umbrellaleap

Well, this sure is fun!

Every Friday in June, my music project Home Howls invited groups of 4 or 5 folks to co-create music videos in some of the most gorgeous locations around the Bay Area, places that also play crucial roles in the transformation ecology of the bay. Transformation Ecology locations are sites that reveal uniquely how our homescapes shift, how the vital relationships, the sources and flows of resilient resources, course through or are blocked across the region, including the political and psychological and spiritual histories and stories within which these communities are embedded.

In the bay these places are often outstandingly beautiful. More Photo Stills Here and Here.

So, we visited the gap in the old bay bridge, capturing a disappearing moment in time with two bridges before the old one is taken apart in the exact reverse order it was assembled. The old and new suspended, connecting hubs across great expanses. We swam in a little cove under the new bridge, and it was not as icky as we imagined.

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We built a rope swing and swung out over the Hayward Fault in North Oakland, sweeping out over an expansive view of the bay surrounding us, attached to a few branches of a 100 year old eucalyptus grove. Playing with that edge between ground and air, known and unknown. And then we climbed another 100 ft up the hill and joined an outdoor concert with eight or nine live bands, playing late into the night, serenading the city lights and the stars.

We journeyed to the far South Bay Salt Ponds, waters crimson red from billions of bacteria feeding on white crystalline salt beaches. Nearby the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct arrives in the bay between its emergence in Yosemite and its taps in San Francisco. We each tasted something that was sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. We were rock stars at a rock harvest.

Ahh, the ebbs and flows of estuaries. For our fourth Friday we toured four locations, wading out into North Bay marshes. Only 20,000 years ago the whole bay was a mere trickle of river, the water trapped in glacial ice, and as it flowed out and re-filled valleys, it took millennia to weave the verdant biodiverse web that sparkles at the intersection of salt and fresh water, and modern culture only two centuries to fill in 90% of it. Over this coming century, the waters will slowly swallow these blended border lowlands decisively. The wet will win out. We wanted to dance there before this happened.

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I’m deeply grateful to everyone for the ways they showed up. Each video shoot brought just the perfect number and combination of people to make the video happen, and the magic and creativity of the land and waters showed up powerfully present as well. Home Howls will have some fantastic videos to share once we complete production and editing, but the participatory potential for this kind of place-based participatory learning is what feels most thrilling.

Leaning in towards this buzzing curiosity, I’ve registered placeplaying.com

“Transformation Ecology” and “place playing” were two phrases that rose out of the experiences we shared around the bay this month. Transformation Ecology looks at how communities relate to their homes during major shifts. Place Playing is the cultivation of resilient relationships with shared homescapes through placed-based play, learning, and activism in seriously-fun forms like classes, tours, events, workshops, art, organizing, and direct actions.

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So much fun, and so much more work to do. The places that are crucial to us may be healthy or hurt, beautiful or ugly or both, but they, like the life forms they sustain, probably need play to feel alive. May we all extend and expand our places and periods of play throughout our long full interconnected lives.

There’s a lot more place playing coming up this summer and beyond. Come join us!

 

 

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