Root, City, Thorn, 2010
A conversation while collecting medicinal hawthorn berries from the trees growing beside the old immigration hospital on Angel Island
A part of Mary Walling Blackburn’s Radical Citizenship: The Tutorials
on Angel Island and at Southern Exposure
Friday, September 17th, 2010 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM and 12:00 Noon to 2:00 PM
11:00 AM to 12:00 Noon: Naturalization Ceremony of new U.S. citizens at the U.S. Immigration Station, Angel Island. Sponsored by AIISF, California State Parks, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The word citizen used to refer a person who lived in a city. Earlier use of the word civilization referred to certain civil practices of citizens, but now has come to signify practices that allowed cities to come about in the first place. We associate civilization with complex agriculture and progress. In my mind, a radical citizen is a person who inhabits the city in such a way that they unravel civilization. To unravel civilization means, at the most fundamental level, to cultivate a diverse array of medicine and food in league with the non-human, to give back to the ecosystem more than one takes, to engage what is growing well in a way that ensures benefit and habitat for the lives of all other humans and non-humans who live nearby. Complexity is fostered through simple action.
For radical citizenship: the tutorials, we talk about how certain agricultural practices foster notions of weeds, invasive species and native plants as well as notions of citizen, civility and belonging. The activity of cultivating one’s environment for the benefit of all life will be considered as an ethical activity that dismantles civilization. We have this conversation while collecting medicinal hawthorn berries from the trees growing beside the old immigration hospital on Angel Island. We will not only collect berries from this tree; we will also care for it. The hawthorn (and possibly other medicinal and edible plants on Angel Island) will be our conversational guide.
A tincture was made with the berries from these trees. We filled gallon sized mason jars and covered them with vodka – later in the fall i strained out the mark and shared with the participants.