Art Contest Submission by Kelly Gallagher

Sustainability Looks Like…You

by Kelly Gallagher

A documentary art film reflecting the thoughts and ideas of people living in the Pioneer Valley interwoven with images of the beautiful life of the Pioneer Valley – from the Hilltowns to the cities, from farm to shops to schools.  The wisdom lies within each of us – we know what sustainability looks like.

Sustainability looks like us…it is in our hands – let us engage the population in this discussion.  It is my experience as a filmmaker that people possess deep wisdom and insight and, when given the opportunity, will articulate their visions and experience with incredible beauty.  This film will incorporate group discussions and individual reflections, tapping into the resources of young and old alike.  When discourse and honest reflection are allowed to happen, beautiful thoughts and profound ideas emerge.  Keeping in mind the purpose of this contest, “to stimulate thought and action on sustainability in the Pioneer Valley,” this project will consist of a film of people in the Valley reflecting on the idea of sustainability, their part in it and their commitment to attaining it motivated by their love of this place and its beauty.  Images of the beauty of this place will be interwoven with music and voices to offer a piece that will engage and empower the people to seek and establish sustainability.

We will look for people and places where sustainability is already happening as well as encouraging it where it is just an idea.  From fairs to youth groups to Rotary clubs, the questions will be posed – and inevitably profound thoughts will emerge.  Through humor and sincerity the people of the Valley will speak – and together we will learn what sustainability can be.

The final piece will be a film that can be distributed to community access stations as well as a series of Public Service Announcements that can be used by PVSN to fulfill the purpose of the project, “to stimulate thought and action on sustainability in the Pioneer Valley.”  Also, a study guide will be created to accompany the film to be distributed to discussion groups, churches, and organizations.

The piece is meant to communicate that sustainability lies in our hands, and that we have the power and the resources to attain it.  By allowing people to share ideas, ask questions, make commitments, they are given a stake in the outcome.  Wherever the project goes, people will be asked to participate, to learn, engage and become a part of the solution.

To view cut of an 8 minute short filmed in South Sudan go to www.shelteredthefilm.com/ceasweb.  Please allow 35 minutes to download.

Art Contest Submission by Robert Markey

Earth Mandella

Submitted by Robert Markey

The piece I am proposing is a freestanding sculpture consisting of four rings of laminated wood approximately four ft. in diameter on a base of Vermont marble. Inside these rings is a glass sphere, approximately one ft. in diameter in the colors of the planet Earth. 

The idea of this piece is to show visually that sustainability is a process that can continue to cycle for the indefinite future. But, there are non-recyclable paths that lead away from the health of the planet and of the community into unknown territory.  Each ring represents an aspect of sustainability on the planet: energy/ transportation, food/agriculture, political/economic system  and human/social relations. On each ring will be words relating to the evolution  of sustainability. There will also be wooden detours away from each ring representing non-sustainable paths. Below these paths on the ground will be images (toys, small sculptures) of the things which have lead away from sustainability.

For example, on the energy/ transportation ring  the words walk, bicycle, wind power might appear. On the path out of the ring might also be the word oil written larger.  Below this exit might be a small model of a Hummer, and an oil tanker.  As the original ring continues there might be the words:  bus, train, photo-voltaics. The idea is that the sustainable means of transportation and energy will complete the circle of the ring. Those that are unsustainable will exit out of the ring.

The piece represents the organic process of growth and decay that is present in all systems on our planet, from the cellular to the cultural levels. Elements are added, used, transformed, recycled and discarded. Some materials sustain life and some mutate to elements that are destructive and lead to decay. Those that create and sustain as well as those that destroy are seen on each ring of the sculpture.

It has always been my belief that art has the power to open people’s hearts and minds in a way that nothing else can. It is my hope that the beauty of this piece (the wooden rings, the hand-blown glass), the reference to innocence (the childhood toys), and the science of ecology (the cyclical embodiment of organic processes) will create in the viewer an understanding of the profound importance of sustainability.

