Good afternoon dear ones,
I’m writing to you from gray smoky Oakland (Ohlone, Chochenyo land). I, like many of us, packed a “go bag” this weekend. Some dancers in the #SixFootWingspan flock are receiving evacuation warnings because of their proximity to fire. Dancers are facing underemployment, medical bills, student debt, anxiety. Some are considering leaving the Bay Area for other cities where it may be easier to make a living and thrive.
As temperatures and seas rise, storms and fires rage, I am thinking about climate refugees.
Outside my window hummingbirds fly into the yard and visit each purple flower. I think about the smoky air and their tiny lungs. I learned from Audubon that birds are mostly able to escape fires, but then need clean water and food as they arrive in a new area with its own residents and limited resources.
I write to you today from grief and anger at the recent police shootings of Anthony McClain, Trayford Pellerin, Jacob Blake. I write to you today in solidarity with marchers in Louisville demanding systemic change and the prosecution of the three police officers involved in the death of Breonna Taylor. I write to you today as I read about the murder of Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears and too many other black trans women.
Through all of this, the flock gathers. Twice a week for two hours. Mostly over zoom. We share the joys and sorrows of our lives, we share stories of the birds we’ve seen, we share movement. We share ideas and work together toward creating art that speaks to our spirits and makes meaning from this moment we are living in. We try to remember and uphold self-care, care for each other and care for the community.
Back at the beginning of the month, (in the days of wearing cloth masks for COVID, not the KN95 masks we now wear for smoky air), we did an in-person session outside at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park in Oakland (Ohlone, Chochenyo land). Each artist took turns leading the group in a creativity practice. Frances invited us to move in meditation with the motion of a piece of floating driftwood. We laughed about how KJ’s flocking exercises highlighted the zoom-induced atrophy of our 3D spatial awareness. Julianna had us all contributing lines to a group poem, our individual reflections wove a shared tapestry of that moment. Risa led us in energetic exchange with the sun and surroundings, giving and receiving, through repetitive motion with the body, building and releasing, building through releasing. Courtney alternated between participating and capturing. The images in this newsletter are some of the stunning double-exposure photos she took. See more photos here.
All of us continue to compose words, images, movement for our #SixFootWingspan tumblr blog. We do hope that you will visit the page and share your responses and questions with us!
I am so grateful to be in community with these artists and in continued partnership with Molly Tsongas, Audubon California, and the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary. We are in-process and collaboration with more artists and will have exciting multi-media creations to share with you in the coming months.
Mark your calendars for the morning of Thursday 9/10 for a chance to ground and center into your body and the birds around you. Join Molly and me in a 20-minute interactive birdsit meditation on Audubon California’s Instagram page. You can also watch past birdsits by clicking their IGTV icon.
We all send our gratitude to you for your support of and interest in the work we do. We do hope that our creative process can be in conversation with your own. Please be in-touch with us. What are the birds trying to tell you? What are you creating or longing for?
With love and commitment,
Sarah and the SixFootWingspan artists
Photographs by courtney hope