Text Story Collection
Sometimes New York smells like pancakes and maple syrup; sometimes it smells like cheap, burning fuel; sometimes it smells like water drying on asphalt; sometimes it smells like sage. This last scent is what I search for. It’s the smell of home, of green growing things, of spring in rural Texas, of wide open pastures, of water on the ground and dust in the air.
You can catch the scent at the Botanic Gardens, on a breeze in Central Park, in the community garden above the Fort Hamilton Parkway. It grows in the yard of a brownstone down the block. The woman who lives there is a concert pianist, and she practices at odd hours. Sometimes I’ll stop under the pretense of hearing the music float out her open window, but really I’m pausing to breathe in the sage. It spills out between the black iron bars and onto the sidewalk. The scent is stronger when it rains, which is funny to me, because nothing makes me feel farther from home than the rain in New York. The endless drizzle here makes me wish for a Texas storm—the hard crash of heavy rain that’s gone in an instant, sweeping the sky clean.
A long story about a long day during the last week of Cassie’s 500 mile walk:
Ellen and I went back and forth over email and text for a few days before I left for West Virginia. “It’s so beautiful here”, she said. “Bring some books. All you do is wait for them at the half-way point, eat lunch with them, drive to the final meeting point of the day, and then camp out at night. I love it.”
Ellen, Dance Exchange’s Managing Director, was calling me from Pipestem Resort State Park, where she was waiting to meet Cassie and Matt, who were walking toward her and finishing up their morning mileage. Cassie sustained an overuse injury a few weeks prior, and the best way for her to finish the walk was for someone from Dance Exchange to go out and provide “road support” with a car. This meant Cassie and Matt could then walk without their packs, which meant walking lighter, which meant walking faster, which meant finishing the walk sooner.
The beginning of my journey took place mostly on public lands and trails. As I headed south along the Appalachian Trail, I encountered hundreds of thru hikers with their hearts and feet facing north towards the goal of summiting Katadin beyond the majestic 100-mile wilderness of Maine. The end of their journey would have a steep climb, a mountain with a summit clearly marked by a sign and a rich legacy of foot traffic.
As I passed these fellow hikers, trail miles soon turned to river and roads miles, and it occurred me that the route I was taking was being walked for the first and likely only time.
I traveled over many mountains during the 500 miles, though it wasn’t until those final days and miles that I recognized the significant lack of a summit I would soon be facing at the terminus of my own journey. I felt the mark of miles on my body as we headed into this final stretch, still managing an injury, and unsure if the end was actually within my physical reach.
In August of 1985 I found myself joining the last three miles of a Peace and Justice walk into Burlington, Vermont. The 93 mile walk linked two churches offering sanctuary to two Guatemalan families, Weston Priory in the south and Christ Church Presbyterian in the not. The route followed the original Underground Railroad and was led by the Benedictine monks of the Weston Priory.
The families, the Ixcot's sheltering in the Priory and the Velasco's in Christ Church, (both with small children), had fled their homes in the mountains because of civil war and death threats against them. Even children were being killed at that time, seen by the military as "future subversives."
They came seeking asylum in the United States because of its advocacy for human rights and its past generous history of accepting refugees. The found, instead, the threat of arrest, and deportation back to the terror they had just fled. They were caught in the political climate of those years.
In February, I spent almost three weeks in Syracuse, NY as part of a Dance Exchange residency. I had not been excited about going. After all, I know what -20 celsius feels like! But I donned my LLBean coat and my Canadian winter boots (guaranteed to -35) and went. Not only was the weather unseasonably mild, the residency was extraordinary. We all look forward to going back.
Since returning to DC, I seem to discover Syracuse connections wherever I look, on the news, old friends. Last week, my car insurance renewal came in the mail. It was significantly higher than last year, so I called to see why. While the person who answered waited for her computer to bring up my file, we chatted about this and that. I asked her where she was. She answered, "upstate NY." I said, "oh, where?" She answered (yup, you guessed it) Syracuse. I told her all about our residency, how much we loved Syracuse. We talked about Strong Hearts Cafe, Dinosaur BBQ, the canal museum, which she had not visited.
In the end my insurance will cost me less than last year. Because I love Syracuse? Who knows. I choose to think so.
One of my first memories is of my father using a handsaw to cut a piece of wood for a project he was working on. I asked him to make me something to play with, and he said “I just made you that big pile of sawdust!” I don’t recall what my reaction to that was, it is one of those memories that I can see only through a haze, that fades in like they do in the movies, with the sound of the saw cutting and that fades out again just as it comes in to focus.
