Sunday, November 15, 2015

Three people.

The attacks in Beirut, Paris, Kenya, et. Al. has me feeling a bit unraveled. It makes me unsettled down to my gray matter with a sense of disconnected unease.

This week seems to have ruffled the feathers of humanity. But this has always been, I'm reminded. This torment is chronic throughout humanity's history. 

But this is happening now

Equal parts crippling and hopeful, we the spawn of past offenses are given the torch in which we have the power to affect our environment. 

Don't change the world, people. That task is insurmountable for one alone. You cannot feed every hungry mouth or inspire every person hell-bent on damaging another. 

But you can help a few. 

Over the last few days, I've reached out to a few acquaintances. It's nothing big, just a little note to tell them just how valuable they are to me, to their community, to the greater humanity. 

If I made just three people feel better and realize just a little scrap of their worth that's good enough for me. But how others respond to me is not my concern. My hope, maybe. 

Here's my request: Reach out to three people and give them your affection and respect. 

That's it. Just say "thanks" or "you're valid and important" or whatever to three people. 

Perhaps this might not affect the world, but it will affect your world and maybe someone else's. 

Simple. Compassion. Value in humanity. 

Sometimes that makes all the difference.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Who Can Get This Dolphin to Woody Harrelson? (Guest blog by Murial Barkley-Almer)

Who Can Get This Dolphin to Woody Harrelson? 

Theo Ramey is one of the most potent characters of my Lake Chelan childhood. I grew up perusing the shadows of his metal shop, creatures and vehicles and other beauty coming to life through his welding hands. His voice was gruff, his horseshoe mustache unparalleled, and his heart so incredibly kind. One of the greatest gifts I ever received as a child was made by his hands: a bunk bed of metered metal scrap and tin rosettes, all painted lovingly in the shades of girlhood. 

When the fires raged through my hometown of Chelan, WA two weeks ago, I reached out to my artist communities for support. I was gathering donation “perks” (or prizes) for an Indiegogo campaign designed to raise money for those experiencing the most profound of the devastation: homes lost, forest charred, livestock, wildlife and pets displaced and injured. Almost immediately, Theo reached out. “ I have a sculpture for your cause. It’s a dolphin.” When I saw the photos, I was awed. Theo has been collecting her parts for 14 years—combing junkyards and antique store back rooms for perfectly comprised hunks of copper, brass, aluminum, and cast-iron. But when I asked for an approximate value, his answer raised my eyebrow. “Well, I was going to ask Woody Harrelson for $10,000…but I suppose that was the 'movie star' price.” 

Turns out, Theo and Woody were neighbors once upon a time, working and playing in their own ways on Maui. While the two never met in person, Theo was friends with Woody’s cook and housekeeper and one day she brought Theo’s portfolio in to show her boss. When Woody marveled at the polished glory of reinvented junk, she told him, “I wish you could see the piece he is working on right now, a dolphin. It’s beautiful.” And Woody replied, “I’d love to look at it. Have him let me know when it is done.” 

Fast forward 10 years, a thousand scrap metal searches, and a relocation to Western WA state: Woody, the dolphin is ready, and her name is Hoover.

Now, I don’t know Woody Harrelson, but as far as celebrities go, I feel like we could be friends. A questioning, boundary-heaving, environmentally-minded activist with a penchant for spontaneous and silly? I’d like to have tea. And maybe it’s crazy, but I feel like he just might be the kind of person who would respond to the quirky plea of a desperate stranger. 


Dear Woody Harrelson,

Rumor has it, this dolphin belongs with you. You were in the mind of the artist as he slowly collected its components. Its baby-steps toward existence occurred on a plot of land abutting yours. And when the artist donated its gleaming form to our fundraiser, he did so with your name, laughingly, upon his lips. You already have one foot in our story, and I’d love to invite you the rest of the way in. And at ‘regular people price,’ of course!

Washington state is on fire, Woody. You and I both know that the Earth is losing patience with our mismanagement of her resources, of *her* art. The way the West burns seems a clear indicator for change. This week, however, my grief is too great to look beyond the immediacy of this wildfire’s aftermath—the people, wildlife, and loved animals that are displaced and experiencing loss in my hometown. I don’t have much in the way of money to contribute to the rebuilding, but I’ve got my words to use, artist friends with generous hearts, and an incurable case of 'the optimistic’.

If Hoover is your dolphin, Woody, let me know? 

Chelan (and me, Murial)

If you would like to participate in the effort to unite “Hoover” and Woody, it’s as easy as sharing this message with your social networks in whatever way you do—help us to create a trending story so that we are able to get on the radar! If you have a connection to Woody, and are able to share my message with him directly, my heart would be so grateful, and I’d love to thank you personally in kind.

Grow the Love: Supporting Chelan Fire Victims is a collaborative fundraising effort of the grown children of Lake Chelan, WA. Through art, storytelling, and heart-centered reciprocity, we are doing what we can to help rebuild the magic that made us! All donations above $25 are responded to with an artful “perk”—handwritten thank you letters, jewelry, visual and audio art, healing work and services! Check us out:

Monday, June 29, 2015

"Happy Accident"

The words scared me. When my daughter called me just after opening our art gallery on a Sunday morning, I couldn't help but feel frightened.  Accidents are forgetting to turn the lights off or leaving the water on. But in this case, we were lucky.

Because it was the most happy accident ever.

When I heard the news about marriage equality on Friday, the world opened up. I wanted to celebrate. And celebrate hard.

But it's difficult to show your support and celebrate in a small town. Being overtly political can have so many problems that bubble up and can make having a small-town business challenging. If people disagree, the world can shut you out, sales can dwindle, rent can't be paid, and you become just another failed business.

On Friday, I didn't really care about that.

The paint came first, then chalk. By Saturday, we had some beautiful chalk art in front of our little art gallery. Then the happy accident happened.

My daughter, Magnolia, forgot the chalk when she closed up shop. She forgot it outside.

The results were beautiful.

It's amazing what can happen when you leave yourself vulnerable.

By the next morning, the sidewalk in front of our gallery crept all the way down the street. The pavement was strewn about with love--love for equality, love for each other, love for love.

This is a precarious time: We are only six months into our gallery and 90% of galleries fail within the first year. Whether or not we survive, that's up to the art market in Lake Chelan. But we will continue to fly the flag for equality and wait to see what happens.

Let's celebrate, people. Today is a good day.