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Listening | Practice: Mining

  • Water Bar & Public Studio 2518 Central Avenue Northeast Minneapolis, MN, 55418 United States (map)

Over the next few months, poet Mary Austin Speaker will convene artists, writers and scientists for a series of talks — Listening | Practice: Mining, Corn and Oil — about the substances of climate change.

Listening | Practice: Mining

The first in this series will focus on mining, listening, documentary poetics, and the bargains we strike in the name of a greener future. Poet Mary Austin Speaker will be joined by writer and Water Bar artist Shanai Matteson, and social science researcher Roopali Phadke. 

As a poet, Mary has been working on a series of Necropastoral poems for a number of years now and considers this work a kind of documentary poetics. These poems are heavily researched and exist at the site of struggle — What have we done, and what are we going to do? How can we look to the land to understand our own history? These are some of the questions she brings to this conversation.

Roopali Phadke and Shanai Matteson will join Mary, sharing pieces of their project "Overburden/Overlook" - a public art and exhibition project emerging from social science research and other deep listening to land, water, ways of sustaining life amid extraction, and narratives of women across the Iron Range.

Things that will be discussed include the green bargain, sacrifice zones, urban mining, deep listening, and documentary poetics. This event is free and all are welcome!


MARY AUSTIN SPEAKER is a poet and book designer. She is currently Art Director of Milkweed Editions. Her first full-length collection, Ceremony, was selected by Matthea Harvey as winner of the 2012 Slope Editions book prize and was published in February 2013. Her second book, The Bridge, was published in January 2016 by Shearsman Books. 

This conversations series 'Listening | Practice: Mining, Corn and Oil' is organized by Mary as part of an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. 


SHANAI MATTESON is a writer, public artist, and cultural organizer. She is co-founder and collaborative director of Water Bar & Public Studio, an artist-led benefit corporation that serves water to build relationships and transform culture. 

Through her artistic and organizing work she seeks to illuminate the narratives and social structures that underly environmental change and resilience, with the aim of encouraging cultures of reciprocity and care. She’s most interested in work at the margins of established fields and practices, and believes that edges and intersections provide fertile ground for artists and others to learn and create, with and in community.

A current McKnight Foundation Artist Fellow, Shanai is pursuing research and collaborative work toward a public art project and exhibition (with Roopali Phadke and local partners) which asks, among other questions: What are the relationships between extraction, ecology, economy, and the futures we can (and cannot) yet imagine?


ROOPALI PHADKE is a political scientist and professor of environmental studies at Macalester College. For the last fifteen years, her teaching and scholarship has focused on social and cultural aspects of water, energy and climate issues. She is currently the project investigator on a multiyear study, called Mining Futures, sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to examine the future of mining. She has collaborated with many cities and counties to facilitate public dialogues on renewable energy and climate adaptation planning. She serves on the boards of several Minnesota based art and activist organizations, including Northern Lights.MN and Climate Generation.

Internationally, she serves on the advisory board for the School for International Training and on the Governing Council for the Society for the Social Studies of Science (known as 4s). She was also one of U.S. based co-organizers of the WorldWide Views on Climate and Energy project, sponsored by the Danish Board of Technology to provide citizen input into the UN Climate Summit process. Through her scholarship, community based research and activism, she aims to build connections across the local, national and international scales of action and to bring issues of justice and equity into climate and environment planning.

Earlier Event: November 28
Water Happy Hour at Water Bar
Later Event: November 30
Friday Public Studio Hours