Humus Economicus visiting ‘Taking Care!’ organized by the Swedish Anthropological Association
This April 27-29, Humus Economicus visited the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm, where the Swedish Anthropological Association held its yearly conference on the theme of Taking Care. The presentations engaged with diverse caring practices focusing on buildings, ocean creatures, street-vendors, tree canopies, wetlands, chimpanzees, and infrastructures. In this exciting mix, Jenny Lindblad shared our ongoing elaboration with the notion of ecosystem services that departs from conversations and experiences of urban gardeners in Stockholm. In assessments of urban ecosystems, urban gardens often figure as providers of services such as recreation, social cohesion and biodiversity. In this focus on humans as receivers of ecosystem services, the care and labour that gardeners put into forming urban gardens is absented. Urban gardens, after all, are ecosystems of human-nature interrelations. Rather than taking care of ecosystems, their caring labour situates them as part of ecosystems. In the work that we presented at the conference, we wrestle with the question of how planning conceptions of ecosystems and ecosystem services can acknowledge these practices that urban gardeners, together with other critters, human and others, make up gardens? It is a question highly pertinent today, when urban gardens across Europe, including Sweden, are under pressure from city development plans and receive temporary offers, at best, to grow soils.