The Scything Handbook: Learn How to Cut Grass, Mow Meadows and Harvest Grain by Hand

The Scything Handbook is one more on a string of beautiful, helpful (and once common) pearls that can help save us from a debilitating fate as mere “consumers,” and restore us to our birthrights as participants in creation. Full disclosure here, I know the author Ian. We’re teaching a class together in Oregon this August (info and registration here), and I also wrote the forward to his book, which is brief, clear, and as simple as a clean cut with a sharp blade — an ideal starting place if you’re interested in giving up your stinky, noisy mowing machine and replacing it with an old-world scythe.…

The Value of Water

The thirsty drink water from a bowl made of mountains, hills, and trees…

In the rural area where I lived for 20 years — and throughout Oregon, as well as elsewhere — “watershed management” has become a common term. Farmers and ranchers compete with urbanites and salmon for water to feed us all. The media call them “water wars,” but without water, no one eats and no one “wins.” If the salmon lose, we lose too. The issue looms ever larger: climate change, population growth, and an economy on the verge of collapse. Fear makes it hard to manage anything, but we try.…

Bill Coperthwaite & the Arts of Culture

A review of A Man Apart, Bill Coperthaite’s Radical Experiment in Living, by Peter Forbes & Helen Whybrow

A Man Apart, Bill Coperthaite’s Radical Experiment in Living, by Peter Forbes & Helen Whybrow

I met Bill Coperthwaite in 2007. I had recently read his book, A Hand Made Life, and was deeply impressed by his stories and practice, and the way he was trying to live out an answer to questions that, by our denial of them, define our culture:

“Can you have ‘culture’ without violence?”

“Is beauty useful?”

“Are justice, democracy, and peace possible if most all of our technologies require violence?”

Like Gandhi, Bill figured that whatever he could make for himself meant less dependence on an imperial master, but where Gandhi lived with hundreds of others in an ashram in India, Bill lived alone on a couple of hundred acres in Northern Maine, at the end of a mile and a half footpath.…

Dig Your Hands in the Dirt — More!: a collection of stories

For a collection of stories to follow-up/add on to Dig Your Hands in the Dirt, take a look at this site, put together by Georgie Donais, which includes stories from:

Bill & Athena Steen Candy Vanderhoff Daniel Frenkel/Chelsea Sprauer Ed Raduazo Georgie Donais Janine Björnson jonah vitale-wolff Kat Sawyer Kiko Denzer Nobuho Nagasawa Rainer Warzecha Sasha Rabin PROJECT stories include: Albany Free School oven Always Becoming Bambo Dome Beauty and utility Dufferin Grove Park Earthworks Projects Introduction/afterword Makunaima Poetry Bench Portable cob White Crane Springs Community Garden Woodburn High School CONTRIBUTORS’ WEBSITES Always Becoming, Washington City Repair, Portland Cob in the park, Toronto Interglotz eARThworks, Berlin Nobuho Nagasawa’s Earthworks Rebuilding Together, San Francisco OTHER LINKS OF INTEREST Poetry bench Djenne: West Africa’s Eternal City Gran quivira oven Arrested Development: inspired the book’s title Hand Print Press…

Tribal Genealogical Patterns: A Universal Language?

[download this pattern as an envelope design here]

’the folk has thus preserved, without understanding, the remains of old traditions that go back sometimes to the indeterminably distant past, to which we can only refer as “prehistoric”…’ Had the folk beliefs not indeed once been understood, we could not now speak of them as metaphysically intelligible, or explain the accuracy of their formulation.

Ananda Coomaraswamy, “The Nature of ‘Folklore’ & ‘Popular Art,’” Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society, 27, Bangalore, 1936.

 

Carl Schuster, a little-known art historian, spent about thirty years of his working life wandering the world, often by foot, talking to traditional (or “primitive”) people in remote places, collecting and/or recording the things they made, or that their ancestors had made.…

Living More with Less

We’ve been attending a local fellowship consisting of an interesting mix of Mennonite families (almost all of whom have left agriculture for more “professional” pursuits), as well as baptists, quakers, and a bunch of folks I won’t try to categorize. Many of them are self-employed, live fairly simply, and try to uphold basic principles of love and justice. We sing and share potluck every week. That, to me, is the essence of “learning by doing,” and as such means much more to me than any creed. And I’m filling in a big gap in my education, which didn’t cover this whole realm that makes up one of the central traditions of the Western cultures that spawned all my ancestors.…

A Work of Art: Rediscovering a Way of Working for Beauty

Stories and lessons learned about the hows and whys of living by a traditional understanding of art — not as object, but as activity, as a way of life. Included are essays about principles of design, measure, and proportion, as well as social and economic aspects of working as an artist — earning money, working for community, teaching, learning…. You can read it in it’s entirety below, and download it free or buy a paper copy ($20, full color, w/photos) through the bookstore. There’s also a forum at theworkofart.org.

The ideas aren’t new but, like seeds, they must be adapted to each environment, and they only live on if we plant, tend, harvest, and share them: We engage in the work of art when we fit our unique and individual selves into a whole life and landscape, into our communities, into our common stories.…