The life vessels provoke many questions about nourishing life and multiple ways of living. Curiosities about seeds, new life in the garden, seedlings, and growing emerge.
We deepen our close encounters with life in the garden and its inhabitants while we plant. Our hands touch the moist soil and are surprised by the many creatures they meet. Little seeds are placed carefully in the soil while children share stories of the life that might emerge. As the weeks pass, green color invades the fertile soil.
Abundant rain becomes another protagonist in the garden, enhancing life processes in ways that surprises us, as we observe growing plants and new beings interacting in the same place.
It takes us a while to notice our own relations with the steaming life in the garden.
How do we relate to other life forms?
What living beings inhabit the garden?
Insects, large and small are abundant. We decide to attend to how we might relate to them in ways that allow us to experiment outside of scientism by continuing to nourish the complex life-death sensitivities that the children had been cultivating.
We get closer to the mundane and ordinary movements that take place in the garden. We interact with different creatures and plants and we pay attention to the simple and everyday convivial rhythms in which we co-exist with the garden.
Wood bugs are a constant presence in the garden
We notice their movements shifting from being spread-out to rounding themselves up. We notice their easiness to shift form and their symbiotic interaction with the light and the effect of light on their transformation.
Children are intrigued by these transformations and by the circularity of their form.
We realize that its oval shape changes. We use different languages to create proximity with the wood bug’s ways of inhabiting the garden.
We embody the movements of the wood bug. We crouch down as close as possible to the grass and carefully follow a wood bug path as we draw its movements and transformations.
Its color blends
with the earth.
Maybe they have
that color because
they eat dirt.
If they had more colors, could it be mixed with the plants in the garden? – Manuela
A collective drawing becomes part of the performance. A giant colorful wood bug is attached to a big round pot which the children use as they travel through the garden singing and telling stories about the colorful creature.
Circularity in the Garden.
Inspired by the encounters with the wood bugs and by their ability to transform in and embody a circular shape, we notice other lives in the garden that share this circularity.
We spend long periods of time creating life-clay relationships inspired by circular shapes that are present in the garden.
We notice the uniqueness of this shape in objects, fruits and animals that inhabit the garden and connect with us in a community:
Little golden berries, Andean black berries, capulies, lemons, wood bugs, round little feet, tiny and big clay balls become the elements with which we co-compose our processes.
Circularity in the garden
Among uvillas, figs, capulí, lemons, blackberries and more we find the circularity in their shapes.
With foraging and harvesting, children engage in rituals of sharing and reciprocity: Figs are shared, blackberries are exchanged for capulies and golden berries are gifted in gratitude for lemons they received.
To intensify these relations and rituals, we invite children to experiment with circular economies of giving and receiving. We intentionally shift from circularity as a form to circularity as a concept.
This new relational economy presses on our abilities to dialogue about what we might need as a common and how we might enact processes based on reciprocity, mutuality and responsibility. This dialogue is at the heart of the Andean relational economy called “Trueque”.
A Trueque is an exchange that follows no logic of hierarchy, power or class. It is profoundly based on finding an exchange that is just and carrying mutual value.
Through the process of exchanging, we meet with numbers. Trueque creates a different relation with numbers as children find their ways into these otherwise economies and ways of being together.
Trueque + numbers
Do you think the numbers will help us with the trueque?
No, because in the exchange of the trueque there is no money
But it can be used to count 5 blackberries in your head
In trueque we use numbers as a new language and as medium for relations
Invited to think mathematically, we made use of an ancient Cañari technology to make our calculations. We use the taptana as an accounting tool for our trueque. Through the use of the taptana and trueque, we intentionally open a space for disrupting more common capitalist modes of relating with economies and their transactions.
As we use the taptana in relation to the rich harvesting that we have been doing in the garden, we connect with ancestral practices that were typically used during harvest time.
The circularity and reciprocity in this harvesting process sensitize us towards the world and its mutual and reciprocal relations. The children engage in these acts of reciprocity: leaving food for the pachamama, for the birds and other animals with whom we live.
Immersed in circularity, inspired by multiple trueques and its exchanges, children propose to germinate and accompany the harvested seeds in their new adventure of life.
We return to our containers of life and prepare them to receive the seeds that contain life.
