Meeting Oceania

Treecreate is proud to be collaborating with Supercluster to co-create this creative and educational program.

Tracey M Benson || Bytetime

It is really exciting to announce the Meeting of the Waters: Locative Media Oceania program.

Between 18 September to 5 October Treecreate and Supercluster will work together to bring an incredible range of speakers and activities for a group of 36 participants.

The program is hosted and funded by the Centre of Applied Water Science at the University of Canberra.

Speakers include: Tyson Yunkaporta, Lisa Roberts, Sandy Sur, Michelle Maloney, Andrew Constable, Kate Genevieve, Nola Turner-Jenson, Desna Whaanga-Schollum, Leah Barclay, Brendan Kennedy, Lee Joachim, Bruce Shillingsworth, Josiah Jordan, Nina Czegledy, Pasha Ian Clothier and Trudy Lane.

There is still time to register to participate.

You can keep up to date on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

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Imagining your ‘inner plant’

At our latest Treecreative walkshop, Tracey shared a reading of a wonderful paper by Natasha Myers, titled Sensing Botanical Sensoria: A Kriya for Cultivating Your Inner Plant

Sensing Botanical Sensoria: A Kriya for Cultivating Your Inner Plant by Natasha Myers

Never forget this: your body does not end at the skin.[1]Your contours are not constrained by physical appearance. Your morphological imaginary is fluid and changeable [2].Indeed, your tissues can absorb all kinds of fantasies.[3]Your imagination generates more than mere mental images; its reach extends through your entire sensorium. Simultaneously visual and kinesthetic, imaginings carry an affective charge. They can excite your muscles, tissues, and fascia, heighten or alter your senses. You can fold semiosis into sensation.[4]Perceptual experiments can rearticulate your sensorium. [5]And by imagining otherwise, and telling different stories, you can open up new sensible worlds.

Consider tying on the habits, comportments, and sensitivities of other bodies. Becoming with and alongside others, you might begin to see with new eyes, smell with a new nose, and taste with a new tongue.[6]Indeed, we have opportunities to do this every day in our entangled mimetic dances with others — human, more than human, and machine. These encounters can incite other ways of seeing, feeling, and knowing. Altered perceptions can destabilize entrenched sensory regimes and bring otherwise imperceptible phenomena within grasp. What you once thought were stable boundaries between bodies may begin to break down. The very order of things may come undone.

Consider this as an invitation to deepen your already multispecies Yoga practice. Cat, Cow, Dog, Crow, Scorpion and Fish Poses torque your body into mimetic affinities with animal forms. Here I invite you to cultivate your inner plant. This is not an exercise in anthropomorphism – a rendering of plants on the model of the human. Rather, it is an opportunity to vegetalize your already more than human body. In order to awaken the latent plant in you, you will need to get interested and involved in the things that plants care about. Follow the plants.[7]Let yourself be lured by their tropic turns and you will acquire freshly vegetalized sensory dexterities. Try this Kriya. [8]Tree Pose will never be the same again.

Find a patch of sunlight. Stand tall, let your feet sink into the ground below you, and close your eyes. Reach your bare arms outward and feel the sun warm your skin. Drink it in. Now, let go of your bodily contours. The skin and flesh of your arms thins and fans outward, becoming membrane thin. Your bones dissolve, and your muscles melt away. Begin to pump water through your veins until they elongate and branch into turgid vessels. Draw water up your growing stem into your leaves. Play with this new buoyancy, feel the lift and lilt as your leaves and stems reach for more sunlight. You are becoming phototropic. Lap up the sunlight through your greening leaves.  Feel a cool pocket of air forming on the underside of your leaves as you release atmospheric vapours. You are photosynthesizing: eating sunlight, inhaling gaseous carbon, exhaling oxygen and releasing water. 

Now drop down into your roots. Extend yourself into the cool, moist earth. Feel your strength as a downward thrust that inspires an upward lift. Experiment with gravitropism. Feel the rush as you redistribute your awareness through this thin, filigreed tangle of roots and that branch and branch until they reach the width of just a single cell. Find one of your root tips. Taste the wet, metallic soil; smell that musty gradient of decaying matter flush with nitrogen and phosphorus. Propel yourself towards the source. Experiment with your strength. Push yourself up against the soil; grow through minute crevices between crumbling pieces of earth. Wherever the soil resists, just release your chemical stores to dissolve whatever is in your path.

