Daniel Mack


The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between

how nature works and the way people think.    Gregory Bateson


Woodlanders Gathering

Developing a Mission Statement, an Attitude

It looks like we are agreeing to position this event as Profound Play and not just a series of technique-building workshops. There are very few such events for mid- and late-career artists.  The default position of most Arts and Craft Centers is "Workshops" for the entry-level maker. Experienced makers have different needs. This Gathering is a chance to discover and address some of them.  In late August, I put a question:

Should we keep this Lite Demo approach or try the Roll-Up-Those-Sleeves Approach like we actually did in earlier years with Bonnie Gale

and like the Wisconsin Gathering does?


Does my Alternative Event Planning model for the Gathering, called Sensitive Chaos, feed us well enough?  Sensitive Chaos is several power and organizational areas at once. Not a Pyramid of Power. But areas easily moved in and out of.


Maybe that Make it and Take it happens at another Gathering. I'll be talking soon with the Adirondack Folk School...

and maybe we protect the Warwick Gathering as a Place for Grazing. Grazing is a Spiral activity. did he say Spiritual?

Mid-September 2012

Many Woodlanders have checked in with opinions (see below) and I'm getting the impression that adding a Morning and/or Afternoon Making Activity each day might be the subtle adjustment we can all live with and delight in.  Actually, there were several of these: Laurie and Joanna's Drawing with Phragmites, Rich's Wind Wands, Shekinah, Noa and Michelle's Paper Transparancies and of course, Hannahs; Gyrokinesis  They were all quite prepared with tools and materials to lead whoever wanted through the steps of a new making process.  So maybe we try to get

a few more of these onto the schedule?  (I'd be happy to organize a workshop around David's interest in woven barks. I have Hickory bark and harvest Mulberry each year.

And to address Jennifer's notion that I think rustic is worn out.... Rustic as a commercial, marketplace activity is very hard to do right now... The power of using natural materials to make things is still as important as ever and probably even more so because of the lull in the decorating magazines.


8.27.12 Laurie SeemanYes to Woodlanders and Grazing Only!


8.28.12    Riva Weinstein:

I prefer the Sensitive Chaos model. (Not only prefer, but love, crave, even need.) It's the antidote to an over-scheduled, commoditized world.
That being said, perhaps a single day of a la carte offerings...or an every other year model. I guess the bigger question how does WG continue to evolve, while not evolving out of its core values and quintessential deep earthy dreamy yumminess?

8.28.12   Victoria Mowrer:

After being away for a few years (three I think), I noted the changes with a sudden immersion mid-stream into the gathering - and a perspective aided by that absence of years. I much prefer the current evolution! I walked in and found my way to the biggest group of people I noticed. Next thing I new I was hugging people and then had a quill in my hand and after a brief intro I was painting. There was even enough time (magically) to finish it! Then we random;y slithered up the hill and I found myself giving a little wee explanation of clay mono printing. Then, without any thought, I was on my way to the grocery store for parsley and dill and then after returning, landed at a table where I noticed lovely jewelry and next thing I knew I learned some basic skills had created an acceptable and meaningful pendant. And so the rest of the time went.

I agree with Riva. Day to day life is so structured. Be here or be there by a certain time or else! energy. Exhausting. Woodlanders in the past could be a little exhausting if ya' know what I mean. Pick this class or pick that class or go on a hike or, or, or ..... so many wonderful options to choose from. That was delightful but a bit stressful and reminiscent of what one experiences "at home". I think one of the values of my experience this year was a glimpse of how I might like life to be? ... could be? ....and that maybe - just maybe - with a little tweaking - it might be possible???? A life that flows? With people who enjoy flowing? Wow! What great fodder.

The rustic kitchen was central to everything. Just as a hearth tends to be. I cannot say enough of good stuff about it. Bless you Adam and family.Those of us who gravitate to the Woodlanders do so because of the values and earthiness. If that went away, then we would not follow because it is what we value and what we need a big giant infusion of once and awhile.


