About us

The Subsistence Research Center is a project of Sarah Baumgarten, Sarah Lewison, Nick Smaligo and many others. For the last year we have been talking to farmers, crafters and farm start organizations, asking them what they think about the word subsistence, a word that has long been used to denigrate the work of people who live simply and close to the land. In the city of Carbondale, we have been creating projects that offer frameworks for gathering, learning and collective creation. Through the imaginary of the Center for Subsistence Research, we for look for something in the future of our region besides constant upscaling, overdevelopment and extraction. Part of reverting the tendency of enlargement is to restore attentions to the intimacies of place.

Sarah Baumgarten has had years of experience working on social ecological projects, teaching outdoor experiential education, and various workshops in an urban setting.  For years she worked on various permaculture projects from community gardens, roof top gardens, to food forests.  She also taught several all ages workshops on composting, gardening, and bike mechanics.  Throughout the Southern Illinois area she leads outdoor experiential education camps going on canoe expeditions, interpretative hikes, sharing wilderness skills, and team building activities.  She’s also taught cooking courses, wilderness skills/interpretative hikes, and creative writing at Brehm Preparatory School for more than a year.

Sarah Lewison is an artist, writer and activist concerned with political ecology. Her research based projects use play, dialogue and media to attend to environment, materialities of place, justice, and the mattering of non-humans. Her work has exhibited at Documenta13, Smart Museum, Wattis Institute, Den Frie Udstilling and elsewhere. Her essays have been published in “Global Activism; Art and Conflict in the 21st Century (MIT), the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest (London/LA); An Atlas of Radical Cartography; Failure! (LA:JOAAP Press),“Third Person” (MIT), and regional projects. An Associate Professor at Southern Illinois University, she lives in rural Illinois. (100 words)