Friday, March 31, 2023

inside the creative continuum


Even with fresh snow on the ground this morning, the serene calm of winter has already been punctured and the spring rush of new staff, new lambs, new plants bursts into being with such rigor that I’m still surprised by it every year. The cycles of life and death on the farm seem exposed with heightened relief: the snowdrops blooming with the ever growing pile of junk on the burn pile behind them, the attempt to start making space in our deep freezer for an aggressive ram that needs to be culled while also witnessing new life in the lambing pen. The aged and the innocent seem odd bedfellows everywhere I look. It’s a brutal and delicate time of year. High contrast.

Senior farm staff arrived this week; Zoe, Claire, Nahvae, Esteban and most of our work is the deep cleaning, organizing and systems creation that will allow for the gentle onboarding of new farmhands next week and the arrival of the first residents in May. It’s a frenzied slog through the detritus of former years. Old inadequate structure being torn down (literally in some cases) and re-jigged for our biggest year yet. 

I stopped reading the news a few weeks ago and remember how much better I do when I’m disconnected from it and can focus on the materially entrenched matters within my control (or illusion of) here on the farm. The burgeoning politics of this place need all my attention. We play at world building; but it is also serious labor. We create a chore wheel, rules, our food system, our rituals. The people here are some of the hardest workers I’ve known - an observation that feels balanced with the absolute luxury and pleasure we experience when we stop for a coffee and sit and imagine how we want to live this season. Because we can have it however we want it. 

For example, I want homemade aioli in the staff fridge at all times, a short Greek tragedy comedy performed on the hill. I don’t want to do chores for a while. I want water conservation in general and rain collection for showers and irrigation in the lower campus. Someone else wants group fitness, someone wants synchronized dancing. One of us is wanting more rigid kitchen rules. Someone wants a sound system in the lambing barn. 

This kind of creative freedom is something many of us have worked very hard for and I realize the stark contrast between labor and luxury has been tied up in the mechanisms and ethos of Worlds End since the beginning. I want everyone who comes here - students, residents, farmhands, or day-trippers - to see what we’re up to and be inspired to world-build for themselves. I want to help people understand that their creative practice can suffuse so many areas of their lives. My creative practice for example is floral design yes, it’s color, its texture, it’s hospitality, it’s my relationships with animals. It’s eating it’s listening it’s reading it’s relating. But it’s also work, it is a practice and sometimes it’s getting stuck in the mud (literally) and solving for a frozen barn door and other times its the high of an enjoyable flow of making something beautiful. I try not to cling to one or the other but experience the continuum with humor and as few curse words as necessary. 

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