© 2009 by Norah Zuniga Shaw

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prairie spur, public walks for restoration

September 1, 2017

I have begun work on a series of new artist walks for public reflection and engagement in restoration here in Ohio. This work stems from my interest in France Moore Lappe's instigation to "create solution stories." She asserts that people are not inspired by the doom and gloom stories of most environmental activism and that in fact these stories lead to apathy and inaction. Instead she suggests we create solution stories and as people find there is something they can do they will take action. With my body of work on climate change I have sometimes focused on the burden and precarity of it, the grief and mourning necessary and with this new work find myself drawn to taking action at the scale of my body, our bodies through walking. At the same time, my family and I have been volunteering on a piece of land up in Butler, Ohio near the Malabar Farms that Larry and Elaine Smith are restoring to native prairie and forest. It is a bucolic landscape of rolling hills and a rush of life drawn to the diverse wild plants the Smith's have worked tirelessly to nurture. The walk I've devised draws on a practice I learned from Simone Forti called "notice what you notice" which involves walking in silence in pairs. And I have integrated the beautiful sensorial theories of Rudolf Steiner to enhance the experience. We start at a spring and acknowledge there the Shawnee people who were here before and forcibly removed. Then the walk continues from  a waterfall, through old growth forest, damaged and disturbed plots of land and into the vibrant restored prairie, ending at the highpoint in the landscape, the prairie spur, for a picnic and dialog responding to our walk. I"d like to lead one in each season and am currently planning one for winter.

 

 

 

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