The Rhizome Alliance

by Deborah Boardman


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Because we know that you care about connecting people to the food they eat, we ask that you to help us to raise $12,000 to help us cover costs of transportation, lodging, honoraria, and needed personnel to run the Rooting: Regional Networks, Global Concerns Symposium In Chicago this October. 

Chicago, with its central location is both heartland and nexus to innovations in urban agriculture and a socially engaged art movement and vibrant local food scene.

The Rhizome Alliance would like your help to fund an exciting creative project that includes artists, chefs, urban farmers, and cultural organizations in Chicago and in New Delhi, India. We are Deborah Boardman, Rodger Cooley, Kevin Kaempf, Eric May and Akshay Raj Singh Rathore.This October in Chicago, we are holding a unique event, Rooting: Regional Networks and Global Concerns Symposium.  Partnering with a mutual desire to support sustainability, create global partnerships, and promote urban agriculture, trios of artists, chefs and farmers will anchor our event with new art projects that incorporate locally sourced, delicious and imaginatively prepared meals. 

We are very excited to bring Indian artist Akshay Raj Singh Rathore based in Delhi to Chicago to create a new artwork for exhibition that engages Chicago artists, chefs and urban farmers at the Sullivan Galleries at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. As a keynote speaker at the Symposium, Akshay will discuss his work reintroducing heritage seeds in his native village Aulinjaa in Madya Pradesh

Akshay’s new project in Chicago brings together the farming crisis in India and urban farming and sustainable distribution efforts in Chicago and creates an opportunity for Akshay and the artist, farmers, and chefs involved in the Rooting Symposium to learn from each other. Akshay has first-hand knowledge of the rich heritage of farming in rural India. In Chicago, projects like John Edel’s The Plant and Erika Allen's Growing Power the skills exist to build green roofs and other green technologies. The same spirit of collaboration fuels the work to produced by the trios. 

India is an ancient civilization where 70% of the population is still rural farmers. Indian farmers, who are predominantly women, face the ongoing invasion of western agribusiness promoting genetically modified crops.  Farmers are pressured to purchase GMO seeds, along with poisonous pesticides and fertilizers.  This process is accelerating the loss of thousands of years of balanced, healthy farming practices and the incredible diversity of heritage, farmer-owned seeds.

Many in western countries see and feel the ill effects of unsustainable monocultures disconnecting us from the food we eat.  Most food is bland and homogenous, soaked in pesticides, over processed and then shipped thousands of miles.

We want to imagine instead, our food being locally and sustainably grown, connected to diverse cultures and improving food justice for all from the inner city of Chicago to rural India. During the Rooting Symposium, we will gather together participants such as Akshay and his Indian Chef and Farmer Counterparts with Chicago artists, chefs and farmers and entrepreneurs such as Bread and Sauce Kitchen, Ken Dunn’s City Farm and artists such as Documenta 13 participant, Claire Pentecost, as well as Nance Klehm and Eric May

Participants will experience locally grown food, prepared in collaboration with artists and farmers such as Erika Allen of Growing Power and Ken Dunn who will engage your mind and body as we explore the symbolic potential of art to transform our consciousness. 

The Rhizome Alliance has received funding from the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Center for Research and Collaboration and from the Propeller Grant but more is needed. Your contribution will help bring together Akshay with other speakers such as Claire Pentecost and presenters at the Chicago Symposium while inspiring new approaches we grow, eat and celebrate our food together. 

Thank you for your support, we hope to see you in October!

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