or San Francisco. For distances and group sizes beyond that, travel and material expenses will be covered by the backer. Hosted by 2 spurse members.

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    A Cooking Field Day: Get down into the trenches with spurse, for a seriously fun day of adventure as we eat the sidewalks with you and 9 of your friends. This full-day event will kick off with a crash course to rethink our ideas about the commons, cooking and the local -- will culminate into an exquisitely experimental evening meal meal. We’ll come to any area within a three hour drive of New York, Austin or San Francisco. For distances and group sizes beyond that, travel and material expenses will be covered by the backer. Workshop led by 2 spurse members.

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    Sidewalk Throwdown: Sometimes it takes a little friendly competition to turn a skeptic into a believer, and spurse is no stranger to that! Spurse will bring the “Sidewalk Throwdown,” a unique cooking challenge, to your community. Spurse will face off against a local chef and their team, racing to turn foraged mystery ingredients into culinary delights. Local judges will choose the tastiest, taking place in a festive atmosphere. It’s a chance to celebrate what is right under our feet, and to open our eyes to new practices. This is ideal both for you to test your skills and/or if you wish to support a community event to open peoples eyes! Best done a public events like farmers markets -- but we are happy to invent new circumstances with you! We will come to any area within a three hour drive of New York, Austin, or San Francisco. For distances beyond that, travel expenses will be covered by the backer. (Led by 2 spurse members).

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    Eat Your Sidewalk! Challenge: The core idea of the cookbook is that foraging is more than a spring of wild herbs added to a meal. This challenge immerses a community in this idea by challenging them to live and eat for a week on only what is found under their feet. Bring the challenge to your city! Spurse will help you develop a custom Eat Your Sidewalk! event that catalyzes existing practices and communities into new states. Spurse will help with the planning, development and offer logistical support. Please contact spurse directly for more details.

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Funding period

- (30 days)