The wood for the rings will be ash that was cut off of my property in Ashfield 25 years ago. The glass sphere will be made in collaboration with Ed Branson’s glass studio. Initially the small sculptural images will be gathered from the community (Craigslist, Freecycle, tag sales, E-mail lists, friends). Those that I cannot find from the community I will buy or create. When the piece is exhibited, community members will be invited to add their own pieces to the ‘unsustainables’ underneath the spheres. This is in some manner a way of recycling these unsustainables.

In terms of the Pioneer Valley, energy – heat and transportation – is a critical issue. Agriculture, historically a focus of the Pioneer Valley, is returning with the efforts at sustainability. Human relations – conflict, the end to war  –  is profoundly important to all of us. And the economy skewed toward overconsumption is what drives much of the unsustainable aspects of these issues.

This is a medium sized sculpture (approximately 8’ x 5’ x 5’) and could be placed outdoors or indoors in locations throughout the Pioneer Valley.  Literature and other programs could be associated with it where it is shown.

See Robert Makey’s website with his past works.

Specific pages that show work that might be relevant to this proposal are:

Example 1
Example 2
Example 3
Example 4

 

Veiw Robert’s Experience below

Selected Exhibitions
2008 Contemporary Sculpture at Chesterwood 2008, group show, Chesterwood  –  National Trust Site, Stockbridge MA
2007 Small Works North America, group exhibition, Greenwich CT
Deep, collaborative dance performance, Northampton MA, Providednce RI
Robert Markey – New Paintings, solo exhibition, NCA, Northampton MA  Conceptual Portraiture, group show, Greentrees Gallery, Bernardston MA
2006 Sculpturefest, group show, Woodstock VT
2005

Sculpturefest, group show, Woodstock VT
Contemporary Sculpture at Chesterwood 2005, group show, Chesterwood  –        National Trust Site, Stockbridge MA
After Hiroshima:Nuclear Imaginaries, group show,  several venues in the U.K
Impressions from Brazil, solo exhibition, Bottle of Bread, Shelburne Falls MA and 39 Main, Brattleboro VT

2004 The Power of Creation, two person show, Wings of Light, Shelburne Falls MA
Evolution of the Sphere, solo exhibition, Thirty 9 Main, Brattleboro, VT  
2003 Personal – Universal, two person exhibition, Soprafina Gallery, Somerville MA
New Exhibitions, group  exhibition, Battelle-Harding Gallery, Greenfield, MA
Robert Markey, Jozan Treston, two person exhibition, Gallery A3, Amherst, MA
 Robert Markey – Paintings, solo exhibition, Thirty 9 Main, Brattleboro, VT
2002 God’s Greatest Gifts: Fruit and Sex II, solo show, Intimacies, Northampton MA
before/after 911, group exhibition,Gallery A3, Amherst MA
2000 God’s Greatest Gifts: Fruit and Sex, solo exhibition, Intimacies, Northampton MA
1999 Robert Markey – Paintings and Sculpture, solo exhibition, The Hart Gallery,
Northampton MA
1997 Witness to Violence and Related Projects, group exhibition,
The Artists Foundation @ The Distillery, Boston MA
Lines of Descent, group exhibition, Ward-Nasse Gallery, New York NY
1994 Reality Check, group exhibition, Ashuah-Irving Gallery, Boston MA
Behind Closed Doors, group exhibition, Artspace Gallery,
Greenfield MA and The Canal Gallery, Holyoke MA
1993 Berkshire Artists / Contrasts, group exhibition, Clark Whitney Gallery,  Lenox MA
Time of Opening, performance, Franklin County Artspace, Greenfield MA     
Children of the Earth, installation, Franklin County Artspace, Greenfield MA
1992 Views by Artists of the Columbus Quincentenial, group exhibition
pARTS: an alternative artspace, Minneapolis MN
1991 The Gods are Among Us, solo exhibition, Ashuah-Irving Gallery, Boston MA
Politics and Social Issues of Developing Countries, installation, Hartwick College, Oneonta NY
1990 Tears of Love and Rage, solo exhibition, Fauve Gallery, Amherst MA
Winter Group Show, group exhibition, Ashuah-Irving Gallery, Boston MA
Censorship and Provocation, group exhibition, Fauve Gallery, Amherst MA      
1989 Preta, installation, Markem Corporation Gallery, Keene NH
Please Fondle the Idols, solo exhibition, Skera Gallery, Northampton MA
1988 In the Third World, They’re Still Dying for our Sins, solo exhibition,
Amherst Community Gallery, Amherst MA

