Sunday, January 11, 2009

New year brings growth

I received a jarring email just after the first of the year. It brought news of a friend who stepped in front of a train. An artist and gardener, she had long struggled with depression, and it finally took her down.

This event has been hard for me to get my head around. It is the kind of thing that makes you hug your friends a little longer and a little tighter. The other day, I parked the car in the driveway and a single large snowflake landed on the windshield. I sat there with the engine off for a couple of minutes, wondering about how this perfect object could exist in the same world as such deep sorrow.

The email that I received was a mass email, and all week, friends have been replying to the whole bunch with remembrances. It's been cathartic. I learned from one of the recent emai's that the "Incomplete Manifesto for Growth" by designer Bruce Mau long hung in my friend's kitchen. The first tenant:
1. Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
My friend's death will change me, though I'm waiting to see exactly how. It has certainly strengthened my resolve to deeply value my friends, to support the arts by supporting artists, to champion those that work the earth to produce sustenance, and to enjoy this hard work.

The remaining statements of the manifesto are ones that ISLAND strives toward as we work to support artists, farmers, homesteaders, and this small place. I recommend reading the complete list, but here are some highlights struck me as particularly ISLAND-like:

3. Process is more important than outcome.When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we've already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.

7. Study. A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

13. Slow down. Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.

16. Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.

40. Avoid fields. Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.

43. Power to the people. Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can't be free agents if we’re not free.

I'll miss you, friend.


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