29 June 2016

Now you see me, now you don't: Perspective, metamorphosis, manifestation

So much talk lately about being invisible:

People of color are invisible
Old women are invisible
People in wheelchairs
People in dirty clothes
and so on...

Privilege and oppression.
The cycle feels deeply connected to how, when, why, IF we see the world outside of ourselves.

The other day I was discussing with Sarah Seitz how to proactively cultivate abilities in myself that I currently scorn because they feel rooted in patriarchy. Coldness, dismissal, ambivalence, lack of compassion and general douchebaggery. Could acting in these ways actually improve my relationship with myself and the world, and by extension my relationship to others?

Haven't come to a conclusion on that one yet, and I doubt I will, but I might wear the idea from time to time, much like I might wear a pair of men's pants...not super comfortable but functional for heavy lifting. Generally I prefer dresses. And yoga pants, of course. But I digress.

My point here: as I choose to SEE more and more, as I choose not to let marginalized people be invisible to me, a myriad of unforeseen changes occur in my overall perspective:

I am seeing myself more clearly, becoming acutely aware when tiny lies come out of my mouth. My weight (I weigh 144, not 135.) How I spend my time (too much fb.) The worst lie I tell, all the time, is when I make a bad decision and justify it, to myself or somebody else, knowing that wasn't the real reason why. I'm not gonna beat myself up over any of it. Because I am ceasing to be invisible to myself anymore. It hurts so good.

To my delight, I am quickly crossing the bridge between “seeing” formerly-invisible people to actually connecting with them. I am making more friends of color, of age, of all ages, losing my biases towards children, white people and rich people. Don't judge me. I am in metamorphosis. So are you. I am opening and learning the subtle, powerful difference between “choosing friends” and “obeying rules I didn't agree to.”

And with that, I realize I also have the option NOT to see certain types of people. I can choose, consciously, the same way most of us have chosen, unconsciously, to erase people from my worldview. For example, I can choose not to see people who have been cruel to me. I can choose not to see people who cut me down. I can choose not to see people who refuse to accept me for who I am, people who don't respect my boundaries, people who don't want me to grow. People who don't believe in me.

A metaphor:
When you make a painting, you might sketch it in with a pencil first. Maybe the drawing is clumsy, ill-proportioned, but you get the basic structure. Then you go over it with paint, a quick outline that strengthens the idea. Now you can go in with a thick rubber eraser and rub out all of that sketchy stuff. You clean up the canvas and use a soft brush to dust away the debris so it doesn't screw up the surface texture.

And then you have space. Space for color and form. Space for layers of light and darkness. Space to manifest your original vision, or to let it change. And even though you know those penciled-in lines, those old, awkward decisions, would have eventually been covered, there is a sense of ease that comes from having removed them, knowing they wouldn't be true or necessary to the brilliance and contrast of the final image.

And so, this week I will spend time erasing sketchy lines. Clearing the canvas for color and depth. And being impeccably intentional about who I see, and who I don't.

(An excerpt from my upcoming memoir "Sex, Anarchy & Agriculture: One Woman's Quest for Sustainable Home," by Heather Jo Flores)

Please share if you like it!

Painting : Mandragora by Heather Jo Flores, oil on wood.



Mandragore, Oil on Wood by Heather Jo Flores

18 June 2016

What is Home to You?

Here's an excerpt from Chapter 2 of my new book "Sex, Anarchy & Agriculture; One Woman's Quest for a Sustainable Home":
Home. Home is where the heart is, that's what they say. What does that even mean? My heart is in my body, and my body can't seem to stay in one place for more than a few months. Ok, I know the old saying means home is where your family is, where the people you love, live. But for me those people are spread out all over, and to be honest I wouldn't want to live with most of them anyway.
Home is where the art is. I named an art show that, once. Paintings of semi-idyllic, semi-apocalyptic landscapes. Millennium Gothic. And back to the body. I use my body to make the art, but where do the ideas come from? My brain, also my body? Or somewhere else. I have never been able to settle on a belief system for that one. All I know is that I don't know. Where does the art come from, and where does it go? In my case, everywhere. I have left my art in every house I have ever lived—more than a hundred houses now. My life has taken me to so many places, and I leave a trail of art-crumbs so that my family can find me, in case I get lost in the woods.
I leave the art behind, but my body goes with me, and everything I have done goes back to it. Wherever you go, there you are. Physically. And wherever you find yourself, that's the path. Castaneda talked a lot about the “path with a heart.” Is that the way home, then?
I call it “the destiny of vicinity.” Whatever I find myself around, that's what influences me. That's my path. That's what I do, whom I meet, who I love and fuck and live with. And those relationships influence my thoughts, my feelings, my choices. No man is an island, and women? Even less so.
How about you? Are you at “home”? Or just in a house somewhere? What is the compass you use to navigate your life? How has the placement of your physical body affected your path through the world?

