Sourdough Futures

9 panel watercolor comic of sourdough being kneaded, fed and growing as a metaphor to build a better future(s).
Illustrated comic, depicting sourdough making during quarantine, by Erika Mazza-Smith.

Comic Text

Bubbling in sourdough starters across the world is the future.
We feed our sourdough future everyday, nurturing them with fresh flour and water. Yes, more than half of the starter has to be “discarded” to cultivate a healthy starter but this discard can be given to friends to create a new starter or baked into other things. Infinite possibilities and futures. 
After all the purposeful care, tending and nurturance, the starter doubles in size! Good conditions for a healthy future (anchored in old traditions). 
Time to build our future. First, mix together flour, water, salt. Let this sit and warm up to the starter. We gotta be patient! Building a future is not an easy feat. A few hours later we add some starter. Mix in well and let the dough rest. Enjoy the process….
Let the dough ferment. The dough moves slow and at its own pace. Every hour or so we can stretch and fold the dough (gently!). After our dough has rested and risen, now it is time to shape. How do we want our future to look? 
We let the future cool down for a while. Prepping it for what lays ahead. When it has cooled we put it into a hot dutch oven (the universe?). The future is becoming solidified and real. It’s happening! Our hard work is paying off! 
In all these steps is anxiety, fear and confusion. What if this doesn’t work? What if this is too hard? What is that weird smell? How do we fix this? It’s okay! 
It can be hard to know how our sourdough will turn out. But in the end there will be bread even if it’s not perfect, even if it didn’t rise a lot, even if. 
If it really doesn’t work, there will still be starter and we can try again. In fact, we must. To keep a starter going you gotta keep feeding it, much like a future. The work never really ends. We continue baking.
Portrait of Erika

Erika Mazza-Smith (she/her)

Erika is an illustrator and comics artists living on Duwamish land (aka Seattle, WA).

More by Erika
Check out "Envisioning Futures with Fortune Tellers" by Sam & Erika!