FROM THE MARCH TO THE ACLU

WORDS & IMAGES: RACHEL FRY

If I had to choose two words to describe the March on Washington and the people walking the streets of Washington D.C. that day, I would choose the words kind and fierce. There was not a single arrest in Washington D.C. on January 21, 2017 and I can’t help but think that largely attributed to the event being executed by women. I was continually taken aback by the kindness I experienced from others at the March. Whether it was someone accidentally bumping into me and immediately apologizing, or a stranger giving me his extra metro pass when mine had run dry of money. People were kind. But they were also laser focused on their mission. I saw this fierceness throughout the crowd all from behind my lens. The emotions were pouring from people’s faces. They were angry, upset, hurt, but nevertheless they showed up. They were there with their signs and their pink pussy hats. I often looked into the crowd and would make eye contact with individual faces. We would lock eyes and in that short exchange we shared an unspoken conversation, one where we said that this is not OK and that we are not going to stand for this. It was the most connected I’ve ever felt with complete strangers in an event of that magnitude.    

This was also my first protest. I went with family friends who used to protest during the Vietnam War days. They said they had never seen that many people at a single protest ever. One of the most impactful exchanges I had that day was when I was waiting in line at the bathroom of the pizza place we dined in after our legs could no longer move. A guy standing in line wearing a pink pussy hat turned to me and said “Thank you for coming to the March today”. I was completely surprised by his comment and replied, “No, thank you for coming”. I told him that it was inspiring to see so many men at the protest. His response was simply “It’s our duty to be here”.

I am proud to have been a part of that epic day in history. Fine Art Prints from the March on Washington are available through the link below. All proceeds are being donated to ACLU.

ORDER HERE

 

THE OCCIDENTAL ARTS AND ECOLOGY CENTER

IMAGES: LIZZY ELLIOTT

WORDS: KATE WEINER

Nestled in Sonoma County, the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (OAEC) is an oasis rich in inspiration for building a better world. The 80-acre research, education, and advocacy center is mapped by a thriving plant nursery, lush garden, seed saving bank, and a network of tiny homes powered by solar energy. And it's entirely water self-sufficient in a state that's been plagued by drought for nearly a decade. Pretty damn amazing. 

When I first visited OAEC, I was filled with excitement at their pioneering sustainability projects as well as a profound sense of coming home. So many of the dreams that I've harbored for how to live in this world are at play in this community of creatives, farmers, ecologists, and herbalists. Over the course of the day, I joined the volunteer crew to uproot beds for new beginnings in the spring and giddily checked out California's first permitted compost toilet in Sonoma County. I visited the yurts where students at OAEC sleep during crisp Northern Californian nights and savored a local lunch in the shade of an oak. These fleeting moments of communion and co-creation sustained me for days after.

OAEC will be featured in our next issue of Loam (you can pre-order a lovely copy of your very own here). But we wanted to share a filament of their story with you because this game changing community center will be guiding three Permaculture Design Certification (PDC) courses this year. These two week-long certification courses are an immersive foray into how to live in a way that truly heals our earth. In the face of global climate change, learning the skills to not only survive but to thrive will be essential.

As OAEC writes:

Permaculture is a design process – based in observation and systems thinking – that enables people to create ecologically sustainable and socially just human settlements based in natural patterns and processes. At OAEC, we apply permaculture as a community-based endeavor in which groups craft their own regenerative living systems beneficial to themselves and the particular ecological and cultural systems in which they are nested.

So if you are searching for a way to embody hope this year—to back up your vision for a better world with concrete tools for change—consider investing in a PDC course. It's on opportunity to enrich yourself, your community, and our earth. 

SPRING PDC    March 18th-31st

SUMMER PDC    July 15th-28th

FALL PDC    September 23rd-October 6th

ICELAND IN IMAGES

The land of fire and ice shows us just why this world is worth fighting for. Thank you to the glaciers and waterfalls and green pastures that give everyone on this planet life. 

CELEBRATING ABUNDANCE AT DIG IN FARM

WORDS & IMAGES: KATE WEINER

Last weekend, I trekked to Western Massachusetts with my mama and our friend Lynn Trotta for an abundance workshop at Dig In Farm. Although Dig In is just a two and a half hour drive from my home in New York, arriving at the permaculture center—mapped by a lush herb garden and chicken coop—felt like a world away. The farm in the forest helped me reaccess the kind of mud luscious and loving world that I want to live in. I want to take care of and feel cared by this earth. I want to give to the soil that feeds me. I want to sleep under the stars and wake up to the sun.