8.29.12 Kim Vergil:
I personally also love the gentle chaos that has become the Woodlanders way…Much less stressful, more flowing, less time awareness, more open, I also don`t feel obliged to build or make anything but rather absorb what comes my way, play, play, play, experiment and explore what feels right and then just be with my peoples…People that choose to touch the trees, water, earth and place with a sensitivity and eagerness that inspires me always…It takes me months each year to process what I absorbed from or time together


8.29.12 Nancy Krim

I also prefer the sensitive chaos model. I love not knowing exactly what impulses will take hold of us when we are together. We managed to do some making, some swapping of things and words, some roll-up-the-sleeves and take off the shoes mudding thanks to Matt—the clay oven was an incredible project! Of course, food and campfires were the glue. I’ll be curious about what you figure out, Dan, with the Adirondack school, as another event for us, another time. For now, I cherish the sanctity of our August gathering and love the way we all make it work.

8.30.12  Don Moss

I enjoy the Woodlanders Gathering structured as it is. Perfectly imperfect. I think what makes it work so well is that so many of the participants bring so much to share mixed with the openness to be flexible about when an activity will happen or if it happens at all. It was all very inspiring and I look forward greatly to next year.

8.30.12 David Wiener

For me, the expression "gentle chaos" does indeed capture an essence. Such kind chaos presented me with the opportunity to form my own ad hoc schedule and to find "workshop leaders" who expertly and specifically addressed my needs - whether I knew it at the time or later. (I've noticed that many significant experiences can only be seen through the 20/20 vision of hindsight. A simple walk in the woods can unexpectedly become a shamanic journey when viewed in this way.)

The concern that I've expressed (based on conversations) was for the newbie who can't find their way in. I've heard many great suggestions for tinkering with the Woodlander process that could subtly create greater access. Things like organizing activities through email, setting up the tables under the tents in a different manner, offering people guides, whiteboard postings, etc. But it's clear to me that anything other than such gentle tinkering at this point would be major surgery to remove a splinter from that wonderful, gentle chaos that is our Woodlanders.

9.5.12     David Hughes

Woodlanders Gathering this year seemed to have taken on a whole new
energy level and life!  The community meals were the highlight.

I generally agree with it being mostly a loose schedule, with maybe the exception on one planned 2-3 hour intensive workshop per day on the main days.  The field trip options give rise to rich experiences in your local culture, which I greatly appreciate. Seeing the black soils around Pine Island the first time this year was very memorable for me.

I would be interested in seeing/experiencing chair seat weaving workshop with several different materials to explore (ie more than just the shaker tape; like maybe hickory bark, leather, cattails, rushes or other creative natural  materials [paper mulberry]


9.13.12    Laurie Burnham
Thanks to all for making this newcomer feel so welcome! I loved the artistic , gentle, sensitive chaos; it was just what I wanted, though I could not have named it before I arrived. New friends, new ideas, (I didn’t know what “larping” was until I got to a computer….)new confidence, new permission to simply play, and of course, to just “be”. My contentment (and adrenalin) following WG carried over to my 10 days in my canoe, at my remote wilderness cabin; (totally off line and off the grid) amazing full moon(s) and howling wolves night after night. You would all have enjoyed sharing this experience. I digress…

I can’t remember finding a group of such likeminded souls, in concentration, in one place, for days on end. Thanks to each of you for the gift of getting acquainted, and the prospect of meeting again.

9.13.12  Jennifer Naylor

If you'd like to infuse additional youth energy into the 2013 event, Duncan can likely help you via his extensive Omega Facebook network.

My teen girls needed more guidance than Duncan to immerse themselves in the group, and having materials out on the tables helped me corral them into the activity. While chaos is good for some, be prepared to add structure for others, particularly youth for whom socialization with adults can be daunting.



LINKS to Woodlanderly Places:

Sound in the Forest  Bamboo Artists

Wisconsin Gathering

Links of Interest

Traditional Ways Gathering

Rainbow Gathering

Woodland House

Green Nations Gathering

Center for Practical Sustainability


Stick, stone and bone, NYC