November 18, 2018

Design in Oppression

Design in Oppression
By Rowan Willow
Nogales
November 13, 2018 


Visiting the border fence in Nogales, Arizona brought up a lot of troubling and conflicted feelings for most of us. Even though the fence is a consistent political issue in contemporary American life, one that is constantly being discussed on the news, social media, and in our everyday lives, many of us had never seen it. While we can have a theoretical view of deeply complex political issues based on how much we know, and how we process these layers of information, I doubt many political issues have such a concrete physical manifestation as this fence and the other historical walls built to keep people out. One immediate impression of the fence is that it is aesthetically pleasing. The way it dissects the clear blue sky, the linear shadows settling themselves across the topography of the environment, and the snakelike creeping of it along the dramatic hills of Nogales as far as you can see in both directions marked it some sort of twisted beautiful object. If the term “power” can be used from a purely visual standpoint that does not call upon oppressive political structures or a bloody history, then the power of the fence was magnificent. But, because it cannot be disambiguated from those aspects, it was horrifying and macabre.


Life continued on both sides of the fence. The day was beautiful, gourds grew plentifully, and music and laughter came from the southern side. The northern side was much quieter- we seemed much more afraid of it. Cats and birds took no mind to it and crossed it as they pleased. The fence is an obstacle for some, and an easily avoided structure for others. Water doesn’t resist it, nor do root structures, nor plants that rise through cracks in its concrete base. No matter what injustices are imposed upon people, life must continue. That’s another thing that is both terrifying and beautiful.


A Garden: The Birds Arrive

A Garden: The Birds Arrive is an earthwork and experimental garden at the Albuquerque Museum located in the sculpture garden right off Mountain Rd NW. This project was conceived, designed, and created by Land Arts of the American West and 7th regen, in conjunction with SeedBroadcast's exhibition "Seed: Climate Change Resilience" coming in 2019. 

Land Arts of the American West designed concentric planting beds radiating from a central existing pine tree and seeded these with Middle Eastern and Asian heritage grains emmer, spelt, Sonoran Wheat, and Cache Valley Rye as a winter cover crop. In the summer, local indigenous amaranth will succeed the grains. As an experiment, the garden employs two varying methods for production: dryland farming waffle gardens and drip irrigation beds. It also accommodates the shadow line of the building. A light installation will cast shadows of the growing plants on the building wall at night.

The garden aims to be an area for artistic installation and future community engagement. 7th regen has created a steel portal of three half arches reminiscent of sheafs of grain and a mud stenciled phrase, "I wait for the birds to tell me when grain is ready," spoken by Tiana Baca of the Desert Oasis Teaching Garden. The name of the garden/installation - "The Birds Arrive" - was adapted from Baca's quote and the acronym TBA (to be announced). This project is about possibility, variability, and engagement.

September 1, 2018 – September 29, 2019

Albuquerque Museum
2000 Mountain Rd NW
Albuquerque, NM

Partners and collaborators for this project include:
Land Arts of the American West
Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance
Sarah Montgomery of Garden's Edge
Christine Mackey
Tiana Baca of Desert Oasis Teaching Garden
Albuquerque Museum
7th regen
Art & Ecology Area at UNM
SeedBroadcast
Sun, Wind, Rain
Soil Microbes, Seeds, and Birds

This project and the accompanying symposium are made possible through a partnership between Albuquerque Museum, SeedBroadcast, UNM Land Arts of the American West, and UNM Art & Ecology.

November 17, 2018

f--- that fence

Erin Gould
Nogales, AZ
October 16, 2018




Though I have been living in New Mexico, a border state, since 2013, it was my first time seeing a border fence, a physical, metal, regular, orderly, imposing manifestation of our made up line between "us" and "them". It was oddly normal. 

The normalcy is oppressive.

I should have hated this object, this symbol, but I kind of liked it. 

I was also highly aware of my body in that space, one protected by white privilege, and the feeling of state surveillance on my skin. That strip of cleared land felt dangerous.

I don't know if I have ever consciously felt that level of cognitive dissonance.

Paco asked us to take in this place in silence, an instruction for which I was grateful. Otherwise, we may have just been chatting.