04 June 2016

Get a real job? I have a real job!

A woman said to me recently "Maybe the reason you haven't found a good husband is because you are too sexual. Maybe you should forget about sex, contribute to the gene pool, and get a real job like the rest of us."

Or maybe the fact that we live in a world where one woman would say that to another is exactly why my work (as an unmarried childfree self-employed feminist who is at ease with her sexuality and not afraid to say it) is important? Women like me were burned alive for 500 years. Women like me are still being murdered for our beliefs, all over the world. Women like me have been scorned and marginalized for long enough. Women like me owe it to the women who have gone before us to be true to ourselves, and to speak out.

Forget about sex? Never. If anything, the more promiscuous I become with my thoughts, my ideas, the more promiscuous my body wants to be. You don't care about sex? No problem. But if you love it, if you know in your heart that your life has unfolded largely because of your pursuit of sexual pleasure and sexual love, then I am here to encourage you. As for that husband I seek? I will find one who loves and accepts me completely, for everything I am, or I will die trying.

And shame? You can shove your shame where the sun don't shine. Use lube, it feels better that way. 

29 March 2016

TIGERS don't lie.
They might lie in wait.
Sometimes maybe they lie around.
But they don't tell stories.
They don't omit the truth.
They live an honest life:
either they eat you
or they don't.

Elephants remember,
or so they say.
I imagine it would be hard to forget
all of those terrible things
that happened to them.
I wonder,
do they create their own reality
with all of those negative thoughts, 
those miserable memories?

Monsters don't dance
unless nobody is watching,
and then they can be quite graceful,
those knobby scaled toes,
just as light as a leaf on the wind.

--Heather Jo Flores, Spring 2016

09 March 2016

This is for You

This is for the women who love your bodies.
This is for the women who hate your bodies.

I never met anyone who didn't notice my boobs.
I never had a lover who didn't adore.
I never thought it was right to apologize for my appearance,
 and yet I have,
 I do,
 I will again.

Everybody I meet has something that makes them insecure.
Everyone I know wants to love and be loved.
Everyone I encounter lives in stretchy, mutable skin.

This is for the women who want to be loved for your minds.
This is for the women who don't mind being loved for your bodies, too.
This is for the women living in a world where pornographic sex is expected of you.
This is for the women who enjoy pornographic sex.

This is for the babies who are born with girl parts but feel like boys.
This is for the boys who eschew male privilege to live as women.
This is for the people who feel trapped inside someone else's body.

This is for the women who love your bodies but hate yourselves sometimes.
This is for the men who love women but treat them like a commodity, sometimes.
This is for the people who want to change but don't know how.

I'm getting older but I'm in the best shape of my life.
I'm getting older and the skin on my belly is starting to wrinkle and sag.
I'm getting older and I just realized I was beautiful.
I'm getting older and I'm afraid that age will destroy my beauty.

This is for my sisters who bear stretchmarks and love your children.
This is for the women who don't have any children.

This is for the fat girls who worked your asses off to get skinny.
This is for the skinny girls who wish you had a bigger butt.
This is for the fat girls who do yoga every day.
This is for the skinny girls who think you're fat.

This is for the people who use your bodies to grow food,
 to dance,
 to play with dogs and chase birds on the beach.

This is for the people whose bodies are broken.
This is for the people whose bodies are imprisoned,
 either behind bars or in relationships that hurt.

This is for all that is temporary,
 made of blood and bone.

This is a call to action:
 Raise your arms into the sky!
 Open your eyes as wide as you can!
 Slap yourself in the face!
 Stick out your tongue!
The only thing you own is you.

 --Heather Jo Flores, March 2016
#heatherjoflores #loveyourself #ownit

10 February 2016

The Universe, a semi-fictional fragment

The Universe by Heather Jo Flores

“I have the universe inside my pussy.”

Annie Rose looked at me like I was out of my mind, then burst out laughing.

