"It is now time for us to be the most creative we have ever been, the most far-sighted, the most practical, the most conscious and selfless."

Garden at Marble House Project artist residency, Vermont USA


artist dispatches on the weather, environment, and everyday life

Chichibu, Japan - Ashley Yoshida

Sunny, 48 degrees. At the 1000-year-old shinto shrine in our town, families visit during the first four days of the new year for the first blessing of the year. They buy new amulets, charms and omikuji, paper fortunes that predict the incoming year’s luck.

The omikuji have to be dipped into a small stream to be read. If the luck isn’t satisfactory, they are tied to a tree branch in hopes that the kami (gods or spirits) will help improve it. The most popular kami at our shrine is the shinboku sacred tree. My daughter is a miko, a shrine maiden, this year.

photos © Ashley Yoshida

Ashley Yoshida is a photographer, entrepreneur, and teacher in Japan

More about Weather Report here


Ben Okri

Ben Okri on the London Underground, July 2013

Nigerian-born writer, poet, and cultural activist Ben Okri is well-acclaimed but new to me recently. I was introduced to the power of his words in his November piece for The Guardian, Artists must confront the climate crisis – we must write as if these are the last days. I could have posted this as a basic article link but I felt that it, and he, deserved more considered handling within the context of climate-art.

Every word is essential. I recommend taking time to read the whole thing, it's not very long. But here are some excerpts:

It is not given to many people to sense the end of time approaching.
Maybe some Atlanteans sensed it. Maybe the sages of Pompeii, if there were any, felt it in advance. Maybe those ancient civilisations whose societies were about to be wrecked by invaders from the sea felt it. But I can’t think of any who had the data that it was coming, who had the facts pouring at them every day, and yet who carried on as if everything were normal.
I want to propose an existential creativity.
How do I define it? It is the creativity wherein nothing should be wasted. As a writer, it means everything I write should be directed to the immediate end of drawing attention to the dire position we are in as a species. It means that the writing must have no frills. It should speak only truth. In it, the truth must be also beauty. It calls for the highest economy. It means that everything I do must have a singular purpose.
I must write now as if these are the last things I will write.
[...] If you knew you were at the last days of the human story, what would you write? How would you write? What would your aesthetics be? Would you use more words than necessary? What form would poetry truly take? And what would happen to humour? Would we be able to laugh, with the sense of the last days on us?
It is now time for us to be the most creative we have ever been, the most far-sighted, the most practical, the most conscious and selfless.
The stakes have never been, and will never be, higher.

What is called for here is a special kind of love for the world, the love of those who discover the sublime value of life because they are about to lose it. For we are on the verge of losing this most precious and beautiful of worlds, a miracle in all the universe, a home for the evolution of souls, a little paradise here in the richness of space, where we are meant to live and grow and be happy, but which we are day by day turning into a barren stone in space.

He also authored an "environmental fairytale" for children and adults, Every Leaf a Hallelujah. From his website:

Ben Okri and Diana Ejaita have created a magical world of beauty and colour, an enchanting array of extraordinary trees, each with its own personality and voice. The chief among them, the great baobab, invites us into his branches to travel the world and see for ourselves the perils of not listening to nature.
Memorial Gates, Hyde Park, London


music to carry us forward


Isák's Norwegian-Sami singer Ella Marie Haetta Isaksen said she is "joiking" her grandfather in this track. The drummer chimed in that it was just a "small joik". At first I thought it was a badly translated subtitle. Turns out "joik" is a Sami musical tradition, one of the oldest in Europe, an indigenous melodic incantation in tribute to a place, thing, person, etc. Grammatically, 'joik my grandfather' is like saying 'paint a flower'.

Isaksen's distinctive voice is the band's anchor - at once ancient and utterly modern, warm and processed, intimate and remote, like their music. Enough of the past is in it that we want to carry it forward. Enough of the future to help imagine it.

Isaksen is also a Greenpeace ambassador, heavily involved in climate change and anti-mining activism that threaten the way of life of her native Sapmi (Lapland) region.

'Future-music' is not necessarily songs about climate change [though ISÁK seems to be doing that in quite catchy fashion here without getting preachy]. We have journalism and other methods to ring the bell, and science to spell it out. Music doesn't have to do the same job over a beat and melody. My notion of future-music's job is different: to carry us forward. To shape our outlook, create a new feeling of possibility, map imaginative pathways to the future we want, and be there for us in case we falter. I remember the artists who almost wholly shaped my outlook growing up, who were standing up for a better way forward. Who is doing that now?


Future Jobs: 6 Green Careers Set to Grow in the Next Decade

Global Citizen | February 23, 2021

There is a huge role for the creative industries to play in transforming our economies. Whether that’s as a sustainable fashion designer making clothes out of recycled materials or pioneering vegan leather, or as an artist who collects thousands of pieces of plastic waste to create art. Creatives are in a unique position to push the boundaries of what’s possible and inspire change in their respective industries.

Musician Brian Eno on Convincing Fans to Care About Climate Change

Bloomberg Green | March 23, 2021

It seems to me the only way we’ll save the planet is by falling in love with it.

The music world on the aftermath of COP26: “The future needs reinforcements”

The Guardian | Dec 15, 2021

We need to create enough pressure that there’s a social tipping point that reflects the countless and lethal environmental tipping points. We need to get to a point where a government can’t get voted in unless they vow to take action. Now is the time to make a noise if you care about the existence of humanity and all living things.


Stephan Jacobs

Marble House Project (USA)


DEADLINE: Opens on February 1st and ends on May 15th, 2022


WHO: Emerging and established authors, performance artists, visual artists, culinary artists, and musicians

HOW LONG: 3 weeks (7 sessions running April-October)

COST: Partially funded (accommodation, studios, and meals provided), application fee $35

The Marble House Project provides well-organized and dynamic multidisciplinary artists residencies “with a focus on conservation of natural resources, integration of small-scale organic food production and the arts”.

MHP is situated upon the grounds of a neo-classical farming estate with an active organic farm. The residency supports a broad range of creative disciplines, from visual to performing arts projects. Artists live together in a Georgian-era stone mansion “organized around a responsibilities-sharing system, highlighting sustainability and fostering community.”

Eight artists are chosen for each three-week session and are strongly encouraged to present work made at the conclusion of their residency. There are four residency programs at MHP each year.

Its rather noteworthy that MHP offers a Culinary Arts as well as a family-oriented creative residency including a MHP day-camp every July.

FAQ: https://www.marblehouseproject.org/faq

2021 Artists-in-Residence: https://www.marblehouseproject.org/2020-accepted-artists
Supported by private donors, NEA, Art Works, Sustainable Arts Foundation, Vermont Community Foundation, Artist Communities Alliance.

Stephan Jacobs is an artist, educator, and the acting faculty director of Emmanuel College’s institutional artist residency and co-founder of an academic partnership with Bauhaus University, Weimar. Stephan grew up in the Washington DC area and now lives with his family in Boston.

If you know of a good potential addition to this list, please reach out to Stephan at stephanwjacobs@gmail.com.


Cultural ReProducers

Cultural ReProducers are an evolving group of active cultural workers who are also parents. This site is for anyone interested in making the art world a more inclusive and interesting place by supporting arts professionals raising kids.


Residency Report