Art As Praxis: Embarking on Regreening the Desert

Art As Praxis: Embarking on Regreening the Desert

Looking back at all the different projects I’ve worked on throughout the years, there’s always one thing I wish I did more of:


To kick-off Flow The Desert, I’m publicly writing, taking notes, and reflecting as I go along–something I don’t like doing, because I’m afraid of what it means to work openly in public.

So. Here we are. The first post.

What Is Flow The Desert?

To make a long story short: Flow The Desert is a pipe dream I recently caught hold of.

I had been living on the east coast for the past few years, coming back to my hometown of Los Angeles during winter to celebrate the holidays with my family. Each time I flew in, I remember my sister or my mom or my dad driving through the mountains into the Valley, and being struck by the same tiny epiphany:

These rocks, these mountains, these shrubs are gorgeous. I wonder why I never really saw them in this light, before.

Last year, driving across the country back to California, I couldn’t help but notice all the wide, barren space: yellow, endless horizons; some company drilling who knows what out in the middle of nowhere; going miles on an empty highway with barren fields soldering in the heat on both sides of the road.

The unconscious place inside me had been thinking about rocks, about sand, about mountains for some time, now. I remember years ago talking to someone I wrote a Typewriter Poetry poem for. She was from Colorado. I told her about how I hitchhiked through the state and loved it. “I miss the mountains,” she said, a light longing in her eyes. “They surrounded you. You always knew where you were, based on the view you were facing.”

I could relate.

Now, having been back home for the longest time in a long time, I’ve settled into a new / old wave–

Revitalizing the Desert

All of my projects take shape in a nebulous space of associations, taking root only when the etymology of a name appears–

Desert: “to abandon”

This is about returning to what has been abandoned: physically, metaphysically, and metaphorically.

Here’s the process–

Step One: Overcome the assumption that the desert is empty.

Step Two: Internalize the belief that the desert is a traumatized site, in need of tender care.

Step Three: Live this belief by tending to the soil–from sand to soil–and growing seeds from the philosophy of natural farming with the methods of zai.

I’m interested in connecting with people who have gone through a similar or parallel process. Is that you? Please reach out via email or in the comments. I’d love to keep in touch, learn, and follow your work.

I am undertaking this project as I believe it does not take A Special Someone to achieve growing one tree, one flower, one grass in the desert. By openly writing about this particular kind of caregiving–hands for the rebirth of traumatized sites of the earth–I hope to keep myself anchored to the desert, to the regreening of it, and to a community that feels the same.


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