I found myself drawn to the plants that were reaching through those even, bright, framing negative spaces in the fence. Do you think those mesquite know how transgressive their branches are?





I'm probably not supposed to swear here but fuck that fence.



I was listening to NPR yesterday morning and heard this story:

   "Newly elected Democratic mayor Arturo Garino was busy with Election Day when the Army arrived in Nogales and started erecting coils of glistening razor wire along the tops of the border wall that separates his small U.S. town from its sister in Mexico.

    "Razor wire, concertina wire is not what you want to see on a fence with two countries that have been friends and traded forever," he said.

     President Donald Trump announced a little more than a week ago that he was sending troops to the border to support U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

     "And now here we have a wire, you know, downtown, el puro downtown," Garino said."

What does the fence look like how? How much different would I feel in that space? How much different is the experience of the people who see and interact with that fence everyday? What does it feel like to have razor wire bisecting your town? 

Fuck that razor wire.


(ALSO--- check out Borderlands Restoration Network and all of the amazing work that they are doing to combat the ecological and community harm wrought by the physical and conceptual border at:
http://www.borderlandsrestoration.org/ )

(ALSO--- thank you to everyone at BRN that met with us, Perrin in particular for her late night map workings, and Francisco Cantú and Karima Walker. It was so lovely working with you all.)

November 16, 2018

A Place to Pray/ Bats Without Borders: Agavaganza

A Place to Pray

Brionna Garcia

Nogales Border

November 11, 2018


The border which divides Mexico and the U.S. is an impediment in the unification and equality of people. This division also creates a blockade to the corridor of migrating species of animals as well as a disruption to many native species of plants. Borders create separation, a divide in sterility and non. I see this wall as an inhumane demonstration of bold racism. It’s hard to be from country that has such a negative impact on the rest of the world. And I can only imagine what it feels like on the other side of these effects.
  
I wonder how many people have come here to pray? I wonder if they wish for a magical power to overcome the wall. I would wish to turn into wind, so I could slip by invisibly, anonymously. I wonder how many children have looked into their mother’s eyes through these pillars constructed to conjure defeat, just hoping to dissolve this obstruction for one more bear hug. 


Bats Without Borders: Agaveganza

Brionna Garcia

Patagonia 

November 11, 2018
  

This is an agave paryyi patch perfectly pokey in the beautiful Sky Islands region in Patagonia, AZ. After living an estimated 12-year life cycle, they bloom sending a massive stalk ten feet in the air. Shortly thereafter the agave meet their maker. This is a critical nectar habitat for bats. Installing the border wall cleared out thousands of agave including the cause of native bat populations to plummet. 

  

Bats Without Borders: Agaveganza- an interactive art event reflecting on relationships between bats, borders, agave and humans. The Agaveganza was a hit! Xena and I turned dead agave plants into Lesser Long Nosed Bats for our sculptural installation. We intended to highlight the symbiotic relationship between bats (fuzzy wuzzy pollinators) and agave, their main sources of food after they roost.

November 15, 2018

Observations at the Border

Observations at the Border
By Kyle Holub
Nogales, AZ
October 16, 2018


A child’s shoe on this side. 
An elementary school on that side, they have a tall fence.
A man drinking coffee. I wave because I’m 30ft away. There’s a fence between us.
A house on this side has razor wire on the top of its tall fence. 
A border patrol truck at the top of the hill.
The locks have a flag motif and are made by American Lock.
The border faces outwards. The fence is meant to be more difficult to climb from that side. The border patrol truck faces that direction, the floodlights point that way. 
One of the floodlight generators had a hatch that was unlocked.


Paco pointed out later that some of my actions at the border could have been interpreted as suspicious. I was rummaging through my backpack that I had leaned on the border fence. I knelt down to take pictures of ants crossing the border. I rolled a cigarette.


I hadn’t considered that anything I did would attract the attention of border patrol.
I knew that if I did arouse suspicions, I was a short conversation away from clearing up the situation. This is a position of privilege.

