Monday, April 23, 2012

An Act of Sound Beauty for a Noisy Place

The Radical Joy for Hard Times Band (aka board) of Directors held our annual meeting this past weekend, April 19-22. Besides reviewing what happened during the past year and planning what we want to do in the months and years ahead, we took time, as we always do, to do an Earth Exchange.

The Earth Exchange is the signature event of Radical Joy for Hard Times. It's called an "Exchange" because people and the Earth both give and receive from one another. It consists of four steps:
1.    Go with friends (or alone) to a wounded place
2.    Sit a while and tell your stories of what the place means to you
3.    Spend time getting to know it as it is now
4.    Make some beauty out of found materials

This year our destination was Potomac Overlook Park, a small park in Alexandria, Virginia. Our intention was to spend some time at the Potomac itself, endangered, like just about every river in the world today, by chemicals of many kinds. However, as often happens when you go into the natural world with a spirit of curiosity and no fixed agenda, something else occurred to us instead.

We discovered that the park was right under the flight path of planes coming into and leaving Dulles Airport, one of Washington, DC’s major airports. Because noise seemed to be the dominant feature of the place, we decided to focus our Earth Exchange on noise pollution.

So we sat together in silence for about twenty minutes, reflecting on what we could hear (surprisingly, that included birds and breeze), what we couldn’t hear, how we were responding, and how noise affected our own lives. After we had shared our impressions and thoughts, the group spontaneously launched into a little percussive music, as you can hear in the video above. 

Left to right above are: Munro Sickafoose, Rachel Light, Christi Strickland, Joanna Burgess, Barbara Bitondo, and Tim Wolcott.