Videos
The Sewer Grate, written, produced and directed.  Released Nov. 2001
Imagine, produced and directed.  Released January 1999
From Brutality to Hope, documentary, produced and directed.
Premiered on PBS, March 1997

Corporate and NGO Collections
AEC-TEA, Capim Grosso, Bahia, Brazil
Belding Memorial Library, Ashfield MA
Casa do Menor, Capim Grosso, Bahia, Brazil
Data-Mail, Inc., Newington CT
Double Edge Theater, Ashfield MA
Harriet Tubman Center, Minneapolis MN
Peace at Home, Jamaica Plain MA
Schooner Capital LLC, Boston MA
Public Art
The Art of the Violin, public art exhibition and auction, Pioneer Valley, MA 2003
Cavalcade of Cod, public art exhibition and auction, Boston MA 2000
Cow Parade NYC, public art exhibition and auction, New York NY 2000
Witness to Violence, Collaborative Public Art/Performance presented in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Houston, 1995
Artists Need to be Paid Too, Billboard, Arts Festival of Atlanta, Atlanta GA 1994
Super Bowl Scoreboard, Public Art and Performance, Grand Central Station, New York NY 1993, 1994, 1996
Outdoor Sculpture 1993, Public Art Installation, Ward’s Island NY 1993
Selected Bibliography and Videography
Lisa Lynch, “Robert Markey: New Paintings”, Art New England, June/July 2007
Thomas Craughwell, Cow Parade New York, Workman Publishing , Inc., 2000
McBride, James, War, Battering, and other Sports: the Gulf between American Men and Women,  Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press International, Inc., 1995
Jack Becker, “And Other Words of Wisdom” Public Art Review Volume 6 Number 2 (Spring/Summer 1995): 19
Lisa Rafter, “Witness to Violence: Giving a Face to Women Who Have Survived Battering.” Labyrinth Volume 13 Number 5 (October 1995): 1,12
George McCollough and Maria Mongelli, “Criminal Justice Today:
 Witness to Violence” DUTV cable 54, Philadelphia, September 1995
Johnnie Braxton, “Visions”, WPVI TV 6, Philadelphia, November 1995
Awards/Grants
Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant, 2000, 1998
Massachusetts Committee on Criminal Justice Project Grant, 1994, 1995
Boston Council on the Arts and Humanities Grant, 1994
Massachusetts Cultural Council Project Grant, 1994
Puffin Foundation Grant, 1993
Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant, 1993
Massachusetts Arts Lottery Council Grant, 1990
Education
M.S., Computer Science, University of Massachusetts, 1982
B.S., Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1969
Represented by
Elaine Beckwith Gallery, Jamaica VT
Tappan Z Gallery, Tarytown NY
Hanback Gallery, Lenox MA

 

 

Art Contest Submission by Kenneth Leaning

The Cyclopedia of Sustainability

by Kenneth Leaning

My submission idea, The Cyclopedia of Sustainability, is a large book, a book that has the form of and appearance of an alchemist’s log, or a sorcerer’s book of spells.  It would be approximately 36” tall by 24” wide with a binding made of recycled cardboard and covered in canvas or hemp fabric and held together with earth-friendly adhesives. The pages would be made from, again, recycled paper, or of handmade papers and would contain, written by hand, in biodegradable, non-toxic inks, a series of stories, designs, theories, and practices which convey and promote sustainability. The pages would be illuminated as were the texts translated and transcribed by medieval monks and educated elders. The mysterious appearance of the text is intended to show the irony of how accessible the ‘secret formulae’ for sustainable living is to all people. It is not some quaint antiquity, or lost art, but instead, a state of mind easily achieved if one breaks free of modernistic, blasé consumerism.

This book might be the centerpiece of a compendium of information on how to spare the planet our overbearing presence. It would have, of course, all of its contents and resources available simultaneously on the internet – that great saver of paper. Its component information will be gathered from many sources, making it a book written, ultimately, by the community, for the community. It might be one original volume, or their might be sequels, as developed out of the Foxfire series of books on Appalachian folklore.