Now multiply this sensation. Feel two searching root tips. Then four. Can you extend your awareness to five? What would it like to feel one thousand root tips extending through the soil? Feel the rush as you expand your awareness to millions of sensitive root tips. Dive downwards and run outwards, drawing water and nutrients in and up through all of them simultaneously. Feel your whole root system humming with an electric charge. You have become one giant nerve cell merging with soil. [9]Now hook yourself into a thickening mycelial network of fungi, microbes, and other roots all around you. [10]Feel the energetic thrill of connection. How far can you extend your awareness? Run with it, in every direction. [11]

Without letting go of this excitation, draw your awareness back up your stem and into your leaves. You no longer have eyes, a nose, ears, a tongue, or nerves, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see, smell, hear, speak, taste or feel. Can you feel the play of light and shadow across your leaves? The surface of each one of your leaves is a visual organ registering and remembering minute shifts light intensity. And you can see in colour, indeed, a wider range of colours than your human eyes have ever beheld. You don’t need a central nervous system to process this “information” into images. Your leaves are filmic media, recording colour movies of the lush, shifting light patterns around you. You can “see” the dancing shadows other plants cast as they list and play in the wind; and you can tell that the person standing over you about to prune your limbs is wearing a red shirt. [12]

Experiment with light at dawn and dusk. Can you feel the energetic shift when the far-red light of the rising and setting sun clues your body in to the earth’s rotational rhythms? In time you will be able to remember precisely when those long rays last excited your tissues. You will not only acquire a bodily memory of the play of light and colour as they change over the seasons, you will learn to anticipate and prepare for future events.

Continue this practice daily and you will no longer need a nose to smell or a mouth to speak. Your entire body will become an olfactory organ sniffing out the richly fragrant world around you. Indeed, the atmosphere is a collaborative ecology of volatile chemical signals to which you actively and volubly contribute. [13]Take pleasure in the art of synthesizing and releasing complex b
ouquets of fragrance from your tissues. This is your way of telling the world what you are up to, moment to moment. You can talk to other plants and animals, reporting on the condition of your leaves, flowers and fruits. You will be able to lure pollinators and complain audibly about the damage done by feeding insects. Indeed, you not only feel insects crawling up your stem and slicing into your tissues, you can discern the distinct species eating your leaves by tasting the specific chemistry of its saliva. If you are quick you can synthesize volatile compounds to warn your neighbours so that they can prepare their tissues with toxins to keep the offending insects at bay. Or you could call out for help from other insects who will prey on these herbivores. Soon you will discover that you are an effusive catalyst at the centre of an affectively-charged chemical ecology.

Now, it’s time to let go. Draw in your roots until your rhizome remembers its feet. Let your leaves thicken into arms. Feel your turgid vessels soften. Drop your arms back down to your sides. Come back to your breath. Come back to your body. But remember to ask yourself: Is this really the same body? What has changed?

References

[1] Donna Haraway (1987) “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s,” Australian Feminist Studies 2 (4): 1–42. 

[2] Judith Butler (1993) Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex,” New York: Routledge. 

[3] See for example, “The Lesbian Phallus and the Morphological Imaginary” in Butler’s Bodies that Matter.

[4] On the kinesthetic imagination see Natasha Myers (forthcoming) Rendering Life Molecular: Models, Modelers, and Excitable Matter

[5] On articulation see Bruno Latour (2004) “How to Talk about the Body? The Normative Dimensions of Science Studies,” Body and Society 10 (2-3): 205–29. 

[6] Donna Haraway (2008) When Species Meet, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

[7] You could make yourself over into a body without organs. Or you could, as Deleuze and Guattari suggest, “follow the plants.” See Deleuze and Guattari (1980) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

For resonant discussions of plant phenomenology see Michael Marder (2013) Plant-Thinking a Philosophy of Vegetal Life, New York: Columbia University Press; Craig Holdrege (2014) Thinking Like a Plant: A Living Science for Life, Lindisfarne Books; and Natasha Myers (2005) “Visions for Embodiment in Technoscience,” In Teaching as Activism: Equity Meets Environmentalism, edited by Peggy Tripp and Linda Muzzin, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 255–67.

