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America Project – The night before I leave

It’s 10:30 on Tuesday night. I have finally put most of the items I need for my trip into suitcases and put them in the car or left them in the hall where I will fall over them rather then forget them. My camera equipment has been sorted and carefully packed. I’m taking books, which I will probably not get a chance to read, a couple of equipment manuals just in case, enough batteries, chargeable and otherwise to light up the Mission Hotel on Christmas day, and I packed enough shoes to keep me fashionable in any situation. Oh my goodness, did I over pack. I guess I can’t answer that until I come home and find I have lived in one pair of jeans and a couple of t-shirts. Meanwhile I believe I have thought of everything from flash lights, to screw drivers, to an electric pot for heating water or soup. I even have everything I need to plug the pot into the car lighter. I’m well equipped for road travel.

And I’m excited. I get up at 6:00 tomorrow, shower, dress, throw the last of my clothing and beauty items into the suitcase. I will wash my sheets and towels and leave the room ready for anyone.

My friend Sherry is coming to the desert on Friday. She will have my room for one night.

I’m staying at an Airbnb in Flagstaff on Wednesday night.

Here are the driving instructions:

I-10 E toward Blythe
Take exit 192 for Desert Center Rice Rd/CA-177
Turn left onto CA-177 N
Continue onto CA-62 E
Turn left onto US-95 N
Sharp right onto 5 Mile Rd/National Old Trails Rd
Continue to follow 5 Mile Rd
Turn right to merge onto I-40 E
Merge onto I-40 E
Entering Arizona
Take exit 191 for Interstate 40 Business toward Flagstaff
Turn right onto I-40BUS E/Historic Rte 66
Continue straight onto Historic Rte 66
Turn left onto Historic Rte 66/S Milton Rd
Continue to follow Historic Rte 66
Turn left onto N Humphreys St
Turn right at the 1st cross street onto W Aspen Ave
Turn right at the 1st cross street onto N Beaver St
Turn right onto Historic Rte 66
Flagstaff, AZ

There are at lest two other routes that I know of, one starts on Old Woman Springs Road and thee other goes through Amboy. right now I think this one works. I like the idea of traveling Route 66 even for a short time.

I remember traveling Route 66 in 1964 when my parents moved from New York to California.The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in America, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, new Mexico, Arizona and California. A total of 2,448 miles.

First interview is Wednesday morning at the Grand Canyon Land Trust. http://www.grandcanyontrust.org

Need to sleep. More tomorrow.

“In Land We Trust” – A current project

“The America Project”

Segment One – “In Land We Trust.”

On September 29th, I will be leaving Joshua Tree to begin a long-term dream project. The project is called the “America Project.” It began with a prose poem I wrote a couple of years ago. Writing the poem brought a flood of images, feelings, revelations and discoveries to the surface. I realized how deeply grateful I am for being American, even with an acute awareness of the difficulties and challenges that entails, both personally and universally.

The piece evolved into a multimedia project incorporating sound, storytelling, articles, video and photographs. It has taken time to develop and to acquire the needed equipment as well as learn the new devices. It is ongoing, and I’m still learning.

I have been photographing and writing articles in the high desert. That has felt rewarding, but the story about America is demanding a deeper investigation and more voices. I am personally intrigued by the natural force this story has and eager to see where it will go.
Segment I – In Land WE Trust
The Southwestern part of the “America Project.”

Step by step I have been breaking this project down, deciding what is relevant, and looking for unique and personal ways to present the material. The first segment is about land and the diverse relationships Americans have to it. I will drive through the southwest and interview people involved in land conservation, including farmers, and ranchers.

This portion of the project is called, “In Land We Trust.” It focuses on the Southwest and will include practices, doctrines, policy and experiences, mostly it will focus on people and their attitudes about land. I will interview members of NGO land organizations as well as government organizations and people who live and work on the land. I will be traveling to Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas looking for stories. The trip will take one month. This portion of the project will include my previous photos and research of the Mojave Desert. The final product will include audio, written word, spoken word, video, and photographs. There is a book in there too. I will give presentations when I return. Schedules are currently being negotiated.

I will keep a daily written and audio diary of my journey, as well as Facebook updates and email updates to anyone interested. Please contact me if you want to be on this list.

Itinerary
September 29th – I will leave home and drive to Flagstaff to connect with a local land trust. This is not yet confirmed.

October 29 – October 30 – I will stay in Flagstaff for at least one day and then drive to Santa Fe.
(No accommodations made yet)

October 1st and 2nd – Santa Fe Land Trust Organizations
(staying with a friend until I leave Santa Fe)

October 3rd – My friend’s award party.

September 4th – in Santa Fa I will get interviews of local people and confirm appointments for my return trip at the end of the month.