We featured Dig In Director Grace Oedel in our most recent print issue of Loam (Grace's words on activating hope will heal your heart). It was such a joy, however, to actually meet her and Assistant Director Juna Rosales Muller. Their playful nature and passion for DIY made this workshop transformative. I'd sorely missed the delicious act of creation. Over the course of a divinely yummy two days, I was able to make—everything from elderberry syrups to borage-infused shrubs to tea towels dyed with goldenrod—at a pretty little picnic table planted in view of Dig In's sun freckled fields. I loved the opportunity to see things through to fruition; to harvest lemon balm by hand for a solar tea, to resee the weeds that grew wild in my own neighborhood as a rich source of color. 

And I loved too, meeting so many people who rocked my world. Each one of the participants brought something to the table. We talked about flower essences and climate justice and I felt healed. This little ol' heart of mine had been searching for evidence that the life that I wanted was possible. And here it was! Embedded in the tangles of lung-like elderberries and and in the hearts of those who I worked alongside. It was pretty sweet that the simple act of crafting hot sauce by hand could stoke a fire in me. 

A couple of months ago, Loam launched our Connections Over Consumerism campaign to encourage our community to seek experiences instead of accumulating stuff. If, as the rad Grace Lee Bogs notes, capitalism is dehumanizing, actively creating connections is just the opposite: life-giving. Dig In Farm embodied the life-giving experiences that I want more of in my life—making goodies by hand, being in nature, tending to herbs, sleeping in a yurt(!). I hope that each one of you reading this will be inspired to make your next travel destination a permaculture center. Because when we support sustainable farms and farmers, we multiply the conditions for goodness and green to grow. 

Our natural and social ecosystems need more love and joy. By bringing an abundance mindset into practice, we can fortify the soil for those very essential qualities to take root. So dig in, loamy loves. There's a whole world out there for you to help heal and be healed by. 

STARLIT WOODS & MUSIC AS MEDICINE AT PICKATHON

WORDS & IMAGES: KATE WEINER

Two weekends ago, Loam spirituality columnist Lily Myers and I trekked to Pickathon in Happy Valley, OR. The sustainabality-minded music festival on Pendarvis Farm is an oasis in a PDX suburb rapidly falling prey to soulless strip malls and McMansions. So often, music festivals are littered with trash. At Pickathon, you can either bring your own container or buy bamboo plates to use at the many food vendors selling miso mushroom steamed buns and summer vegetable pizzas across the sprawling site (Lily and I chose to buy plates because you can return it to the wash station in exchange for a token the next time you want to eat. This means no need to carry your gear with you as you dance like wild to Ezra Furman AND no need to waste!) 

The festival isn't perfect—no institution is. You can provide the resources for reducing waste but still can't prevent someone from trashing the beer cans they brought from home on the ground. Getting people to feel invested in the environment that they are in takes much more than proper recycling bins. But to me, what's inspiring about Pickathon is the organizers' clear interest in showcasing environmental trends (fingers crossed that the coming years will see composting toilets in place of Port-a-Potties!) just as much as rocking musicians. Wandering the grounds in between sets this year, I checked out a Tiny Home trailer that extolled the virtues of small-scale sustainable living and learned about how a set crafted from reclaimed wood had been designed. Even the blissful walk from the hammocks hanging in the thick of the forest to the open field that fanned out from the Main Stage was an exercise in ecological awareness. At night, I slept in the starlit woods in my little tent, listening to crickets and the buzz of up-till-dawn revelers, and in the early mornings, when everyone was still sleepy and the sky was gold-kissed, I'd wander the perimeter of the festival foraging for blackberries. 

At Loam, Nicole and I deeply believe in the transformative power of music to inspire environmental change. As Nicole wrote in one of her first posts: "Music is a way of transcending distance, of fusing proximity. Sounds become associated with place, nostalgic ache, thrill for what is next." Music is medicine. It helps reminds us of what matters and gives us a soundtrack to empower us as we work hard to heal our fragile hearts and vital environment. 

 

TRAVEL LIGHT TREK

WORDS & IMAGES: KATE WEINER

Summer is a particularly sweet time of year to lose yourself to the pleasures (and sometimes pains) of hiking. Living in Colorado makes me feel very lucky—there is so much GORGEOUSNESS in this state to soak up. As you find your way into the wild world these next few months, take care to travel lightly. Seeing trash on trails and names etched into hundreds-of-years-old trees is profoundly sad. It's our responsibility wherever we go to be good to the earth—to help heal and not to harm. Below, four easy ways to trek lightly.

SAY HEY TO HOMEMADE

When preparing for a weekend wilderness adventure, it's understandable to want to stock up on packaged goodies. A lot of the time however, a stashed wrapper, stowed away until you leave the campsite, can float free and find its way into the woods. Avoid individually wrapped goods (and the opportunity for accidental littering) by whipping up a big batch of our damn good granola to keep you nourished during new explorations. 

