The Soil Factory

Exploring Art, Science and Sustainability

Multi-Disciplinary Meetings

Through regular meetings (usually Thursday late afternoon into the evening), the Soil Factory provides a platform for engagement. There is always room for spontaneous discussions, and most weeks a few individuals are taking the lead on organizing an activity. Some examples are shown here.

Innovative assessments: a fresh look at how to grade exams, by how long a paper airplane made from the exam sheet can fly, how long it burns or how far you can throw it,- it turns out, traditional grading relates well! Why not turn to grading by fire? (July 1 2021) 

Urine recycling: planning a landscape with straw bales (July 15, 2021)
The toilet challenge (July 22, 2021)

The Question Machine: Inspired by conversations and the art of Rachel Garber Cole (see 106 Questions to a Dinosaur under Discussion Point) and collaborations with Nathaniel Stern, we built “Question Machines”,- what would a machine look like that does not answer but would generate scientific or societally important questions, how would it work? What does that tell us? How do we place ‘science’ in relation to ‘art’ and ‘design’ in the space between novelty-utility-solution? (July 29, 2021)

Sustainable Ithaca: charting the issues of waste management and the role of civil societies (and probing the role of food, too; August 12 2021)

Recycling of building materials: an art-architecture meeting to repurpose wood, metal, and glass scraps to artful effect (August 19 2021; led by Marta Wisniewska and Felix Heisel, Cornell’s Department of Architecture)
Pyrolysis in Ithaca: what are the opportunities and challenges to introducing pyrolysis to treat sewage sludge in Ithaca (August 26, 2021; led by an Ithaca group concerned with the Ithaca Area Waste Water Treatment Facility)

Creativity-CoCreation-Collaboration: as part of the visit by Bram Govaerts, he was joined by Neema Kudva, Anna Davidson, and Prabhu Pingali who were in conversation with Johannes Lehmann and Rebecca Nelson (March 17, 2022). A stimulating panel that explored failure, trust and he role of fun-vs-fear in the motivation for collaboration.