November 14, 2018

Sleeping in the Clouds

Muley Point: Sleeping in the clouds  
When we arrived at Muley Point there was odd weather for a desert. The first 3 days we were in the clouds and we had a thick fog that almost lasted all day. Then by the 4th day we were in  thunderstorm that nearly blew away our base camp. It was a very scary feeling that everything could have been destroyed, but we managed to hold the fort down and we were greeting with an amazing sunrise. With the sun coming up, a double rainbow formed above us and the sky was lighting up with color. This was a moment that I hope to never forget. I was riding a rollercoaster of emotions that morning, but the rainbows calmed my nerves, even just for a moment.



    

    

    

    

November 13, 2018

tension, a sense of inbetweeness

nicholas b jacobsen
tension, a sense of inbetweeness 
Borderlands, AZ
November 7, 2018


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        Immediately, I was struck by its sculptural beauty. The equidistant spacing of the raw, rusting, steel bars; the shadows cast on the road running parallel in the midday, mid-fall light--it seemed like Donald Judd, Richard Serra, and Christo and Jeanne Claude had all collaborated on a work of minimalist monumentality. Immediately tailing that feeling was a feeling of self-repulsion. How could I find something so violent, so racist, and so authoritarian beautiful? How can something's visual presence mentally block its political/social/economic presence so easily, and for that moment, so completely? 
        We left the border fence and went to a park in Nogales, AZ where met to talk about our impressions of this place. When I brought up my visceral reaction to the fence as an object, Paco spoke about Trump's rhetoric of a "big, beautiful wall" and how he had just put this in with all the other ridiculous things Trump says. He'd never considered that some might find it beautiful. 
        Granted, the thought/feeling was only briefly isolated and then immediately met with the conceptual/contextual layer, but it was so much visceral and immediate. So much so that I actually uttered aloud, "it's so beautiful," when we rounded the corner and it first came into view.
        I wonder how much the normalcy with which we all live with the wall--those whose everyday life is lived in proximity to it and those of us for whom the wall is only a part of our mental/political landscape--allowed me to be able to forget about the many other layers this object exists within and only notice it as a piece of land art, an immense sculpture rising out of and mimicking the curves of this mountainous landscape--a line that undulates when facing it and runs land-surveyor straight when looking down it's length. It's straightness and equidistant spacing seems to communicate an order, an almost natural order to its existence, as if it were meant to be there. The way it followed the curves of the land, no matter how steep, also lends to this sense of naturalness, its supposed inevitability, its normalcy. 

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        As a line stands inbetween two places (at least two) it holds so many inbetweens. This line holds surprising feelings of everydayness--clothes drying on the line, grasses waving in the breeze, school kids yelling and playing, mountains climbing, pigeons flying, trash piling. Simultaneously it hold feelings of heightened alertness with military airplanes and helicopters, border patrol trucks, huge steel bars and plates, doors with bolts as think as beams, cameras watching, alarms alarming. These simultaneous and dissonant feelings, sights, and sounds create a tension, a sense of inbetweeness. 



Everything is fine--You're being watched. 



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        Pigeons rest on this line as they would any other tall structural ledge. Cats pass through like any other fence. Persons are blocked, threatened, arrested, and/or murdered. Families are separated. Children traumatized. Laundry dries in the warm autumn sun.

October 28, 2018

Above the Clouds


Above the Clouds
Brionna Garcia
Muley Point, UT
October 17, 2018




Water Talks to Rocks


October 27, 2018

Rope

Rope
By Kyle Holub
Muley Point
October 7, 2018





I spent a large part of my time at Muley Point making rope. I looked for dead yuccas and learned to select the leaves that would have the long, strong, yellow fibers that are good for rope.

There is a feeling, when making rope, that is difficult to transcribe. It has to be experienced. When twisting a strand, at a certain point, you can feel the rope forming itself. You can feel when it wants to become rope. It moves to its place behind the other strand, almost without effort.

The impracticality of this endeavour was never far from my mind during this process. Who needs a handmade rope anymore? The rope I made was not as strong as a store bought one. It certainly isn’t art as most would know it.

I think the value lies in the process. To gather leaves in a responsible way, to process them into long fibers with your hands, to wash and dry and twist these plants into a helpful object, is to open a channel of communication with a wild being. The rope is a connection to a plant and a plant is a connection to a place.

It is important to re-establish these connections. It is through the development of these types of connections that we can overcome divisions between self and other.

