Monday, September 28, 2015

Artfully localizing our economies

I hope you enjoyed the super-moon / blood-moon eclipse last night. Since the next one won't occur until 2033, it was a historical event but, from what I could see of the aesthetics, both in person and in photos, it may have been over rated just a bit (or a lot). [According to Neil deGrasse Tyson, "The size of today’s [yesterday's] “Super” moon is to next month’s full moon as a 16.07 inch pizza is to a 16.00 inch pizza.] It did present me with an overdue opportunity to spend time with my camera and manuals and improve my familiarity with my equipment by about 25%. I'm pleased with that and don't intend to wait until 2033 to further my knowledge about how to use different buttons and switches to improve my photos. No matter how well I learn about my camera, though, I still need to find a better way to get butterflies and birds to hold still longer while I release the shutter.

last night's half-eclipsed "super" moon
last night's half-eclipsed "super" moon
Photo by J. Harrington

Something else I learned about this weekend is that there is such a thing as a "fibershed." It exists as a non-profit organization and an art exhibit, and who, other than Google or Bing, knows what else. A search of the web site of the Textile Center of Minnesota yielded no results for fibershed. That may just mean there's an opportunity there. All of this intrigues me because I also discovered recently that Minnesota seems to have a growing number of artisanal bakers and local suppliers of artisan grains. I'm thinking they belong in some of our local "foodsheds." Do you ever wonder how much Minnesota already has going on as localized economies develop that are hidden in plain sight? I was particularly interested in local grains and artisan bread. An internet search quickly found these resources (two of which are very local):

local sour dough bread
local sour dough bread
Photo by J. Harrington

Minnesota has a noteworthy and growing national reputation in literary circles thanks to The Loft and our excellent non-profit presses. We now have the Legacy Fund and a growing reputation in local arts development. Combine these with the increasing development of artisanal businesses, including local foods, and if I'm not careful, I could start to get excited about the possibilities for growing local economies in Minnesota, even on the Iron Range. The more of us that have a stake in our local area, environment and economy, the more of us there are to protect them all. We might even start some economic gardening.

Art vs. Trade

By James Weldon Johnson
Trade, Trade versus Art,
Brain, Brain versus Heart;
Oh, the earthiness of these hard-hearted times,   
When clinking dollars, and jingling dimes,   
Drown all the finer music of the soul.

Life as an Octopus with but this creed,
That all the world was made to serve his greed;
Trade has spread out his mighty myriad claw,
And drawn into his foul polluted maw,
The brightest and the best,   
Well nigh,
Has he drained dry,
The sacred fount of Truth;   
And if, forsooth,
He has left yet some struggling streams from it to go,
He has contaminated so their flow,
That Truth, scarce is it true.

Poor Art with struggling gasp,
Lies strangled, dying in his mighty grasp;
He locks his grimy fingers ’bout her snowy throat so tender.   
Is there no power to rescue her, protect, defend her?   
Shall Art be left to perish?
Shall all the images her shrines cherish
Be left to this iconoclast, to vulgar Trade?

Oh, that mankind had less of Brain and more of Heart,   
Oh, that the world had less of Trade and more of Art;   
Then would there be less grinding down the poor,   
Then would men learn to love each other more;   
For Trade stalks like a giant through the land,   
Bearing aloft the rich in his high hand,
While down beneath his mighty ponderous tread,   
He crushes those who cry for daily bread.

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Please be kind to each other while you can.