Exploring Alternative Ecosystems

“Out in the City” Activities – Exploring Alternative Ecosystems 

The Assembly is designed to bring people together across many areas of expertise with the goal of exploring how we work together.  The Friday afternoon activities provide hands-on, off-site opportunities to learn from each other, to make connections with people we may not meet otherwise, and to explore methodologies in an area of general interest that can then be applied to our own work.  The work of the Friday afternoon groups was translated into posters for the Earth Day March for Science on Saturday the 22nd, and shared with the full Assembly on Saturday morning.

I. Exploring Catastrophe to Water through Science and Art

In considering the recent sewage catastrophe in an environmentally savvy city like Seattle, we begin to understand the complexities associated with the treatment of water.  With representatives of the City of Seattle, we will explore what went wrong at the West Point treatment plant that resulted in damage that “has taken Hurricane Sandy or Katrina-scale damage to produce similar wreckage elsewhere in the country”.  (Seattle Times)
As a group, we will take this from an intellectual level to an embodied experience when we leave downtown in two vans for Discovery Park, which abuts the Treatment Plant.  The park is less than five miles from downtown, where the fields of grass, mini-forests, and miles of beach take us to a quite different contemplative state.  After walking by the Wastewater facility to the Lighthouse, we will visit the Environmental Center.  There, we will have an experience that includes incorporating a bit of the catastrophe into an art object.  Continuing our exploration of our two ways of knowing, Bruce Aronow will present his preliminary efforts to build a unified network model that connects data, knowledge, and policy across water sciences and management, with the events and impacts of a water catastrophe. We will then retire to the Foster/Shapiro home 2 miles South of the disaster for refreshments and discussion.   During our van ride to the museum, we will have time to settle on some words to put on our poster(s) for the Saturday march, and to continue our many conversations. You are invited to join Jay Hodgson in photographing our event. Please post photos here.

Organizers:  Fredericka Foster, Randy Nichols, Deborah Paine and Sharon Mason
Assembly Co-leads: Bruce Aronow, Thea Norman and Gary Wolf
Sage Co-leads: James Eddy, Robert Allaway and Jay Hodgson

II. The power of engaging mindfulness in understanding who we are and who we want to become

This group will build on the theme of Stephen Friend’s opening address on Agency —increasing awareness of self to truly navigate the change we want in our health and elsewhere.   To change paths by intention requires the ability to pause and take stock of who you are and who you want to be.  This group will migrate to the Taoist Studies Institute in Seattle and split the time between contemplative exercises and exploring novel methods to gain the self-insights necessary to navigate the change we want in our lives.

Organizers:  Harrison Moretz -Taoist Studies Institute/ Stephen Friend
Co-leads: Pat Arean, Chitra Krishnan, Jaykumar Menon, Parag Mankeekar
Sage Co-leads: Abhi Pratap,  Thomas Yu and Ziming Dong


Welcome to Seattle.  You are here to witness a historic period of population growth, major global economic influence, and the largest infrastructure projects in the Seattle’s young history.  You are also a guest of a sanctuary city, and the recent formation of a city-state in opposition to the dysfunctional executive branch of the United States.

As citizens, scientists and visionaries, we will focus our discussions and efforts on climate change, and its effects locally and globally. Seattle’s new seawall and the soon to be demolished Alaskan Way Viaduct will be our desire line.

Your poetics, polemics and observation will be lettered with railroad chalk (provided) on any number of the hundreds of large columns supporting the viaduct that soon will be demolished.  Written in ephemeral chalk, the message will be captured on your iPhone and   disseminated through social media as well as presented at the final gathering of the Assembly and the Earth Day March Saturday afternoon.

We will have a tote bag that is to double as a sand bag to raise the seawall if our message goes unheeded. Explore sea change poetics-chalk talk walk 2017-0412 for a more detailed description.

Organizer:  Buster Simpson
Assembly Co-leads: Nicole Deflaux, Aled Edwards
Sage Co-leads: Kenny Daily, Xindi Guo, Nasim Sanati and David Lahti

IV. Political Activism

This group will explore how political activism can work in today’s information ecosystem, and how research intersects with activism in the contemporary epistemic crisis of what is “true” or “fake.” We will explore interaction strategies, information design, and translate the work to posters to be printed for the March on Science after the final day of the Assembly concludes.  Please note, you are not expected to bring political expertise to the table.

Organizer:  John Wilbanks
Co-leads: Jasper Bovenberg, Deb Estrin, Geoffrey Siwo
Sage Co-leads: Brian White, Sarah Moore and Ben Logsden

V. Social Entrepreneurship

This group will explore examples of where viable organizations have been built around a desire to have social impact.   We will discuss how these businesses were started, what makes them successful and what lessons they provide for the rest of us in science and elsewhere.

Organizers:  Gaell Mainguy and Brian Bot
Assembly Co-leads: Kathy Hudson, Akpeli Nordor, Laura Van’t Veer
Sage Co-leads: Michael Mason, Yooree Chae and Thanneer Perumal