The Art of Soil Collective (or T.A.S.C.) is the brain-spirit child of Dr. Karen Houle. Houle is a recently retired Professor of Philosophy at the University of Guelph, in Guelph, Canada. She has always wanted to get to a place in life where, with the alchemy of energy, immense privilege, a nutty work ethic, the accumulation of some social capital, grandmotherhood, and not giving a shit what people thought anymore.... she could lead a practical local project that combined ALL her political and ethical principles + skills + passions -- food security, mentoring, ecology, environmental protection, organic farming, flat democracy, soil remediation, Black Lives Matter, gender parity, experiential learning, biodiversity, queer positive space-making, seed saving, mental health, cultural diversity, pollinator support, flowers! compost! poetry, many languages, global politics, post-humanism + collective action. Was that too much to ask?
Nope: The Art of Soil Collective ticks all those boxes.
BIO: Houle's university degrees focused first on biology, then history & philosophy of science, and finally political philosophy. As an academic, she is the author of numerous articles on the following thinkers: Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Michel Foucault, Spinoza, Jacques Derrida, & Luce Irigaray, and the following subjects: animality, plant ontology, micropolitics, friendship, copyright, & reproductive technology. With Jim Vernon (York University), she co-edited a book of essays on Hegel and Deleuze (2013, Northwestern), and with Suzanne McCullagh and Casey Ford, she co-edited a second book of essays entitled: Minor Ethics: Deleuzian Variations (2021, McGill-Queens). Houle completed a monograph titled Toward a New Image of Thought: Responsibility, Complexity and Abortion (2013, Lexington Press, Outsources Series). That was 2013. In 2022, due to the turmoil that is the rollback of Roe v. Wade, the book is showing up again as a critical resource for thinking more deeply and complexly about abortion and reproductive rights. She is the author of three books of poetry: Ballast (published in 2000 by House of Anansi Press), During (published in 2005 by Gaspereau Press), and The Grand River Watershed: A Folk Ecology (published in 2019 by Gaspereau Press). She has also published numerous essays on and about art and art making in non-academic venues like CV-2 and Jeu de Paume.
She is also the translator (from French to English, & with the help of Melissa Chong and Pegless Barrios) of Le Quan Ninh's (2011) collection of aphorisms and short essays on musical improvisation entitled "Improvising Freely: The ABC's of An Experience." (Publication Studio, PS Guelph). In the Fall of 2014 Houle was the inaugural Writer-in-Residence at North House (University of Waterloo School of Architecture), on the rare Charitable Research Reserve...on the banks of the Grand River, just north of Cambridge. The residency was jointly sponsored by rare and The Musagetes Foundation with the aim of melding science and poetry. The Grand River Watershed: A Folk Ecology, a collection of poetry, was the result of this residency. It was nominated in 2020 for the Governor General's Award for Poetry (English language).