The teaching woods
When urban people walk into a wood, many don’t see it as an abundant source of food, energy and medicine, much less how to use these respectfully and sustainably. Yet they often have access to the knowledge of the world through their smartphones.
An innovative workshop in Italy’s Monte Mai woods, organized by Societing (www.societing.org), is linking local knowledge with an information network embedded in the environment – making information directly accessible from the woods themselves. Led by Italian organization Art is Open Source – which promotes creative practices in digital technologies – participants at the workshop will be joined by local woodcutters who really know and understand the workings of the forest.
The group is building a meshed network, made up of a variety of connected devices using small routers, switches and hubs, in the woods. Sensors, powered by small solar cells, will pull information from the environment and transmit the data into the network, which is readable by smartphones.
Once the system is set up, anyone walking through the wood will be able to connect. They can point their smartphone at a bush and discover its medicinal uses, or at a tree and learn how to harvest it sustainably. And importantly, the network will also hold information on how to recreate a similar network anywhere in the world.