October 26, 2018

Angel Sunset/ Shards of Time

Angel Sunset
By Brionna Garcia
Angel Peak
October 17, 2018



The first night we arrived to Angel Peak, our new temporary home for the next busy week, the sky gods left us a gift of inspiration. As soon as dinner was ready, we were spoiled with a breathtaking view of Northern New Mexico. Never before had I seen the gradient of sky colors in collaboration with the gradient of geological time. 

This view became our backyard/backdrop for all of the discussions we had regarding the ugliness of fracking, during most of our meals, and during the entirety of the creation process of our zines to bring awareness to the negative implications of fracking. 





Shards of Time
Brionna Garcia 
Chaco Canyon
October 17, 2018











Kyle and I made the hike to the top of the mesa at Chaco Canyon to view Casa Bonita from a bird’s perspective. On our hike we were stunned by the tinajas that were carved into sandstone by years and years of water erosion. While we were sitting in large tinaja to share rolled cigarettes and stone-ground chocolate, we were playing in the dirt and happened upon these ancient pottery shards. From my background knowledge of Chacoan pottery, these vessels were made from white clay and using a reduction fire process, the glaze painted on the pottery with yucca brushes appears black. It was incredibly fascinating to hold something made by an “artist” long ago. I wondered if they considered themselves an artist, or if they were making this piece for functionality. It made me feel tied to whomever had their hands in the clay. Did they know a thousand years later someone would be mesmerized by their vision of beauty and culture? We carefully placed the shard back where and how we found it sending veneration to the people that came before us.

October 25, 2018

Spider Naps

Spider Naps
By Kyle Holub
Four Corners
September 27, 2018
Blaise and I met this Desert Tarantula while reflecting on our time during the Fracking is Fracking Reality tour.
We followed it for a little while. It would nestle up to the bottoms of grasses and sage to get some shade,
and would take a little nap. After a minute or two, it would wake up and stretch its front 4 legs and continue
on its way. It repeated this cycle a number of times and seemed completely undisturbed by our presence.
It curled up in my shadow and fell asleep for a few minutes.


In strange contrast to the peaceful sleepy spider, another scene developed just down the hill from us.
A worker had come to service the gas well close to our campground.
He was checking gauges or something in a small shed and he left his door open to listen to the radio.
I could barely make out Rush Limbaugh’s voice. He was talking about Brett Kavanaugh.
In a similar spewing fashion, the worker walked over to a pipe, buried his face in his elbow,
and released some of its contents in a loud hiss that lasted a minute or so.
The spider didn’t seem to react.  


October 24, 2018

no.4

no.4
By Sarah Canelas
Muley Point, Bears Ears National Monument, Utah
October 6, 2018
The weather at Muley Point has been intense—beautiful, but terrible.  And very, very wet.

We were caught in a lightning storm, one morning.  It hailed and we watched the lightning strike down on further parts of Cedar Mesa.  For a moment, in the middle of it, the sun peaked through and two rainbows formed—one a complete arc and the other fading above into the whirling clouds.

Another day, we were trapped in a fog; a mist formed by clouds that flowed across the mesa.  It turned the terrain into something labyrinthine—repeating landscape imagery and lacking directional markers.  Navigating was even worse in the dark.

It continues to be overcast.

This all seems like a strange combination; the height of the mesa, the familiar desert plants, the cloud induced fog, and the storming skies.  It all casts a strange surreal quality to the place.  Yet, it all feels immediately—and viscerally—alive.  Everything has become vibrant; more real, in some ways, than anything else.

Perhaps everything has woken up.  Or maybe I have.

The damp keeps causing a familiar cold to sink into me.  I wonder, how comprehensible—how predictable—is any of this really supposed to be?

October 23, 2018

healing places

Muley Point, Bears Ears (formerly a national monument protecting traditional indigenous ways of life and sacred, ancestral lands before the Trump Administration illegally gutted it)
October 2, 2018
By Erin Gould



This morning, trying to make myself eat breakfast while sitting on the edge of Cedar Mesa and watching the sunrise on this surreal, sculptural landscape strewn with towering stone monuments commemorating the power of wind and water and time and trying to comprehend the movements of the churning, twirling mist moving over the epic entrenched river meander made by the San Juan, and then getting engulfed as those mists were warmed by the rising sun and rose, I was vastly overwhelmed. I am too small of a vessel to contain that much awe and gratitude.

