Encountering the walnut as our main actor, the workshop aims to expand the awareness towards the relationships and timeframes we share with more-than-humans. How to sense and attune oneself to an ordinary jet so distant companion? We aim to crouch under its shell and get involved with topics of growth, rest, waiting and perception of time. Thus, the walnut invites us to step away from narratives of productivity and progress.
The workshop is an experiment under the premise of rejecting modern dichotomies (object/subject, nature/culture etc.). Emphasising unlearning, attunement and mingling – as ever-fluid methods of stumbling – we aim to find „designerly“ ways of relating within a vast mesh of entanglements — a hard nut to crack.
With this workshop, we also proposed and brought a different than the primarily rational perspective of getting to know other than human actors, which is most often offered by research methodologies of the design process. How could we and the project we work on benefit from getting to know these actors through our senses or via our subjective experiences with them?
Is there a place in commercial design practice to pause and think about the values that we create with our work (on a specific project)?
Czech psychologist Tereza Škorupová defines mindfulness as “Think less, sense more.” How often are you without thoughts? Just aware of the present? Nuts are always without thoughts, despite the fact they are pretty tasty. And some of them can even grow into trees. Are there any activities you do where you are fully in the present?
Are we able to grow and progress without producing more? How could progress and growth exist without production? How to create and not produce?
In connection with the term growth to the heights arises the parallel of diving into the depths. All trees are quite a literal example of that. If they want to grow to the heights, they necessarily need to dig their roots deep to the other side as well. Consumer society is built on the logic of growth. We want more, bigger and faster. But our awareness is limited, if we reach for all these attributes to the height, all of them will be possibly quite shallow and we end up unrooted. Fall will be just a matter of time. On the contrary wouldn’t it be beneficial for us to reach for less, smaller and slower that can gently lead us towards deeper awareness? And what is this awareness good for? Can it possibly give us more satisfaction and bigger joy in these little things after all?
Do I feel rested and refreshed? If not, when was the last time I felt that way?
Psychologist Tereza Škorupová in her book “Time to slow down” writes, “when we rush, we are dissatisfied, unfulfilled and often sick.” Haste is not natural for human...
Nuts are never in hurry, there is no way how to fasten the process of growth for them. They need to freeze first, to be able to germinate next year. Only after staying within a moist cold environment for 90 to 120 days are nuts awaken from their dormancy and emerge from the shell. If you’d like to grow junglas yourself, you can imitate the freezing period by keeping the nut in a fridge. The process is called stratification.
Can you imagine sharing this winter dormancy period with walnuts? If so, what steps would you take to slow down?
Is resting, waiting, or pausing a possible survival strategy in periods of crisis?
Agroforestry had begun to gain ground in the 70s when Phil Rutter, an American plant breeder, asked a big question: if nature’s dominant agriculture was trees – perennials – why had man spent 10,000 years developing annual crops? Rutter was convinced that trees such as hazel and chestnut could provide as much nutrition as cereals without having to be resown every year. His motto was: “The future of the world is nuts.”
What is a hard nut to crack for you?
Image 1, 4 by Encountering non-human conference
Image 2, 3, 5 by RIBL
Hackers & Designers, Amsterdam
H0 Institute, Zurich
Neuhaus by Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam