Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A summit for rural art

This is being written in the bedroom of a student apartment on the University of Minnesota's campus in Morris, MN. I'm here attending the Rural Arts and Culture Summit, thanks to support provided by the East Central Regional Arts Council. The theme of this year's summit is From the Ground Up: Cultivating Creative People and Places.

Awareness of the role of the arts in rural development, economic development and sustainable living has grown. My roommate in the apartment is the founder of several urban organic agricultural organizations, among other creative endeavors. I'm becoming more and more convinced that our contemporary national culture has focused too much on individual specialization as the way to expertise, and we need to learn, or relearn, how to do much better at holistic thinking and living. Look at it this way: are your healthy if all your systems are functioning normally, except for the lung cancer? How is that different than our focus on making money (profits) and economic growth. You might have guessed I'd be thinking this way if you noticed the link to the steady-state economy blog on the side bar.

sunrise from my window on campus
sunrise from my window on campus
Photo by J. Harrington
Well, I need to go and try to find a cup of coffee somewhere. You'd think that a rural, agricultural campus would be more accommodating for early-rising coffee drinkers. At least I think it should be.

A Room in the Past

By Ted Kooser 
It’s a kitchen. Its curtains fill
with a morning light so bright   
you can’t see beyond its windows   
into the afternoon. A kitchen   
falling through time with its things   
in their places, the dishes jingling   
up in the cupboard, the bucket   
of drinking water rippled as if
a truck had just gone past, but that truck   
was thirty years. No one’s at home   
in this room. Its counter is wiped,   
and the dishrag hangs from its nail,   
a dry leaf. In housedresses of mist,   
blue aprons of rain, my grandmother   
moved through this life like a ghost,   
and when she had finished her years,   
she put them all back in their places
and wiped out the sink, turning her back   
on the rest of us, forever. 

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