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Posts from the ‘Toolkit’ Category

Shampoo, a shrine and a pop-up shelter

P6090036 What to pack in your rucksack and what to leave out  is the all time Big  Camino Question. I wanted to enjoy walking  but not to suffer too much discomfort and I knew that getting it right might make or break our trip so it was essential to pack well. Choices re pack size and content should depend on accommodation not strength. This might be in hostels, pensions or Paradors, the luxury Spanish hotels. We chose to sleep by the wayside under the stars oblivious to the large wolf packs that still roam Northern Spain.  The guide book suggests a medium size rucksack, if you use a large pack it warns, you’ll be tempted to fill it up!Most of those carrying big rucksacks on this trail are men and this observation made me feel a bit smug at times as  I had ditched  my ipad, phone, camera reading glasses, shampoo, conditioner and face cream during the packing process at home.

Camping gas turned out to be a burdensome luxury, so after a few days Mark gifted it, unopened, to the owner of a hostel whose “Camino ” stamp was a red beating heart. Though we survived without hot food, we still had to carry the small aluminium pan and stove top as they were expensive and we’d be needing them back home. Mark made a shrine to the Camino from a pair of boots he decided he didn’t need. He continued along the way in sandals!

boots Sleeping well  is important, so the majority of space inside my pack was dedicated to the art of sleep. My luxury bedding choice consisted of a very tiny, very posh, very orange super – lightweight, self inflating sleeping mat and my beloved down sleeping bag, which folds down to almost nothing. Next a khaki coloured bivvy bag to protect from rain and dew and a cheap and cheerful rolly mat for insulation, geat also for yoga, siestas and a picnic. My first aid kit is disproportionally large, complete with essential oils to heal wounds and keep bugs and bigger things at bay, arnica gel for aches and pains, homeopathic remedies for toothache, the shits, injuries and rescue remedy for and just about anything else. I packed my black rain jacket that has a dodgy zip, but left my rain trousers at home. I’d wear my skirt in the rain and dry it once the sun came out.

Actually we were lucky and only got wet once.  Pumelled by giant hailstones Mark and I cosied under the good old DREAMING PLACE mat,  beneath the mightiest oak in the forest. Though lightning streaked down on all sides the oak didn’t get hit. Later a man made shelter popped  up magically out of the forest by the trail side, as the thunder rolled and the rain re-commenced.  It had a bench, a waste bin and a sitting man called Paul Murphy; an activitst and MEP for the Irish socialist party  We couldn’t have packed a more interesting and entertaining companion for a rainy afternoon in the wilds.

This blogstory is one of several by Anna is writing about her journey with Mark on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain.

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A kettle full of generosity

“It’s my dream to own a kettle like that!” says Mary-Jane, her tiny frame tilted back to take in the beauty of our family-size kettle which hangs from the pod’s rear hatch. Its brown enamel surface is hand-painted with bright bargee swirls and flowers and it’s slightly scuffed.

Teapot
We are bursting to say “here you are, Mary –Jane please take it as a gift from us; for hasn’t she just given us an envelope with money in it, to repay our visit just as if we are her own children or grandchildren? But we don’t and the kettle stays in our care, ‘cos without it who knows how can we boil water for our visitors’ tea?

Back on the road we decide we will  gift the kettle, but later on when we don’t need it so badly. So when we get back to England it is carefully wrapped and sent over to its new owner, Mary-Jane of Tawny McKelly. So that if you pass by her cottage today or tomorrow asking for “a little water from the tap” just as we did, to quench your cyclers’ thirst, Mary -Jane will say, “You can, Aye, so you can surely, surely.” And then she’ll say, “Are you needin’ a cuppa tea o’ anything?” And when you say, “Yes that would be grand!” She’ll invite you in through the front door and you’ll l sit on the sofa by her dresser, decked with birthday cards and the radio still playing.IMG_8585
“It’s a long way you’ve come isn’t it?” she’ll say and “D’you want a chicken sandwich d’you?”

