Plant Time: An Ecotopian Loanword

In 2019, I had the honor of contributing an essay to an eclectic and engaging collection of works, “An Ecotopian Lexicon,” edited by Matthew Schneider-Mayerson and Brent Ryan Bellamy. Envisioned as a series compiling “loanwords” to live by in the context of the anthropocene, the editors invited scholars, artists, practitioners, and dreamers to contribute short pieces borrowing a word from another language, a social group, a conceptual field… The results are fantastic, literally, and really fun to read.

My contribution, Plant Time, can be found listed under the letter P. I’m also honored by the fact that one of the 9 contributing artists chose to illustrate my essay, and you can check out Natasha Bowdoin’s art here.

And imagine my delight and fanboi moment when I learned Kim Stanley Robinson was going to write a Foreword! Ah! The company of genius! (Especially exciting since I had closed my short piece with a microfiction engagement of plant time as a practice). Here are a few of the words with which Robinson opens the text:

“So many new words gathered together like this, each bringing with it a new concept and system, creates a dizzying effect. This is good and right, because we live in a dizzying time. What we do now as a global civilization will create one future out of a vast array of possible futures, an array which ranges from utmost disaster to lasting peace and prosperity. The sheer breadth of this range is all by itself extremely confusing, to the point of inducing a kind of mental and emotional gridlock. Anything could happen! So what should we do? Maybe nothing! Maybe we can’t do anything!

But we can do things, if we can figure out what they are. Various good futures are achievable, even starting from our current moment of high danger. So some really comprehensive analysis, destranding, and remapping is now part of our necessary work. Inevitably new concepts and new words will emerge—lots of them. So this book’s profusion is an accurate foretelling of what will come. It’s a kind of science fiction story in the form of a lexicon, and it postulates and helps to create a future culture more articulate and wiser than we are now. Thus by definition it is a utopian science fiction story.”

Go check it out. The book is available in e-book and hardcover form (I really like the paper they printed the hardcover on, highly recommend if you’re a bibliophile for textures). And if you just can’t get enough…there’s merch! The pieces by artists who illustrated 9 of the essays are available on t-shirts, tote bags, stickers and more. This means you could buy a t-shirt, Or a baby onesie! with a weird and beautiful image on it that is an artists’ interpretation of how I represented herbalists’ experiences of plant-time. TALK ABOUT SOME META CLOTHING. Proceeds go to support creative cultural and political interventions focused on addressing climate injustice.