“Go ahead and laugh,” I said, “Get it out of your system. 
And then I want you to look at it for me.”

Annie Rose stopped laughing and looked nervously around the cafe. It was a popular breakfast joint and every table was full. She looked into my eyes and saw that I was serious. She leaned in closer.
“What are you talking about?” she whispered.

I told her everything I could remember about it, how I had been having cramps and feeling light-headed, dizzy and euphoric, how I had been masturbating obsessively for weeks. I just turned forty so I thought maybe it was some sort of pre-menopause symptom. But then one day I put a finger inside myself and received a tiny electric shock, like putting your tongue on a battery.

“That was probably just static electricity,” laughed Annie Rose in the cafe.

“I don't think so,” I told her, “let me tell you the rest.” I told her about what had happened with Alex. We hadn't been dating for long, and I already knew he loved to eat pussy, but lately he hadn't been able to stop. It was like he was in a trance. All he wanted to do was look at it, smell it, taste it. Ironically, I couldn't even enjoy it. I was annoyed by it and I had to stop seeing him. He was a man possessed. It wasn't me he loved, it was just my supernaturally-electrified pussy.

And then there were the dreams. I dreamed I was Lilith, flying through the sky, visiting nocturnal emissions upon naughty young men. I dreamed I was a meteor in the shape of a woman, birthing stars out my ass as I hurtled through space at a trillion miles an hour. I dreamed of legacy, desire and vindication. I dreamed of fire and chaos and transformation. I dreamed that the milky way was semen on the belly of a lady beast, and that our solar system was a half-blown kiss from one dimension to its beloved other.

And still my pussy wouldn't stop tingling. For weeks I walked around in the midst of an extended orgasm, and I was having a hard time getting any work done. One day I went home and spread my legs in front of a mirror. I propped myself up against the couch and shined a flashlight into myself so I could see what was going on.

My pussy shined bright lights right back at me.

Planets and stars and galaxies, nebulous clusters of infinite wonder.


I thought I was going crazy, so I called my therapist but when she asked me what was wrong, all I could do was laugh like a lunatic. I couldn't tell her. I didn't want her to call in the men in white coats to lock me up. So I shot some video on my phone. I thought about putting it up on youtube but instead I just showed it to Annie Rose, across the table at that crowded diner.

I wrote this after spending four months devouring books by Helene Cixous, Clarice Lispector and Franz Kafka. I enjoyed Cixous and Lispector for their abstractions, their fearless tangents and poetic meanderings. I loved Kafka for the fact that he seemed to eschew any obligation to finish a story. So much of his work is just fragments, moments in time that leave the reader to her own imagination. During this time I also read Taisha Abelar's The Sorcerer's Crossing, in which one of her teachers bares her vagina and Taisha sees the universe. And so this story, a fragment, came from all of that, and represents the type of writing I would like to do much more of in the near future.

16 January 2016

The Heroine's Journey

Here is a critical and personal essay that I wrote as part of my MFA thesis. Let me know what you think!

The Heroine's Journey, Towards an Ecofeminist Storycraft
by Heather Jo Flores

The mystery of human destiny is not that we are fated, but that we have the freedom to fulfill or not fulfill our fate: realization of our fated destiny depends on us. While inhuman beings like the cockroach realize the entire cycle without going astray, because they make no choices.”
--Clarice Lispector, 
The Passion According to G.H. p. 129
It may be that the human race is not ready for freedom. The air of liberty may be too rarefied for us to breathe...The paradox seems to be, as Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.” 
--Steven Pressfield, The War of Art, p. 37

The Hero's Journey

Most of us have heard of the hero's journey, and many of us have used the formula for our work. From storytellers to salespeople, the classic archetype of the hero, as he travels from catalyst to climax and conclusion, is a metaphor for the transformation that most people want to achieve. We all want to improve our lives, to become better people, to succeed. But what about the Heroine's Journey? Here I present an analysis of the classic formula, through a feminist lens. My intention is not to negate the archetype, but rather to enhance it and to offer an alternative for myself and others to use as we forge our stories and, by extension, our lives. My purpose is to present some questions, many of which do not have concrete answers. I ask the reader to be okay with this, to let the questions just be questions, and to allow this atmosphere of inquiry to shape the journey. Let us begin.

