February 2021 Newsletter

Hello again everyone!

Life has been a whirlwind since my last update. We found out that we have to move, again, which set me off on a housing crisis/breakthrough (more details in a blog post below). The result of all of this upheaval is that I got hired for the exact job that I wanted: a carpenter’s assistant for a successful building company where the owners are nice, the pay is good, and the buildings I’ll help to create are energy efficient, non-toxic, and sometimes use natural materials! I kind of can’t believe it, but at the same time it seems like “of course! This is the natural progression towards your goal.”

Because this perfect job is 3 hours away from our current home, in the next month or so we’ll be moving from dear little Paonia to the comparative metropolis of Gunnison. Gunnison has more people and stores (and jobs), but it doesn’t have my Paonia friends or the same laid-back, close-knit, synchronistic vibe. I’ll miss it, but I’ll definitely be visiting and I’ll get to drive around amagnificentcanyon or one of the world’s largestaspen groves when I do, so at least there’s that. 

And! Please join us for the first Community Chat online event, this coming Monday 3/15 @ 8pm EST, on the topic of Art & Activism. Details below:

The (Housing) Odyssey | Recommended Reading | 1st Community Chat!  
Art vs. Creativity | Till Next Time

The (Housing) Odyssey

Since finishing college in 2008, I have moved 21 times across 4 states (including 3 cross-county moves) and 10 cities. And now we have to move again, for the 5th time in 15 months. Frankly, I’ve had enough. I got taken with the idea of buying land NOW and building NOW, so that we could have a good place to live FOREVER, even though it’s much sooner than I had planned on and I don’t have the skills or the means to do that yet. Read more

Recommended Reading

Here are all the books I’ve been diving into during my house-planning frenzy. I highly recommend them if you’re at all interested in designing a space for yourself based on your unique needs, using earth to build, learning more about alternative building options, or living and interacting more in harmony with the earth.

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance agent promised to fly from Mercy to the other side of Lake Superior at three o’clock. Two days before the event was to take place he tacked a note on the door of his little yellow house: 

At 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday the 18th of February,
1931, I will take off from Mercy and fly away
on my own wings. Please forgive me. I loved you all.
(signed) Robert Smith, Ins. agent

      Mr. Smith didn’t draw as big a crowd as Lindbergh had four years earlier–not more than forty or fifty people showed up–because it was already eleven o’clock in the morning, on the very Wednesday he had chosen for his flight, before anybody read the note. At that time of day, during the middle of the week, word-of-mouth news just lumbered along. Children were in school; men were at work; and most of the women were fastening their corsets and getting ready to go see what tails or entrails the butcher might be giving away. Only the unemployed, the self-employed, and the very young were available–deliberately available because they’d heard about it, or accidentally available because they happened to be walking at that exact moment in the shore end of Not Doctor Street, a name the post office did not recognize. Town maps registered the street as Mains Avenue, but the only colored doctor in the city had lived and died on that street, and when he moved there in 1896 his patients took to calling the street, which none of them lived in or near, Doctor Street. Later, when other Negroes moved there, and when the postal service became a popular means of transferring messages among them, envelopes from Louisiana, Virginia, Alabama, and Georgia began to arrive addressed to people at house numbers on Doctor Street. The post office workers returned these envelopes or passed them onto the Dead Letter Office. Then in 1918, when colored men were being drafted, a few gave their address at the recruitment office as Doctor Street. In that way, the name acquired a quasi-official status. But not for long. Some of the city legislators, whose concern for appropriate names and maintenance of the city’s landmarks was the principal part of their political life, saw to it that “Doctor Street” was never used in any official capacity. And since they knew that only Southside residents kept it up, they had notices posted in the stores, barbershops, and restaurants in that part of the city saying that the avenue running northerly and southerly from Shore Road fronting the lake to the junction of routes 6 and 2 leading to Pennsylvania, and also running parallel to and between Rutherford Avenue and Broadway, had always been and would always be known as Mains Avenue and not Doctor Street.
     It was a genuinely clarifying public notice because it gave Southside residents a way to keep their memories alive and please the city legislators as well. They called it Not Doctor Street, and were inclined to call the charity hospital at its northern end No Mercy Hospital since it was 1931, on that day following Mr. Smith’s leap from its cupola, before the first colored expectant mother was allowed to give birth inside its wards and not on its steps. The reason for the hospital’s generosity to that particular woman was not the fact that she was the only child of this Negro doctor, for during his entire professional life he had never been granted hospital privileges and only two of his patients were ever admitted to Mercy, both white. It must have been Mr. Smith’s leap from the roof over their heads that made them admit her. In any case, whether or not the little insurance agent’s conviction that he could fly contributed to the place of her delivery, it certainly contributed to its time.”
 – the first 3 paragraph’s of Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon”, published in 1977
and one of the many works of Black literature that you might choose to dive into during
Black History Month/any and all times. 

Community Chat: Art and Activism

Thursday February 25th @ 8 pm-9ish pm EST

on Google Meet
Luke Ohlson is a filmmaker, advocate, and educator living in Brooklyn. You can see some of his work at https://vimeo.com/7cinema

For our inaugural Community Chat, we have my dear friend and all-around great guy, Luke Ohlson. He’s a devoted organizer and activist, as well as a talented filmmaker, writer, musician, and comedian. He can also leap parking meters in a single bound.

Luke has served as a community organizer for the New York City cyclist and pedestrian advocacy group Transportation Alternatives for five years and as the Executive Director of nonprofit video and photo outfit 7Cinema for five years. He’ll be speaking about lessons learned from organizing in New York City and how these lessons inform his artistic practice, and then anyone in attendance will be able to ask him questions (aka the “Community Chat” portion). 

If you’d like to attend live, the Google Meet link is https://meet.google.com/ceq-xasy-jzw. If you’re not able to be there live but are excited to hear Luke’s pearls of wisdom, you can email me if you’d like a link to the recording or keep an eye on the website where I’ll be starting an archive of our Community Chat videos.

If *you* would like to give a Community Chat presentation, just let me know and I’ll set it up! It’s open to friends, friends of friends, and a-stranger-is-just-a-friend-you-haven’t-met-yet’s, about literally anything you’d like to present.

Art vs. Creativity

Even though “art” is in the name, Art for a New Society is specifically about helping people to connect with and develop their inherent creativity. “Why a creativity center and not an arts center?” you may ask. Here is my answer in Venn diagram form. It’s an idea that I’m still working through – my very creative drum teacher suggested adding a third circle, and making the distinction between “creativity (inspiration) vs art (product) vs practice (process)”. What say ye, creative people? Please feel free to write back with your thoughts.

Till Next Time 

I’m really excited for the day when I get to write to you and say “gee, things sure have gotten boring around here!” But alas, ’tis seemingly not to be (for now). But I will definitely let you know how the jobsite and our new life in south central Colorado are going. And if you’re so inclined, I would love to know how you’re doing, what you’re thinking about these days, or something really cool you’ve discovered recently. Do tell!

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