EDITION LOCAL

Magic on the Mesa

Natalie SoComment

A few weeks ago, we hosted the last of our FIELD to BODY workshops in the backyard of ceramicist Geoff Evans. His backyard, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean, was the perfect setting for a day of art, making, and learning. 

The sunny Saturday morning began with a natural dye-printing workshop with Kenya Miles of Traveling Miles Studio. Kenya showed us how to use cochineal, one of the oldest known dyes, to transform plain fabric into vibrant pinks, oranges, and violets. Participants dipped, dyed, and stamped their own cotton tea towels with geometric and abstract designs.

After a communal lunch shared on Geoff's handcrafted 32-foot long table (made from wood he found washed up ashore), Travis Meinolf shared his weaving secrets. Participants set up their weaving stations around a tree, tying their yarn to the branches and using the tree as a central axis. From above, the strands of yarn resembled the spokes of a wheel. 

In the end, participants left the workshops with their own handmade creations and a new set of skills to share with others. Here are some photos from the weekend:

Photos courtesy of Kalie Ilana Cassel-Feiss

UNFARMED: A video series by Lowe + HeLzer

Natalie SoComment

Unfarmed, the latest project by Alana Lowe and Paul Helzer, is an ongoing video series about wild harvest-ables that grow in our midst (uncannily aligned with our FIELD to BODY project). With five released episodes thus far, Lowe + Helzer document foragers and wild crafters as they show how to find and use plants, fungi, seaweed, berries, herbs, bark, salt, grains, and flowers—anything that grows in the wild. 

In the first episode, Unfarmed spends the day with wild food guru Hank Shaw of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. Hank is on his knees, digging in the sand with a trowel, a cooler by his side. He is looking for Western and Pacific Littleneck Clams in the Tomales Bay. “The one thing people need to understand when people pursue wild food … is that … you have to accept the possibility of failure in the pursuit of wild food because it happens all the time,” he says, in the video's voiceover. Toward the end of the video, Hank is in his kitchen, making an orrechiette dish in the low-light of the evening. He chops up wild boar chorizo and tosses the pasta with garlic, parsley, and lemon zest. The solitary work of the wilderness man is demystified here: the outdoor labor requires effort for sure, and the indoor creative process requires some knowledge, but both seem accessible and doable (here's his recipe for Clams in Black Bean Sauce). 

Other individuals featured include Tanya Stiller, an educator and herbalist, who harvests pedicularis densiflora for a tincture and talks about the ethics of foraging; Brett Poirier, who makes a salad from wild greens like miners lettuce, watercress, stinging nettles, and ostrich fern fiddleheads; and two of our own Edition Local friends: Halley Roberts, who gathers elderflower for a tangy and refreshing cordial, and ethnobotanist Deepa Preeti Natarajan, who demonstrates how to dye natural fibers with spring plum leaf. A recipe is included with each episode.

Unfarmed is an intimate look at the personal relationships individuals like Hank have forged with the outdoors—a relationship that, to the uninitiated, may seem foreign, challenging, and impossible. The videos are at once anthropological and ethnobotanical studies as well as personal histories, but Unfarmed is also a practical and educational project, an implicit encouragement to look, gather, and physically connect with the wild. This was our hope too—in launching our FIELD to BODY project, which came to a close on Sunday—that people would begin to see and learn about the economy created by foragers, botanical dyers, herbalists, apothecaries, and more. Though we're still learning, we've found this to be true: the more connected we are to this earth and to the people around us, the better off we’ll be.

Check out Unfarmed here. Watch their videos on Vimeo and follow them on Twitter.

Perfect Your Skin with Kristina Holey

Natalie SoComment

The skin is body’s largest organ—and it’s the one that is most visible too. It’s no surprise that one look at a person’s skin can tell you so much about her physical and emotional well-being.

How to take care of our skin? Many people spend their whole lives trying to figure it out—and with the plethora of products out there, who knows where to begin?