05 December 2015

Love, life and annihilation

My favorite poem, by Tom Clark:

Like musical instruments
Abandoned in a field
The parts of your feelings

Are starting to know a quiet
The pure conversion of your
Life into art seems destined

Never to occur

You don’t mind
You feel spiritual and alert

As the air must feel
Turning into sky aloft and blue
You feel like

You’ll never feel like touching anything or anyone
And then you do


To experience deep romantic Love, you have to be willing to risk annihilation. It takes a hero (heroine) to truly trust somebody. No risk means no Love, ever.
And if they annihilate you, you realize that in all of those pieces, scattered around the floor, lie millions of tiny jewels that had been hidden deep inside of yourself.
You pick them up, cradle them in your hands. They are beautiful, and they are yours. 
Now go and build something with them. Something magnificent. 
Then do it all again. Risk it. Annihilate yourself. More jewels, infinite treasure for a lifetime of trying and loving and learning.
And then, eventually, death. 
I would rather die trying than die running. I would rather die building than die tearing apart somebody else's carefully constructed masterpiece. I will never give up, and my fingers in the soil, the seeds in my hand, they are the jewels I will always have, a never ending abundance for all the world to share.
Photo by Miri Stebivka

23 November 2015

Expanding and the journey continues...

Several days in the forest and I feel healed. I dreamt of barn owls and rattlesnakes, slept in the back of my truck in a grove of white oak and manzanita. So many things to think about, so many ways to grow. 
I wove a basket from willow and usnea. Made earrings from buffalo teeth, turquoise, deerskin and bone. I gathered madrone berries and strung them like a rosary to give to someone I love. 
But can I learn to love without any fear whatsoever? 
To be present instead of patient?
To say yes to all forms of love, rather than rejecting that which does not fit into my heart-shaped box?
Can I expand without breaking, stretch without giving up? 
How do you know when you are loving someone in the very best way for both of you? How do you love someone all the way through, past the judgment and expectations, past the ill-fated fantasies about who you want them to be?
Tomorrow I head South and then East, probably passing through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas on my way to Louisiana. NOLA, I'm coming for you! 

Decolonizing Permaculture: Bridging the Gap Between Privilege and Oppression

 Bridging the Gap Between Privilege and Oppression; 
Navigating an Uneven Terrain

As Published in issue #98 of Permaculture Design Magazine

First of all, I want to say that I do not represent anyone but myself, and though I have vetted this article with several peers and mentors, I do not presume to know the needs and desires of anyone else. However, it seems to me that there are ripples of injustice coursing through the permaculture community, manifesting as a pattern of landowners and/or self-proclaimed leaders doing things that hurt, offend, oppress, and devalue others. These behaviors discredit the permaculture movement at large, and unless we can overcome them, our ultimate goal of sharing a true and authentic sustainability will remain far out of reach.

We can whisper the names of the beasts: racism, sexism, ageism, xenophobia, misogyny, hate, fear, anger... we all experience these things from time to time, and we see the resulting backlash and judgmental attitudes. Perhaps it is the willingness to play the superior that is the root of the problem? Self-righteousness is certainly not a principle of permaculture, and yet we divide ourselves so easily, bickering over the details and competing for resources.

I recognize that these issues need to be studied and dealt with through an intersectional lens. Nothing is separate from the other. But for me, the central problem that divides the permaculture community is class. It seems to me that the unequal distribution of wealth and opportunity, while often connected to the other -isms, is at the core of many of the bad (poorly designed) dynamics in our community. Not to say that racism, sexism, ageism and other -isms don’t cause problems, but ultimately it is the control and ownership of money and property that allows people to abuse their other privileges.

15 November 2015

Gratitude = Survival

Been crying all day. 
For my own fragile heart. 
For Paris. 
For Beirut and Mississippi and Africa and Mexico and Portland and everyone else who keeps getting hurt by all the rage and inequality and sorrow that seems to thrive in this beautifully flawed world. 
I have been crying all day today and all day yesterday. Somebody broke my heart. 
I'll get over it. 
Somebody broke your heart too, I bet. And together brokenhearted we have to try and cry again. 
Does peace = death? Probably. I don't mind. 
Does gratitude = survival? 
Tomorrow, we will try again. 

23 October 2015

Permaculture, sustainability, activist, community, and other words we hide behind...

