Art As Praxis: Embarking on Regreening the Desert

This is Part 1 of the Flow the Desert series. (Read More)

Looking back at all the different projects I’ve worked on throughout the years, there’s always one thing I wish I did more of:

Documentation.

To kick-off Flow The Desert, I’m publicly writing, taking notes, and reflecting as I go along — something I don’t like doing, because I’m afraid of what it means to work openly in public.

What Is Flow The Desert?

Flow The Desert is a pipe dream I recently caught hold of.

I left my hometown of Los Angeles several years ago to travel with my typewriter and give #FreePoetry away to strangers. On the surface, I wanted to see if I could find a way to travel without capitalism affecting my art. Underneath that current, I was drawn to lands full of greenery, forests, and trees. That’s the force that took me to places like Sweden, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Flash-forward a few years into living on the east coast. Every winter, I’d fly back home to celebrate the holidays with my family. Each time I flew in, my sister, brother, mom, and/or my dad would suffer through LA’s traffic to pick me up from the airport. I remember whenever we’d drive through the mountains into the Valley, I’d be struck by the same tiny epiphany:

These rocks, these mountains, these shrubs — all yellow and brown — they’re gorgeous. I wonder why I never really saw them in this light, before.

I drove across the country from Philadelphia to California, last year. As soon as I crossed into my home state, I couldn’t help but notice all the wide, barren space: some corporation drilling who knows what out in the middle of nowhere; driving miles on an empty highway with yellow, dirt fields soldering in the heat on both sides of the road.

The unconscious place inside me had been thinking about rocks, about sand, about mountains for some time, now. I remember years ago talking to someone I wrote a Typewriter Poetry poem for. She was from Colorado. I told her about how I hitchhiked through the state and loved it. “I miss the mountains,” she said, a light longing in her eyes. “They surrounded you. You always knew where you were, based on the view you were facing.”

I could relate.

Now, having been back home for the longest time in a long time, I’ve settled into a new / old wave —

Revitalizing the Desert

All of my projects take shape in a nebulous space of associations, taking root only when the etymology of a name appears —

Desert: “to abandon”

This is about returning to what has been abandoned: physically, metaphysically, and metaphorically.

Here is the process —

Step One

Overcome the assumption that the desert is empty.

Step Two

Internalize the belief that the desert is a traumatized site, in need of tender care.

Step Three

Live this belief by tending to the soil — from sand to soil — and growing seeds from the philosophy of natural farming along with the methods of zai.

I am interested in connecting with people who see the beauty of the desert as a traumatized site worth tending to. Is that you? Please reach out via email or in the comments. I’d love to keep in touch, learn, and follow your work.

I am undertaking this project as I believe it does not take A Special Someone to grow one tree, one flower, one grass in the desert. It just takes A Someone willing to learn and be changed by the work, itself.

By openly writing about this particular kind of caregiving — compassionate hand dedicated to the desert’s reincarnation into trees, forests, greenery — I hope to keep myself anchored to this place, to the regreening of it, and to a community that feels the same.

Documenting the conceptualization and dreaming process of a new project. This would grow to ultimately become “For every star, a tree.”

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