Kristina Holey does. A skin care specialist with a focus on the scientific and holistic processes of the body, Kristina’s philosophy to skincare is about creating a balanced ecosystem for optimal wellness. She spent two years living abroad in Paris, where she held an apprenticeship with renowned Parisian skin expert Joelle Ciocco. Since then, she’s been featured in Vogue and W Magazine (Vogue recently just named her one of 8 under-the-radar facialists with over-the-top skills).

Edition Local Community Guild is hosting a special workshop with Kristina on Wednesday evening, 4/29. It will be an intimate gathering, held in a private loft in San Francisco’s Mission District, where she’ll guide participants through creating a nourishing bodily environment for optimal internal health. Kristina will introduce the the basic fundamentals of skin function and provide insight into how to create the best skin care regimen using not only beauty products, but also dietary additions and nutritional supplements. The workshop will be accompanied by light refreshments, specifically prepared to highlight proper nutrition for beautiful skin. 

We're very lucky to have one of the most in-demand facialists right now join our FIELD to BODY series. 

SIGN UP HERE for a this rare and special opportunity. Space is limited.

Put Your Faith in the Two Inches of Humus

Jennifer JonesComment
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
— Wendell Berry, Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Spring is a luscious time of year. It’s the time when wild irises gather together like girls coming home from school, all of their purple faces open to the sky and laughing with delight. Raptors are on every fence post and tree, a Sharp-Shinned Hawk lives in the park by my house in San Francisco and I can hear its chirping in the evening and early morning every day when I step outside. Fiddleheads unfurl out of Sword Ferns, making dramatic entrances into the world.

 

Spring is also the time when Poison Oak’s leaves are bright green, shining like freshly polished shoes with their deadly oils. Whitish flowers group together on the stems and as hard as I try, when I’m foraging I can’t avoid it. The Miwok would feed their children tiny pubescent poison oak leaves in order to inoculate them from the rash. They cooked with the leaves and made baskets from the flexible stems.

 

In order to avoid contracting the dreaded rash that penetrates your skin within ten minutes of exposure, I keep a small bottle of Dr. Bronners Tea Tree Soap in my car. After a hike or a day spent languidly relaxing in PO, I rub on the soap and rinse with any available water. Be sure to shower and immediately wash your clothes to prevent the incredibly gruesome blisters that can follow exposure, especially if you don’t know what your tolerance is. 

 

Elderflower is everywhere in the spring and always bordered by the dreaded rash-inducing plant. It’s my favorite part of spring foraging, along with the Chickweed and Miners lettuce snacks that lie in the more forested areas of Northern California. Every year for six years I’ve been making Elderflower Cordial, and I look forward to its butter-colored flowers popping open every April. While it’s tempting to gather Elderflower from the roadsides where it bends gracefully over cars, it’s best to avoid the invisible toxins from gasoline that are harbored in green areas next to passing traffic.

 

In the spring, remember to look up. Seeing the silhouettes of raptors and hearing their distinct and varied calls takes practice, but more importantly it takes listening. Find a sit spot in the outdoors, and visit it every day. The passing of spring will take on a new life, and it will be impossible to be in nature without scanning the trail for Polypore mushrooms and Bobcat scat. Soon every living creature at your sit spot will begin to know you and recognize you, until you become as much of a part of the place as the place itself.

 

Thanks Halley for sharing your FIELD to BODY experiences!

Sign up for your own FIELD to BODY experience at one of our workshops HERE

WABI-SABI: FURTHER THOUGHTS

Natalie SoComment

When I visited Leonard Koren at his home last October, he told me that when he first set out to write about the notion of beauty—or more specifically, the kind of beauty he felt most deeply drawn to—, a Japanese monk told him, “That will take you many lifetimes.”

But in this lifetime, at least, Leonard has bestowed on us another book about beauty, a complement to Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, which was first published over a decade ago, in 1994. The most recent book, published just two weeks ago, is called Wabi-Sabi: Further Thoughts.

In his first book, he wrote, “wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional.” Since its introduction by Leonard, who has been both a gatekeeper and translator of the term, wabi-sabi has seeped into the aesthetic consciousness of the Western World. Among designers, photographers, artists, and writers, you’ll hear the term, often as a defining paradigm for one’s own aesthetic or sense of beauty. As Leonard describes it in Wabi- Sabi: Further Thoughts, wabi-sabi was “a semantic construct that conceivably fit the pattern of aesthetic feeling-awareness—beauty—[he] was searching for.” Its definition feels inherently familiar. In fact, the first book of gave us a language for beauty that we might have already recognized but could not articulate.

