Where does it go, the time. During a Pandemic time goes fast and slow. Nothing is as usual – If your work is recognized as essential, you have likely never worked so hard. And if your work is non essential you have other worries. For both, life is surreal.
As we all reset our expectations and plans – we have the opportunity to give thought to all the news briefs we watch. For me, it’s not only the news briefs about how our people are living, or not. But how the natural world is responding to our lessened impact on the Earth. I not only directly witness these responses, but I imagine what it must seem like to the rest of the living things on the planet. Not imagining in an anthropomorphic way, but based on my previous observations and experiences in environments where wildlife exists. Knowing that the deer don’t move as freely during the day, and birds are more quiet when we are in their woods.
Are the deer and others moving more easily in the daytime? Is there less concern for the song the birds sing when we are not too close for their comfort? What about the wolves and grizzly that have begun to move around more in search of food?
What do the changes in animal behavior say about their perception and experience of our behavior in and near their habitat? What could it mean for all of us if we considered these observable impacts on the other beings on the Earth – as a whole experience?
Eighteen months ago, that’s my guess, the county roads of Bozeman Montana began to change in condition and quality. The quiet rural roads that we would drive as a back way in and out of town transitioned to the roads to the next neighborhood. And then the next. Today pastures and farms that were the wide open spaces that surrounded Bozeman are now covered over with homes and new roads that extend from “feeder” roads are no longer quiet country roads. Homes are made from over-night speculative structures presented as some version of Western style, ranch, ranch home, Dwell infused modern or modified craftsman….
I have heard that Bozeman is currently hovering at 105 percent occupancy. Which means to me that either families are waiting on the side of the road to move into their homes, or people are living in places beyond the capacity they were built for. I wonder what the interpreted occupancy of Manhattan would be if this ratio of habitation were considered. A big difference, one of many, between Manhattan and Bozeman is that one is an island with definite boundaries while the other is a large, flat valley floor open for modern speculation. Any thoughtful visions for the future of Bozeman are now run over by the madness that is brought from primarily using real estate as a mode for maximizing profit instead of understanding that what is built becomes the place, that is the town or city we live in. Without greater interest in what makes and becomes community we all lose the significance of the origin of the place we originally came to find.
What is Bozeman to become? As I watch it quickly evolve from a unique western town to a suburban city, outweighed by its ill considered developments of homes and large company stores and franchised retail, I know I can no longer ignore the suburban development homes that were slowly accruing along the fringes a few years ago.
The realtors report that the builders intend to build homes to an 80 percent occupancy before they stop building to maximize their profit in response to the multiple families that are arriving to Bozeman everyday as refugees who gave up hopefulness in their last place. Must we must accept that under considered speculation will mark the future that will be Bozeman? Are we to lose the organic quality of this place which emerged from a slowly brewed vision combined of thoughtful imagining of useful, inspired, integrated, grounded, heartfelt, responsive growth and development that made this small town unique, and often lauded as “one of the best small towns” to live in.
Is this my Not-In-My-Backyard rant? Maybe. The interpretation depends on your alignment with my concern. I am transplant who arrived almost twenty years ago. Bozeman was of course smaller then. There were many things and experiences I missed from larger cities, including those found in Manhattan (NYC). I am not against change, I am not against development or growth. I am against the growth of sameness that plagues so many smaller towns as they grown into small cities, or cities that expand into mega-environments of sameness. The sameness that comes directly from speculation and expansion of large planned retail developments that bring the same universally bland and consumptive exploits found everywhere. I am against the sameness that makes place disappear under commerce and greed. Sameness that makes where we live nowhere instead of somewhere.
Instead of bland speculation as the town of Bozeman takes its last breaths as a small town, can we instead aspire and require that what comes next springs from thoughtfulness, inventiveness, curiosity, inspiration, commitment, collaboration, and care; a place born of the diversity and richness of evolving culture and humanity that rests surrounded by the mountains and rivers and wildlife that brought most of us here in the first place.
Currently reading Jim Harrison’s novella,”The Ancient Minstrel” a piece mostly drawn from Harrison’s later life. In continuation of an earlier blog post I wrote accounts about artists working in multiple art forms Harrison writes specifically of this experience when he stretched beyond writing poetry:
When he started writing prose too, at first it felt like he was committing adultery, but he soon recognized that if he was working on a novel he also wrote more poems. Poetry started the workday. Pasternak told us, “Revise your souls to frenzy.”
I continue to wonder how we make the work whole. It stands together, it stands on its own. The work is what comes of us when we are a part of the world. An expression of relationship
I am trained to be an architect. But the images in my head cannot be stilled. Color in all ways, expression in multiple mediums. This fact has bothered me for quite some time. But then I started looking into the artists I admire. They all work(ed) in multiple mediums. It is only our consumerist tendencies that focus on artist’s expressions in one medium at a time. But if you take the time, you can understand that the work comes all the time, in many different ways. A painting, a collage, a drawing or sculpture. A building or jewelry. The artist does not limit him or herself, we only limit ourselves and the opportunity to fully experience the art made when we focus on a specific medium. It’s all art in the end.
Sometimes we need to learn things more than once in a lifetime. Of course some “lessons” we learn over and over again. In this instance, I am re-learning autocad. And it’s kind of like re-learning how to ride a bike with different gears. Even after twenty years not much in the mechanics of the program have changed.
So watch out you youngsters, cuz I’ll be speeding by you soon. Just need to learn how to shift a few more gears! From concept to spec, I am gaining the power to tell the whole story.
Knowledge is empowerment. A great lesson from Remote Studio.
We all get knocked off center sometimes. We work hard to maintain level. We struggle to retain some quality of pre-knowing because it feels safe. But what does that knowledge and safety add up to?
Perhaps living on the edge is a better place to be. It’s not easy. It’s not comfortable. It certainly doesn’t feel safe. The waves are bigger. But the stars are brighter. The answers lie out there with our imagination.
Inspiration arrives at the unlikeliest of times. Casual and unexpected, we almost pass it by if not paying attention to what is in front of us. And if we ignore the gift we lose it forever. Like lightning bugs in a summer sky inspiration is fleeting. But if we grasp it and hold on for a moment before it leaves we can carry inspiration with us for a bit. But take care, it’s not with us forever. On the way out as it escapes our subconscious we have a moment to decide , take care now, pay attention now before the magic leaves forever. Mark it down. Make it real.
Creativity is always here. Even if we are busy with the rest of life’s needs. It creeps in the Windows, crawls between boards. It will open the door if left unlocked. The beginning of a vision for what we don’t always know. We can push the vision away , and if it keeps returning, pay attention. This one may really need to come into to being.
Why this inspiration and not another? We will never really know. But we can ask ourselves if we are up to the challenge of the translation to reality. We can take inspiration on and change the world, one bit at a time, for the better.