We add rich soil to the clay vessels of life that the children made. We spend many hours just touching and sifting the soil with our hands, feeling the pleasure of the moist soil drifting down into the vessel. The temporalities within the garden slow down even more.
Corn, Lentils and Beans are ready for trueque among families.
Why do seeds take time to grow?
What happens under the ground?
Is the seed alone?
After germination, sowing and planting play important roles in our processes.
My plant has already grown. I think it was lazy, that’s why it took a long time to come out.
Drawings of the seedlings and their emerging life engage us in dialogues about the ways to sow the seeds…
Vale: How do you think the banana seed is?
– They are these little balls.
– They are inside the banana.
Emboding The Life of a Seed
From the peels, I think you have to bury the whole banana.
Tomás: I think that you have to remove the seeds and plant them, the seeds are in the banana and then they grow and come out of a palm tree. – Emilio
I did an experiment but it didn’t work, you have to plant the stem, you have to cut a piece, you dig the earth and then a banana grows. – Gus
– If you eat a banana, you have the seeds in your belly.
We create a long bean pod with fabric that spreads out in the garden. The children immerse themselves inside the pod as they embody the life of a seed. Slow and delicate movements simulate an emerging life. We wait inside the pod enacting the movements of a life to come. The desire to look out, find the light and grow mount inside the pod.
The processes of embodying the life of a seed goes beyond performance for the children. They become the seed, the plant, the fruit and engage in deep dialogues about the multiple relations that they are now connected to.
We use clay and drawing as ways to enhance these rich dialogues…
What is the shape of my seed body? How do I communicate with others? What is my job or role as a seed?
These questions invite us to relate graphically, beginning an interesting exchange of perspectives.
Gus: When you put a seed here, then it bears much more fruit, I give seeds to everyone.
Vale: So do they connect below the earth?
Tomás: I am a tree that flies. I make the rainbows, the plants, the children, the birds, the sun, the sky, the roots, the earth, the “cuicas” (worms) and the ball bugs.
Mateo: I am to make the garden look beautiful. I am a flower made of rainbows.
After weeks of sharing stories about the life of seeds, a question emerges:
What would the world be like if we were seeds?
We continue drawing and engaging in collective storytelling to think with these questions. The stories are complex and their abundance enrich us. It appears as if the garden is gaining a new life through children’s stories and, in the process, we recreate our relations with it.
One day I grew up
Written and illustrated by Victoria Álvarez
Vicky tells us about the connections she made in her life with different seeds and she met a variety of friend seeds on her way and together they would live mysterious stories.
My first day in the seed world
Written and illustrated by Emilio Vega
When I was a child, then I became this seed, the seed of fire. It changed colors every hour, then the volcano exploded. There were other trees that grew there. I exploded and became myself this tree.
As we listen to the stories, we discuss the forms of life and various possibilities of imaginary seed worlds. We realize that we all take part as seeds in each story told.
We decide to connect our worlds and contribute to each one graphically expanding and weaving networks that connect us to each other. While we draw in a space on the paper, at one point we all rotate to the right where we find another world drawn. We intervene, generating new readings in each rotation.
The world of different seeds
Written and illustrated by Tomás Cordero
Tomás tells us that he was a clover and one day he fell asleep and woke up in the shape of a colored doll, another day he got up again transformed into a X seed, perhaps he transformed into a different seed, returning to his initial clover shape.
The Seed Call
Written and illustrated by Mateo Abad
Once upon a time there was a seed that grew inside another seed that protected it. My seed had many colors, and a strong wind blew it away, I was very afraid but I saw a light and I followed it and finally I grew, and the rain changed my color and I made many tree friends.
Me under the ground
Written and illustrated by Luciana Jerves
Today is my first day in life, I am very thirsty and hungry. And now I’m very hydrated and I want to grow up to the light. I finally grew up and I met the sun.
In this new collective history of seed worlds we connect with the stories, sharing verbally while we draw across circularity. Tomás tells us that his seed is inside another seed that protects it, inspired by the story of Mateo.
Upon returning to the world in which they started, the children found new stories, new elements, new lines that transform their individual world into collective worlds.
Worlds of seeds
full of stories
These stories full of plants, seeds, and struggles motivate us to celebrate. We organize a seed party – to celebrate the different ways of life. At the party, we share our journals.