I keep thinking of that one Romantic painting, Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog by Friedrich, and wondering where exactly it was painted. Did that wanderer not only feel that Romantic notion of the sublime but also love? Love both for that place and love from that place? I remember thinking about the “sublime” as a great and terrible beauty/ immensity/ void, of feeling insignificant. Being in this place, getting lost in this mist, seeing the tiny airborne water molecules catch the light individually and glow like gems, observing the clouds dance over huge, ancient rock formations as nimble tendrils caress the earth like caring fingers, does make me feel small but in no way insignificant. I feel deeply connected, touched to me essence, my core. I feel LOVED, actively. I feel grateful to be inside of, to witness and take part in, this rich abundant ecosystem. Jonah Yellowman, a member of the The Utah Diné Bikéyah Board of Directors who kindly met with us earlier in the week to talk about Bears Ears and the incredible work being done to protect it, called this a place of healing. I believe him. This is the healing that I ache for, to be held, tenderly, by the majesty of this place. Not to lose myself in nature, but to feel so much within myself, to be filled to the brim and feel loved enough to let myself overflow.

I ended a six-year partnership with my fiance, Max, this last May. I really believed that we were going to spend the rest of our lives together, sharing love and experiences like trees share nutrients and water, and witness each other grow old and wise. I’m not going to get into specifics, but it was awful; it is awful. It feels like I cleaved off a huge part of myself, of the person I was planning to become, of who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live.

When we speak of breakups and love faded, we say that we are heartbroken, heartbreak, broken hearted. “It broke my heart.” It is so tangible, clearly visible, contained; you can see the fractured/ ripped/ severed edges. There are pieces to mend back together. There is a site, a cause, of the hurt. My sadness, my heart ache, is so vast, like this landscape, that I cannot see a beginning or an end. It has taken up so much that it has saturated me; I am that sadness. How do you heal something that has no clear wounds, let alone any borders? For the last few months I just didn’t try. I looked only out because I was terrified by the boundless sea of loss inside.

But I think that I am figuring it out. How do you heal an endless ache, an ocean, a dense, engulfing fog of hurt? You dilute it. You fill yourself, over your edges, over your brim, and let it all flow out. I have been filling myself with joy and love and gratitude and grief and hope and awe and wonder and I have been allowing it all coalesce, diluting, desalinating my sadness, and I keep receiving, keep allowing myself to be filled and overflow. I wasn’t letting myself truly feel; in trying to shut off my sadness, which had become so large, I had to shut off almost all of myself. But being here, seeing everything that I have seen and listening to everything I have heard and learning everything that I have learned and loving and being loved by all of my friends here, the juniper trees, the wind, the rain, the moonlight, the landscape, has exposed me, opened me, and left me vulnerable and so grateful.

This uncovering has allowed me not to actively mend my heart but to add to it, to burst its boundaries and become something greater, to hold more, not less. That sea of hurt is still there, I think that I will always carry it with me, but I am diffusing its potency, letting the molecules of my sadness mingle with all of the rest of it. I am a well with no cover, taking in everything that is given to me. And it is beautiful.

This is a place of healing.


Protect Bears Ears (I mean, what kind of person would actively not protect it?).


October 22, 2018

Former Bears Ears

Former Bears Ears


This place wasn’t built for humans. When we arrived on this cliffside, I felt like an invasive species – trammeling the soft ground, breaking branches, sneaking into a domain that isn’t mine. We’re in the former Bears Ears National Monument area at the edge of a massive, beautiful mesa with many reaching peninsulas, one of which is named Muley Point. No name seems significant enough for the incomprehensible vista below us. It feels like a place of the gods.

Great waves of slickrock rise and fall at the top of this enormous landmass. The rocks hold deep pools of water after a rain, pools weathered by generations of moving water and wind. The stony waves grow more frequent as they reach the edge of the bluff, then abruptly stop and change angle into an enormous red rockfall. This cliff plummets down to the red plain below, and then angles into yet more cliffs traveling downward, wiggling around each other as they go – the “goosenecks” of the San Juan River. The river itself is rarely, barely visible, a silty red waterway only seen in occasional glimpses from our perch far above.