Collaboration and Successful Off-Gridding

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Recently Anna, who is now an  Encounters Associate, worked with Usha from Torbay Development Agency and a guy called Ryan, who was on a “work placement,” to hang the “Aging Well” photo exhibition in Torbay Hospital gallery. The show is part of a creative participatory consultation that Encounters  has been delivering in Brixham, Paignton and Torquay.

SeedExhibit

Across the pond in Questa, New Mexico, Claire recently also spent many collaborative hours on a LEAP project with Connie Long, Claire’s mother and also an instructor with SEED, as well as Mariquita Rael, the art teacher for the Questa Elementary and Intermediate School. Together they worked with 188 students doing hands-on science and art about seeds. Then Claire, Connie and artist, Anita McKeown installed the resulting art show for Earth Day, “Seeds: Time Capsules of Wilderness” at Questa’s OCHO Art & Event Space.

These days of “working together” to get a job done got us thinking about day to day collaboration. Collaboration is an important theme for us, since we’ve been working collaboratively (we would venture to say successfully!) since 2007. As artists, we collaborate in a variety of ways….Onsite with people, places, creatures and things, via the internet, even telepathically at times it seems…..and of course we collaborate and live interdependently with people, places, creatures in our daily lives. Ex. It’s hard to imagine gardening without earthworms as collaborators!

We’re interested in how collaboration relates to the “Off-Grid Ethos”. Are they interrelated? Does successful or authentic off-gridding require collaboration inherently like a bee hive?! Or is being completely self-sufficient and not needing to depend on anyone else at the heart of being off-grid?

First, what is collaboration? It’s a hard word to define because there are so many possible manifestations of the word, but here’s a definition from Wikipedia:

Collaboration is working with each other to do a task and to achieve shared goals.It is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together to realize shared goals, — for example, an endeavor that is creative in nature—by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus. Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership can be social within a decentralized and egalitarian group. In particular, teams that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources.

(That last sentence seems particularly related to our inquiry into the relationship between collaboration and off-gridding, doesn’t it?)

Second, what is the “off-grid ethos”? This is even harder to define, because as you can hear in our Off-Grid Radio Dreaming Episodes, almost everyone has their own definition and associations.

What are your thoughts and experiences on collaboration and off-gridding? or

How do you collaborate and what are your experiences of off-gridding.

Place-Dreamer Tool “On Stage” in Penzance

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Our favourite Place-Dreamer Tools has been”on stage” in the intimate space of a Georgian townhouse in Penzance, Cornwall as part of ‘Salon de Texts: Edition2‘.The rhythm of fragments(You can read more about it here.)

Anna chose to perform ” This Place has Seen….” as  a” duet” with  Mark  in this very special spoken word showcase. Originally generated under the circular navigation  aid at Berry Head National Nature Reserve  the piece offers glimpses into hidden worlds.

You can hear Anna reading the piece here.

We invented this Place-Dreamer Tool siting next to a bubbling brook at the foot of Cuilcagh Mountain in the Marble Arch Caves Geopark during our DREAMING PLACE residency. You can read some of what we wrote that day here. “This Place Has Seen” also features in our Radio Dreaming broadcasts and you can read all about  this and other “free writing” tools in the Place-Dreamer Toolkit here.

To use “This Place Has Seen” yourself:

  • Sit comfortably in a place that you want to get to know better.
  • Have pen and paper at hand.
  • Use the phrase, “This Place Has Seen” as a prompt for your imagination, intellect and psyche to delve into the known, unknown and imagined history of the place where you are sitting to retrieve images and snippets of its past.
  • Write down whatever comes to mind, unedited.
  • Have a look and see what you’ve written. It may surprise you.

We’d love to hear about your experience if you try using “This Place Has Seen”.

What are the “tools” that you use to delve into a place?

Inhabiting the dream: postcard 5

Drift wood for firing up our Kelly Kettle and making tea

Dreaming Place silk-screen printed tea towels

Check out our 100% linen silk-screen printed tea towels! We had 100 printed for backers’ rewards for our successful Kickstarter campaign as well as to sell during our recent Radio Dreaming Pod tour and here online.