When I was young my father made a lot of things. My mother, too. Looking back I realize now what a gift it was to have making be a part of my everyday life, and what a gift it continues to be.
the land a carpet
the sky a net to stop us
falling out of ourselves
to stop us edging into eternity
before our number is called
not something to own
before selling for a prayer
the song of the raindrop drunk petal
when you sell the land
the sky comes apart
gravity loses heart
and then the big hole
where Santa comes in
hitches his sleigh
to Paul Revere’s horse
Metacome said no like
And on a spear went his head yeah
in Plymouth for oh years
The sun has just disappeared behind the hills around the Claytor Nature Study Center in Bedford, Va., and Cassie Meador is trying to conjure movement out of memories.
Eight people sit with her in a circle, but only one has any dance experience. The rest are mostly middle-aged residents of this town about 30 miles west of Lynchburg, Va., including two teachers, a postmaster, a nonprofit administrator, and a full-time mom. Members of the Takoma Park-based Dance Exchange offer prompts to the group: How has the landscape changed around you over time? What’s something you’ve made? When have you taken a risk or chance?
Tenugui (Japanese traditional towel)
Tenugui is one of my favorite items which I take very often in my daily life. A tenugui is a thin Japanese traditional hand towel made of cotton. It is typically about 35 by 90 centimeters in size. It is plainly weaved and is almost always dyed with some beautiful pattern. Owing to this size and form, tenugui has a multiple and convenient ways of using better than other towel stuffs. When it’s cold, we can use it as a scarf. When it’s hot, we can wipe the sweat with it. When we are injured, we can use it as a bandage. We can use it as a sack. The old ladies around here like to cook with tenugui around their heads—it is used for sanitary purpose. They also like to dry dishes with tenugui.
Distance between me and others--a feeling like falling down to a bottomless swamp
I have engaged in the theatrical world for a long time—he is still working as an actor and a playwright, leading his theatre company as a director and he is also challenging to the puppet theatre as a puppeteer. As a person in theatre I try to pay more attention to the distance between me and others. I know we have some sorts of rules in terms of taking an adequate distance with others: how to take the intimate, personal, social and public spaces.
Also even in other spaces except for theatre I am thinking of it very much, such as, the distance with the person whom I love. The distance with my lover is in proportion to the intensity of love, that I think. It is a matter of course that the closer the distance between us is, the more powerful our love of gravitation is. But in order to know the correct distance we might need some affairs. When losing the correct distance, I feel like falling down to a bottomless swamp. Once falling down to the swamp, I am frightened of the instability at my feet. Then I try to find the bottom and wander into the swamp.
My favorite pouch marked in M
When I was an elementary schoolgirl, I danced on stage. Then a friend of mine came to see our stage and gifted me a pouch marked in M—M is the first letter of my name. At first I didn’t have any chances to use it and left it somewhere in my room. Later when I became a middle schoolgirl, I started to use it. I had used it until quite recently. I put lip balm, mirror, hair-pin and other small things into it and took it with me everyday. It has been my favorite item for a long time. It was worn-out and I had to dispose of it. Now I am using a new pouch which I bought by myself. But I believe that the old pouch is the item which reminds me of my precious memory with my friend.
A ball of snow
The ball of snow which I have kept in the refrigerator is my most valuable item. When my daughter was in the third grade (nine years old)—she is now twenty-seven years old, one day in February she gave me a ball of snow. When she came back home from school and she said to me, “mom, this is the souvenir to you”. At first the ball of snow shaped a big perfect circle but at present the shape was changed than as it used be. Every year it gets smaller and smaller. When my daughter was a little girl, I used it to charm away my daughter’s illness. Whenever she had a fever, I put it on her forehead and I said to her, “it can make you get better”. I brought up my daughter with the help of the ball of snow. Though the foodstuffs are consumed very quickly, only this ball of snow has been kept in the usual space in my refrigerator. So it might be something to rely on all my life. I am sorry not to be able to bring it today. I showed you the picture instead.
My (current) place
Three years ago, I moved from my hometown Saitama to Sapporo. And quite recently I returned home after two years’ absence. Then I found that it was no longer my place. It takes only one hour and a half by plane. The distance between Sapporo and Saitama is not so far in a sense but I felt the conclusive distance between me and my old friends. I knew I was not there any longer. No longer I belong to the groups where I used to be. But on the contrary I noticed the new place of mine. It is my new hometown here in Sapporo and I have my colleagues! The distance let me know my current place as well as what I should do here. So I am thankful to this distance.
