Landscape of Learning with Hank Patton and his crew
Cold Spring Farm in Underwood, WA
Hwy 14 was a long winding road when we could have taken 84. We quickly made our way noting the places we wanted to visit on our way back down the highway again. It seemed like a slow road to get there and it will likely be a slow road back to Portland with all the stops. There is just simply so much to do and see.
Once we pulled into Hank’s driveway at Cold Spring, the rest of the world fell away. We were greeted by Elona, the Executive Director who introduced us to Hank, the founder. He quickly helped us find a place for Flo and invited us to make ourselves at home as he tended to his chores. I followed him closely as I wanted to experience as much as I could in our short time there. He directed me on where I could stand as he introduced a new queen to a hive. This is his second hive for the season. All of his bees died last year when the snow got too deep to get to them. For those of you following this blog, you know how much I love being around bees.
Ray joined us as we were finishing up and together we fed 10 newborn kids. These Nubians were 2-6 days old and very anxious to swill down ~375ml each of their collective goat mother’s milk.
We took a quick break to have a little tequila and honey-sweetened lemonade in honor of our mutual friend’s birthday: Robert, who Ray and I met while artists-in-residents at http://www.ArtsLettersNumbers.com. He and Diane are responsible for Ray and I meeting Hank. Then I was off to cut chives from the garden while Hank made a wonderful pasta with vegetables from the garden.
I thought all of this was about World Steward but we learned so much more as I sketched out some notes. The relationship between Forestandfarm.org and bigSMALL, to Intergenerational Finance and working off of the money system proved to me that we are all connected in many ways. The complicity of subject matter reminded me of my opportunities with Robert and my graphic recordings while working in DC. There was so much I didn’t understand until I started drawing it out. It quickly became evident what the purpose and vision was, how important it is to the rest of the world, and how those who are helping on the farm are part of something so much greater than themselves and the square mile of land they are caring for.
Ray fished my Neuland backpack from the packed car so I could share my graphic facilitation tools with Hank. I shared with him how the Visioneering team got started and how we operate as a high-performing team. It was fun to review what seemed like a memory (only because I have been offline for a few days). I quickly began to understand how my skills can support his efforts. The question was when and how?
The night was hot and damp. I hadn’t felt that kind of humidity since living in Kansas. Surrounded by trees and all those who inhabit them, Ray and I found ourselves quite cozy in Flo. And cracked the widows wide open for the first time on our trip.
A long, dark and quiet night gave me an opportunity to sleep in—the first in months. When we arrived at the house we were greeted by Jonathon and Sarah, more stewards of the land. While Elona doesn’t see it that way, instead of stewarding, we all have a deep relationship and connection WITH the land. We fed the kids again and made our way to breakfast. Oatmeal has never tasted so good. Between the goats milk and an array of dried fruits and nuts, we shared what we were thankful for: Robert and Diane, for the work being done here, sweethearts and best friends, nourishment and travelers.
Hoping to earn our keep while enjoying the land, Ray and Sarah picked radishes and later Ray and I cleaned them. I played ball with Winnow and Pan, the dogs who generously do their job as ranch hands. Ray and I walked around the farm to view the chickens, orchard, get an update on the bees, billy goats and trees. We talked about the land we have been dreaming of, the cow and chickens Ray wants, and the bees that I want to keep. This isn’t the first of our talks about such things. We have been dreaming of it since we left Durango in 2014. The question is where and how will that will all come about. It’s coupled with where we will land and how we will sustain ourselves.
Hank ran a tractor until lunch so the additional farm hands who just arrived could install chicken wire around newly planted trees and prep plants for the greenhouse to come. Hank and I met at 3pm under the canopy attached to Flo until it got cold and we needed to find our way to the sun.
We talked about the critical path of Hank’s efforts as I worked my markers until they were out of ink. Jonathan showed great interest in the work I was doing and others on the staff wanted to know when we would return so we could continue the conversation. I’ve worked with a lot of incredible visionaries in my life. I love to hear their ideas and I love working with those who support them to help them become high-performing teams. This group is already high-performing. But I could tell they would like to use markers in their process so we left a few behind for them.
Another feeding of the kids, then milking of the mamas…
It was hard to stay goodbye to the bees and the trees and drive away. When you leave a group of people so passionate about the land and their efforts, it has you question the meaning of other things—making it all seem insignificant. With Flo in tow, we drove back over the long, bumpy road and reflected on how the last 2 days had such a profound impact on us so quickly became a speck in our rearview mirror. Not to worry, we have set a date to return—and put a stake in the ground as a possible hitching post for the future.
The importance of being in receiving mode with Carol DuBosch
Guests in her Portland, Oregon studio and home
My world was rocked and my career trajectory shifted when I met Carol DuBosch last summer at “A Show of Hands” in Asheville, NC. I recognized immediately that we share similar values around sharing knowledge and maintaining a lettering practice. She of course has decades of experience and has likely laid down a million more letters in ink than I have. I was fortunate enough to have taken 2 classes with her: Neuland Hand—which I currently teach a version of to visual practitioners and Folded Pen—which I still owe her a sketchnote handout for. My idea as she seems perfectly content with the 10 or so pages I created in her class that I shared with her students.
