Lungs and Lichen

Participatory Workshop

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The Workshop

Lungs and Lichen was a workshop I gave — for the first time —on Friday as part of the Know Your Home events programme at the Royal College of Art. The Student’s Union organise a range of events during the week that explore novel approaches to ecology. And you just apply.

Here’s the workshop description which appeared on the posters on campus, on the Student’s Union website, and on the RCA website under Events:

You are invited to join a mini ‘eco-retreat’ with yoga teacher and MRes student, Lucy Sabin.

In part one, Lungs, we will practice control and expansion of the breath through pranayama.

In part two, Lichen, we will study lichen in the park (weather permitting), following a citizen survey inspired by Open Air Laboratories at Imperial College.

The ensuing discussion will reflect upon both experiences as “biological indicators” of air quality in London.

Enjoy a free retreat!
Slow down and nurture the art of noticing.
Come along to destress, recharge, and reconnect with ‘nature’.
Listen to your body and cultivate your ability to sense air quality through conscious breathing.
Learn how to conduct a citizen-scientist survey and get inspired to use scientific methods in your own research.
Discuss the air we breathe with other environmentally-minded people.

 

The Participants

I have planned three occasions to run versions of the workshop:

  • Know Your Home (March, RCA)
  • Mental Health Awareness Week (May, RCA)
  • I am also going to do the workshop as a Visiting Lecturer at Brighton University with Sustainable Design Students

It is important to me that people demonstrate the necessary curiosity to sign up. Or that they are potentially engaged in ecology-related design or holistic health or public engagement. Because that way, they are more likely to deconstruct and critique my research, and think critically about how to pay it forward.

 

My Research Identity

As a researcher, I see my role as offering alternative narratives of atmosphere — embodied approaches to ecology — inspired by eco-feminist theory and multi species- storytelling.

Lichen is an example of considering atmosphere from another species’ point of view, because its growth is linked to nitrogen pollutants. It is my hypothesis that participants are more receptive to slowing down, noticing, and appreciating the microcosm of lichen after meditative breathing techniques.

Moving forward, I am communicating and collaborating with medical researchers and researchers in medical humanities who study breathlessness, but not specifically in relation to air quality. More phenomenology and neurology.

I am also in contact with scientists involved in measuring and mapping air pollution levels in an abstract sense.

My aim is to bring the two schools of thought together, with embodiment at the centre. The gas exchange of human respiration is an ecologically unifying experience. When breathing is a conscious experience, it blurs the lines between polluting technologies, human health culture, and non-human organisms and reactive — or vibrant — materials.

 

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Findings

Participants wrote journal entries and took part in an audio recorded discussion. I am currently analysing the data collected. There were some exciting insights! Analysis coming soon…