Grassroots - A search for locally rooted initiatives.

How can Grassroots connect to themes vital to the neighborhood, for humans, birds and grasses that are rooted there?

Grasses can be found at every level within our environment, and humans have cultivated and used them for different purposes for millennia. Corn, wheat and rice are all examples of crops native to the grass family. A vast family, one that has migrated to different corners of the world with the help of birds and human beings alike. Starting from the grass fields of the Justus van Effencomplex, De Onkruidenier investigates the ways in which we can build renewed relationships with our environment. Can curiosity lead to collectivity? Could we (re)link to themes that live in this community from both a human and bird’s eye perspective?

Grassroots expedition
On Thursday December 2nd, artist collective De Onkruidenier organised the very first activity for the newly launched Grassroots project. On this walking expedition through Spangen, we traded stories about the different grass strains you’ll find in between street tiles or on the roadside, with names such as little lovegrass, sea club rush or hairy crabgrass.

At the start of the Grassroots project, we get to know each other in the Justus van Effencomplex and explain how Grassroots came into being. The participants were invited because they all make an active contribution to the liveability of Spangen, and know all about the networks that are rooted there. This introduction is a first exploration of what a more active connection between A Tale of A Tub and the neighbourhood might look like in the future.

In one of the planters on the first floor of the Justus van Effencomplex, we come across meadow grass. It does not grow taller than 25 cm and flowers all year round. After flowering, the seed appears, which like most grasses is a grain. Meadow grass seed forms very quickly and is transported by the birds and the wind to different places. In the colder periods of the year, meadow grass is an important food source for all kinds of animals in the city.

During the walk, the participants exchanged knowledge and experience of what is going on in the neighbourhood, with themes such as the migration of birds, plants and people, the renovation of housing blocks in Spangen and water management in the neighbourhood.

We also learned to look at Spangen from a bird's eye view. Birds experience the urban environment, such as the Marconitorens, as a rocky landscape where the peregrine falcon, for example, likes to nest. Hobby ornithologist Astrid explains where the birds can be found in the Justus and how we can take more care of them.

On the Bellamy Square, we come across a type of grass that is mainly found in the city: the wall-barley, a real urbanophile. On the artificial grass, Daan and Henrike, two residents of the square, talk about residents' initiatives the Speelkeet, the garden of Mrs Ata and the schoonmaakbende, which arose during the transformation and renovation of the houses in this area of Spangen.

Since September, de Onkruidenier has collaborated with community connector Lenn Cox to collect stories by humans, birds and grasses of Spangen. Lenn uses her clothing as a logbook, to carry the exchanges, contacts and stories she collects with her as a conversation piece.

Photography: Florian Braakman

GRASSROOTS is generously supported by VriendenLoterij Fonds