In Further Thoughts, it’s clear that Leonard understands the reception of Wabi-Sabi in the past decade—he not only extends the dialogue he began in his first book, but also seeks to untangle misconceptions, clarify how wabi-sabi came to be, further illuminate its character, and contextualize wabi-sabi in the modern world. This is a book about what came before wabi-sabi and what lies ahead. “The ideas raised here are meant to engage you, the reader in a consideration of materality—the nature of—going forward into the future,” he writes.

Further Thoughts is not only an explication of a particular concept, but its also doubles as a manual for explaining how one might approach an abstract concept and “translate it into an intelligible form.” How can a mindset or phenomenon become a useful concept? Leonard explains his own process, giving a glimpse into his personal history with wabi-sabi. Along the way, he offers remarkable definitions for concepts that are difficult to fully convey, like beauty (“that complex of exciting, pleasurable sensations … that makes us feel more alive and connected to the world”) and elegance (“the graceful acceptance of restraint, inconvenience, and uncertainty”). This is where Leonard excels: "[conveying] the full sense ... of a concept, in words, the medium of explicitly stated ideas.” (I’m using his own words to describe his excellence). 

Like his first book, Further Thoughts is a slim, unassuming volume, printed on gritty paper, with accompanying black-and-white photographs—these are design choices that he explains in the book under the heading “Rhetorical considerations.” As always, Leonard’s words are thoughtfully considered and impressively concise—poignant and wise. This book is at once more historical, more personal, and more modern than the first, but in both, Leonard writes not only about wabi-sabi: he’s also writing about language, about publishing books, about the philosophy of materiality, about ways of noticing and looking at the world.  

Signed copies of Wabi-Sabi: Further Thoughts are available for purchase here. Edition of 25.
Read the story of Imperfect Publishing here

Join us for FIELD to BODY

Natalie SoComment

In her introduction to The Book of Chez Panisse, Alice Waters writes, “This is the power of gathering: it inspires us, delightfully, to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful: in a word, more alive.” 

Alice Waters, one of the pioneers of the organic food movement, understood the importance of connection and gathering in sustaining the health of our population and environment. In opening Chez Panisse, she decided to only buy organic food from local and small-scale farmers in an effort to to cultivate a direct connection between them and consumers. Undergirding her entire philosophy is the idea that people and environment matter—and that the connection between the two, as it pertains to social responsibility, local economy, and personal health requires attention and dedication. The connection is vital.

Since we first launched, we’ve been focused largely on telling stories and providing goods that are crafted with integrity and care. But we realized that to further the story of people and place, we also wanted to bring people together to learn, experience, and connect at in-person gatherings and workshops. Today we’re excited to announce a new Edition Local project called FIELD to BODY, a series of community gatherings focused on the connection between farms, fields, foraging, and the body. We hope that these gatherings will help us all deepen our connection to the environments we live in.

We’re certainly not the first to explore the relationship between field and body. Rather, we’re responding to and joining in a movement that we’ve seen to be quite pervasive in the areas we live in. It’s no surprise that artists and craftspeople with deep relationship to the places they live in have are also passionate about the physical, mental, and emotional benefits that their environments possess. 

We’ve invited teachers, makers, foragers, cooks, herbalists, and other individuals who are working to bridge the connection between plant and body to join Edition Local in hosting a month of community gatherings. Every weekend is an opportunity to learn, meet the makers, engage with plants, taste something new, or craft your own medicine. Alongside, we’ll be telling their stories and giving you a glimpse of what they do, so even if you live outside of the Bay Area, you can follow along. 

Check out our first story on herbalist and flower essence-maker Liz MIgliorelli of Sister Spinster.


Visit the FIELD to BODY page for more information.

 

SIGN UP FOR WORKSHOPS AND EVENTS  www.editionlocal.eventbrite.com

Visit our Calendar of Events for a complete listing of workshops and gatherings.