My background is in architecture and, as such, I am accustomed to team building. I imagine this Cyclopedia being created by a collaborative of artists, students, scientists, academicians, et al. whose involvement would be rewarded with publicity and honor. The materials and coordination costs would be easily covered by the $5000 award. My role would be to design, delegate, organize and, generally, produce the finished work.


PROFESSIONAL OBJECTIVES

To create spaces, landscapes, artifacts & artworks which function beautifully and invigorate the spirit and the planet.

PROFESSIONAL SKILLS, APTITUDES AND EXPERIENCE RANGE
Architectural, landscape, furniture, product and tradeshow exhibit design; Existing buildings measuring and drafting; Construction and personnel management; Computer literacy in CADD (AutoCAD 2005 &’07, Cadvance), Microsoft Office, Photoshop, Corel; Carpentry (all phases), interior finish work (tile, painting, lighting design, trim, space planning), architectural modelmaking, cabinetmaking, mechanical repair, plumbing, light electrical; Landscape, hardscape and garden installation and maintenance; Art and real estate/construction photography; Writing, editing and proofing.

WORK HISTORY
Sole proprietor, Elysian Arts 1992- Present Greater New England
Ongoing operation of a small, independent, art, design and fabrication business creating works involving:

  • Residential projects, garden development, out-buildings, stone wall and walkway design and construction;
  • Furniture (built-in and free-standing) design, construction, installation and finishing;
  • Restoration of antique (or collectible) architectural details, furniture and decorative items;
  • Photography (with as-needed, computer retouching) for sale at art shows and for professional portfolios;
  • Exhibit and display installations designed and executed for corporate administration buildings;
  • Co-produced, wrote, directed, edited, narrated a 1997 grant-funded, documentary film. Wrote grant proposal.
  • Independent Contractor to Solpoints, Inc. Dec.’06- Sept.‘07 Wilbraham, MA
  • Designed tradeshow exhibit booths and component details using 3d modeling and rendering in AutoCAD 05 &07
  • Independent Contractor to Regional Builders, Inc. Mar.- Nov. 2006 Monson, MA
  • Designed several renovations and worked at all phases of carpentry for residential building company.
  • Project Designer/Job Captain, Architectural Insights, Inc. 1998-2005 Palmer, MA
  • Ran three multi-million dollar VA Hospital renovation projects. Acted as designer, project manager, detail
  • drafter, specifier and estimator. Personally responsible for creating all architectural construction documents
  • and coordinating project development with client and all consulting engineering teams;
  • Designer and/or cadd drafter on over 90 residential, commercial, municipal, ecclesiastical and hospital/health
  • care projects of varying scale, bringing code-compliant, approval-ready construction documents to completion;
  • Proofed and edited public media releases and marketing materials; performed most office operational duties;
  • Trained all new employees in office procedures and computer software systems. Cabinetmaker/Antiques Restorer, Beckerman Antiques, Inc. 1993-1998 Boston, MA
  • Managed daily operation of high quality antiques restoration and sales facility;
  • Restored antique furniture, frames, paintings, accessories and artworks using techniques, which included: carving, casting, turning, gilding, welding, distressing, color toning, machining, finish matching and more.
  • Modelmaker, Trip Tech Models, Inc. 1990-1991 Waltham, MA
  • Constructed highly detailed architectural models for international clients in costs ranging between $20-250K
  • Team leader on model for Philadelphia’s 30th Street Railway Station.
  • Draftsman/Modelmaker, Archtellic Architects, Inc. 1987-1989 Boston, MA
  • Carpenter, Alex Skene, builder 1986-1987 Brookline, MA
  • Program Supervisor, Palmer Associates, Inc. 1981-1986 Palmer, MA
  • Managed community based residential program, with a staff of ten, for alternatively capable adults.

EDUCATION
Boston Architectural Center (B. Arch program) 1986-1993 Boston, MA
University of Massachusetts (Liberal Arts, Regional Planning) 1977-1981,’98-‘99 Amherst, MA
Institute for American Universities (French) Fall 1980 Aix-en-Provence,
France

Art Contest Submission by Trish Crapo

GOOD NEWS!

