Seed Bomb – Lisa chat’s with Daniela Giorgi (Theatre Interview)
I had a wonderful time researching Guerilla Gardening for my interview with writer Daniela Giorgi. The idea that revolution can be about beauty and transforming land made ugly by abandoned industry into something edible or aesthetically thrilling excited my inner rebel. I then found my reaction was typical. People respond well this subversive practise. Stepping outside the system – just for a little bit – with an eye for change one can affect in an instant, appeals to the natural desire in humans to subvert the well worn path. Daniela says it so succinctly below: “Australians like to think of themselves as rule breakers, nobody want’s to be a consumer slave.” Sociologists now understand small acts of rebellion are all around us – think of jaywalking. Everyday resistance is about how people act in their everyday lives in ways that might undermine power. This style of resistance is not easily recognized like public and collective resistance – such as rebellions or demonstrations – but it is typically hidden or disguised, individual and not politically articulated. Therefore everyday resistance suggests that resistance is integrated into social life and is a part of normality; not as dramatic or strange as assumed – even if it is still unclear how common it is. For Daniela Giorgi, the idea that people are resisting for no other reason than generosity of spirit is so interesting she wrote Seed Bomb to explore the concept through theatre. Here is what the 505 Theatre website has to say about Seed Bomb:
Kat hates the city.
She dreams of moving to the country and living quietly ever after.
Then, one night, she collides with a bike-riding anarchist guerrilla gardener. Carrying a load of seed bombs, his mission is to transform vacant lots into food forests and flower beds.
Seduced by these urban warriors, Kat joins their clandestine adventures, and as they turn chain link fences into living salads, verges into veggie gardens, and the local golf course into a common, the seeds of her own awakening explode into life.
Seed Bomb is an hilarious comedy for everyone who dreams a better world might be about to bloom.
Below are the details of my chat with Daniela. Seed Bomb is on at The 505 Theatre 5-9 March. You can grab your tickets here.
LT: What drove you to write a play about Guerilla gardening?
DG: I’m fascinated by our urban ecology, how we can green our city, making it easier and healthier for everyone to live in. I would love to live on a beautiful country property, away from the hustle and bustle of the city but realistically that’s never going to happen: how would I earn any money? But also I love the energy of our city; I just would love a little less traffic, noise and pollution. Guerilla gardening is a movement to try and make cities more livable. It emerged out of New York City when absentee landlords fenced off their vacant lots. This inspired the city’s green guerrillas to turn rejection into advantage. They created small balls of seeds and soil – seed bombs – and hurled them over the fences that were keeping them out. And so they illicitly transformed unused private property into food forests and flower festivals.
LT: Do you see a lot of Guerilla Gardening in Sydney?
DG: Most of us have walked or driven past the pink Volkswagens with palm trees growing out of them on the corner of Cleveland and South Dowling Streets. It’s a terrific bit of irreverence to spot as you wait for the lights to change. Guerilla gardening is about shaking us out of our normal patterns and creating beauty out of ugliness. But it’s also about feeding people and planting veggie verges has become a thing in the inner city. There are some lovely streets in Chippendale and Stanmore where the neighbors have planted flowers and vegetables on the verges with little signs that say ‘pick what you need’. And there’s some great laneways in Surry Hills that are chocka bloc with pot plants, transforming these ugly spaces into magical gardens. I haven’t yet seen participation in International Sunflower Day, where guerilla gardeners in Spain and France hurl seed bombs with sunflowers seeds over fences on one night in May, but I’m hoping that catches on here soon. Maybe using golden wattle seeds instead!
LT: I’ve heard gardening like this called “people without land taking over land without people.” How do you think a land ownership obsessed culture like Australia handles such a subversive practice?
DG: I don’t think many people have heard about guerilla gardening, but I’ve found when I talk to people about ‘Seed Bomb’ and what it’s about most people have loved the idea. Mainly because guerilla gardening happens in the abandoned and unused public or private spaces that have become eyesores and rubbish dumps. So it’s not just about occupying places it’s about beautifying these places so everyone can use them. Australians like to think of themselves as rule breakers, nobody wants to be a consumer slave, so the idea of doing something illicit when it’s also practical and brings beauty to their local area seems to resonate.
LT: Guerilla Gardeners often tell tales of people stopping and chatting or donating to the cause. What is it about subversions like Guerilla Gardening, Book Crossing or Freecyclcing that excite people to connect with others they might normally avoid?
DG: The idea of a secret underground culture excites a lot of people. By underground I mean things that happen at night, unexpectedly, or out of sight of the mainstream. Many of us live office bound everyday lives and so breaking out of the normal routine and connecting with others nourishes our souls and gives us hope that we can tackle all the issues that face us and that there will be others there with us. And everyone loves a freebie. I think we’re harking back to previous generations that saved things because they didn’t have much money and in our wealthier times there is a lovely satisfaction in reusing stuff and knowing it hasn’t just gone to land fill. When people discover that, and the human connections that can be made, they’re hooked.
LT: How do you see working with Eco Warriors changing our relationship with ourselves? What is possible there?
DG: Kat’s journey in ‘Seed Bomb’ is one of dissatisfaction with her urban environment and wanting to leave the city and live quietly in the country but when she stumbles across the guerilla gardeners – who are an imperfect comical bunch, she discovers something exciting and unexpected in her own city and her journey becomes one of connecting to the here and now, engaging, rather than wishing for an impossible future.