silo, vending machine capsules, seeds, soil
Redistributing the Commons discusses the communal agricultural history of the Central North Side neighborhood through a silo-shaped vending machine that distributes native seeds in small capsules. In 1787, the tract of wild land opposite the Allegheny River from downtown Pittsburgh was divided into residential plots and a town center surrounded by 100 acres of common land. In the past, Allegheny Commons has accommodated a permanent market, a ten-acre prison, and a burial ground. During the second half of the 19th Century, the Commons was utilized as public grazing land for the livestock housed in private stables and public stockyards lining the present-day Central North Side neighborhood. As the pastureland supported the livestock and their subsequent goods, the public resource of the common land was distributed throughout the community. Built to redistribute the commons, the seed silo is an outdoor vending machine that distributes native seeds to the public. Each vended capsule contains seeds, soil, an address, and a photograph of a city tree plot. While the trees in these plots are city property, individuals and homeowners are responsible to care for these municipal plots as they once did for their grazing animals. Recipients of the seed capsules are asked to plant their seeds in the given plots, reclaiming the common land beneath the city’s streets. Historical references taken from Images of America: Allegheny City 1840-1901, Arcadia Publishing.