Sustainability Thrives in the Pioneer Valley
A Photo-documentary by Trish Crapo

Gas prices break $4.00/gallon, global temperatures hit landmark highs, fuel supplies at near record lows – too often, we hear only bad news. The problems we face seem so large and all encompassing, it’s easy to get disheartened. But in communities nationwide and right here in our own Pioneer Valley, people are taking matters into their own hands – helping each other install solar hot water systems, teaching teens to grow food without chemical pesticides or fertilizers, riding bicycles to work, advocating for solar and electric cars…

I want to broadcast this good news.

These grassroots efforts aim to create sustainability in our food, heating and fuel systems. At the same time, they forge connections between individuals that build vibrant, sustainable communities. It’s win-win — and I’d like people to know about it.

Through photos and interviews, I will bring the good work of people in our region to light. Some organizations I’ll approach include:

  • Seeds of Solidarity, Orange, MA, a sustainable farm and educational center that “provides people of all ages with the inspiration and practical tools to use renewable energy and grow food in their communities.”
  • Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, Greenfield, MA, promoting energy conservation and non-polluting, renewable energy technologies.
  • Gardening the Community Youth Agriculture Project, growing organic food and promoting bicycling as sustainable transportation in Springfield, MA.
  • Co-op Power’s Member to Member Program, helping people to install solar hot water systems at their homes.

Good News! will take two forms.

One, an exhibition of 30 large (16×20) photographs printed with environmentally friendly black and white inks on salvaged or recycled paper. The show will include printed excerpts from interviews with people involved in the sustainability projects and music (on DVD) by local musicians. Potential exhibition spaces include A.P.E. in Northampton and The Pushkin in Greenfield.  I will seek a Springfield exhibition as well.

Two, a digital multimedia show made available to local access cable television stations or linked to the website of one or more of the organizations featured in the show. The multimedia show will include more images and interviews than the print exhibition, plus incorporate music by local musicians. DVDs of the project could also be made available to schools and libraries.

Good News! is a portrait, in words and images, of sustainability in the Pioneer Valley. The project is documentary at its heart – it strives to accurately describe the state of sustainability at this specific time. But because I believe in the power of seeing, in the tendency of good ideas to generate more good ideas, Good News! has the potential to be a motivational force toward the creation of future projects.

I hope people will look at my images and say, “Hey, look at what those folks are doing. We could do something like that too.”

The enclosed photos from Franklin County’s Relay for Life event provide a sampling of my work.

 

See Below for Experience

TRISH CRAPO
Writer, photographer
Telling Stories with Light

www.trishcrapo.com

BIOGRAPHICAL STATEMENT
I am a writer and photographer living in Leyden, Massachusetts. I’ve recently completed the intensive 10-month program at Hallmark Institute of Photography in Turners Falls, MA. Hallmark gave me the professional photographic skills I was seeking in order to put imagery and text together to create compelling photo-documentary stories. I’m most interested in spreading the word about grassroots efforts to affect positive change. As a published poet, I bring my respect for the power of the image to photography.

PHOTOGRAPHY EXPERIENCE

Summer 2008 Part-time staff photographer, The Recorder, Greenfield, MA
Spring 2008 Event photographer, Hallmark Institute of Photography, Student Open House, Turners Falls, MA
June 2008 Event photographer, Hallmark Institute of Photography, covering Relay for Life, Greenfield, MA
May 2008 Event photographer, WGBY, Paradise City Arts Festival, Northampton, MA
March 2008 Event photographer, WGBY, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Holyoke, MA


PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS

Proficiency on the Mamiya 645D medium-format camera, both film and digital capture
Proficiency on 4×5 large-format cameras, both film and digital capture
Portrait studio, including lighting and posing
Commercial studio, including product and still life photography
Photojournalism projects, including environmental portraits and event coverage

EXHIBITIONS

  Summer 2008  Doctors Without Borders Benefit Exhibition, Hallmark Museum of Contemporary Photography, Turners Falls, MA
Spring 2008 Open House, Hallmark Institute of Photography, Turners Falls, MA
Fall 2007 Altered Realities, Cooler Gallery, White River Junction, VT

