Fermenting a Revolution

February 20, 2021

February 28, 2021

3:00 PM To 5:00 PM

Online Only


See website for fee details

Event Description

Learn how to ferment a sourdough starter while cognitively fermenting on the seldom known history of food as a conduit to revolution.

Two Part Class:

Saturday, February 20, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm EST

Sunday, February 28, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm EST

What do fermenting and protest have in common?

Today, amidst a crisis of injustice, activists have rallied together in the pursuit of equity and change. Against suppression and algorithmic oppression, we have had to use ingenuity and creativity to amplify our voices in ways that are both visible and unseen. Strategies of covert gathering and organizing are not new to this movement. For decades, people have designed ways to connect and mobilize outside the gaze of oppressors. For activists of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, gathering around food, fermentation, and the act of swapping recipes was a convenient guise, providing the opportunity to secretly organize in plain sight. In a pandemic that has been peppered with a growing enthusiasm for creating sourdough starters, it seems fitting to begin to unveil the long linked history between food, revolution, and technology.

Join new media artist Ashley Jane Lewis to learn how to ferment a sourdough starter while cognitively fermenting on the swift, strategic, and seldom known history of food as a conduit to revolution. During the first workshop, we will begin a roundtable discussion on protest and our role as activists. Each day, participants will be provided feeding instructions for their starter, historical references to digest, and introspective questions to chew on and respond to. We will collectively track our progression digitally and regroup on the last day of the festival to share findings, new revelations, and of course recipes. The hope is that this exercise creates a space for self-development, reenergizes participants with the momentum needed to sustain this movement, provides the knowledge needed to create a living bio culture, and helps to reclaim the feminist and black activist history of food and technology.

You’ll need to gather some materials to follow along.

Essential ingredients:

  • 550 g / ~4 cups of whole grain flour (whole wheat, rye, etc)
  • 30 g / 2 tbsp of honey
  • water


  • Scale (most ideal) or measuring cups and measuring spoons
  • Spatula, bowl, plate
  • Kettle (or something to bowl water with)
  • a small, medium and large jar or food grade container
  • a couple clean dishcloths
  • rubber band & masking tape

Accessibility Statement: Genspace is committed to ensuring that our online classes, events, and workshops are as accessible as possible, and can meet the ever-changing needs of our community. As we navigate the opportunities and challenges of online programming, we are constantly learning and adjusting our workflows to prioritize accessibility, and we’d love to hear any feedback our community might have. Please contact us (info@genspace.org) if you have specific accessibility requests or questions.

Meet the Instructor

Ashley Jane Lewis is a new media artist with a focus on speculative design and tech education. Her artistic practice explores the black diaspora of the past, present and future through computational and analog mediums including science fiction, networked devices, machine learning, data weaving, food design, bio art and performance. Her award winning work has exhibited in both Canada and the US, most notably on the White House website during the Obama presidency. As an educator, Ashley has taught more than 3500 young people how to code, landing her on the 2016 Top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada as well as earning her press coverage as a tech activist from outlets like Reader’s Digest, Huffington Post, and Metro News. She is proud of the work she has done with Dan Shiffman and ml5.org, a platform offering “friendly machine learning for the web” in order to lower barriers to entry into creative computing. Ashley holds a BFA in New Media from Ryerson University in Toronto and just completed a Master’s degree in Interactive Telecommunications at ITP in New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. https://ashleyjanelewis.com/


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About the Organizers

Genspace is the world’s first community biology lab—a place where anyone can learn and work on biotechnology.

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