Back to Top

Falastin’s Phytoremediators

May 9, 2024

One of my most favorite annual events in Tacoma, Washington is Tacoma Wayzgoose. “Tacoma Wayzgoose is a community letterpress, printmaking, and book arts extravaganza. Meet local printers and view their wares, print your own keepsakes, make paper and bind books. A highlight of the weekend is steamroller printing, where local artists carve 2 x 3-foot sheets of linoleum and print on giant paper. It’s pretty cool.” Out from the depths of their studios emerge all of these quiet creative types as a reminder of Tacoma’s rich printing community. This year’s theme was “Sweet & Salty.” Artists who applied to make a giant steamroller print incorporated the theme to their linoleum cut designs. 

The first few times I worked on these giant prints were in Craig Cornwall’s printmaking classes as a college student at Pacific Lutheran University. One involved a giant goose, and another was the giant octopus (legend says one lives under the Tacoma Narrows bridge) holding up a scuba diver. I have had the opportunity to work on a print for the last few years, even as the festival had to pivot during the height of the pandemic to a mobile print option inside of King’s Books. This year I asked my dear friend, mentor, big sister, hermana, and fellow Justseeds artist (who is one of the main reasons why I became part of Justseeds,) if she would like to collaborate on a print this year. 

We honor the children and future of Palestine with this piece. Some of the most uplifting videos coming out of the broadcasted genocide are the children’s care for the land and each other. Deep in their hearts and souls there is an utmost connection to the land that is unbreakable.

We ultimately decided on a design that also honors some of the bioremediators of Palestine, recognizing that all the violence and destruction to Palestinians and the land will cease one day. When that day comes, it will take a lot of healing and recovery. And with a little research we dove into learning about the plant relatives that already desalinate, that can thrive under the harshest of desert conditions and heal the land in Palestine. Phytoremediation, or bioremediation, is a process that involves plant life to clean up contaminated environments such as heavy metals, pesticides, explosives, and oil. Of the many plants we could have picked we decided to feature these phytoremediators: Palestinian Moringa اليسسر (Moringa peregrina), fig  تين (Ficus carica), Red Mulberry التوت الأحمر (Morus rubra), barley شعير and Athel (Tamarix aphylla). Sunflowers are also a known bioremediator and for that reason we merged a sunflower into the sun with many eyes as the seeds, in part to honor the dedicated press and martyred, as witness to all the horrors and healing of the last 75 years and 200 plus days of this brutal settler occupation. 

“A seed says I have a future, putting a seed in the ground means I may have a tomorrow. Putting seeds in the ground is one of the most rebellious things you can do.”

– Vivien Sansour

Recently I had the opportunity to attend an online seed story workshop “To Eat Alone is to Die Alone” put on by Herban Cura with Palestinian artist, writer, researcher and founder of the Palestinian Heirloom Seed LibraryVivien Sansour. Among many stories about her connections to seeds and heirloom varieties in Palestine, Vivien told us, “A seed says I have a future, putting a seed in the ground means I may have a tomorrow. Putting seeds in the ground is one of the most rebellious things you can do.” Vivien reminded us, we too are all seeds. In our own ways and skill sets, we can change the world for a better and brighter future, together.

If carving linoleum teaches us anything, it is to search for the light. On these darkest of days and nights, may you continue to hold onto any lasting glimmer of hope and rebellion in all means of fighting and tending for a future that is Palestinian. Free Palestine. 


The following have supported our visioning of this process, furthered our Palestine plant knowledge and have grounded me as we continue to witness an ongoing genocide: 

“Abu Samra” song by Zaid Hilal

Palestinian heirloom wheat Abu Samra” Stories of Palestine podcast episode with Vivien Sansour and Zaid Hilal

Hanan and the People of the Soil story from Vivien Sansour

Permaculture and Eco design in Palestine” Stories from Palestine podcast episode with Mohamad Saleh

Agroforestry for Palestine: Good Trees for a Better Future by Thomas Fernley-Pearson

A Review about the Mycoremediation of Soil Impacted by War-like Activities: Challenges and Gaps by Geris, Malta, Aquilar Soares, Cardoso de Souza Neta, Silva Pereira, Soares, da Silva Reis and de Godoi Pereira in Journal of Fungi (2024)

Plant growth-promoting bacteria in phytoremediation of metal-polluted soils by A. Alves, Yin, Qifan, Oliveira, Rui, Silva, Eduardo, Novo and Luís Published in The Science of the Total Environment (2022)

Foragers – Jumana Manna documentary

Thank you to Thea Gahr for dreaming with me. Thank you to my Wayzgoose “inking apprentices” Mary and Issac. Thank you to Sharon and Laura for holding down the Justseeds table while I was printing. Thank you to all of the Wayzgoose organizers, volunteers and community members that made the weekend such a delightful time. Thank you to my dad for driving up from Oregon for the day and taking a lot of these beautiful photos. 

(Written by Saiyare Refaei with feedback from Thea Gahr. Any errors are their own.) 

Anti-warCulture & MediaEcology & AnimalsGlobal SolidarityIndigenous ResistanceInspirationSocial Movements

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Art for the People

Art for the People

May 1, 2024

…Our panel on Saturday morning “Art for the People: Sustaining Community Practices from the 60s to the Future,” was composed of Diane Fujino, a. e. hunt, Justseeds artists: Kill Joy, Jess X. Snow, and (myself) Saiyare Refaei, and moderated by Chad Shomura. We wanted to share living proof of how radical collective imagination shows up in the art and cinema within social movements…

Seattle’s International Working Women’s Day for Palestine and Beyond

Seattle’s International Working Women’s Day for Palestine and Beyond

March 12, 2024

“We stand in solidarity with our Palestinian siblings in Gaza and those among our community who are directly and indirectly affected by the current war and genocide by the Israeli settler-colonial regime. Passive observation of the horrors of bombings, genocide, and prolonged apartheid is not our way. We must rise and firmly proclaim that Palestinian Liberation is a Feminist Imperative.” – Feminists for Jina Seattle