WRITING & EDITING

  January 2004  Founding member of Slate Roof, A Publishing Collective, Northfield MA. Publishing Franklin County poets in limited edition chapbooks with letterpress covers that feature the work of local artists. Received Massachusetts Local Cultural Council awards from nine out of ten Franklin County towns applied to in the 2005 and 2006 funding cycles.
2005–present Fiction columnist for The Women’s Review of Books, Wellesley, MA.
1999–2007 Editing and manuscript consultation. Tutoring in writing. Clients include: The Center for Research on Women and The Women’s Review of Books, Wellesley, MA as well as local poets and writers.
1989–1999 Co-owner of Word of Mouth, a desktop publishing company offering research, writing, editing and proofreading, as well as design and layout of newsletters and brochures. Clients included: Organic Trade Association; Northeast Sustainable Energy Association; Western Massachusetts Enterprise Fund; Pioneer Valley Folklore Society (all in Greenfield, MA); The New England Small Farm Institute, Belchertown, MA; Ozark Small Farm Viability Project, Bass, AR
  Researched and wrote a guide for journalists to understand the Organic Foods Production Act, brochure copy on organic products and articles for the Organic Trade Association’s monthly trade magazine, as well as articles for Northeast Sustainable Energy Association’s The Northeast Sun.

PUBLICATIONS

  2004–present  Fiction review column, The Women’s Review of Books, Wellesley, MA.
Winter 2006-07 Learning by Heart, essay with photos, New England Watershed Magazine, Hatfield, MA.
July/August 2006 You Don’t Have to Take a Dog, poem, Bark, Berkeley, CA.
November 2004 Walk Through Paradise Backwards, poetry chapbook, Slate Roof: A Publishing Collective, Northfield, MA.
Winter 2003-04 Salt, poem, Southern Poetry Review, Savannah, GA.
Winter 2002-03 Surfacing and Gong, poems, Southern Poetry Review, Savannah, GA.
Fall 2002 The Conquerable World, poem, Crossing Paths: An Anthology of Women Poets, Mad River Press, Richmond, MA.
Fall 2001 These Are The Words, and Ordinary Epiphany, commentaries aired on WAMC, Albany Public Radio.
Fall 2001 Homing, poem, Sanctuary: The Magazine of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, Lincoln, MA.
June 2001 First Love: Nine Reasons Her Heart Was So Agitated, poem, A Kiss Is Still A Kiss, Outrider Press, Crete, IL.
Fall 2000 A Couple of Things You Might Like to Know About Me, poem,
The Anthology of New England Writers, 2000, Windsor, VT.
November 1999 Ceremonial Breakage, poem, Sanctuary: The Magazine of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, Lincoln, MA.
August 1998 Burning Home, novel, accepted by Richard Parks Agency, New York, NY.
July 1998 My Husband’s Clover Plants: Or Why We Farm Organically, essay, in Taste Life! The Organic Choice, Vital Health Publishing, Bloomingdale, IL.
June 1998 Moon Poem and Desire, poems, Five Minute Pieces, Arms Library, Shelburne Falls, MA.

AWARDS

  February, 2008  Finalist, Photographer’s Forum magazine’s 28th Best of College contest
September, 2007 Creative Concept Contest, Hallmark Institute of Photography

EDUCATION
Hallmark Institute of Photography, June 2008, Turners Falls MA
MFA in Writing, May 1989, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA
BA, January 1980, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA

Art Contest Submission by Erica Wheeler

Sustainability in Place

by Erice Wheelerwww.ericawheeler.com
Singer/songwriter, workshop facilitator, speaker

Goal: To foster engagement in sustainability by engaging peoples hearts. This project generate stories of place through a series of “free” writing workshops, to be followed with a public presentation of the works created. “Free” writing workshops will be geared towards all residents from all walks of life, all ages, incomes and levels of experience.