A DREAMING PLACE online store is in the works, but in the meantime, if you are interested in purchasing tea towels, contact us and we will email you the details.

100% linen teat owels by Claire and Anna

100% linen tea towels by Claire and Anna

Place-dreamer Pod out and about

OutandAbout

Today we are out and about. Sure it will be another enjoyable and busy day. Perhaps today the crows will be listening in as they climb the thermals on the crag and the swans may be listening from the lough.

What is off-gridding? (Audio post from the Geopark)

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We have been asking people at the Geopark for their definitions of Off- Gridding for our final Radio Dreaming Episode. Here are some initial responses from Louise, Judy and Marylin, who we spoke to at a Place-Dreamer Pod Tour home visit.

Place-dreamer Pod at the Leitrim Organic Centre, Rossinver

OrganicCentreToday Monday April 29th we are visiting the Organic Centre at Rossinver to get a tour and speak with the staff about their take on off-gridding.  No promises… but we should be around.

Townlands

On Sunday we  turned up at the Organic Centre  a day early  and invited, Lynne who was cooking lunch for participants on the  centre’s”Reed-Bed” course to chat with us in our wee  recording booth pod. In the 80’s Lynne and her partner who knew nothing about horses or life on the road, built a gypsy caravan, bought a horse and off they went, to travel the byways of Ireland. We were interested to hear her story and her reflections about her previous life style, particularly because one of our missions on this trip is to record conversations and sounds for our final Radio Dreaming episode on off-grid dreams and self sufficiency. She regales her kids with stories from that hard but rewarding period of her life when many lessons were learnt and the importance of warmth water and shelter were all important.

Place-Dreamer Pod Ready for Tour

Radio Dreaming Pod Tour:  Marble Arch Caves Geopark, Éire/Northern Ireland
25 April – 17 May 2013 Claire Coté (New Mexico) and Anna Keleher (Devon)

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Part listening booth, part Place-Dreamer tool-kit, Anna and Claire’s roving off-grid installation features voices of Marble Arch Caves Geopark. A 5-part radio adventure, Radio Dreaming whisks you over-ground and underground in search of edible landscapes, wild dreams and myths of the land. Visitors to the Pod are invited to share a pot of tea, step aboard to listen or simply to dream.

Catch the pod at MAC visitor Centre 5th May 10am-5pm, Enniskillen Castle Museum courtyard, Mon 6th May 10am-5pm, Green Lake opening 15th May, 7-9pm Cavan town or look out for the Place-Dreamer Pod as it tours to off-grid locations in Cavan, Fermanagh and Leitrim through 17th or May.

Visit www.dreamingplace.eu/pod for info and venue updates.

Transformation of Materials: Part 2, Knowledge and Action

We gave a little background about Ignatius Maguire in our recent post, “Transformation of Materials: Part 1, It Starts with Choice”. In this post, we move into the knowledge and Action that makes our choices real.

Ignatius 2
When we visited Ignatius’ farm he took the time to describe and demonstrate to us the whole process of “bringing in the hay”, a very relevant example of transforming a renewable material into something used by farmers all over the world to feed their animals.

Ignatius makes scything look easy. When we try it, it takes us a whilte to get into the rhythm and when we do, we feel the muscles that we would need to do the job all day long.

He also shows us how he “shakes his hay” and forms it into rucks. Anna tries her hand at shaking hay:

After he forms the hay into neat rucks set to dry, Ignatius creates rope ties to hold  the hay rucks in place and prevent them from blowing away in the wind. He spins hay from the base of the pile into rope, using a special tool, sort of like a crank-spindle made from the handle of a bucket:

We try spinning as well – it’s like magic and we feel sort of like Rumplestiltskin spinning our very own gold:

Ignatius chooses to process his hay in this way and enjoys it. He holds a wealth of knowledge that he keeps alive through daily use. He is fit and healthy and has an incredibly close relationship with his family’s land because of this choice. It is no doubt a lot of hard work, but Ignatius’ relationship to his land, seems to us to be one clear example  of “Dreaming Place.”

