OWS Greywater

Mobile Design Lab’s OWS greywater system is an answer to a call put out by the General Assembly at Occupy Wall Street. They were looking for an ecological way to deal with the waste water produced by the kitchen that has been feeding thousands of people 3 free meals a day in Zuccoti Park. The project is a living collaborative installation between a web of NYC based permaculture designers and Mobile Design Lab. It was born out of conversations that took place while we traveled through the city gathering materials, fueled by desperation, anger, and a desire to demonstrate to the world that something else is possible.

Like ecological systems themselves the OWS greywater system serves many functions.

Part functional, the micro-biology living at the roots of the plants serve to take up excess nutrients, keeping them from entering fresh waterways and instead using them to fertigate, fertilize and irrigate the trees and mums in the park.

Part educational, as each step in the process is highlighted with signs and often times someone explaining how it works.

Part spectacle, somewhere between “weird science experiment” and a “green oasis” amongst the cardboard signs and sleeping bags.

Part experiment, not only in how to create a lightweight, movable system. But in how to create collaboratively,  letting go and watching as it responds and adapts to change.

Perhaps most importantly, it is part catalyst, an invitation for people to come together to share our common grievances and to dare to imagine and create something different. To discover a way for us to take responsibility for the actions that have come before us. To say no to throwing problems down the drain for someone else to deal with. A collective re-framing of waste as a resource, by using the waste of the current system to build a new one.



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