I’m signed up to take “Bone” from her at LetterWorks in June. But when she said she was teaching “Rustics” using a brush at the same time we will be passing through Portland, I couldn’t pass up the invite to visit her and her studio AND take her class. Both of these lettering styles will convert to wedge tip markers. So I will attempt to adapt them to work for rapid capture recording.
The night before class, I was overwhelmed with the thought that I would be a lettering outcast and feel so behind. Carol’s other students have been studying Rustics for weeks in this 9-week class. Some of them may have been with her for years. I recalled that I saw one of Carol’s students on social media showing her Rustics a month or so back and I was fraught with jealously—her work was gorgeous! Oh what I wouldn’t give to have the opportunity to take a weekly class from Carol. So after an hour or so of tossing and turning, I turned on my phone, watched a few videos, examined an exemplar and tried to memorize it.
The next morning as I poured over her art books in her studio, she asked how I was feeling about the class. I told her I was nervous about being in her class of advanced calligraphers and shared my concerns. Before I knew it, she swiftly pulled out a brush and pen and began showing me a few key strokes and letters. Naturally my first attempts were that of a complete beginner. While I was able to pull from some of my brush experience learning Roman from Hermineh Miller (Instagram.com/lotusmoon1), nothing prepared me for the steep angles and pen manipulation of Rustics. And because it was traditionally scribed quickly as graffiti on the walls of Pompeii, I had to work hard at learning the form while intellectualizing speed because we all know that you can’t learn both at once. Before I knew it, I filled 4 pages and it was time to go to class.
“To learn a hand quickly, at night before falling asleep, draw the letters with your eyes on the insides of your eyelids.”
I first heard this tip from Carol. When I told her in the car on the way to class, she said she learned that from her teacher Lloyd Reynolds.
When I got to class, of course I took my place at the front of the room, set out just a portion my materials that I have packed over 7,000 miles and quietly waited for class to begin. I haven’t experienced classroom butterflies like that since…well, I don’t know when.
Carol unabashedly introduced me by sharing my sketchnotes from her classes at the A Show of Hands conference. It was embarrassing and heightened my fear of being good enough at Rustics to play with the “big kids.”
But all of that faded away once my brush hit the paper and I began to write. What I loved about the students in both of her classes is the curiosity, generosity, and support they showed one another. I sketchnoted Carol’s demo on how to paint Rustics on fabric and after a few sheets of practice, I had my apron off measuring for layout and drawing in guidelines with a chalk pencil.
Everyone brought their own unique piece of fabric—from blue jeans to ultra suede. And everyone also had their own approach from very planned out designs like the table runner that adorned the name of the memorialized to impromptu lettering on whatever people could get their hands on like their calligraphy supply bag that quickly turned customized or a simple Viva paper towel.
Together we celebrated what we had in common: letters and the lives of one another. We learned from and cheered on the successes of finished projects and honored the ultimate celebration of life: a 5-year anniversary of cancer-free living. Congratulations Heather!
For me, being in class and staying with Carol was a highlight of this trip—until we meet again in Ogden, UT for the LetterWorks calligraphy conference. And it was all made possible by staying in receiving mode. I’m sure there is no other way to repay Carol or the support I received from her students. I will simply have to pass on what I have learned and continue to stay in touch and let them know how much being with them has meant to me.
The Oregon Coast
from Astoria to Tillamook.
It’s a good thing we have another week until we get to the Redwoods because one week in Oregon was just not enough. And for the first time on our trip, we mapped out details of where we will be staying every night for the next 20 days. Just that effort alone has set my mind at ease. Now I can focus on living, making letters and enjoying this precious time with Ray. This really is the crescendo of our journey.
After leaving Portland, we headed for Cannon Beach. It was’t far so it allowed us to get some much needed work done. Since I still work part-time as reachback support for my team, I filled an otherwise quiet library with squeaky marker sounds as I wrote out titles, topics and quotes for a project they are working on. Ray finished his post-production on a series of photos he shot in Canada and in Underwood (Cold Spring). Together we applied for another artist residency, this one in Colorado. So the adventure continues.
We were in that lovely library for 3 hours working quickly to get everything done. We celebrated with fresh seafood at Tom’s. And wow was the service friendly and the fish fresh! Yum!
Note to self: before taking off on a summer-time road trip, RESERVE your camp spots! At least on the weekends. As teardroppers, we love camping in the woods. RV villages, not so much. It seems so synthetic. But that’s what you get when you fail to plan or in our case, live life on the road fully to the extent where you may not know exactly where the road will take you.
After a wonderful night at Wrights for Camping near Cannon Beach, we made our way north to visit Astoria. I’m beginning to see a pattern of these charming west coast towns. The art galleries, small eateries and access to beaches put us in Flow as we meander our way down the coast.
We continued our stay at Nehalam Bay State Park. Which had a wonderful beach scene and is near Tillamook. Unfortunately it’s an RV village so we are stuck here for the weekend. Otherwise we might find ourselves way inland drydocking at a WalMart or something. This is the better alternative.
I like it when we stay longer than a night in one place. We can unpack a little more: set up the stove and tents, eat better and explore the surroundings. It makes me feel like I’m getting to know a place better and not missing out on much.
And here is where we put a bookmark in it and hit send for the week. This next week we continue to find our way down the coast and by week’s end, head for the Redwoods for a week. It’s likely you may not hear from us. If you don’t, not to worry. Just imagine us under a great Redwood tree. I’ll be meditating and Ray will be taking a nap.