Transformation of Materials: Part 1, It Starts with Choice

Recently we’ve been thinking about transforming renewable materials around us into things that we use in our lives and how that process is an important element in our Place -Dreamer Toolkit. We have discussed this idea in previous posts about string HERE and hidden technologies HERE.

Because we are fascinated by these simple, but ingenious technologies and processes, we’ve been revisiting our unique time with Ignatius Maguire on his family farm. Including his grandchildren, his family has been on the land for eight generations.

Ignatius 1
He gave us an extensive tour of the grounds and the traditional, human-powered technologies and farm practices that he chooses to use to keep it all going. He is unlike most of his farming neighbors who have opted for more modern methods to harvest hay, plant potatoes and grow grain. Like that of Margaret Gallagher (see our post about her HERE), his dream for his life is shaped and colored differently than most.

Here, he describes his simple reasons for his chosen life-style:

Ignatius is a good reminder that we all have choices about what lives we want to lead, what technologies we want to use in our lives and for some of us, what processes, tools and technologies we choose to use to transform raw materials into things we can use in our lives.

Look for the second half of this post, coming soon – “Transformation of Materials: Part 2, Knowledge and Action” featuring more of Ignatius describing the traditional practices that he uses on his farm.

Off-grid Place-Dreamer Pod gets ready to tour

Great news! Our Pod is really coming together. We’ve just had an update from Nigel of Diddyvans Teardrop Trailers. His mate, Rob, has been over to help him put on the Pod’s aluminium “skin”. The wood-burner has been roaring, but even so the freezing weather has meant the varnish has taken an age to dry.

Wood Pod

Pod Skin

Diddyvanblue

We just love that our off-grid Place-Dreamer Pod will be energy self-sufficient. We’re so looking forward to road testing it. The comfy listening suite inside will be powered by two leisure batteries stowed under the “Pod’s kitchen” hatch. The batteries will be charged by two portable solar panels and on grey days (for which Ireland is famous of course!) through a special plug fitted along with the tow-bar to draw surplus energy from the battery of our towing van, keeping the Pod batteries topped up as we drive from venue to venue.

Batteries
Plugs

What d’you think of it so far?

Help us launch our tour by contributing to our Kickstarter Campaign here!

Automatic + Free Writing = Place-Dreamer Tool

DewDrops

Usually Automatic Writing and Free Writing are considered to be two distinct practices, however we practice a combination of the two as part of our Place-Dreamer Toolkit.

According to Wikipedia “Automatic writing or psychography is writing which the writer claims to be produced from a subconscious, and/or external and/or spiritual source without conscious awareness of the content.”

Wikipedia defines Free Writing  as a “prewriting technique in which a person writes continuously for a set period of time without regard to spelling, grammar, or topic. It produces raw, often unusable material, but helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and self-criticism. Unlike brainstorming where ideas are simply listed, in freewriting one writes sentences to form a paragraph about whatever comes to mind.”

We use Free-Writing techniques combined with an aspect of the intention of Automatic Writing: we agree on a set amount of time in which to write continuously and we do not stop to correct spelling or grammar and we often agree on a starting phrase to get us going. The “Dreaming Place ” part of the tool is the location where we write and the approach that we take there. This goes back to the quote that inspired this project:

 “There is an early Celtic tradition that the earth remembers everything, perhaps accounting for what some call “dreams of place,” in which the land speaks through the dreamer.”

When we write, we write “In Place”, immersing ourselves in the environment and the unseen histories and personalities of that place. We allow our unconscious/subconscious to dictate the words that we write. What comes out is often interesting.

Below is a short excerpt from a free writing session that we did along the road up to Culcaigh Mountain. It is a combination of phrases from both Anna and Claire’s writing:

This place has seen every shade of green, turmoil under its roots, darkness falling from the sky in a blaze, a tiny man in a waistcoat silhouetted against a white horse, an epic game of chess, a knife blade broken in two, sun-warmed oats sprinkled into a hollow, layering of memories on bones and seeds and quietness. 

We have posted other examples of this technique HERE and HERE. Give it a try! See what happens. Let us know what you find….