[8] A Kriya is the Sanskrit word for action, deed, or effort. In various Yogic traditions, it refers to a technique or the set of actions to be practiced.

[9] Today the field of “plant neurobiology” is burgeoning. See for example, Anthony Trewavas (2005) “Green Plants as Intelligent Organisms,” Trends in Plant Science 10 (9): 413–19.  

[10] On the intimate association of plants and soil microbes and fungi, see Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan (1997) Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Evolution from Our Microbial Ancestors, Univ of California Pr.

[11] At what point do you lose track of “you”? When does “I” dissipate? Plants are not autonomous individuals with clear-cut boundaries. Plants are porous to the very atmospheres they make, and they ingather a multispecies ecology around them, catching all kinds in their whorl. 

[12] On the sensory dexterities of plants see Daniel Chamovitz (2012) What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses, Scientific American.

[13] On chemical ecology see for example Gary Felton and James H Tumlinson (2008) “Plant-Insect Dialogs: Complex Interactions at the Plant-Insect Interface,” Current Opinion in Plant Biology 11 (4): 457–63; Baluška (2010) Plant Communication from an Ecological Perspective, Berlin: Springer; and for an “involutionary” reading that works athwart the evolutionary imperatives that underwrite chemical ecology narratives see, Carla Hustak and Natasha Myers (2012) “Involutionary Momentum: Affective Ecologies and the Sciences of Plant/Insect Encounters,” Differences 23 (3): 74–118. 

EVENTS | Treecreative at Australian National Botanic Gardens

As part of CBR Tree Week we held another Treecreative walkshop on Saturday 8 May 2021 at the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG). With a small group participants joining us for a morning of connecting to place, guided meditation and creative play, we explored the gardens looking for endangered trees.

Treasure hunting endangered trees – 8 May 2021

The walk was an interactive part of an exhibition currently on at the ANBG Visitor’s Centre by our founder Tracey Benson.

You can see one of the tracks on AllTrails.

Many thanks to Karen Maloney, Tamera Beath and all the staff at the ANBG and CBR Tree Week for supporting this project.

Contact us if you would like us to work with you to co-create a walkshop for your team or community group.

Tree grounding meditation

This simple guided meditation is a great way to connect to place, feel grounded and aligned with nature. We use this meditation in our Treecreative workshops and it is suitable for all ages. We also offer this grounding meditation as part of in-person and virtual workshops.

Getting ready
Imagine yourself as a tree.

If it is comfortable, stand with feet planted on the ground. 

If you are outside, you can take off your shoes to feel more connected with the earth. You can also sit or lie down for this grounding meditation.

Imagine your back as a trunk and that you have long roots that grow from the bottom of your feet, deep into the Earth.

Take a moment to scan your body, noticing any areas of tension. You may wish to gently realign your body so you are in a relaxed position.

Firstly we will take a deep breath in though the nose, feeling our lungs expand.

Then let it all out with a big exhale, imagining all the energy you were hanging on to is flowing out of your body, down through your roots, and into the Earth.

Close your eyes. Breathe deeply in through your nose, and exhale through your mouth, focusing on the sound of your breath and the bodily sensations of breathing.

Stay with it. Use your breathing to focus you and help you slow down your body’s internal activity.

Grounding
You are standing in an open field with the sun shining down upon you. You are tall, strong, and solid. You are old and wise.

Bring awareness to your feet and first notice them in contact with the ground. Now feel them firmly anchored to the ground.

Now imagine strong roots extending from the bottoms of your feet, pushing downward through the surface below, eventually reaching into the soil below.

Feel your roots reaching even deeper into the earth, winding around rocks, and pushing deep through the many layers of cool, dark earth. Your roots grow and spread both downward and outward.

Feel yourself anchored very solidly to the ground by your extensive root system.

As you become more anchored, feel your tree-body, your trunk, straight and strong. Feel your leafy branches extend upward toward the warm sun.

Letting go of stress
As you are breathing, imagine with each exhale, that you are pushing any tension or stress down toward your feet and out through your roots into the surrounding soil.

Feel tension draining from your eyes, your jaw, your shoulders, your chest, your belly, and all areas of your body.

Notice how is receptive the Earth is and how the ground absorbs what you want to release. Feel grateful and lighter as you begin to “clear”.

