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Flourishing: Exploring the Emergent Role of Plants in Society

Words by
October 17, 2016
Flourishing is a space to think, rethink and experience the vegetal world from inside out. Here we will enquire how plants shape many aspects of our lives; some more obvious, some more unexpected. We will try to approach the human-plant relationship from different perspectives, not only our own but also from the vegetal perspective.

We will start from an intimate level, exploring the shared commons between humans and plants and the influences they have had and will have on the development of our own bodies and physiology. Then we will move towards an outside, broader view of the role of plants in society, ranging from contemporary plant science, to cultural, political and economical implications of plants throughout history and present, to generate content and open up discussion about the future.

Flourishing
image © Sarah Daher
I consider this column a space to share an ongoing passionate route to discover the minutiae, the grandeur and the wonders of the vegetal world. A place to share experiences and personal reflections about how plants affected my research journey and work as designer and artist. So let’s challenge ourselves to look around, and feel the presence of our ‘silent’ companions, to experience their liveliness, to participate and to celebrate the vegetal life.

In the upcoming posts, I hope to explore a number of questions and topics, not limited to the following:

Blurring the Boundaries
Did you ever wonder how much plant you are? Why do we as humans think we are so different from plants? What separates us physically and mentally from the vegetal world?

Flourishing

A Plant Perspective
How might our understanding of plant life change if we challenge an animal/human-centric view on plants? How and why have we appropriated terminologies designed for animals to describe plant life, such as intelligence and synapses? What would independent plant senses look like?

Communicating with Plants
How and why have we appropriated terminologies designed for animals to describe plant life, such as intelligence and synapses? What would independent plant senses look like?
Do plants communicate? Yes, they do! And in many different ways; within themselves and within their environment, among other plants, and between insects and animals. But what about us? Could we also take part in this interspecies dialogue? If yes, how?

Human Understanding
How do plants affect human perception? Do you feel small looking at trees? Can we understand the sensation of having roots in the ground and leaves in the sky? How can 'plant thinking' influence the way we relate and perceive the world around us?

Plants get Political
How do human legislation and politics affect the vegetal world? What does it mean to control seeds and plant growth for plants themselves, for humans, for the larger environment? What economic role do plants have in shaping national and global economies?
Flourishing
image © Sarah Daher
Plants in Urban Spaces
What are the psychological and restorative effects of plants in urban areas? How can we reintroduce and safeguard green urban life? What might be the role of plants in the future?

Plants and Our Minds
We might know that plants have most of the powerful substances to alter our physical and psychological well being, but how do we deal with these valuable substances and the legal aspects of such powerful (and sometimes forbidden) plants?