January 2016 Chuckanut Transition Newsletter
Driving creativity and innovation, “to art” is an essential element to what defines us as human. However, the art I speak of is a far relative of our modern concepts of art which are often distantly viewed and purchased in a gallery. Instead, the art I refer to can be traced back to its earliest recorded roots in group ritual and ceremony and is cooperative, collaborative and participatory in nature. Art is as an inseparable element of ceremony and ritual, and it helps us move through periods of transition (think coming-of-age or marriage ceremonies) and the anxiety that comes with uncertainty. “To art” is the act of “making special.” By “making special,” humans infuse everyday objects, actions, or medicine with the psychological power of positive intent, which is to insure its ultimate success.
To collaborate, to cooperate, to make special, inspired by the impulse to do something in the face of anxiety sounds a whole lot like Transition. At the confluence of environmental, social and economic instability we face great uncertainty, yet the impacts we anticipate have not fully manifested. We still live in the reality of an old paradigm as we create a new one.
For those of us who are growing or raising our own food, most of us only manage to generate a very small percentage of what we actually eat. We know the small changes we make in our daily lives are symbolic drops in the bucket in the face of the global economic monster that gorges on resource and cranks out carbon. Art helps us elevate and amplify our small acts.
Our upcoming event, Lighting the Dark: Swapping, Dining, Learning, Burning is a prime example of Transition as art.
Swapping - When we take the fruits of thoughtfully tended homes and gardens, harvest, clean, process and package to swap, we elevate the mundane, isolated activities of our lives and “make them special.” When we host a swap and trade - we elevate home production to that of participatory art. When we carefully label jars and envelopes we create symbols of hope. Hope for a localized and sovereign food system that justly serves Earth and her people living in resilient and cooperative communities. The public ritual of food and seed swap amplifies our small actions and infuses them with significance, helping us believe in the power of our actions.
Dining - Potlucks are rituals in sharing thoughtfully prepared dishes of locally grown food art. During dinner, Angelica Guillen, poet and local food justice advocate, will be reading three of her poems from the perspective of Hispanic women farm workers. Through art, we struggle and process difficult truths, like the fact that our lives currently depend on an exploitive system and that we must all make difficult personal and communal life changes in order to gain the ability to live lives that don’t make a mockery of our values.
Learning - Cicero said “Art is born of the observation and investigation of nature.” Our food shed is dependent on the health of our watershed, and pollinators are a cornerstone to a healthy, resilient and diverse ecosystem. There are countless forgotten bugs in our gardens and woods that anonymously pollinate and bring fertility. Chuck Nafziger, taking pictures and identifying who these bugs are has made forgotten pollinators special by naming and telling bits of their story. Sue Mitchell, focusing on native habitat, will explain how to create homes and food for these bugs in our backyards and communities.
Burning - Growing, harvesting, sharing, learning and caring is a lot of hard work. Lighting the Dark is a also about celebration of this hard work and the commitment to keep it up. At the end of the evening we will head outside to enjoy Night Bloom, a fire sculpture of bee and flower, for the sheer joy of sharing beauty and company in the dark of winter.
See you Friday, February 5th!
~Sarai Stevens, Newsletter Editor