Networks + Natures: Invasive Spirits

Date: 2018
Combining Matthew Battles's work on feral and invasive species in the city with designer and graduate researcher Keith Hartwig's practice in brewing, placemaking, and beer production, Invasive Spirits takes a multisensory approach to urbanism—using our noses & palates as well as eyes & analytic minds—to produce knowledge that's fun, flavorful, & transformative.
What roles can taste, smell, and convivial culinary enterprise play in knowledge production?
How might we bring human and nonhuman worlds into nourishing contact through the senses?
What roles can participatory culinary activity play in producing shared understandings of sustainable and sustaining urban nature?

Invasive plants are treated with scorn, but they make the city green and provide a host of good things. Invasive Spirits explores the city’s riot of invasive biodiversity, brewing, distilling, and making food with the cosmopolitan plants that share our urban worlds. While we’re discovering sensational tastes, we’re using our senses explore the city wild. By learning to appreciate the weedy world, can we share a richer relationship with nature in the city?

Invasive Spirits will offer an evolving cycle of sensory expeditions, brewing, distilling, and cookery encounters, and tastings and symposia. The inaugural event, a solstice banquet in June 2017, featured a Berliner Weisse brewed with Japanese knotweed, a sourdough bread leavened with foraged yeasts and flavored with garlic mustard, and a gin fizz infused with the essence of black locust blossoms. Guests charted the flavors—and the emanation of wild and feral qualities—they experienced.

A flexible program of sensory inquiry, brewing & distilling, and convivial encounters, Invasive Spirits combines the theoretical perspective Matthew Battles develops in Tree (Bloomsbury 2017), on so-called “invasive” plants species in the city, with metaLAB graduate researcher Keith Hartwig’s design practice and interest in brewing, fermentation, and culinary arts as forms of knowledge-sharing and peer production.


Keith Hartwig


Opportunities for involvement:
student testers, student researchers, etc