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Invasive plants as a metaphor for a new green activism

— Ophélie Damblé, creator of Ta Mère Nature

Invasive plants as a metaphor for a new green activism — Ophélie Damblé, creator of Ta Mère Nature




Nathalie Mohadjer

Whether she has her hands on her keyboard to write or edit videos, or in the ground to grow plants, fertility is one of Ophélie Damblé's key words. Creator of the Youtube channel Ta Mère Nature, her moto is to reappropriate urban space to reintroduce nature. Far beyond a cosmetic and decorative approach, it is a truly militant act. What if we joined the Green Guerrilla?

Can you describe yourself quickly, who you are, what you do?

My name is Ophélie Damblé, 34 years old, and I created Ta Mère Nature. I take care of a nursery installed in the Cité Fertile (93 - Pantin) where I produce edible plants. It is a place where I also give a lot of gardening initiation workshops to schools, associations, companies... I am also a creator of video, written and audio contents.

What are your favorite subjects?

Everything that is closely or remotely related to nature! And more particularly where it is the most difficult to see: the urban environment. I'm very interested in the Green Guerilla, a citizen movement to reappropriate public space to green it in a pirate way. My other favorite subjects are ecofeminism, urban agriculture, and more globally, how putting back plants in the city is a real act of resistance. Which brings a lot of joy as a bonus!

What is the emerging topic that you think will matter in the near future and how/why did you become aware of it?

I have recently been immersed in the topic of invasive plants, which I think are very political figures. We perceive them as "pests", whereas their appearance was caused by our intensive agro-industrial activities. Instead, we could for example see them as whistleblowers, allies who resist at our side against these destructive practices of the natural environment.

My other major issue is the sustainability of the urban agriculture projects that are emerging. Even though the media is becoming more and more aware of the subject, agricultural land is constantly being nibbled away by urban sprawl and land pressure. Often, the spaces made available are in very poor condition and will take many years to regenerate. Not to mention the social link that takes time to create and strengthen in the territory. The economic models of farms are often very fragile! However, urban agriculture is now becoming a formidable alibi for continuing to build shopping centers, for example, under the guise of a "high-tech" super farm on the roofs... This questions our right of access to the land (free and unrestricted), which should be inalienable whether we are urban or rural, rich or poor.

What are the stakes, the changes and opportunities that this can bring? What are the brakes, the risks?

A green city is a calmer and therefore more inclusive city, it is an area where we will suffer less from the heat during heat waves, it is a place where we will want to sit down and perhaps discuss with our neighbors, it is a street where we can perhaps harvest from fruit trees, do school outside....

The stakes, beyond putting back urban vegetation for all, are for me those of social justice. It is a question of creating a bridge with the other anti-racist, feminist and anti-speciesist struggles which are all closely linked to the same fight: to put an end to our destructive capitalist system. It requires some deconstruction and a real political shift, but we are ready for it.

“A green city is a calmer and therefore more inclusive city”

Who are the actors in this field? Where can we learn more?

You can discover the work of the geographer and researcher Flaminia Paddeu and her book "Sous les pavés la terre, agricultures urbaines et résistances dans les métropoles" (Under the cobblestones the earth, urban agriculture and resistance in the metropolises) which shows another image of urban agriculture, and its limits when it is instrumentalized for the benefit of green capitalism.

Its angle is that of social ecology, it highlights the importance of wastelands, allotments and green guerilla. This book is a marvel that I have highlighted everywhere! There is also the "Guide pour faire échouer des projets contre-(la) nature" a very practical manifesto that gives all the techniques to make land artificialisation projects fail, based on very concrete examples. And concretely, we really need it to get started!

Finally, the initiative "Sauvages de ma rue" in book and application format is a great initiative from the Museum of Natural History to get into urban botany and to change the way we look at the young plants that grow in the cracks and gutters downstairs.

For the rest, I warmly invite you to come and discover the Cité Fertile, 1 hectare dedicated to the ecological transition where I have taken up residence, and where drinking a beer while sowing seeds and discovering local artisans is not incompatible!