I'm gonna stop using the words "permaculture," "sustainability," "liberal," "activist," "community," "movement," etc. 
So much rhetoric, so little time. I feel like I have used these words in the past to obscure the raw fact that I need to be loved. Not in a sexual way (ok that too!) but LOVED in that myriad of other ways.
Yesterday I was hanging out with a dear friend and her three year old son, Oliver. He was trying to make a point to us and said "Well I NEED a Mommy and a Daddy!" I was struck by his unabashed willingness to declare that he NEEDED people to help take care of him. I was like: Heck Yes Ollie! I NEED that TOO!! 
I call myself a feminist, and to me that means I have sovereignty over my own life. It means that I get to choose what I do, how I think, what I feel, and who I spend my time with. It also means that I have a responsibility to make those choices with care, intention, and the knowledge that, while a choice may seem like the perfect opportunity at one moment, later it might reveal itself as a hard lesson in disguise. 
I'm going back to using words like Home, Food, People, Friends, Family. Love. Need. Hunger. Help. 
I am going back to feeling comfortable being vulnerable. I love you. I need you. It's simple, human, honest. I think it's gorgeous.
What are the words that you hide behind? More so:
What have you got to lose by being vulnerable? Do we all have to be so tough all the time? Can you need me? Can we be hopeful in the world together, gardening and sharing stories, because we both need and enjoy that experience, rather than because we think we have to save somebody or fix something?
Can now be enough?

06 October 2015

Women, Gossip and Solidarity

When I was in my 20's, I had a lot of strong women friends. We had a sort of solidarity but there was always the subtle competition, backstabbing and gossip, and sometimes even to an extreme.

It hurt.

I perpetrated it myself, and I was also victim to it.

And then I started studying Flamenco with Martita Santiago​. The class was always full of women who were so devastatingly beautiful. And Martita insisted that we love each other. She had no tolerance for gossip or catty behavior.

She said, "when a more beautiful girl walks into the room, that's HER moment. You shine your light on her, give her your power so she can shine too. Your moment will come soon enough." And so there we all were, everyone thinking the other was more beautiful, shining our lights at each other all night long.

Over time, I learned to embody that love and solidarity.

Now, 15 years later, I see something magical happening between myself and the other fabulous women I know. We ENCOURAGE each other to be more beautiful, more powerful, more successful than ourselves. We lift each other up. It's just GORGEOUS to feel that authentic solidarity, to participate in it, and to forgive myself for being such an asshole when I was a kid.

This one goes out to the women I have known for years, who have somehow stuck it out with me, no matter what. And to the women I have more recently met, who don't care which of us is younger or hotter or smarter, because we all know that our strength is in the perseverance of our unconditional love for ourselves and each other. RRRAAAR!

(photo by Lauren Howland​)

16 February 2015

Grief, Self-Love, and Healing Emotional Trauma with Food, Yoga and Art.

By Heather Jo Flores
February 2015

For many years of my life, I thought I had depression. I would spend days at a time crying, eating, sleeping and hating myself for having no control over the process. I sabotaged relationships and hated my family and the world for what had been done to me. I tried different kinds of therapy but held a general disdain for it. I never tried pharmaceuticals, but I dabbled in many forms of self medication.

Grief, by Heather Jo Flores. Oil on canvas.
And then a few years ago, I did some reading about Complex PTSD and a lot of what I read lined up with what I had experienced. I realized that I wasn't suffering because of a chemical imbalance in my brain, I was creating the chemical imbalance through denial, negative thought patterns, self-abuse (weed, binge-eating, bad boys). And when I finally identified the cause, deeply rooted in a failure to properly grieve several traumatic losses…I was able to begin a healing process.

A big part of that process was about learning how to grieve. My grief wasn't associated with the death of a loved one. It was associated with the loss of other things:
  • My opportunity for a peaceful childhood (absent father, negligent mother, you know the story.)
  • My wasted time spent screwing things up for myself as a young adult.
  • My failed relationships with lovers and friends.
These things, compounded by my years spent as an envrionmental activist and the pain that comes from witnessing firsthand the devastation of the planet, had sent me into a downward spiral of grief, and I had never taken the time to really deal with it.

And so, since I had just started grad school when these realizatons occurred, I focused most of my MFA on using art, music and movement to overcome trauma associated with loss. I learned a lot of amazing stuff. If you can relate to my story, perhaps these suggestions will help you. I will just give you a handful of ideas so please, don't give yourself any excuses not to try them!