Breathing in feelings of wellbeing
When you feel properly grounded, take a deep breath and reverse the process.

You will now absorb healing and calming energy from the Earth.

As you breathe in through your nose, imagine with each breath that your roots are absorbing healing white light.

Feel the rich nutrients of the Earth gently feeding your root system until it reaches the trunk of your body. Feel the light entering your legs, your stomach, your chest, your arms, hands and finally your head.

Be aware of this sense of oneness with the earth.

Feel this grounded, earthly energy fill your body, washing over you with feelings of wellbeing.

Feel the sun shining down on your tree-body, and know that with each ray of sunshine, you have the ability to create your own energy.

Take a moment to step back from yourself and look at the tree. See how you are one with the earth, and one with the sky – solid, steady and expansive.

You are able to both sway with the breeze and be connected and grounded.

When you are ready, gently come back to the here and now, carrying the grounded energy of the tree with you through the rest of the day.

Walking meditation along Tuggeranong Creek, Urambi © Martin Drury
Walking meditation along Tuggeranong Creek, Urambi © Martin Drury

EVENTS | Treecreative at Ginninderry Conservation Corridor

We ran our first public walkshop under the banner of Treecreative on Saturday 1 May 2021 at Ginninderry Conservation Corridor. The walkshop was booked out with 15 wonderful participants joining us for a morning of connecting to place, guided meditation and creative play.

Ginninderry Treecreative walk 1 May 2021
Ginninderry Treecreative walk 1 May 2021

Our journey took us up the hill, past an eagles nest and then to some remnant woodland for a tree meditation before we then walked to the dam for some time to play creatively. We had lots of great feedback from our group and some ideas we can incorporate in our future walks.

You can see our track on AllTrails.

Enjoyed walking through the treed areas, learning about native grasses and management of the land. Mindfulness meditation practice refreshed my mind and body, very welcoming, inclusive walk. Thank you.

Walkshop participant, Palmerston ACT
  • Yellow Box Elder at Ginninderry Conservation Corridor © Martin Drury

Many thanks to Ginninderry Trust for supporting this project.

Contact us if you would like us to work with you to co-create a walkshop for your team or community group.

Meeting of the Waters: Locative Media Oceania

18 September – 4 October 2021

Launched on World Water Day 22 March, this 2.5 week virtual program is a collaboration between Treecreate and Supercluster, hosted by the University of Canberra’s Centre for Applied Water Science.

The Meeting of the Waters: Locative Media Oceania program is designed as a creative response to the themes of water, connection and climate change to explore how locative media can be used to understand these issues, in a collaborative approach engaging science and local knowledge.

The program gives attention to experiential and horizontal learning through the creation of location-based content in interdisciplinary teams, drawing from collaborative practices and alternative forms of (outdoors) education. 

It builds on the very successful Earthlings Locative Media Summer School hosted by King’s College London in collaboration with Supercluster in July 2020. 

Promotional poster for Locative Media Oceania

Participants need to be available between 18 Sept – 4 Oct, follow the organised online activities for around two hours a day, as well as dedicate about one hour a day to group activity (self-organised).  Parts of the program are pre-recorded and involve self-study.

You can sign up to participate at Supercluster: www.supercluster.eu/waters

EVENTS | First Friday Walk at Umbagong

Today was a gorgeous Autumn day in the Capital and perfect weather for our April First Friday Walk.

We were joined by local sound artist Lea Collins and shared the morning exploring Umbagong District walk and recordings some of the sights and sounds.

Many stories were shared and lots of laughs. We love this story from Lea about the Casuarinas and how the wind makes them whistle.

Lea sharing the story of the Casuarinas…

We recorded the track on AllTrails: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/recording/first-friday-at-umbagong-081be9f?u=m

You can also access the track by scanning this QR Code:

Here are some images from this morning’s walk…

EVENTS | Pilot walk at Ginninderry Conservation Corridor

Today we had a small group gathered for the first “Treecreative” walk at Ginninderry Conservation Corridor for a pilot walk. It was a lovely Autumn day and after a week of heavy rain, we were lucky to have some good weather for our walk.

This is a project which has been in the planning for around 6 months so we are very excited to see it come to life.

