Olneyville Tea Project Music “Happening” by Omnivore

more to come…


pre-thanksgiving open tea

I was about to think that pre-thanksgiving open tea was a bust, with lots of strangers stopping in to chat for a minute, but none of them willing to stop and have tea. Here is a video I made when I finally finished my knitting:

The music is St. Vincent, which makes me pine a little for New York – a sentiment I rarely feel otherwise. Fortunately Rob showed up around 2:45 to drag me out of that space. I didn’t take much in the way of notes, but lots of pictures.

Then Jori, sweet wonderful person that she is, had read my facebook post about possibly spending four hours starving in the window and that if you brought me pizza I’d be your best friend:

Jori wins. That was so super nice of her. Thank you so much.

Ok, honestly, I lost my notes on this tea session. I had just filled my book with Emily the previous day – but I know I had mentioned to Rob that I was a symbolic logic geek, and gave him and Jori a quick overview of how the system works. After Rob had to go, I also taught Jori how to knit. Here are pictures from that:

Will you forgive me, folks, for loosing the notes? I had such a lovely time with both of you! Thanks for coming!

Emily came by about fortyfive minutes after Tom and Allen had left. We had pretty deep conversation kept light by our general buoyancy; a bit of a heart to heart with some zen reflection. Emily says, “every action comes from some place good” while discussing the need to be present with this sentiment. She has been reading The Power of Now, which she is really enjoying. When discussing the recent transformations at Recycle a Bike she admitted to being “so lucky” that she has the right people who she already loves being around who also happen to be interested in community bike shops. The effect of that community has been enormous in re-centering Recycle a Bike as a functional organization.

We shifted back to a more gushy emotional space; the likes of which happened a lot in the window, but which I have, up until now, omitted in order to preserve a sense of comfort and optimism about the window. Emily says, it seems like people in Providence “are dating their art”, and therefore lack the concern for partnership. I asked her if I could quote her there. I thought it was a particularly astute observation.

By the time Adam showed up (coincidentally just coming through the square) and asked us what we were talking about, I deadpan replied “softness.” He thought I meant artistically, which is perhaps also true, and I said, “no, I mean me. Sometimes I think I come across as really stern, and I wish I came across as more soft.” Adam, sweet boy that he is said he thought I was a good balance of the two sentiments: stern and soft.

We started talking about our different understanding of shared space and the concept of intrusion. All three of us figured we were concerned about accidentally intruding on personal space. Adam started drawing Ven diagrams of interpersonal relationships on the air, and that jumped us over to talking about Raëlian beliefs about the earth aligning with a “home planet” close enough that our supposed ancestors were able to “jump” from one planet to the other. Adam says they are waiting for a time when the planets realign so we can hop back.

Somehow this got me thinking about Gnosticism – more pictorially than theoretically – since the way the belief is structured is based on a map of circles in my mind. To the best of my understanding: there is heaven in a circle in the center, and in heaven there are thirteen gods. One of those gods is Sophia, the goddess of wisdom. She, out of boredom, creates Lucifer and Lucifer creates the earth. Because of the succession in relations (lower and lower on a chain) anything earthbound cannot be perfect, though its goal in life is to become the perfect representation of itself in heaven. This is probably a very crude and trite understand, but I’ve always thought it a nice idea.

Going back to the Raëlians, Adam says, “punk is like an ameba and a cult is like a cinder block” bringing it all back to the impression of softness. Nice one. Thanks for coming!

Tom and Allen

Tom and Allen came by at what felt like an insanely early 11:15am, but that didn’t stop us from diving straight into aesthetic/artistic theory. I told them about how reading Relational Aesthetics by Nicolas Bourriaud had heavily inspired the installation. While I’ll pulled up my reflection paper on the book, Allen mused that the term seemed relevant internet art since its “particular form is incidental”. That got us talking about blogging. Tom says, “writing in that way wasn’t working” for him and when he retreated to a “more private writing practice” he “started doing a lot better work.” Nevertheless, he missed the way in which blogging “organized and communicated” updates on his life to friends and family.

I brought up my own blog, and how I thought it was kind of pointless at times because it was basically rehashing the details already existing on the internet. Tom replied, “Pointless is such a good word, though.” He suggested that one shouldn’t think too much about whether or not work had a point, that “are my actions causal” should not be asked since “any tangible framework” to define causal effect “is going to be false.”

I concurred saying that I had long since given up on the perceivable results of my activism and had been much happier for it. Allen added that this was a problem of social sciences where research is done based on a prediction. Allen speaks incredibly eloquently, but also a bit fast for my early morning note taking. My deepest apologies to him.

Tom replies, “I don’t think that an artist can emulate that in anything but playfulness” which in turn causes Allen to bring up two pieces of literature: Finite and Infinite Games and The Hacker Manifesto as a means to understanding playfullness as an ideology.