05 February 2015

Inspirations, Preoccupations…Why I do the things I do

By Heather Jo Flores, July 2014, an excerpt from MFA Graduate Thesis:

Interdisiciplinary art can be seen as a bridge between contradictory ideas, and as a vehicle for finding unity, commonality and connection. My critical inquiries stem from a lifelong set of preoccupations around ideas associated with monstrosity, metamorphosis and transformation, and how those phenomena are connected to place, body and art making. I will elaborate briefly a few points below:

The de-vilification of women, nature and the unknown. My previous work as an organic farmer and environmental activist taught me that mainstream culture is terrified of that which it cannot understand. This fear leads to oppression and destruction, and much of my creative and intellectual inquiry has been guided by a desire to reconcile those fears, in myself and others. This was the primary inspiration for my work with the Heroine's Journey, which resulted in a 10,000-word critical essay that analyzed hero-based storytelling and presented feminist alternatives. By nature, these feminist perspectives could also be considered eco-feminist, as I found it impossible to separate the attitudes that oppress women from those that dominate and control nature.

15 January 2015

Taming the Beast

hungry monster, born
feast of folly and form
I write with my body
naked and warm
I sing with my face,
I scream at the the storm
terrified of pleasure
fat-nourished by shame
this beast is my burden
one and the same
a leviathan of truth
nobody to blame
my hands are the cauldron
my spirit, the flame

From 2012 thru 2014, I was in grad school, an MFA program in Interdisciplinary Arts. My primary areas of study started with creative writing and land art. But quickly I realized that the real thing I needed to learn was how to overcome the negative self-talk that was serving as a massive block to my overall creativity. I dove into a study of trauma recovery, connecting that to a daily yoga practice, and responding with my writing and artwork. This poem and painting are from the intro to my final MFA portfolio. I will be posting more excerpts and artworks from that portfolio over the next few weeks. Let me know what you think!

Food Not Lawns book excerpt: Make Time for What You Love


The ancient Mayan calendar followed the cycles of Venus, the first and brightest star in the sky. Our modern clock and calendar system is based on the movements of the Earth and her moon. However, these heavenly bodies never return to the exact same place twice. They rotate, they orbit, they speed up and slow down, but they do not do these things the same way every time. Because of this, the tools we use to document the passage of time must fudge the truth into predictable, repeating cycles, which are programmed into machines and printed out years ahead. 

Billions of people organize their lives around this little ruse, and see the passage of time as a straight line from birth to death. Any little quiver, any bump on this long and narrow road is seen as a perversion, an unlikely superstition best reserved for mad scientists and acid heads. But nothing in nature moves in a straight line, and time is no exception. 

02 April 2014

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Revisited

I have always loved collage as a means of working through thoughts and ideas. We did a session at the Goddard residency a few weeks back and I think I speak for everyone in the room when I say that it helped us all to formulate our study plans for the semester.

One of the images I have always wanted to collage is the proverbial Virgin of Guadalupe that we see on everything from candles to bottles of wine.

I started by printing out a few versions of the classic image from the web. Then I piled up colorful pages from a stack of old National Geographic magazines. I sketched a basic outline on the panel, and spent the next two days high on glue.

I will probably seal it with several coats of good old-fashioned modge lodge. (later note: I shouldn't have done the modge podge, it caused some rippling and it would have been bette rot just frame the collage under glass. Live and learn!)

Here is the final result…

04 June 2012

Village Building at the Ujima Center

Stage 1 of the prep: Garden boxes have been ripped out.
When Susanna Low-Beer first asked me if I wanted to do something for the Village Building Convergence (VBC,) I said No. For the last several years I have been trying to transition out of my role as a permaculture teacher/leader and someone who goes gardening for other people. I have wanted to focus on writing and creative arts, and to keep the landwork to my own space at home. It just works better for me that way.

But when Susie suggested I take on her front yard, I couldn't resist. I have known her for years and that front yard has always been a pretty big mess. Not to say that it wasn't functional. She had rain barrels out there, catching water, and two large raised boxes for growing vegetables and strawberries. She had lovely little ceramic pots full of succulents all over the porch, and decorative things hanging above.

Work in progress. It happened fast!
The problem was aesthetics. Those blue plastic rain barrels are hideous! And the little pots on the porch were attractive enough on their own, but scattered around, they looked cluttered and made it impossible to sit anywhere. And the boxes? Ugh. I have never liked the way raised beds look. So weird to garden in a box like that when you could just garden in the ground.

