From May 4 -14, 2011, Futurefarmers created a nine-day "urban thinkery" centered around a shoemaker's atelier consisting of a cobbler's bench and shoes installed in the Guggenheim Museum's Rotunda in New York. The atelier is an open interpretation of Simon the Shoemaker's Fifth-century Athens studio in which Socrates allegedly had extensive philosophical discussions with Simon and local youth.
Building on the idea of Simon as a living example of a form of knowledge analogous to the what Socrates was searching for (namely the art of taking care of one's soul) Futurefarmers hosted intimate public dialogs with:
1. A labor historian providing context to the working transition of skilled craftsmen of custommade boots to mass production and the value of productive labor in contemporary United States (Bruce Laurie, Emeritus Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst )
2. A geographer, who discussed the environmental prejudice embedded in social labor relations and the reclamation of nature and society at the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn (Neil Smith, Distinguished Professor, Anthropology, City University of New York Graduate Center)
3. An unconventional academic known for his provocative ethnographic studies discussing the foot, the shoe, philosophy and fetishes, from Freud, to Karl Marx and in being cool, held at the Spectacle Theater in Brooklyn (Michael Taussig Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York).
In between and after these discussions, Futurefarmers performed ink gathering excursions in different parts of New York
with an urban ecologist (Gillian Stewart/Queens College), and environmental specialists (Thomas Matte/Hunters College, David Wheeler/ New York State Department) walking, gathering and talking about the Urban Ecology in NYC as well as the citizens lifestyle choices that affect the city's environment as well as their own health. The "soot" collected from the ink gathering excursions were mixed with honey and eggs harvested from New York City rooftop hives and gardens to form ink used to print the Soul/Sole Sermons with a public print-making intervention entitled, the Pedestrian Press.
The words "sermon" has evolved in meaning over time: from "conversation" to "discourse", described as a lengthy speech delivered with great passion. Early sermons were delivered in the form of question and answer, and only later did it come to mean a monologue. Futurefarmers commissioned poet Bernadette Mayer, writer/activist Rebecca Solnit, and fiction writer, Cooley Windsor to create a series of contemporary and relevant "Sermons" which were read and delivered at the Church of the Ascension in Greenwich Village, Manhattan and at the Guggenheim Museum.