LEARN THE LANDSCAPE

Grab yourself a local field guide or chat with a ranger before entering unfamiliar terrain. An important way of showing our respect for nature is by taking the time to learn more about her weather patterns and indigenous plants and wildlife. Understanding the ecological temperament and cultural traditions of a place makes us better able to heal an environment. That, and it's super cool to be able to identify flowers during a hike! 

NO SINGLE USE...

Water bottles or plastic bags. Period. Get a big jug of water rather than a boatload of plastic bottles to minimize plastic pollution. This is especially critical if you'll be camping close to a body of water.

EMBRACE RECIPROCITY

Give back to the land that gives to you. This can mean ensuring your campsite is cleaner than when you left it or picking up trash pooled on the beach or joining a trail rebuilding effort. Figure out a way to engage reciprocally with your environment and you'll find yourself tapping into an ecosystem far more beautiful and complex than first glance. 

 

MOVING RITUALS

IMAGE: WILL SARDINSKY

WORDS: KATE WEINER

It's the first Saturday night I've spent alone in a while. I finished putting together my room (much love to Nicole for her nesting how-to) and made myself a cup of magnesium tea to quell the altitude sickness. As I sank into bed, I could hear the songs of Stevie Wonder coursing through the air. I thought: when I get my energy back, I can't wait to go dance! before falling into the kind of sleep that comes when you are settled (almost) and closer toward a sense of home.

I've moved a lot this year. Each new city has given me the opportunity to grow. I love diving into the unknown, love turning the fear of loneliness into a catalyst for connection. These past few days, I've gone to a picnic in the park with friends from my co-housing community and played with pastels at an art therapy collective. I've met with people whose work I admire and taken restorative yoga classes. I didn't feel lonely. Every move has made it easier to be alone—to find the succulence in solo bike trips and farmers' market lunches. Inhabiting liminal periods used to fill me with sadness, maybe because I was so wracked with what ifs. More and more, I'm okay not knowing. It feels vital to take every day as it is. The alpine blue sky. The bike-sore legs. 

I've found that the rituals I bring to moving emerge in my environmental practices. Learning to let go, to move on, to pare down, to reenvsion—these skills fortify my ability to be an activist and nourish my capacity to weather discomfort. Everywhere I go, I'm finding ways to carve out a home. Moving makes you less scared of change. It inspires you to explore ways to grow where you are planted—even if you may soon be uprooted. 

Loam believes that everyone has the resources to be an environmental activist. We all have some skill—be it a creative passion or an aptitude for biology—that we can use to advocate for our earth (and by extension ourselves). It's natural to be unsure what exactly that gift is. But I think moving can be a channel for tapping into that power. It doesn't have to be a big move. It can be very, very small. All I know is that today is as good as any to experiment with embracing transitions.

Below, a few articles on (micro)movements that we hope will make you feel less alone in this wild world and more empowered to protect it.

The Delicious Act Of Disruption

Experience Matters: Connections Over Consumerism

Work With What You Have

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PEDESTRIAN POWER

IMAGE: RICK HONG MANAYAN from our SLOW FASHION EDITORIAL with HILDA VARGAS

I'm wrapping up my last week in Southern California. Excited as I am to be moving to a bike-friendly city, living without a car in the thick of car culture has taught me a lot about the power of being a pedestrian. By virtue of walking places, I feel like I'm in on this little secret. I get to truly notice the jacaranda trees in ecstatic purple bloom and the street art stenciled onto sidewalks. There's this whole luscious, nervy, colorful world that I could never exist in if I only went from climate-controlled car to strip mall (and home again).

When I can't walk, I bike. This too is a blessing. Some of my most treasured moments in San Diego have been on the back of my brother's bike as we zoom through the palm-framed streets. And when I can't bike, I Lyft Line. Getting to share a car with strangers has pushed me to embrace the beauty of fleeting connections and small-talk conversations. 

To some extent, living without a car makes me dependent on other people. I can't go camping on my own and have had to ask friends for rides home from the doctor. When I first moved to San Diego, I was a little embarrassed that I had to ask for help this way. It was the first time I'd lived in a city where my own two legs weren't enough to get me to where I wanted to go. I've both gained and lost different kinds of independence by choosing a car-free life. But its taught me to articulate my needs and reminded me that we are fundamentally interconnected. 

Mainstream American culture celebrates total "independence." This entirely self-scripted mindset doesn't just isolate us from each other—it severs us from the natural world. In the face of massive environmental injustices, learning to share resources (be it cars or food or solar energy) is increasingly imperative. Walking has helped me to perceive bridges where I once drew boundaries. 

This weekend, take the time to walk somewhere you might otherwise drive. You'll find a power all your own.

For more on alternative transportation, check out the following links:

The Neighborhood Naturalist Project Alison Znamierowski

By Bike Alone Kate Weiner

Taking A Spin With The Recumbent Gourmet Mike Claus