This is a land for rocks and sands, for pinons and junipers. This is a land for plants, herbs, and medicines of the body and soul. This is a land of sky, endless sky, vistas so large that I really can’t even stand to look out at them sometimes because my mind can’t comprehend the vastness.

Oceans of rock; tablets of sky.

It is inhuman. It is inhuman in a magnificent, spectacular way. This place was not built for us to take from, to break, divide, or conquer. This is a place for learning, awe, humility, and gratitude.

What has helped me understand this place best are moments spent watching the birds. Ravens, pinon jays, turkey vultures, and even one grand golden eagle. The ravens are my personal favorite, because they seem so comfortable at this intersection of vertical land and lifting wind. They play together around all the cliffs edges, stitching together the many layers of air and land with their swirling, burbling flights.

I am thankful to the ravens for sharing this place with me, for giving me a way to access and understand a landscape which is not designed to make me comfortable. I am thankful that inhuman, more than human, nearly unintelligible landscapes exist. Where else could we learn about distance, about the swell and shift of rocks over time, about the tiny cryptobiotic life that builds over decades? Who else could teach us about these things if this landscape was gone?

#SaveBearsEars

October 21, 2018

between home and a hard place

nicholas b. jacobsen
between home and a hard place
 Muley Point
October 12, 2018


         Utah is a place that is very close to the trouble for me. There, I am inbetween so many things--between the family I was born into and the family I have made since leaving Utah, between the land that is home to me and the culture in which I am no longer welcome, between everything I come from and everything I've become, between home and a rock place. 
        "Trouble is an interesting word. It derives from a thirteenth-century French verb meaning 'to stir up,' 'to make cloudy,' 'to disturb'" (1). Trouble is just what Donna Haraway's Staying with the Trouble did for my practice in Muley Point. Things that seemed clear (what I am doing, how I want to do it, and my sense control and connection to the work) became stirred up, clouded, disturbed--more troubled with each page I consumed. My cosmologies are rooted in my spiritual practice that has its tentacles in Shambhala Buddhism, Taoism, psychedelic experiences in my early 20's, and the rocks that I became-with at that time. I know of cyclical systems of being, especially over long periods of time, like the rock cycle. I know from meditation of a powerful force that undergirds all action and can easily be misunderstood as inaction. Haraway troubles all of this for me. She writes of the importance of non-innocence in our becomings. She emphasizes the tentacular to the cyclic. She makes me wonder what I am doing. 
        I see myself slowly shifting the very foundations my culture has been built upon, like lichen softens the rock to sand. I see myself becoming-with the unruly, the out-casted, the undesirable, the uncomfortable, and the aching--but do I try to do this innocently? Do I misunderstand or misuse the Buddhist concept of "do no harm"? Is it possible to do no harm when living and dying on a damaged planet?
         Because of this troubling of my mental and emotional spaces (which were already troubled in our time with Daniel Tso in the Fracking is Fracking Reality Tour AND then being in and with my homeplace, which reawakened my own ""originary' trauma" (92) with my familial and community kin) I think I spent most of my practice trying to find a new space of stability in this whirling, muddled, ongoing processes of living and dying found in so many spacial, temporal, geophysical, political, economic, existential layers. But isn't this false sense of stability exactly what Haraway (and one of my other favorite troublers, Pema Chödrön) wants to trouble? I struggle leaving these spaces of seeming stability because I don't trust what I will do outside of them. Being raised by a violent, sexual predator father in a nearly omnipresently patriarchal sub-culture within the dominant imperialist, white-supremist, heteropatriarchy--how can I trust myself to work from a place of instability where I can't keep a close eye on my intuitions and unthinking actions? As a white man, in this three-layer cake of toxic masculinity, frosted with privilege, how can I learn to decolonize my mind (and thus my words and actions) without these spaces of relative safety from which to learn? How can I trust my intuitions when they've been shaped and encouraged to be the very thing that I am working to change? How can I act in non-innocence without perpetuating the kind of damage I am heir to, the kind of damage that is killing us all? 
        I recognize that I will make mistakes as I learn and do, and that that is part of action, but these various originary traumas are paralyzing in such a complex ongoing worlding of oppression, dominance, and violence. 
        This is what I think came of our time near Bears Ears--another reminder, and jolt, to get deeper, take more risk, and be open to learn from the inevitable face-plant-in-the-mud-and-muck that comes-with--AND to learn to trust that process and myself, while remaining gently critical of both.




between home and a hard place is an ongoing, unfinished, especially vulnerable effect of Staying with the Trouble. 




