Catching an updraft, I glide over the ridge. Feeling the wind whisper the threat of rain, I see the glaring reflection on the river against a backdrop of thunder. The valley below tormented by brown and black streaks, twisted stretched branches with muddy fingers reaching for the sea. Trees no longer stand, the beaver dam washed down river. Leaning my head into the wind, I swoop down feeling the current over my entire body. Searching, desperately for my usual spot: The shallow calm where insects hum and trout kiss the surface. It is gone. The fish are gone. All I see are streaks of black and brown, a tangled mess of branches caught by mud. I am hungry. I want fish for breakfast. I open my eyes and stare at the ceiling. Confused, I look to my left. Husband still asleep. My refrigerator doesn’t have trout this morning. I wonder . . . where can I get trout in the city?
From the 10,000-foot view, we can observe the flow of natural systems. Through this we find patterns that teach us how to re-design our human world in order to be in harmony with all life. However, if we continue to deplete our natural systems, we destroy the Earth’s capacity to support life for humans. This is happening with nearly every aspect of modern life. What we consume, how we consume and how we dispose of it all create a system that depletes our natural systems at an alarming rate. To learn more about the science behind this read the UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Many of my dreams lately feel like warning signals, telling me to design new pathways for flow. I have taken this subconscious message into my every day reality. My work has become about building new systems that enable humans survive longer than the next 100 years.
The first part of this work is subconscious. In order to create change on a huge scale, we must dream our life into being. At the end of 2012, I was invited to create a 12’ x 12’ felt rug for Natalie Zimmerman and Michael Wilson’s Social Dreaming in the 21st Century, an installation at the deYoung museum in San Francisco. Natalie, her friend Theresa and I drove to Mary Pettis-Sarley’s farm in Napa, where we purchased the wool, stuffing the car with barely enough space left for us. A week later, a group of incredible friends gathered in golden gate park to help me turn my flying dream into a topographic cloth. We spent two days using the ancient method of rolling wool to make a felt rug. The first part was laying out the wool batts. It was a challenge to make all the layers even across the 144 square feet. The mamas took turns twisting long carded strands of wool into 20 ft ropes, which I then used to create the branching pattern. We added hot water and lavender soap then rolled it into large tarps. After covering it up, we had a little dance party to compress the wool. The kids loved it, although it was a bit hot for bare feet. I then tied secure knots and we attached pulling ropes. At the time, I was two months pregnant with my second son, Toby, so I let everyone else take turns pulling. The guys acted as our work horses with the kids as their guides and pulled the rug for hours through the field in Golden Gate Park. We dried the rug in guest room of our house, although it didn’t really fit. After the rug was dry, I brought it to the deYoung museum, where it was used for dream sessions in the Social Dreaming in the 21st Century installation for one month. After the rug left the deYoung it became part of the Seed of Life design vignette by Loczi Design for the opening gala at the Exploratorium.