Estudio Nuboso
SUELO (Soil)

SUELO (Soil)

Screen shot 2013-09-16 at 11.14.33 PMSUELO is a methodology designed to reconnect with the places we inhabit, through the concept, metaphor and materiality of soil as sustenance, home, land and territory. It seeks to rearticulate the natural and cultural value of a selected place, create networks of collaborative solidarity, and promote regenerative practices of collective co-creation for a better present and future.

The methodology uses the image of a soil profile to reveal the layers of history and present of a place, upon which the future is co-created. It addresses the diverse associations, uses and multifaceted effects that soil has on our lives, culture and livelihoods. It takes note of the possible spheres of action: from the microcosm to the macrocosm; from the body, home and garden to the planet. These tools help the facilitator or implementer of the methodology to design a path of inquiry (for themselves, a group or a community) that will unfold over a chosen period of time.

The practice of Suelo is in itself an experiential exchange, with people or elements of the selected place that possess the knowledge we are interested in discovering. The practice is based on the premise that each person is an expert in their own life, and that we all have different ways of learning. It is a requirement that the exchange be horizontal and multidisciplinary. By activating diverse areas of interest we can create connections that encourage us and others to take more care of the place, the soil, the land, the territory, our homes, our communities. It is suggested that exchanges take the form of storytelling, walks, physical activities, informal gatherings such as meals or walks, and experiences that activate all the senses, helping us bond with soil and community in various ways.

The results can manifest through workshops, artistic or social projects, ventures, shared experiences and audiovisual documentation. They can also be seen through the community support network that begins to grow through the intertwining of knowledge and shared care of the place. Ideally, the result is that Suelo participants and residents of the selected site feel an increased love and understanding for the natural and cultural value of the place they inhabit. And to the extent possible, that seeds be planted for harmonious social-ecological relationships, with ideas and pathways for a fair, vibrant, economic and cultural life.

To read a text about the vision for the Suelo Methodology written in August, 2021 click here: Suelo (soil) as meeting point.

The SUELO pilot project was carried out in January 2014 in SaLo, Punta San Lorenzo, Veraguas – on the oldest rocks in Panama. Through guided experiences by selected participants, an exchange of knowledge took place with members of the Arrimadero community. This first residency was co-facilitated by the Estudio Nuboso team, and guests artist Claire Pentecost and researcher Brian Holmes (both from Chicago).

“I have seen how structured multidisciplinary encounters generate new questions, ideas and understanding; and that conducting an organized study of a particular place opens doors to transformative knowledge. Shared knowledge is multiplied knowledge.”

– Claire Pentecost

“What are we becoming in the transformations of the twenty-first century? How can we co-evolve with the territories in which we live, rather than destroy them? To find these answers, each of us must learn to listen to others and pay attention to the ground beneath our feet. Traditionally, art, natural and social sciences remain worlds apart. This is an opportunity to bridge this gap.”

– Brian Holmes                

This image links you to the Anthropocene Curriculum page, where during the program The Shape of a Practice, we share a case study of our SUELO pilot project in SaLo, Veraguas, Panamá in 2014. Click on the image to visit this beautiful, dynamic page with loads of info, photos, texts and videos.
This film by Rose Marie Cromwell was produced during Suelo, as a poetic representation of the place in images. The parallel narration of geologist, Dr. Anthony Coates, telling the story of the emergence of the Isthmus of Panama is in dialogue with the personal story of Mr. Gertrudis “Tejano” Solis about life in Arrimadero.
Here you can see the publication of Suelo Vol. 1 in SaLo, Punta San Lorenzo, Veraguas, Panama 2014.