I mean, this is her front door we are talking about! The portal to her life. I talked about this a bit before, when I was working on my own porch. But for Susie's house it was especially important because she is creating a permaculture education center there and frequently hosts parties and events.

20 May 2012

Placemaking at Home and Outward

Much of my work in the past, with Food not Lawns and before that, with Food not Bombs, Earth First and Greenpeace, could have been called placemaking, though we didn't use the word at the time. The first time I heard of "placemaking" was when I attended Portland City Repair's first Village Building Convergence in 2002. By then, Food Not Lawns had been actively place-making our neighborhood in Eugene for 3 years, and we were thrilled to find a group of people who were so well-organized toward the vision of natural, thriving neighborhoods where people share resources in friendship-based community.

Truly, the concept of placemaking has been in play since long before I started doing activist work. For as long as humans have existed, we have created spaces for ourselves to dwell, work, socialize, and share needs and resources. 

My current survey of ecorevelatory arts has led me into a renewed foray into the idea of placemaking, and though I haven't had time to dive too deep, the study warrants a bit of sharing.

17 May 2012

Portal to the Self

When I was living in Granada, I was always noticing the beautiful doors, and contemplating the way our front doors are portals to our lives. For ourselves, as we pass in and out of our homes, and for everyone who comes to visit, as a first impression of the way we choose to live.

I moved into my new place in Portland in mid February. It is a sweet little studio--a "mother-in-law" unit on the side of a house owned by a friend.

There is a huge yard, which was overgrown and needed care (here's the post on that project)

I have a tiny private porch, but when I moved in it was dirty and dingy, peeling paint and junk piled below.

So I decided to attempt a simplified version at home. Minus the killer tilework, marble slabs, and religious etchings! I had a box of leftover paints in a rainbow of bright colors. I tried to channel the Moorish influence, with a little Oregon circus mixed in.

16 May 2012

Renaissance Woman; an Interdisciplinary Life

When I was  teenager I heard the term "Renaissance Man," and I determined that I would be a Renaissance woman. I guess I am a cheesy romantic fool, but nowadays the more commonly used term is "interdisciplinary artist."

Recently a friend wrote to me on facebook, “I play music every day, do a painting once a week, write once a month and do activism and scholarship sporadically.”

I was like, wow that makes so much sense! I adjusted it to suit my own goals and practice:

I will write every day, make a new song once a week, paint once a month and do activism and scholarship sporadically.

I am an interdisciplinary artist. What does that mean, you ask?

15 May 2012

Photographer? Me?

I got a bunch of books from the library about photography. I was instantly overwhelmed with all of the details, the f-stops and light exposure and aperture. Sheez! The mathematical klutz side of my mind rebelled against the details. And yet I live such a photogenic life. And so I shoot zillion of photos and hope for a lucky moment. Here are a few of those lucky moments from the last few years. These are untouched, currently, but I am learning more about photoshop and may decide to play with some of these images and maybe make a coffeetable book?!?
Bulls Blood


14 May 2012

Top 5 Books About Writing

The more I study, the more I work and garden and interact with people, the more I travel and learn and play music, the more it becomes clear to me that my central identity is that of a writer. If the way I am remembered is as a bringer of stories, then I will consider that a life well spent.

These are the books that I return to again and again when I need inspiration, motivation, or a new perspective on what it means to be a writer. Find these books, read them and do the exercises they recommend. And let us give voice to ourselves and each other!

Top 5 Books About Writing

1. Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

2. On Writing by Stephen King

3. Telling Lies for Fun and Profit by Lawrence Block

4. Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg

5. The Right to Write by Julia Cameron

29 April 2012

The Smallest Artists?

Biologist Eshel Ben-Jacob was trying to find cures for diseases when he realized that even pathogenic bacteria makes creative, beautiful patterns in the petrie dish.

This Science Daily article goes into more detail about Eshel's work. I would like to take some of these images and transfer them to a giant wall mural. Wouldn't that be amazing?

And this is even more amazing!

Other people have started to use bacteria as a medium for painting. I find this fascinating. I have never been in a laboratory in my life and the idea that art and science are so closely linked makes me really happy! Turns out we are not all so different, after all ;-)

This artist made an image of Ophelia Floating in a Petri Dish and asked people to call in and read poems to the art while it bubbled away there in the lab. What a bizarre and haunting piece of living artwork!