Ecotopian Toolkit

Facing contemporary ecological challenges with critically attuned and creatively oriented tools

“WHAT IS THE NATURAL WORLD? AND AM I, BEING A ROBOT, UNNATURAL?”-Bartram's Robot

About the Ecotopian Toolkit

Tool-making is a signature trait of the human species. What tools can we make, and might we require, in the age of the human, the anthropocene: a name for the present geological epoch when humans are the most potent force shaping earth’s systems? Global warming and other anthropocene challenges, including the ongoing sixth mass extinction event, often lead to apocalyptic visions, or apathy. Through the Ecotopian Toolkit initiative, we explore a longer history of the anthropocene to help represent—and respond to—our contemporary moment. Might a utopian turn help us navigate warmer, rising waters and build new forms of refuge? What tools can STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) educators in universities, museums, and non-profits design and develop via the history of utopia and its hope for better futures?

In 2017, PPEH hosted a design competition and a series of workshops to build ecotopian tools for WetLand, the art boat-meets-science lab conceived by then-PPEH Artist-in-Residence Mary Mattingly, in cooperation with Bartram’s Garden. PPEH now welcomes a new cohort of ecotopian toolmakers annually, each exploring what it might mean to face contemporary ecological challenges with critically attuned and creatively oriented tools. Each artist/team's project is highlighted in a public demonstration led by the artist/team, documented on the PPEH and Schuylkill Corps websites, and archived and included in ongoing Toolkit initiatives. Each recipient is also awarded a cash prize.


2018 Ecotopian Toolkit

Ecotopian Toolkit Catalogue

                                                            Check out the 2018 Ecotopian Toolkit catalogue here. 

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Mandy Katz, Pocket Guide to Plants of the Lower Schuylkill, Ecotopian Toolkit 2017

Download Field Guide

Cecily Anderson, Tidal Schuylkill, Ecotopian Toolkit 2017
Cecily Anderson, Tidal Schuylkill, Ecotopian Toolkit 2017

Download Map


2017 Ecotopian Toolkit for the Anthropocene Conference Keynote Speakers:

Click here for the 2017 Ecotopian Toolkit for the Anthropocene Conference full site.

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   REBECCA SOLNIT 
   Writer, historian, environmental and human rights activist

   "ART, DISASTER, UTOPIA" 

 

 

 

 

 

James Hansen

 

   JAMES HANSEN
   Director at Earth Institute; former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for
   Space Studies

   "CAN SCIENTISTS BE ACTIVISTS?"

 

 

 

 

 

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   A PERIOD OF ANIMATE EXISTENCE 
   (Dan Rothenberg, Mimi Lien, Troy Herion)
   PPEH artists-in-residence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Media Coverage

​​​​​​Kathering Unger Ballie (April 10,2017) Penn Program in Environmental Humanities Competiton Winners Presented at Bartram's Garden. Penn News

Samantha Melamed (May 25, 2017) A Giant Water Filter for the Schuylkill? Philly Artists Respond to Environmental Challenge. Philly.com

Bethany Wiggin (Spring 2017) Forgotten Places and Radical Hope on Philadelphia's Tidal Schuylkill River. Open Rivers:Rethinking The Mississippi, no. 6