MARSH (Materializing and Activating Radical Social Habitus) is a not-for-profit organized as a cooperative laboratory for practical investigation of rooted and relational forms of social, economic, ecological, and cultural composition. As a performative commons, the Laboratory combines urban farming and food-sharing, artistic and cultural practices, and collective ideation and experimentation in order to cultivate diversiform tactics and strategies for resilience and bio-cultural (in/re)formation.
In the establishment of MARSH’s home base at 6911-17 South Broadway in Carondelet, St. Louis, the organization currently envisions the agendas and tactics of the laboratory as follows:
- By experimenting with how coercive and extractive systems might be replaced with intentional, creative, and relational forms of life, we directly confront hegemonic political structures and economies using the material performances of our embodied daily lives.
- By reframing ‘economic development’ as devised-and-designed performances which value, support, and respect the history, needs, and ethics of agents involved, MARSH cultivates and distributes resources rather than consolidating and extracting them. When necessary, strategies for resilience and resistance are planted to prevent corporate, individual, and civil extraction of property and value from the lives and hands of local/localized (neighborhood, community, otherwise related and situated) inhabitants and other bio-cultural actors.
- By providing a fertile environment for living, working, and investigating in collaboration and cooperation among individuals, families, and cultural groups with extremely varied lifestyles, backgrounds, and perspectives, MARSH enables agents to share diverse ideas, knowledges, cultural practices and beliefs while respecting and defending difference and constructing deep understandings, solidarities, and structures for mutualist exchange and noncompetitive (substantive) self-determinations.
- By connecting artists, activists, researchers and many other cultural actors across and between local and global stages, MARSH practices intentional, informed, and informative design of biotic and human-scaled life-practices. From sustainable agriculture, we learn to value the “edges” of environments, to increase abundance by companion planting, and to conscientiously perform interaction within bio-cultural metabolisms and ecologics. From performance art, we learn to value presence and the situation at hand, to move intentionally between formal consideration and improvisation, and to relate forms and methods to contexts and consequences.
- By elevating ‘interaction’ to a valued art, redefining education as a process of reciprocal learning, and merging spheres of cultural production (food, art, knowledge) MARSH works to move beyond the dominant and default functions of economy and ecology toward generative processes which reflexively design human spaces and situations to meet the needs of their inhabitants.