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2022 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

9. Intriguing Human-Waste Commons: Praxis of Anticipation in Urban Agroecological Transitions

Author: Markus Wernli

Published in: Design Commons

Publisher: Springer International Publishing

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Abstract

In recent years, citizen designers have been working with urban communities on the ecological reuse of human waste. In this commoning effort, practitioners reclaim body-expelled resources for exploring the metabolically enabled household as a networked site of radical, co-productive transitions that harnesses nutrients and boosts local value chains. The commoning of human excrement is understood in the context of agroecological urbanization that seeks to empower urban dwellers to become contributing actors in the food-energy nexus by making the city more food-enabled for storing and proliferating feeds, fertilizer, and food. By introducing three cases of human-waste commons in Brussels, Hong Kong, and Berlin, this study approaches commoning design as a process grounded in the praxis of anticipation. In this way of life, consistent with the anticipatory nature of living systems, the transformative potential in people, their waste, and social arrangements stem from the dynamic continuum of mutual purpose, trust, and vigilance. Collective desire, resolutions, and statuses are a result of direct involvement, context, and relationships. The three examples show how citizen designers draw energy from anticipating regenerative, life-giving value chains around human waste that give momentum to overcome the given thresholds with perseverance and resourcefulness.
Footnotes
1
Human waste is part of a massive “global translocation of feeds.” The nutrients, water and energy extracted from an ecosystem on one side of the world are transported as packaged crops or food across the world, then consumed and eventually deposited as excrement into ecosystems on the other side of the world. While these effluent nutrients lead to toxic manure lakes, suffocating water bodies, and potent greenhouse gas emissions, petrochemical fertilizers applied to soils do not sufficiently replenish them in the long run (Waltner-Toews 2013, 120).
 
2
Compared to conventional human-waste composting that requires up to five years for pathogen-removal in temperate climates, Terra Preta Sanitation is considered a speedy bioremediation process (Andreev et al. 2015).
 
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Metadata
Title
Intriguing Human-Waste Commons: Praxis of Anticipation in Urban Agroecological Transitions
Author
Markus Wernli
Copyright Year
2022
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-95057-6_9