An art-installation of floating wetlands, gardens, and a laboratory space, as a collaboration between PPEH Fellows and 2016 Artist-in-Residence Mary Mattingly

An art-installation of floating wetlands, gardens, and a laboratory space, as a collaboration between PPEH Fellows and 2016 Artist-in-Residence Mary MattinglyAn Experiment in Sustainable Living at Bartram's Garden

The PPEHLab at WetLand closed in June 2017 after eighteen months of experiments. The Lab opened in 2016 and moved up and down the tidal Schuylkill between Bartram's Garden and Center City. The Lab also provided a focus for our spring 2017 Ecotopian Tools public events series and design competition. Seven winning researchers and artists facilitated community events to jam out prototypes for living on warmer waters; you can read about some of them in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Artist Mary Mattingly's WetLand partnered with the University of Pennsylvania's Program in the Environmental Humanities and Bartram's Garden. WetLand was docked on the banks of the Schuylkill River at Bartram's Garden and is used as a space for classes, residencies, and public programming.

WetLand's floating edible gardens, (a collaboration between PPEH fellows and Mattingly) and floating wetlands (a collaboration between Bartram's Garden, Karla Stingerstein, and Robinson Yost) took form at Bartram's Garden in the Spring/Summer of 2017.

The Lab was open for public research floating just off the banks of Bartram's Garden in the Lower Schuylkill River on the followings dates:

SPRING 2017 Programming:

4/29, Saturday - 1:30-3pm Mandy Katz and Devid Hewitt led a walk, identifying plants along the River at Bartram's Garden

5/10, Wednesday - Carolyn Hesse debuted SUSPEND, visible from Gray's Ferry

5/16, Tuesday - Gabriel Kaprielian installed eco-pods during sunset boating 6:30-8

5/20, Saturday - during public boating hours, Jacob Rivkin and Eric Blasco built bio-pool

6/3, Saturday (rescheduled from 5/27)- during Bartram's Riverfest Joanne Douglas led a workshop about how textiles can be used to register change in the tidal environment

6/3, Saturday - At Bartram's Riverfest, Cecily Anderson collected input for a map of the changing Lower Schuylkill River

Read about our adventures!

This spring, several art and design installations will extend from Bartram's Garden Community Boathouse. Moored to the banks, and addressing the shoreline, they aim to influence the surrounding area. These installations are the result of an environmental design competition - Ecotopian Tools for WetLand - which began as a call for proposals and juried selection process. Winning toolmakers include Cecily Anderson, Joanne Douglas, Carolyn Hesse, Gabriel Kaprielian, Mandy Katz, Jacob Rivkin and Eric Blasco. Projects are situated to buoy the legacies of Bartram's Garden and WetLand - a boat that serves as a gathering place, art project and science lab- and timed to jibe with the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities' Ecotopian Toolkit conference, April 13-15. 

These prototypes for ecotopian tools will introduce strategies for inhabitants of the Lower Schuylkill watershed to consider as we learn to adapt and, in some cases, to float on warmer waters. Cecily Anderson will develop a map of the Lower Schuylkill that is receptive to user's inputs. Joanne Douglas will use fibers and dyes to register environmental information along the river bank. Carolyn Hesse will adapt a floating, mirror-like installation that will animate the river's surface. Mandy Katz plans to develop a comprehensive field guide to plants of the Lower Schuylkill in consultation with the Philadelphia Botanical Society. Gabriel Kaprielian will create floating habitat pods that cultivate plants and attract river-dwelling animals. Jacob Rivkin and Eric Blasco will build a "bio-pool" - a passive floating form that will cleanse the river water it gathers. 

A series of weekend workshops at Bartram's Garden from April 29-June 3 will feature each tool with the aim of promoting stewardship of the Lower Schuylkill River in and around Bartram’s Garden. Through these public events and related programs of PPEH, we invite you to participate in exploring how we all might learn to float–and to live and thrive–on warming and rising river waters. Climate prediction models agree that Philadelphia is becoming hotter and wetter. How can we best adapt to the higher temperatures and other extreme weather events that increasingly make up the new normal? 

To learn more about WetLand, read the Press Release, review Instructions for Living with WetLand and its Emergency Operations Procedures handbook.


Marcia Ferguson with Bethany Wiggin

Marcia Ferguson is the Program Director for the Theatre Arts Program at Penn and a Senior Lecturer in Theatre Arts. Marcia has taught, acted, and directed all over the country and the world, from New York to Tokyo to Rome. At Penn she has lectured on everything from Renaissance Theater to Realism, Theatrical Science to Improvisation. Marcia has also published two books. Her knowledge of theater will help PPEH reach out to a field too oft ignored in sustainability.

Anisa George with Bethany Wiggin

Anisa George is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Philadelphia-based company George & Co. She grew up performing with her parents’ theater company, Touchstone Theater. In 2005 she graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Middle Eastern Studies and was granted a Tow Fellowship to study theater in Iran. In 2008 she was granted the Jack Kent Cook Fellowship to pursue an MFA at the London International School of Performing Arts. Upon graduating, she founded George & Co. – a company dedicated to the creation of original theater and film. To date, she is the writer and director of several plays, documentaries and short films including "Holden", “Animal Animal Mammal Mine” (Philadelphia International Festival of Arts), and “The Seer” (Nominated for Best Ensemble at the Edinburgh Fringe). She was a 2014 TCG Global Connections grant recipient and has worked as a writer and director in Philadelphia with such organizations as Pig Iron Theater Company, Opera Philadelphia, The Bearded Ladies, and Swarthmore College.



An endeavor between PPEH and George & Co.

Source: Austin Bream/PPEH

How does the Anthropocene change what we mean by history, and how we tell stories? Theater director Anisa George and writer Gillian Osborne teamed up with actors from Philadelphia's experimental theater community for two unruly evenings of blind dates between poetry and performance on Mary Mattingly's Wetland. We played with ideas of time: from the minutes it takes a flower to unfold in Bartram's 18th-century garden to the millions of years fossil fuels lay buried in the earth. 

Bartram's Robot set the tone for the performances, asking us to consider, "what is the natural world? And am I, being a robot, unnatural?"

LINK: <iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/283650827&amp;color=ff5500"></iframe>

Audio Credit: Mason Rosenthal


  • Ben Grinberg
  • Johanna Kasimow
  • Jenna Horton
  • Anisa George
  • Mason Rosenthal
  • Kate Raines
  • Paul Harlan
  • Oliver Jane
  • Nick Jonczak

Costume design: Rebecca Kanach