My computer's motherboard is slowly decomposing, and I'm taking it
to the shop in a minute. But I wanted to comment quickly on this
issue of art in ag that John Fawcett-Long raised before being off
the grid for a few days.
CIAS has done a number of arts-in-ag projects over the years. Here
are a few examples, and how we got them supported.
Two years ago, when we hosted the joint meetings of the Ag, Food,
and Human Values Society and Assn. for the Study of Food in Society,
we decided to make one theme of that conference "telling stories
about food." The Wisconsin Humanities Council supported us as we
brought in storytellers, theatrefolk, poets, student photographers,
and others to balance the academic content of the conference with
narrative and vision and song. We also did a culinary arts
celebration of Wisconsin seasonal/regional food.
Last year, a WHC grant brought a participatory African dance and drum
circle to the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference--the idea was
to raise some juju for the National Standards engagement, with a nice
harvest basket dance. It kinda turned into hundreds of people shaking
their singular and collective bootie, and raising some big mountain
of juju...though the basket dance got a little more...generic...than
That African dance circle (which I've danced with for five years)
has done participatory circles at other ag-related events, including
the annual solstice pancultural celebration at Folklore Village
(Ridgeway, WI) in 1996.
There are some very interesting arts in ag events recently in
Wisconsin. As part of the Sesquicentennial celebration, a field at
Randy Hughes's farm was planted to...labyrinth. !!! A corn maze in
the shape of the state. It drew many thousands of people. If I
remember correctly, it was supported by a coalition of state
organizations (sesqui commission, and others).
The West Bend museum of art was involved with another crop art
initiative--Stan Hurd painted the land, in flowers, with sandhill
cranes in the summer of '95.
There are many more examples, and they are generally well-received,
and inspire people greatly.
Donna Newirth, of the Neu Earth Worm Farm in Reedsburg, and her
partner Jay Salinas have a CSA operation that combines sustainable
ag, ag tourism, and the arts in unique ways. Their eaters come from
the suburbs of Chicago, and make the commute (one household per week)
to Wisconsin to pick up the food for everyone else. In this way, the
eaters spend time on the farm, and in Wisconsin. Jay is a sculptor,
and Donna a former corporate events planner--and they have wonderful
ideas and projects going to blend ag and the arts as part of their
educational mission at the Worm Farm.
In my experience, smaller funders have been *EAGER* to support such
events. And people are HUNGRY for them.
I get as many questions about the vision, passion, and spirit of
sustainable ag as I do about production methods, research findings,
and so forth. I feel that the two issues are inextricably woven.
Feeding the mind without feeding the spirit is like feeding the belly
without feeding the spirit. More like taking on ballast than actual
nourishment. And we've all seen plenty of evidence, in the 20th
century, what havoc mind-full but not mindful research can wreak.
Sorry this is so rough...this poor machine is getting really flippy
Michele Gale-Sinex, communications manager
Center for Integrated Ag Systems
UW-Madison College of Ag and Life Sciences
Voice: (608) 262-8018 FAX: (608) 265-3020
If you knew what life was worth, you
would look for yours on earth. --Bob Marley
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