In late summer 2023 I began DE-FENCE, a living installation and a series of community events at NATURE Lab under the umbrella of the Sanctuary for Independent Media’s growing Eco-Art Trail. The living installation is built in relationship to NATURE Lab’s back fence and the other emerging food forest networks and sign systems in the newly inaugurated space. The DE-FENCE installation is an offering of perennial medicinal plants that support the immune system of humans while also enabling mutual support of the plants themselves and their critter companions through nutrient, structure, and insect attraction/ repulsion. The planting design and labeling system emerges out of community conversations and observation processes. These community conversation largely take shape during workshops, over collaborative drawing and plant-sensing exercises.

PART 1 in the DE-FENCE series is a workshop where participants discover medicinal plants growing in the marginal spaces and edge conditions of the neighborhood, discuss neighborhood environmental health conditions, explore practices connected to autonomy, and wellness, and sketch medicinal plants that have historically been used for the immune system. Participants will be given specially designed field notebooks where they can make observational notes and draw the medicinal plants they resonate with. With participants’ consent, the creative results of this workshop are repurposed and made a part of the permanent, living DE-FENCE installation. I am continuing the collaborative drawing and plant sensing beyond the August workshop into September as a part of the People’s Health Sanctuary Healing Day series.

DE-FENCE conflates collective health with autonomy and forest solidarities — in opposition to medical and legal conceptions of immunity that derive from notions of private property.