October 5th – I will go to Albuquerque, spend time with a friend and photograph the land around Albuquerque.
(accommodations made)

October 5th or 6th – drive to Norman Oklahoma

October 7th to 11th – the SEJ conference
(staying at an Airbnb)

October 12th and 13th – explore Norman Oklahoma, interviews with experts at the University and people in and around town.
(No accommodations made for this portion of the trip)
October, 15th – Drive to Canton, Oklahoma, Andrea Hutchison in Okla., the Chain Ranch
(An appointment has been made, but I don’t know how long I will be staying)(No accommodations yet)

October 16th – 3 G Ranch in Childress Texas
Spoke to owner but plans are tentative and open
(No set dates and no accommodations made yet)

October 16th, 17th, or 18th – Big Thicket National Preserve
Will make appointments to interview Rangers
(possibly camping)

October 17th or 18th – Houston
Will set up appointments with local land trusts

Possible stop in Dallas

October 18th or/to 22nd – San Antonio
(Two day stop, explore local history and culture)
(no accommodations made yet)

October 22nd to 23rd – Austin
Interviews with local land trusts
(possibly stay with friends)

October 24th – drive back to Santa Fe.
October 25th connect with friends
October 26th and 27th I will interview local land trusts, art organizations and artists involved with land conservation.

October 27th – 29th – Drive to Phoenix
Land Trust Organization and hiking around Cave Creek
(no accommodations yet)

October 30th – drive home through the Mojave Preserve, to Amboy
(trip will take two days – Maybe camping, maybe motels)
I will return the first week of November – Back in Joshua Tree
Traveling time between locations.

Joshua Tree to Flagstaff 5 hours
Flagstaff to Santa Fe 5 hours
Santa Fe to Albuquerque 1 hour
Santa Fe to Norman is 7 hours
From Childress to Houston 7 hours
From Big Thicket to Austin 3 hours
Santa Fe to Big Thicket is 7 hours

Norman to Big Thicket is 6 hours
Austin to Phoenix is 12 hours
Austin to Joshua Tree is 16 hours
Austin to Santa Fe is 10 hours
Phoenix to Joshua Tree 4 hourIMG_5468

Thank you Morongo Basin

Saturday, August 1, 2015
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Dear High Desert Neighbor.

Almost six years ago I moved to Joshua Tree. Everyone thought I was retired, and it was in a way a forced retirement. Everything I had known was complete and that old life finished. Retirement was not something I see for myself. I had no idea what I would do next. Over the years, I fumbled around trying one thing after another. I photographed, painted, wrote, did some healing work and overall searched for the next destination on my path.

The Morongo Basin Community has supported my search. Laural Seidel and Frank Mezget at the Glass Outhouse gave me the opportunity to show my work. Valerie Meyer at Rainbow Stew has been a great supporter. Jill Lust from Sweet Digs, which I am so sorry is no longer there, showed my photographs. My friend Cheryl Montelle gave me the opportunity to tell my story at Desert Stories. Gretchen Grunt at the 29 Palms Creative Arts Center and Jenny Qaqundah at the Grateful Desert has stood by me even when there was little gain for them. Stacey Moore, the editor of the Hi-Desert Star, has continuously published my articles. My friends Steve and Sarah Bardwell opened their home to me and my art. Jim Berg and Fredrick Fulmer, whose hearts are as big as this entire Basin, have introduced me to artists and encouraged me to tell their stories. They have brought artists to this desert from all of the world, enriching the artist lives and ours.

I understand there is no destination and for me, there is no one thing. All of it makes up the total of me. The beautiful and strange hand of the universe moved me to the High Desert, to a place that is made up of people that are similar. We are a community of seekers, finders, believers and creators. It is a place where people come to live their dreams. Sometimes that is very difficult and in those times we all forget why we’re here. That knowledge can return like the lightning that flashed through the sky during our rare and beautiful storm the other day. Maybe it lasts only for a moment as we move on to other places and maybe it simply embraces us right where we are. We are in a place that is sacred, beautiful, difficult, challenging and in the greatest sense of the word, home.

I so appreciate the spirit of the people that find themselves here. You are all so brave, passionate and determined. I have seen your spirit shine on one newcomer after another. My first week here, I took a Yoga class at Instant Karma. The owner, Clea Benson, welcomed me and said, “It is so good to have you here.”

Morongo Basin, you’re an amazing community. Your non-profits, your art residencies, your personals goals and projects all reflect the depth of humility, your compassion, and strength. I have seen one resident after another open their door and extend a helping hand to a neighbor in need. Your commitment to the land and to encouraging others to live an artful and conscious life is admirable. Transitions, The Morongo Basin Land Trust, the Joshua Tree Highlands Residency, Mil-Tree, Harrison House, all non-profits. There are many more, but these are the ones I have been involved with or written about.

So many of you have given me your stories, and that is a gift I will always hold dear. You have allowed me into your homes to photograph you. I cherish the faces I see in those photos. Morongo Basin, I turn the light you shine on others, right back on you.