Bibliography
Haraway, Donna J. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press: Durham and London. 2016.

October 20, 2018

Clay Motion

Clay Motion
By Blaise Koller
Muley Point
October 7, 2018



Dripped clay down a few rock faces over the past few days. I’m sure having just gone to the Greater Chaco area, and being around all of these fracking sites and hearing the constant motor sounds, and knowing that Bears Ears is being threatened by the same kind of fracturing changed how I saw these flowing forms spilling down the rocks. It also made me think about my own participation of facilitating the making of these forms. Watching the clay water flow from high on the rock, eventually onto the ground and into the soil, I thought of the spreading effect of the chemicals being injected into the ground to extract natural gas. Although I started the process of dripping the clay, it moved on its own, spreading and moving downwards. This initial action made me contemplate the initial actions of fracking, and even if the infrstructure is removed or the well shut down, the damage has already been done. Those actions and their known and unknown consequences cannot be taken back after the ground, and all the things that are in relationship to it are damaged in such a violent and forceful way. The colors of the clays made me feel differently about their meanings in my mind too. I think from the culture I grew up in, I associate this yellow green color with sickness, disease, something toxic. Nuclear waste, even if nuclear waste might not literally be that color or near it. So dripping it near these precious tinajas that hold the water that falls from the sky to feed the small life that lives in them felt slightly wrong. However, with the grey-green clay, it seemed to me to blend in more with the rocks and colors around it, seemed to fit into the landscape more, even though both the clays were from the same spot, in between two huge rocks.

October 19, 2018

Trying to Stay Dry in a Desert

Trying To Stay Dry in a Desert

By Rowan Willow

Where do tiny lil bb underwater creatures come from in the desert, and how do u learn from them?

Part of being caught in a thunderstorm in Muley Point was making sure my tent stayed dry and making sure I could create an oasis to come home to every night after a day of working in the rain. When I would come home to my tent at night (and mind you, in the fog and the endless similarities of the landscape, it wasn’t easy) I would consistently squirm with delight when I would come back to my dry ecosystem- as if I were subverting the current harshness of my environment. As someone raised in the desert, the thunderstorm was hard, but it was also a rare luxury that I often did not get to experience. This moment was shared with me by all of the tinaja creatures. Finally, after an especially long and dry summer, the bowls held within the rocks filled up, and their ecosystems were resurrected. My daily oasis of a dry tent was parallel to their wet oasis within the rocks that happens, well, as often as it rains in the desert (variable).

The first morning the thunderstorm got particularly scary, I asked Jenn about the lil bb’s, and her advice was to go and learn from them. I did go and hang out with them, but I don’t know what I learned. I feel like lessons like that do not become apparent to you until much later.
Were both bb’s tryna live in environments that do not nourish us with the regularity that we’d perhaps like.

But we’re strong,

And it’s going to be okay (MAYBE).

We need to take the nourishment that is provided to us, and we must create our own ecosystem.

I don’t know where either of us come from, but I know where we are. I know more lessons will come. It’s funny how significant a passing experience will be when it’s no longer there.


October 18, 2018

no.3

no.3
By Sarah Canelas
Angel Peak, NM
September 28, 2018
A lot happened here—and I still don’t know how to talk about it.

October 17, 2018

fracking and juniper trees and dreams and history and colonialism and horror and harvest moons


By Erin Gould



Did you know that the roots of the juniperus monosperma (one-seed juniper) species of juniper trees, one of the many, have been found to reach 200 ft below ground, making it the plant with the second deepest known root systems on earth? Isn’t that amazing?

Did you know the average fracked well is 8,000 feet deep?