 

JOIN our FIELD to BODY mailing list by sending us a message with the subject line 'FIELD to BODY' on our contact page. Even if you don't live in the Bay Area, we'll keep you posted on Field to Body happenings and include you in a virtual gathering of recipes, stories, how-tos, tidbits and other wisdom through our community mobilization app.

We hope to see you soon!

Geography of Hope

Natalie SoComment

“We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope,” wrote Wallace Stegner in his 1980 Wilderness Letter, a riveting and poetic plea to the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission. For Stegner, the “geography of hope" a concept as physical and literal as it was metaphysical and figurative, at once a fertile landscape and an idea“an intangible and spiritual resource"vital to the health and well-being of the human race. It is this intersection that the upcoming biennial literary conference, Geography of Hope, seeks to explore through the lens of this year’s theme, Women and the Land.

Since 2008, the Geography of Hope conference has brought together writers, activists, and poets for three days of readings, discussions, and activities “to inspire and deepen an understanding of the relationships between people and place.” Founded by Steve Costa of Point Reyes Books (whom we recently featured on Edition Local), the conference will be taking place in locations all throughout West Marin this upcoming weekend, March 13-15. Authors Robin Wall Kimmerer and Kathleen Dean Moore are co-chairs of the 2015 gathering. 

“To create this new perspective,” says GOH co-chair Kathleen Dean Moore, “will take every point of view and every imaginative power. So we are listening particularly for voices that might offer useful perspectives. That means we want to listen closely to women. We want to listen to people of color and to the poor. We want to listen to future generations. And we want to listen closely to other voices that offer new directions, new compass points, new trails across new terrain.” 

We’re especially excited about the Geography of Hope conference because it reflects Edition Local’s own concerns about people, place, and the relationship between the two. One of the main questions that will be asked of conference participants is “What do we love too much to lose? What will we do to protect it?”

We need more conversations about both crisis and renewal. Any hope that we have for the places we inhabit will require more than individual moxie. Our hope must be built up collectively, through an entire village of voices.

For more information about the Geography of Hope conference, visit their website hereFollow this weekend’s events via the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.

 

Lina Jane Prairie

Natalie SoComment

Today we're inspired by the kelp baskets of Inverness artist Lina Jane Prairie, who has a kelp harvesting license through the state. She uses two types of seaweed in her work: bull kelp and walking kelp.

She writes:

"When I walk on a shore I examine every seaweed. The colors, patterns, shapes, and textures of this life form fascinate me.

When I make a basket the kelp comes to life again for me. I'll have an idea, even a plan about what I'll make. It always becomes something else along the way. I love this surprise. 

Sometimes I feel as if I can make a basket with my eyes closed or that the basket makes itself in my hands. Often the kelp and I struggle in the construction. It's so much fun."

 

ELEMENT: Sweetgrass

Jennifer JonesComment

Element /'eləmənt/: one of the simplest or essential parts or principles of which anything consists, or upon which the fundamental powers of anything are based.

Today on the Journal, we begin our Element series, an exploration of the elemental things that are simple but essential parts of our environments. Our very own Asia Wong, artist and maker liaison, talks about the role of sweetgrass in her daily life. 

I begin most days with a walk to the bay, where I swim. Recently, I came upon tufts of sweetgrass along one of the trails. It felt like a coming of age. 

I do most things instinctively. When I forage in the surrounds of Point Reyes, I use my imagination, drawing out a prehistoric, intrinsic wisdom to understand and relate to the plants I collect. Sometimes a book tells me what I want to know, sometimes revelation comes from the eye-wisdom of another person, sometimes my hands and senses guide me in ways I don't understand. This is how I learn. 

One early morning, sweetgrass showed her almond-honey face to me, right as she was blooming. Easily mistaken for other grasses in her domain, she reveals herself to the world with tiny tufts of fuzzy, white seed-flowers. Equally elegant and child-like. 

