x̱aw̓s shew̓áy̓ New Growth《新生林》

2019 – 2025

x̱aw̓s shew̓áy̓ New Growth《新生林》nurtures ecological processes and community members alike. It provides a forum for the public, youth, keyholder groups, and 221A’s programs, and introduces us to healthy relationships with the land and each other. Through a collaborative youth curriculum led by 221A fellow T’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss, a Skwxwú7mesh/Sto:Lo/Hawaiian/Swiss artist, ethnobotanist, and educator, this site was designed and redressed from a vacant lot into a public garden with flora indigenous to this territory. With a deep knowledge of this territory’s medicinal and edible plants, Wyss develops her work by respecting the intelligence of biodiversity. She teaches us how to heal, create, and connect while nurturing healthy coexistence with the plants and pollinators of this territory’s ecosystem.

Semi-Public 半公開 is a cultural space operated by 221A on the unceded territories of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. This acknowledgement is repeated regularly in the lower mainland of British Columbia, yet its significance is often not fully held by non-Indigenous people. Consider that the distinct Nations of this territory have co-existed here for thousands of years, while in comparison, Canada is just over 150 years old.

Located in Chinatown and adjacent to historic Hogan’s Alley, where the Georgia Street Viaduct now stands, the garden site is a place where Indigenous peoples, Chinese-Canadians, and the African diasporic community have all experienced cultural, class, and economic struggle. Our governments are beginning to acknowledge the shameful strategies used to systematically inflict injustice on generations of racialized communities. Meanwhile, learning of these disregarded histories has inspired artists, activists, educators, and cultural workers to address this neighbourhood with a collective consciousness. It follows that public art is also evolving from the tradition of monumental sculptures and single authors. The development and maintenance of this garden are the work and relationships of an intergenerational and intercommunity collaboration.

The Eurocentric model of land management that dominates in the West today needs some unlearning. It designs and maintains landscapes for the enjoyment of people, in service of an extractive economy, and most often at the expense of other species. However, there are other approaches to ecological integration and landscaping that encourage the healthy interdependence of species. These processes restore robust ecological systems by reintroducing indigenous species to specific territories, and this helps fuel our biodiversity. The remediation of this land with indigenous plant species is not an exercise in nostalgia, but rather an opportunity to map the future ecosystem we want to live in.

Site Plan

new growth site plan

The planting beds and cob oven are arranged as a series of interlocking trigons, crescents, extended crescents, and circles. These are traditional Coast Salish design elements that have been applied to the land with permaculture methods. Permaculture is a design process that simulates the methods and resilient patterns of ecosystems. The larger principles of permaculture are centered around whole systems thinking and organizational and social design processes, and they have varied and vastly diverse applications beyond land management and farming.

Credits

Artistic & Ethnobotanical Lead: T’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss
Project Coordinator: Courtenay Mayes
Production Lead: Stephan Wright
Youth Coordinator: Meagan Innes
Youth Program Participants: Valeen Jules, Kai Todd-Darrell, Anostin Todd-Darell, Jazzmin Whitford, Brandon Brueckert, Oliver Barnes
Cob Oven produced by the Mudgirls Collective
Chinese Language Speaker: Dennis Ha
Squamish Language Speaker: Senaqwila Wyss

Plant Signage

Visitors to x̱aw̓s shew̓áy̓ (New Growth) can learn the nomenclature for the plant species here in the garden, which are indigenous to the bioregion of the Pacific Northwest Coast, and the unceded territories of Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.

Salmonberry Rubus spectabilis
Snowberry Symphoricarpos albus
Oregon Grape Mahonia aquifolium
Red Huckleberry Vaccinium parvifolium
Wild Strawberry Fragaria virginiana
Kinnikinnick Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Wood Sorrel Oxalis oregana
Yarrow Achillea millefolium
Wild Rose Rosa nutkana
Oceanspray Holodiscus discolor
Stonecrop Sedum acre
Pacific Western Yew Taxus brevifolia
Indian Plum Oemleria cerasiformis
Red Osier Cornus sericea
Red Elderberry Sambucus pubens