Did you know that there are 40,000 wells in Northern New Mexico?

While we camped at Angel Peak in the Greater Chaco Region of Northwest New Mexico, I slept under the limbs of a juniper tree on the top of a hill. Just on the other side of this hill was a fracking well. The sounds of it, mixed with the whisper of swaying juniper branches, slept with me every night. I cried every day when I told that juniper tree that I was sorry.

I am so sorry.

Junipers grow very slowly. A five foot tall tree could easily be 50 years old. The average juniper lives to be 350-700 years old. The oldest known juniper tree, a Western Juniper, lived to see 2,675 years.

How long has my friend lived on that hill? How much has changed there? What did that hill look like when New Mexico wasn’t a state? Before European colonialism reach it? Did they know Juan de Oñate?

Gas was found in Seven Lakes, New Mexico, about 20 miles south of Chaco Canyon, in 1911. This tree was already huge by then. How old do you think that well is?

Oil and gas companies don’t have to disclose the chemicals they inject deep into the earth.

Did you know that two thirds of a juniper tree’s mass is underground? How sensitive do you think those roots are? Did this tree feel it when that well over the hill was being drilled? Does it feel the roar of the compressors?

During a discussion about self care, Asha had us root our feet into the dirt and asked us to imagine being a tree. I did this and could not stop crying. After this exercise, I hiked back to the tree under which I slept and explained why I had thrown myself into its branches and was leaking salty tears into its leaves. I told this tree about my horror, my disgust, my grief over the pain and suffering caused by human greed on this place, on the people who live here, on cultural traditions already ravaged by hundreds of years of racism, on the trees. I cried in the arms of a friend and felt better/ cared for/ loved.

I read that the Hopi believe that juniper trees carry the spirit of the caretaker of the earth.

How many collective years do you think the juniper trees in Northern New Mexico carry between them?

I am so sorry.

October 16, 2018

The Tower (Fracking at Greater Chaco)

The Tower (Fracking at Greater Chaco)
By Rowan Willow

few of the fracking wells at Greater Chaco are visible from highway 550. Some of the storage facilities and refineries look menacing, but the wells themselves don’t look imposing at all. If you were to drive by without the knowledge of the current struggle of the area with Big Oil, you might not notice anything out of the ordinary. Such large, oblong, sleekly painted shapes are a staple of highway life in the country, probably other countries as well. Chaco is a monument, ruins that can never be touched. Everything else is just business as usual.

These wells are fracturing communities. They affect the mental and physical health of the indigenous communities whose ancestors grew this land and worked with the magic of this place.

When I think of the fracking in the greater Chaco region, I think of the Tarot Card The Tower. The card is unanimously agreed to be a reference to the Tower of Babel, a tower where we tried to reach God through the heavens, and God- knowing we could not reach Him, made language divide so we could no longer communicate. The story does not communicate a disaster, instead it provides hope. The doorway on the card signifies that people were not forced to leave, they left out of their own volition, because the way to communicate with God is not through unattainable ideals, but through connection and cultivation of the earth.
Maybe our world is set up to make money off its exploitation, and maybe that exploitation will be realized until there is nothing left. But no matter how much we try to build our tower to utopia through oil, we will end up with the realization that we will only attain this utopia through working and understanding the earth and its wisdom.


October 15, 2018

Reality Tour

Reality Tour
By Blaise Koller
Four Corners
September 26, 2018

Things today going on the “Fracking is Fracking Reality Tour” with Daniel Tso

-Yellow Poles: Warning gas pipeline
-Loud, unrelenting ubiquitous motors
-Petrified Wood
-Huge circular pools filled with produced water (In traditional oil and gas wells, produced water is brought to the surface along with oil or gas.)
-Dog tracks
-White PVC pipelines
-Flat soft black plastic tubes
-Workers setting up a well
-Many semi trucks carrying water and other supplies with names unkown to me
-Huge blue storage containers professing “rain for rent” on the sides
-Pools from fracking water runoff
-White and pink tiny flowers on unknown plant
-Yellow and black bold sign “METHANE GAS ODORLESS TOXIC IN OUR AIR”
-Elementary school with very high readings
-Colorful sunset
-Fajada Butte in the distance looking from a fracking site