Recently I am thinking of the distance with my family members very often. It is probably because some of my brothers and sisters have passed away and my life style is also changed. I lived alone before but now I moved my house in order to live with one of my sisters. When living away from other members of my family, I didn’t feel any difficulties about how to relate with my family. Now I realized that we also needed take a neutral attitude each other. All of my family–currently I have sisters, daughter and grandchildren--are truly important beings for me. From now on I would like to be thoughtful to them and keep such a good relationship/ distance with them.
“Be a person like a secretary”
“Be a person like a secretary” is the words which my ballet teacher told me when I was eighteen years old. The ballet teacher taught me to be a person who can be aware of various kinds of things just like a secretary. The good dancer can notice any small changes of both things and people. If not so, we can’t do good dance. At first I didn’t understand what I should pay attention to but later little by little I got to know what my teacher meant. I try to put myself in others’ place and more carefully think of the current situation surrounding me. I believe that I can feel more things through my body than before. The words are always in my mind: when I dance, when I work and when I live in my daily life. The influential words made my life changed.
What is communication? Although there are various styles of language in the world, many people recognized the spoken languages as the main communication tool. Non-spoken languages such as sign languages and gestures are pushed away as communication tools for minorities. So I feel invisible distances with others and it seems as if I were in the different world. If the silent world or the world where people don’t feel any sounds in the auditory sense were spread out more than now, other enriched expressions different from communication through only spoken languages could come into the world, that I believe.
In Japan I feel such isolation more than other countries. When I visited USA, I knew it clearly. America is the multi-cultural country. People of diverse languages, cultures and races are gathering there. So they didn’t care about my way of communication—sign language. Rather they tried to understand what I meant without prejudice. Then I felt very happy.
A relationship (distance) between teacher and high school students
Last year I became a high school teacher. To be a teacher is my long-cherished dream. Finally my dream came true! and thus I might be working too enthusiastically as a high school teacher.￼The trouble is that I don’t know yet how to make an adequate relationship with students. Besides, the physical distance and mental one are not always correspond. As a teacher I love to be closer to many students. One day I tried to take arm in arm with students. Then one student stepped back a bit though he still let his arm be in my arm. I asked him whether he disliked it or not. He answered me that he never disliked it but rather he felt happy—but in reality he felt some embarrassment as well. Through such experiences I realized how many variations of distance could exist. It is too complicated for me to understand but it’s a lot of fun to go forward it.
“Life is Live”
“Life is Live” is the words which my mother told us before. It can make our lives more enriched and enjoyable when we feel/experience anything real/live. I would love to keep this feeling. In my case something live are music, dance and watching soccer games. Then I am moved by such live experiences and the impression permeates into my whole body. I get addicted to it and I can’t stop it!
As a sign-language interpreter
We live in many kinds of distance with others. In spite of the length of time and days to spend with together, we can get on well with others, laugh and/or cry each other in a moment. In the case that we has known each other for a long time, we become attached to the persons: sometimes we feel like caring about someone and checking how the persons are getting along. But on the other hand, we also feel like leaving from someone else. Even though we stay with together in the very condensed/ deep time, we could go away from the others as time goes by.
I am a sign-language interpreter. It might be difficult for many people to recognize the interpreters as an individual being. The interpreter plays a role of medium to help better communications someone with others. Even though the interpreter is working in the center of communication among people, they won’t see the interpreter. Before I didn’t care about such a situation because I am very shy. But here in the community dance group I am also accepted as one of the participants/colleagues. I am now enjoying the new (to me) distance with people.
The necessary items which I have all the time are the diary, pen and wallet. I think of the diary as the most needed one among them. In April it is the first month of the fiscal year and now I have two diaries: the old and the new one. I note the important information in my diary: not only the schedule but also the private information of my friends such as address. But on the other hand I am wondering whether I really need the diary or not. One day I chanced to go out without the diary. Then nothing happened. I knew I might live without it. But still I also know there are full of important information for me in it. So now I get lost what is the necessary item for me.....
Distance between my center/root (of the body) and the world
When I open ‘my center’ toward the world, I feel that some relationships with people and nature can happen and then something related to me there will come back to my center. When we live our lives, we go out of our home/ center/ mind toward the outer world and at the same time feel the connection between our center and the world. Sometimes we go far away so that we lose the way back to our home/center. But we can go back to my home again.
