A short documentary film about the Design department's creative process at Mother New York.
The Creative Process at Mother Design
Tandem Biking in New Orleans
(2013) Videography, video editing.
Tandem Biking in New Orleans
Seeds to Soil
(2011) Videography, video editing.
A series of interviews around the issues of food access and environmental sustainability in Central Harlem.
Central Harlem is a food desert. However, individuals are making small gestures to eat healthy food and re-imagine sustainable practices on a local level. In collaboration with seedstosoil.org, this series of videos was created to promote local awareness of these gestures, whether they’re being involved in the community garden, maintaining a beehive, planting trees in the neighborhood, being a member of the CSA, or creating a rooftop garden.
In October 2011, we hosted an end of season barbeque in the Carrie McCracken TRUCE Community Garden to share the Seeds to Soil interviews with our friends from the neighborhood. Please view the video at the bottom of this page to see interviews from that event.
More information: seedstosoil.org producer and interviewer - Michelle Jackson videographer - Michelle Calabro
Erik the beekeeper
Really where the beekeeper comes in is in creating the hive. You build them and provide them with the ideal home. Rather than trying to look in hollow trees, which is where they sort of normally are, or in the city in roof spaces or crawl spaces or wherever else, it’s a good home for them. The second one is really just to insure that things and their activities are going as they should be. For a hive, especially a new hive, the most important thing is growth and expansion. You want them to be having babies and drawing out their comb and building honey stores and doing all the things that they need to do to survive. You as the beekeeper’s job is to keep an eye on that and maintain what’s going on and ideally diagnose and preventively fix problems that come up.
I began gardening 3 years ago in a few pots, some out of the window on a very small scale. And like everything, every winter you have a lot of time to plan and get excited about the next year. And what it’s doing is this mix of hydroponic and standard container gardening where it’s a double bucket system, and in the bottom bucket is where you have a water reservoir. When you plant in the top bucket the roots can reach down through to the water, and through capillary action bring the water up through the root system and take what they need.
Nobu the rooftop farmer
You have to be... I learned that... I’m such a perfectionist when it comes to creation. And you have to give up being a perfectionist in gardening, especially the amateur gardening, the urban gardening. You have to sacrifice or you have to take a portion of crop for damage. For bugs and birds and stuff like that.
When you grow strawberries, just about the time it’s ready to be picked up, birds know too. And the birds, they didn’t eat the strawberry until the very right moment. As soon as right moment hits, the birds come right in and eat it. So it’s you and birds’ competition. Which one gets up early in the morning that day, the perfect day to pick up. Usually birds win, so you have to give a certain portion of the crop to birds, or crop to the bugs.
Geddes the tree planter
Basically I learned from my grandfather, I learned from him growing up. Over the years I acquired knowledge of the things to do in agriculture, gardening.
Basically the tree planting you know. Then some trees too when you plant them, like the one we planted the other day, you just need to know how to prune it. So that the energy stays... travels a shorter distance through the tree. When the tree spreads, instead of having the leaves and the branches limber. So you prune the tree, and you gotta know the moon. It goes like first quarter, second quarter, half moon. You don’t prune trees like full moon. So that by the moon, the right moon the tree would blossom and grow.
When there’s full moon, dig a hole in the garden. Dig a hole. It could be like a foot deep, just dig a hole. And when you fill back the hole with the earth, you will you have excess dirt. It’s too much to go back in the hole. It depends on how you want the plants and the tree to grow. You go by the moon.
Vivian the holistic healer
The movement is people wanting to work together. I got motivated because I lost an aunt that I loved very much to health problems that could have been prevented. So for my family, and then I also consider my Harlem community a greater part of my family. Wanting to give life, and to share what I know about having a vibrant quality of life.
The relationship between environmental and sustainability and health are interconnected, and there’s no way to compartmentalize them. If you’re talking about nutrition, you have to be concerned with the soil. You have to be concerned with what’s in the water and the rain and the air and the environment. If you’re talking about health and you’re interested in people building their cardiovascular system but they’re breathing in polluted air, it’s not gonna work. All of the moving parts have to fit and work together and we can’t isolate it [sic] because we’re trying to be whole human beings.
There really is a lot of energy in Harlem around this topic. Being part of that is an honor for me.
Steve the garden activist
I was born and raised in Harlem. I’m 63. I’m not that gregarious a person. And I’m politically more radical than most of the people around. My feelings historically from my culture... I’m nationalistic minded but I was never raised to be racist.
Engaging people starts with having an openness to other people. A lot of times we talk about, “Oh, our diversity is our strength.” And then at the first sign of dissension or confusion we run away from it, rather than saying, “We’re gonna hold onto this. We do believe in this.” Because negativity is like a shield. If you don’t expect nuttin’, it’s less disappointment. But the flip side is that there’s less innovation, there’s less learning, there’s less progress. So engagement is about trying to create opportunities for people to share out of their humanity.
Behind us you see a plant that’s growing up 4 stories. That plant is something they call bitter melon. Very helpful for people with diabetes in Chinese natural medicine, and becoming recognized here. We, mostly blacks and whites, we don’t know nuttin’ about no bitter melon. How to grow it. We wouldn’t take it and put it in a garden here. But we have some asian members and they knew how to do it. So they are showing us how to grow this crop that could be beneficial to the health of this community.
This has been the most fulfilling because the core goal, which was to get people to meet people and build together, it has been achieved. So I like that, I like that, I love it.
The Garden Party
Within this particular spot, we’ve learned from each other, and taken it back and incorporated it in our own homes. It’s changed us all. You know it’s really a collective effort now. And different things that we’re learning about each other, every little event we have, it brings us closer and closer together.
As I’ve talked to people tonight, and elsewhere, there’s a lot of excitement, people care about it, there’s a lot of passion. The beauty of a community garden is that it’s of the community, for the community, and the community makes all the decisions.
It’s already done a lot for me. I see that a lot of people are getting interested because they look at us and see us put our time into it. Many people see, because I’m always here most of the time and people come and they ask, “How can I be a part of this garden?” and I explain to them. I tell them when we are scheduled here for meetings. This Saturday encouraged a lot of people. People are very interested. Just seeing us doing it encouraged a lot of people.