Allen admits it’s too early for this conversation, while Tom and I agree. He says, “Tom didn’t tell me what we were doing this morning. This isn’t what I was expecting.” “This is exactly what I was expecting” Tom explains that waking up early to have tea in a window might sound ridiculous to some but that this is what he wanted to be doing: “these are the things that I find important.”

“I always do what I want to do” says Allen, “I wish that I was able to make things happen more quickly” suggesting that too much of this time was spent “rendering things” since “it takes time for projects to form themselves.”

I discussed my own process in the forming the window project and how I had asked the other members of the Dirt Palace several times if this was an ok and interesting thing to do. Part of this was asking for permission, but the other part of it was making sure I was clear about my process so that there wasn’t any issues when I finally decided to install.

When Sarah Bearse did her installation (a live photo booth), there was a real concern that the window might be broken to steal the equipment that made the project run. Nobody did break the window though, which Tom thought defined a success for the art piece since this meant individuals “experienced it as an art installation instead of a collection of valuable objects.”

It was indeed a super interesting and thoughtful morning. I love these kinds of discussions, and was pretty stoked to have them come by! Thanks!

Michael and Friends

Michael, Nina, Pat, Trev, and Chris joined me in the window a week from Monday ago to share teas Michael had hand picked in Southern Oregon last summer (Coos Bay, not far from where I temporarily resided in Ashland – small world!) He also brought pastries! Here is the introductory video we made:

We discussed the necessity of reorganization of goods and services, and how Michael was learning to become “more humble again” through work in construction and agriculture. Michael says, when you are building something you have to question “is it worth the resource?”

When I told them what the project was originally going to be – a strip mall out of use overgrown with vegetation, a condo development stalled, and a old warehouse refitted and functioning – Trev adds there is a “beauty in decay” when “nature is reclaiming” things; “it’s a natural process.”

Michael brought up the inanity of throwing away a whole doorknob when you change the locks because, “it’s easier to teach someone how to change a doorknob than a key hole” but far more wasteful.

The teas we drank were mixes of hawthorn, nettle, yarrow, and some mints. Jokes were made like “Heavy Nettle”.

We also discussed Health Care like Rhode Island Free Care and Oregon Health Plan… and how the ER’s are overrun with people who wait until the last possible minute because they don’t have health insurance.

Michael believes heavily in Biodynamics, which is a fairly interesting concept merging the understanding of agriculture with more astrological aspects.

Before we leave, Trev says, “I would’ve never expected this kind of use for a storefront.” That’s what I like. Keep ’em guessin’.

Thanks Michael!

Devon and Vec

The following Monday morning I got an email confirmation from Devon saying she was meeting me at noon, so I ate a quick breakfast and met her in my PJ’s. What can I say? Some days I don’t make it out of my PJ’s before noon. This is what’s real.

Devon works two jobs at the mall, and was scheduled to work both of them on Black Friday. I gave her my utmost sympathy, and told her how my friend Andrew and I had planned to have a conversation around Black Friday and it’s counterpart Buy Nothing Day on Friday in the window. She said she wished she could make it to give her personal account. I wished she could too!

I noticed that the Rhody Fresh Half and Half was rBGH free, which I figure is a pretty good thing. Devon mentions that she has a Milk Man through Monroe Dairy which she thinks is adorable although she is vegan. “I love it!” she says.

I’ve been pretty happy to have this tree to mark time passing over the course of this project. You may have noticed it, and it will certainly repeat itself throughout the rest of the blog.

We were joined by Vec, who upon entry declared “this should just be what this window is from now on.” I wish it could be true. I wish I didn’t have to take it down tomorrow. It has been a deeply rewarding project. I am sad to see it go. We discussed how nice is was to be sheltered from the rain but still watching it. Vec says, “the rain kind of shields you from being totally exposed.”

Then Vec handed me the creamer and asked for the camera. He wanted to nab a picture of me as if I was taking a picture of them. I often crawl around the space taking pictures when there are lots of people in the window. This is, apparently, what I look like. Nice PJ’s.

The conversation shifted to the founding of New Orleans and Vec’s experiences at Mardi Gras from age 16 on up til the present day. It was super interesting, but my notes trail off about there. Maybe he would like to comment?

Thanks so much!

Constructing with Serena

Saturday night two weeks ago, Serena and I had a heart to heart in the window. Serena drank Hot Cocoa because, she says, “You know I have to be different, I have to drink Cocoa.” Awesome.

Serena is a timberframer which is a super bad-*ss way to frame houses buy chiseling green (not yet dry) wood so that you may wedge them in place. The wood holds together in tension. Serena is teaching me this trade as my mentor for a class at Prescott College. That is how my program works, by drafting a study plan with mentors in my area and carrying out the course work. In this way, I get to be in Rhode Island, New Orleans, or wherever really, while my school stays in Arizona. It also means I get to learn the things I wanna learn. Not a bad deal.

So Serena and I looked over pages of joinery and planed my final project, a slab bench. I started work on it this week. She is so awesome, just look: