May 21, 2009

this beginning has been a long time coming

Something is about to start, yet it's not exactly the beginning.

For years I've had conversations about making a place. Nearly everyone I meet is somehow accomplice to the building of this place (which may actually, one day, be a network of places, each distinguished but somehow linked). By sharing ideas, notions of failure, potential model projects, and infectious enthusiasm about this place often referred to as "the farm" or "the commune," a vast community of commoners are talking about how to survive the failing economy, how to live a little more green, how to travel between places, how to build something that is a reflection of collective potential. These on-going conversations have evolved over the years from whimsical fantasy to urgent action. We speak of buying land together, building our own houses or rehabilitating vacant buildings, learning to make electricity and vegetables, tearing down fences, repurposing foreclosed suburban cul-de-sacs, sharing resources like cars and tools, creating movement between places and people, and always always making time and space for art.

It's funny how time works. Three years ago, I wrote my master's thesis about Drop City, a vibrant art project-turned commune in southern Colorado from 1965 - 1973. Enrolled in the curatorial practice program at California College of the Arts, I wanted to write about expanded art practices and their affect on an emergent counterculture. There was very little written then about Drop City and communes were sheepishly unhip. I felt lost in time and knew very few young people interested in both the history of communalism and its possibilities for the future. It seemed that all of my best friends were at least 60-years old. All of this has since changed. It now seems very important and exciting to think about building places that are both about building and about place. The conversation about building places has become exponentially more inter-generational, sophisticated, practical, fun, as well as accepting and interested in failure. This blog is an attempt to help cultivate this conversation, while moving from thinking and talking into real DOING. In lieu of having land or an immediate opportunity to build this proverbial place, I will create a blog.

I will soon leave San Francisco for the Rockies where I will teach about these art-and-place, art-and-life things at the University of Colorado while continuing my research around the Colorado communes. I hope to return to the Bay Area, but am leaving myself open to whatever unfolds... these days feel like new beginnings. I'm not sure what will happen in the coming months, nor is it clear to me how this blog might function but I feel very certain that incredible things are happening each day. These deserve to be documented and shared, analyzed and celebrated. If I cannot yet make a place with hammer and nail, perhaps I can make meaning from the events and thoughts of my days. One thing is certain: this beginning has been a long time coming.