How and where is We Sow distributed?
Léa, Paul & Marion: Our means of diffusion is airborne. In the same way that seeds or humans travel the world and grow, we sow our paper seeds in the public space: on the subway, in train stations, at bus stops and public squares, etc. The 200 seed bags are freely accessible to anyone passing by as they are just dropped by the three of us on our way. The texts are short, people can read them between two stations. There is a correlation between the length of the texts and the time you might spend at a bus stop, waiting.
In his book Penser/Classer, George Perec says :
"We read a lot on the way to and from work. We could classify these readings according to the mode of transport: the car is worth nothing (reading would give you a headache); the bus is better adapted, but readers there are rarer than one might think, probably because of the spectacle of the street. The place where one reads is the metro. This could almost be a definition. I am astonished that the Minister of Culture, or the Secretary of State for Universities, has not yet cried: "Stop asking for money for libraries—the subway is the true library of the people!” (to thunderous applause from the benches of the majority)."
The subway embodies an underground moment, outside of time, where you can get lost in your thoughts and when the mind is 'free'. It is not the only place we sow, but it remains one of our favourites; we also like it because it is a place where a large range of different people gather unintentionally everyday.
The first time we distributed issue n°1 we took the first subway of the day at 5am, moving through one of the biggest subway lines in Lyon, passing through the whole metro train and dropping bags on the seats. We observed people's reaction or lack of reaction, or even fear…it was very exciting to hear sound of someone unwrapping the packet, unfolding the paper and beginning to read.
What are your plans for the future of We Sow?
Léa: Our dream is to buy ourselves a risograph printer in order to be truly independent. It would be great to offer even greater access to the source of the texts we select—perhaps to hide the original books or PDF files somewhere, and provide clues to find them, to engage readers in a bit of a quest. I think this could be an exciting way for us to follow up on the initial gift of the free 'seed' bags.
Paul: We will continue to question our content, for sure, and will also perhaps think about writing our own texts or finding writers to commission contributions. Someone suggested the idea of collaborating with journalism students, so we might meet people like us who have pre-existing content we can include.
Léa: Personally, I am a bit afraid of becoming a "publishing space"…we project no rules, so I think we will always work on case-by-case basis.
Marion: What I like the most is the intimate side—I like the idea that a text which I enjoyed can also be appreciated by someone else. I always wonder where the little packages end up. There is this secret life that each issue of We Sow has, which I would love to keep track of. (By the way, I actually thought about answering these interview questions using only excerpts from texts used in We Sow, just to remain underground! It's important that we stay radical and keep the plot.)