I brought a handful of her home and decided to make a few braids, though I didn't really know how. One for my aunt and one for my sister.  My aunt, who is currently reading Robin Kimmerer’s poetically wrought essays Braiding Sweetgrass, shared with me that sweetgrass is traditionally braided by a pair of people—one holds it while the other one braids. It makes sense to me now—my loose and simple braids would surely have been more tightly woven had a companion helped me. Nowadays, I collect a small handful of sweetgrass after my morning swim and leave them in messy pile to dry out on my window ledge. Their fragrance, my companion. Their presence, my delight.

Inverness Almanac

Natalie SoComment

In a society of dispersed and far-flung tastes, a universal book owned by every single household seems inconceivable. But in 17th and 18th century America, the almanac was just that—an annual publication that served as both reference book and entertainment. It included weather forecasts, astronomical data, astrological predictions, farmers’ planting dates, and tide tables, as well as essays, poetry, and proverbial sayings. Writing about almanacs in 1878, professor of American history Moses Coit Tyler suggested that the almanac was “the universal book of modern literature, the supreme and only literary necessity even in household where the Bible and the newspaper are still undesired and unattainable luxuries.”

The almanac was traditionally read by all social classes. It was an inexpensive publication, accessible by almost anyone and useful especially for farmers and those in agriculture-related professions. The almanac provided an awareness of the cycles and rhythms of one’s environment. It navigated the streams of both tradition and progress, incorporating science, observation, and old wisdom. It was a both a micro and macro glimpse of the structure of the universe, with the fundamental assumption that abiding by seasonal and climate changes was only possible with some fore knowledge of its movements and systems. 

The Inverness Almanac, which will be released on March 13, is a continuation of this very tradition. Focused on the West Marin region, the Inverness Almanac describes itself as “a record and an artifact for posterity,” “a collection of practical knowledge,” “ruminations about our natural world,” and “an outlet for creative expression.”  Conceived and compiled by a group of a dozen volunteers, all West Marin residents, the Inverness Almanac solicited submissions from the surrounding community, collecting “observations of weather” as well as journal entries, drawings, recipes, essays, interviews, hand-drawn maps, and other curiosities. A salient feature of the almanac legacy, the confluence of place, time, and community is central to the Inverness Almanac. Community wisdom is captured, not forgotten; the connection between humans and land is seized upon. This is an artifact at once time-sensitive and timeless. 

Photo by Natalie So

Photo by Natalie So

Learn more about the Inverness Almanac here & pre-order a copy here.

Support through donations and attendance at upcoming events, including a Soul Night Dance Party tonight at 8:30 PM at The Western in Point Reyes Station and their Volume One Release Party at 7 PM, March 13, at The Dance Palace in Point Reyes Station.


 

Historical almanacs of note:
1. Poor Richard’s Almanack, Benjamin Franklin (1732-1758)
2. Farmers’ Almanac (1818 - )
3. Astronomical Diary and Almanack, Nathaniel Ames (1726)
4. A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold (1949)
5. Almanac of American Politics (1942- )

Know Thy Neighbor

Natalie SoComment
photo by Aubrey Trinnaman for Edition Local

photo by Aubrey Trinnaman for Edition Local

At Edition Local, we’ve spent the past several months getting to know the artists and craftspeople in our community and helping you to get to know them too. As we’ve told these stories about people and place in small Northern Californian towns, we’ve realized that our greatest hope is to awaken a desire in our readers and supporters to know thy neighbor. Who lives next to you? Who walks down your street? Who is making art in the studio down the block? 

Though we’re showcasing arts, crafts, and beautiful objects, technology is undoubtedly a part of this conversation. Technology makes Edition Local possible; we run an e-commerce site, and we use Instagram. But rather than being just another e-commerce destination, we’re hoping to give you a real and physical sense of place and community, located in a regional geography and terrain, in which technology is used to aid, not destroy local economies. Supporting the creative community in our own regions is extremely important to us, and we believe that the first step to strengthening these communities is to start with one person at a time, the person nearest to you, the person next door. Know thy neighbor.

We’re creating the Edition Local journal to give you the scoop on what’s happening in the various regions we’re covering—art openings, events, fun day trips. We’ll also share some thoughts and inspiration, and you’ll hear from our artists and friends on occasion. So join in for the conversation, as we give you glimpses of how we're getting to know our neighbors. We’re hoping you’ll follow along.