My work is dedicated to connecting and re-connecting people with their sense of place. Songs I have written help to evoke a sense of place in the listener, while my hands-on writing workshops provide the opportunity for participants to uncover their own stories of place and belonging. I have significant experience in organizing, offering and promoting public events, having been a full time touring singer-songwriter for over 15 years and, for the past 8 years having presented my workshop “The Soulful Landscape” at conferences, events and learning centers across the country. In addition, I have a career as a keynote speaker, offering presentations focused on the importance of emotionally connecting people and place. I combine my background in the performing arts and my life-long interest in the environment and cultural history to offer relevant and inspiring presentations.

This current work has brought me full circle to when I was new to the valley, as a student at Hampshire College. The bulk of my work there was a project entitled “ A Sense of Self, A Sense of Place,” which focused on how we effect our environment and how our environment effects us.  Living in the valley now for  almost 25 years, I have lived here long enough to witness changes, both positive and negative.   My most recent CD has songs about people and their relationship to place from different perspectives, and several are about the valley itself. “Good Summer Rain,” is a song, which tells the story of a valley farm sold and developed. “To Deep Water,” is a song I wrote about a lake near my home in Colrain, reflecting the beauty of this area and what it means to me.

I believe our current state of environmental degradation comes the disconnection we have between our surroundings and ourselves. When we get caught up in our individual needs and busy modern-day lives, we make choices that have immediate rewards with dire consequences for the future.  Wendell Berry has written: “ You don’t know who you are if you don’t know where you are.” I believe we can reverse our course of disconnection in several ways. You can give people the information, skills and tools they need to make new choices, but we cannot create lasting change without first creating a change of heart. Our stories of connection from the heart are a crucial spoke in the wheel sustainability. As author Terry Tempest Willams wrote “Story bypasses rethoritc and pierces the heart.”

 I teach “The Soulful Landscape” so people at any age, with any level of experience, can gain the skills needed to communicate effectively what it is they love most about their  “place,” and what it means to them. These workshops help to generate memories, imagery, and metaphors, which can be crafted in, to song, stories, essays or poems. I would like to help others find and express their voice, so that everyone can be part of the sustainable conversation. Often the word “sustainability” conjures up ideas of elitism: being something only for those with the income, education or liberal leanings to create and enjoy. Our future demands our “whole community” participate. For those already engaged in sustainability, our stories will help keep us inspired and focused on the deeper meaning of the work we do. For those unfamiliar with sustainability we can give them the “how’ and “why”, but only they themselves can find the reason in their own hearts to change. The opportunity to find and give voice to our stories of place and belonging may be just the incentive some people need. Remembering what we love about the valley, we can make sustainable choices for its future.

Our imagination is the key to a sustainable future. To be able to know and communicate the relationship we have with our surroundings is foundational in our ability to re-imagine our future.  We them can begin to embrace the notion in Aldo Leopold’ wrote about in  “A Sand County Almanac” that “when we see the land as a community to which we belong, we can begin to use it with love and respect,”

 My proposal is to offer  “free” writing workshops for towns in the valley. This will attract people from all age groups, all levels of experience and all walks of life. This will generate songs, stories, essays and pomes, which will help us, understand the diversity of what we love about “our place.” An outcome of Sustainability in Place (proposed title) could also be open mics and potlucks at town meeting halls to create community and share our works.

An additional outcome or direction for my involvement in this project could be to produce a video/audio component, in collaboration with a videographer and/or photographer. This would highlight some different aspects of the valley and include a soundtrack of original songs. An outcome could be a video for PBS or a CD to benefit a local organization.

Ultimately, my project could go three directions or have three components:
1. A series of free writing workshops in valley towns to generate stories of how people lived in a sustainable way here before, and still do.
2. A video honoring of the ways people have lived sustainably off this land and still do.
3. A CD cycle of songs about the valley.
A public presentation of works generated from this project. The public will benefit from this project by a public showing of the work, be that a video on PBS, a CD, chapbook, concert or a reading.

This project will also involve partnership with another organization. Perhaps with The Trust for Public Land, who co-sponsored my current CD, or other organizations like CISA, HCI (Highlands Community Initiative) or the American Farmlands Trust.
Funding will be used for expenses such as: room rentals, publicity, production of concert, video or CD, and for personal income while creating the project and offering it to the public.

Click here to see video of Erica singing “Good Summer Rain”