Saving the Planet, whether it wants it or not!

Short Description: DIY Gardeners and Extreme Recyclers

Dress: There are two looks associated with the Co-op movement. The more common is Gardener Grunge, as much denim and homespun as possible, usually mended and patched in ways that deliberately draw attention to the fact they’ve been patched. And while nobody’s said it, from what the Vu has seen, almost deliberately ill-fitting and as unflattering as they can made it (Vu’s Hint of the Day: Pollution may be a Sin, but Tailoring isn’t!). The truly hard-core Co-opters dabble in homemade Livingware, grown in their greenhouses and basements, mostly living coats and cloaks and suits of living plants on a thin bioplastic base, although some truly enterprising basement biologists have replicated fur and leather from non-animal bases. I even once saw a truly dedicated old gardener who had engineered symbiotic flowers into his beard. Fabulous!

Symbols: The Earth (especially from space), a hand with a green thumb pointing up, the triangle of arrows of the recycling symbol, the outline of a foot with a question mark (often accompanied with the question ’What’s your footprint?’) or really anything that makes people feel vaguely guilty and judged about their lifestyle choices. The Vu is all for conservation, but I think we all know where the Vu stands on shaming, no matter the cause..

Lingo: Like many very earnest, very serious activists, Co-opters tend to speaks in hyphens, “eco-, paleo-, enviro-”, etc. etc. Truthfully, the Vu tends to nod off when they start talking and focus on their fascinating greenery-courture.


  • Styles: Rockabilly, Multifolk, HardPunk
  • What’s on Their Playlists?: Sawbuck, The Tolson Twins, Joan Gaia
  • Local bands: All of Us, SuperGreen

The Vu finds something strangely perverse in the sort of enforced nostalgia of the back-to-nature sorts, who not only feel things were better before the Neolithic Revolution but want to make you guilty for not feeling the same way. But there is hope for these charmingly earnest, often unwashed, huggers of trees, since it has been the Vu’s experience that they are, thankfully, often the most magnificent hypocrites. So there’s that in their favor.

The Co-op movement has its roots in the pre-Awakening Farming Co-ops and Organic Gardening movements, but these were generally desperate plays for the financially embarrassed or hobbies for the liberally guilty. It took the desperation and the deprivation of the dark days after the Awakening to make people really appreciate those who had practice in making and finding food. But it was the Paired Villages’ extreme recycling austerity measures (known in the Co-op community as XR) that really brought them together in a movement. So, Co-op has its origins in two separate movements that usually had the same people as members, the Food Co-ops and the armed citizen-militias that enforced the new Total Recycling measures and picked up the things the over-worked Sanitation Department couldn’t collect in those dark days. To this day, the efforts of Olson Sanitation Services Inc are supplemented by volunteer XR patrols, although, thankfully, less heavily armed then their spiritual grandparents. After all, even with the really strong columbian stuff the Vu requires for strange and unusual things like mornings, there is only so much firepower one needs to deal with a used coffee filter.

Again, as with any of these subcultures, the flavor (in this case literally) of the Co-op movement can be felt well beyond the smallish circle of dedicated dirt-grubbers. And that is primarily in the Guerrilla Gardening and Gardenscaping that goes throughout the Double Bill on the Mississippi, which are basically the same impulse, for large, functional gardens, in the opposite sorts of neighborhood. Guerrilla Gardening is what happens to the vacant lots and empty spaces of ground in the crowded downscale areas, often the only fresh food that the inhabitants of the less privileged ares have ever seen, much less tasted. This has become especially in the last twenty years, where every corner of the camps in Lilytown where there’s exposed soil has at least had an attempt to grow something. It may not be much, but this is the midwest, stolid, practical and hardworking, and midwesterners always have to try. (I often find them very trying indeed, but even the Vu can’t knock on attempts to feed refugees.) Gardenscaping in Guerrilla Gardening with zoning permission and more money than sense. Gardenscapers and Guerrilla Gardeners alike love to gather at various Gardner Markets, usually once a month, to sell or barter their wares and, frankly, show off, which are both motivations the Vu can get behind. Because where else is the Vu going to get Kale picked that day? Really, the Vu is all about Momma Earth and all that, but let’s be honest. You’re not going to find fresher food anywhere.

But where there’s a casual outer ring, there’s a hard inner core of the truly dedicated. For these few earnest, beautifully weird, single-minded fanatics, it’s not enough to preserve or even encourage life. They need to create it. This is where the traditional alliance of ecology and primitivism breaks down like your ex’s second-hand vibrator. These homegrown genius, the “Diyars” their compatriots refer to them in hushed whispers (ooo, very dramatic), Do-it-yourself biologists grow their own organisms, from gene-spliced marigold-cabbage that drives away bugs to homegrowing Livingware and much, much more…

A lot of those hydroponics gardens are growing more than just rutabagas, if you know what I mean. And not just the theece, either, but all sort of weird shit. Blow your mind, omae.

Yes, yes. The Vu did not mention it because the Vu thought that would be obvious. Must you have everything spelled out for you, my little chickadee? If these people were not good to party with, the Vu would not be wasting ou’s time on them.
-Nu Vu

Yeah, the drugs are cuab kev, but it should also be cuab kev that some of these ‘outlaw biologists’ of yours have ties to more formal laboratories and, if you know the right people, some nice, off the books bioware, and surprisingly good quality too, if you’ve got the nyiaj. After all, the Green Revolution needs funding the same as anything else…
-Tsov Tom

If you’re going to do any scavenging in this town, you need to move fast. Those XR patrols always snatch up the good stuff fast…
-Small Time Napoleon


Lost in the Shadows Manyfacesof