Project Raccogliere

By sigrid,

Raccogliere Magazine Nr.1 focusses on the Venetian intertidal zone and community through the lens of a more-than-human actor and plant called salicornia. It grows in the fragile salty marshlands known by the locals as the »barene«. There, the salt-loving plant solidifies the soil beneath with its intricate red roots and thereby creates the conditions for itself and other plants to thrive.

Over the last decades salicornia has become an indicator for the manifold challenges present within the lagoon. Spotted by local farmers on their land, the plant indicates the rising levels of salinisation and thus the loss of agricultural land due to global warming. Recent years saw the plant growing even further up the sweet-water river Po, which is alarming to ecologists and climate scientists alike. Some say, that Venice could be regarded as the forefront of global warming today, as flooding and salinisation threaten the ecosystem and livelihoods of many.

Both UNESCO’s protection of the marshlands as well as the MOSE construction have affected the fragile intertidal zone even further. While the former may unwittingly contribute to the loss of marshlands since privately managed sites are kept up better, the latter has been met with scepticism as it failed to protect Venice from flooding meaningfully, whilst having been a rather extensive financial investment in a city that struggles financially. The challenge of mass tourism and cruise ships have had further impacts on the local community, leading many to leave the infamous city due to lack of housing.

The list may go on yet bearing this in mind, we wondered on how these different agendas in this fragile ecosystem might be mediated, if at all? What might be actions of regeneration that local Venetians may consider or already practice? We talked to scientists, NGOs, chefs, artists and designers about combating these challenges and their individual long-term efforts and responses in the face of global warming. The magazine features these conversations and their respective projects, all of which promotes resilience and regenerative actions. Not at last they suggest a different vision and understanding of Venice and its crucial ecosystem. We continue this work through our Blue Pages.

The first issue of Raccogliere also tells the story of objects designed by Amalia Magril and Daniel Garber for a future Venice, in which Venetians will be able to engage with their local environment differently. The project was conceived together with them.

The design of the zine takes visual cues and references from the Venetian lagoon landscape and it is printed on RISOgraph (rice-based inks) with three colours on recycled offset paper.

The project was conceived together with Daniel Garber & Amalia Magril. See the project website.

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SOLIDAGO – Mediating the Land

By sigrid,

ONGOING PROJECT: In 2007 Switzerland released a black list with banned invasive species which were to be removed from its sovereign land. Among them was the Canadian Goldenrod, a neophyte, or as the Swiss media began to refer to, the so-called » silent conqueror«. Swiss citizens were called to action to collectively remove the plant aided via digital technology such as geolocating apps to track the plant across public and private land.

The yellow plant was indeed once an innocent stowaway travelling to Europe after 1492, only to be consciously planted in the 16th century onward as a honey plant and in botanical gardens. In its native country Canadian goldenrods have been used by indigenous communities for teas and tinctures to treat kidney issues and sinus infections. While seemingly ignored in Europe, there is indication that it may have been used to treat wounds possibly leading to its Latin name Solidago–derived from soldare–“to make whole again”.

The quiet guest usually favours disturbed areas such as wetlands and it can be found alongside train tracks, where the wind created by passing trains becomes effectively a means of pollination, of carrying the seed across the land. Over the years the non-native goldenrods populated not only their designated lands, but began to spread and compete with »native« plants effectively suppressing their growth.

Complete eradication of the »invasive« Canadian goldenrod appears unlikely according to Erwin Jörg, nor are industrial scale design solutions per se. Rather than accepting the annually created waste from neophytes, how might design open up the conversation about native vs. non-native plants and address the key question at heart, namely biodiversity? How will we mediate the land in the future?

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