Following the work of ecomusicologist and folklorist Jeff Todd Titon, Growing Right is also recording ambient soundscapes from several of the ecological farmsteads and places we’ll be visiting over the course of our fieldwork.
While soundscapes aren’t the traditional province of oral history, we believe that documenting the life stories and movement histories of the people involved in the rise of the ecological food and farm movement in Ohio boils down to documenting people’s profound, and often long-term, relationships with particular places and environments — and with all the other forms of plant, animal and mineral life that co-habit there.
Inspired by Jeff Todd Titon’s recent writings on “sound ecology” and deep listening to ecological soundscapes as models for the ecological ethics needed for planetary survival in an age of extreme climate change, we’ll be recording complete soundscapes alongside our more human-centric oral histories as a part of Growing Right. These soundscapes will be available here, online, and also installed at select pop-up exhibitions throughout our Summer 2017 pop-up tour. We believe these soundscapes will give non-farm dwellers — and those of us from different places/spaces — the chance to listen deeply and experience the complex sound ecologies of some of the specific places and environments that have and continue to contribute to our robust ecological food and farm system in Ohio.
We think soundscape listening challenges us to listen deeply across lines of species — and beyond the familiar narrative structure of human life-stories. While there’s no central narrator to these soundscapes — instead, they follow silent walking-tours of some of Ohio’s long-time ecological farms — they do, in many ways, capture the cross-talk of the multiplicity of voices contributing to an ecological farm: from crickets to bullfrogs to the sound of wind on barley fields, raspberry patches and buildings.
“Feeling ecologically” is, after all, about getting out from beyond the human; and we’re excited for these soundscapes to offer a more ecologically robust way for environmental humanities publics to experience, think and feel with the places of Ohio’s ecological food and farm movement.
Fracked Farmscapes — Near Bluebird Farm, in Harrison County, Ohio