We were very fortunate to have Tyson Powell, who works as the Aboriginal Project Officer at the Ginninderry Conservation Corridor, guide our path.

The walk had several stops, each with an activity to connect us to the land. At the first stop, Tracey led a guided tree meditation and then at the second stop we sat down near the dam to write and draw.

“Great tree connection guided meditation.”

It was very much a sharing experience, where everyone shared their knowledge and love for the land in different ways. Tyson shared some local stories related to songlines, his partner Lisa shared some of her knowledge of healing plants, Isidora shared her knowledge about how to make Rosehip tea and Julie from ACT for Bees led a water blessing.

“What part of the walk did you enjoy the most?”

“Taking the time out to connect with country”

A big thanks to everyone who came along and a special thanks to Tyson and Ange from the Conservation Corridor for all your help and support of this project.

We will be presenting the public walk on Saturday 1 May at 10am. You will be able to sign up soon to join the Treecreate team explore this beautiful part of the capital region. There will be 15 places available on the walk.

EVENTS | Walking meditation at Urambi | First Friday Walks

Last Friday afternoon, our founder Tracey led a guided mediation walk along Tuggeranong Creek at Urambi. The group was encouraged to walk in silence after a grounding exercise and led to a creek crossing shaded by Casuarinas. Once everyone arrived, they were invited to spend some time in creative contemplation. Here is some documentation.

Listening to the land: CBR First Friday Walks
In this walk, the theme is deep listening and connecting to place. Acknowledging the turn of the year towards cooler climes, Tracey will lead a walking meditation / creative activity to open up our sensitivity to the land and its energies.

Background about the project
CBR First Friday Walks is a year long project led by Urambi Hills artist in residence and Treecreate founder, Tracey M Benson. The theme connects to the international program with walking artists in Europe and the US – First Friday Walks (FFW): https://walklistencreate.org/walkingevent/first-friday-walk-with-walking-the-land/

Each CBR First Friday Walk there will be a different theme to the walk. Some months there will be a guest walker collaborating with Tracey to create content for a larger exhibition / presentation in 2022. You can check out the booking for the March walk on Eventbrite

Track / path
To give an idea of our path, here is an All Trails recording of the test run from a couple of weeks ago.

Creek walk at Urambi - All Trails
Creek walk at Urambi – All Trails

EVENTS | Treemeditate walk Urambi Hills

Here is the latest event for Treecreate – a guided mediation walk led by our founder Tracey.

Listening to the land: CBR First Friday Walks
Please join Urambi Hills artist in residence Tracey M Benson for an afternoon walk on Friday, 5 March. In this walk, the theme is deep listening and connecting to place. Acknowledging the turn of the year towards cooler climes, Tracey will lead a walking meditation / creative activity to open up our sensitivity to the land and its energies.

About the project
CBR First Friday Walks is a year long project led by Urambi Hills artist in residence and Treecreate founder, Tracey M Benson. The theme connects to the international program with walking artists in Europe and the US – First Friday Walks (FFW): https://walklistencreate.org/walkingevent/first-friday-walk-with-walking-the-land/

Each CBR First Friday Walk there will be a different theme to the walk. Some months there will be a guest walker collaborating with Tracey to create content for a larger exhibition / presentation in 2022.
When: 5pm, Friday 5 March 2021
Where: meet at Athllon Drive Greenway, Just before bridge heading north (beginning of Centenary Trail) See image.

Parking spot , Athllon drive
Parking spot , Athllon drive

What to bring/wear
Water, snacks, your phone or camera, hat.
Long pants and enclosed walking shoes are essential.
It might be cool so bring a jacket.

Booking
Book online with Eventbrite

COVID-safe measures
Group limited to 15. If you are feeling unwell, please stay home.

Urambi Hills Group wishes to acknowledge that when we work on parks in the ACT, we work on the lands of the Ngunawal and Ngambri people, on land that was never ceded. We pay our respects to Elders, past, present and emerging and all Aboriginal people living in the ACT. You are receiving this email because you have attended past UHG events. If you prefer not to receive these, please let us know and we are more than happy to take you off the list.

Track / path
To give an idea of where we will be walking, here is an All Trails recording of the test run we did a couple of weeks ago.

Creek walk at Urambi - All Trails
Creek walk at Urambi – All Trails

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