Thinking of such a distance between my center and the world, I realize that the distance is the fundamental of my dance. For me, the dance can create the distance between people and/or between people and nature. And so I pay attention to my center so much while I am dancing. The idea of my center has multiple meanings in both substantial and abstract: the energy center of the inner body called Dantian, home, heart/mind, the whole of my body etc.
A new sense about distance in traveling with my kid
Traveling with kid, I got to feel harder. Before my daughter was born, I could travel easily in any long distance. I could also read a book and/or think about something during a travel. But now I can’t do so. Whatever I will do, I should try to think of as easy a way of doing as possible. Now I knew the reason quite a few mothers have car only when babies are born (sorry, I don’t have it). Before I became mother, I could travel light. Now I feel it much longer even in a short distance. My sense about distance was changed. On the other hand, I found that traveling with kid had more fun in a different way.
“I won’t let you alone”
This words is the tender and romantic words which my girlfriends had whispered in the bed when I was in teenage and 20s age. How many times those girlfriends told me such a beautiful phrase, I wouldn’t readily believe it. But rather I might feel isolated even when I was with them. For me in my younger days, it was not easily to believe in love –feeling not alone-- through both the words which the girlfriends spoke to me and even some sorts of sexual relationships. Thinking back to the old days, now I can understand that I was not alone and they really loved me. So now I thank them very much. Today with the help of young girls who are the participants here, I would love to reenact my younger days and feel the tender memory again.
My name ‘CHIHIRO’
The most significant thing related to the distance is in my name ‘Chihiro’. The word ‘hiro’ is one of Japanese traditional units of measure. Hiro is the distance between both hands when people open their arms side by side. And Chihiro [chi: thousand] is thousand times of hiro and it can be used as a metaphor of something quite long and/or profound. The length of hiro expressed with body parts is different for each person. However, we can accept and share the differences with together. To us living in the modernized world, it seems to be something strange. But we can learn the fundamental idea of community dance through the chihiro’s way of thinking/being. So my name ‘Chihiro’ is the most favorite present gifted by my parents.
A hair brush made from pig-hair
Today I brought my favorite hair brush made from pig-hair. I have used it since my girlhood until now. I have used it so long a time that the hair of brush could be shortened. When I was a girl, I had a beautiful long hair. At that time I liked brushing my hair under a skyful of stars. In my childhood, we didn’t have highly efficient rinse unlike one at present and sometimes we had to wash our hairs with soap for body. But then I brushed my hair with this hair brush every night and my long hair was shining much more glossily than my friends. My friends wanted to know the reason I had such beautifully glossy hair.
So still now I keep brushing my hair with this brush.
Last weekend, I traveled to Charlottesville, VA to meet up with Cassie and Matt as they took a few days off the trail to lead a movement and story collection workshop in town. Over a delicious, hearty meal of omelets, biscuits, and gravy, I chatted with them about their journey so far. (At this point, they had walked just under 250 miles.)
How long have you been out on the trail at this point?
Cassie: We’ve been on the trail for 22 days at this point. We’re tracking the days, but my sense of what a day or week is feels much different out there. Your day is marked by your need to keep moving forward, the need to find a place to rest or to find water. It’s about the most essentials. The limits of the day are marked by using the full amount of light that you have and fitting the number of miles that you’re trying to do in a day.
Before we lose more mountains, we need to learn to think like them. So Aldo Leopold advised us in his famous land ethic metaphor "think like a mountain" that was echoed by the progenitor of the concept of deep ecology, Arne Naess, himself a Norwegian mountaineer as well as philosopher.
"Thinking like a mountain" means aspiring to great heights, imagining for the long-term, understanding system of connections and relationships, and starting from a broad based deeply rooted in the crust of the planet. Both Aldo and Arne lived in primitive shacks to connect more deeply to nature, and my friend Arne's was located high in the Norwegian mountains. He even named his philosopher after it, Ecosophy T (Tvergastein).
In the past seven years I have travelled nearly a million miles, literally and figuratively. It all just sort of happened; most of it I could have done without, but if it had to be this way, I think it has been (nearly) the best it could be. Some amazing people have come into my life and helped me heal without ever being aware of the events of my past. Other people, sometimes very close ones from my past and even extended family have of their own volition been the opposite of supportive; and I will never understand why this is the case; but, I have come to accept that it is the case.
In a body of freezing water, a person with my physical characteristics is estimated to survive about 15-18 minutes. I am not a strong a swimmer, so I would defer to the lower estimated threshold.
I was told in school,
Is a smaller body of water;
you can't see the other side
of an ocean.
I stood behind the rocks
willing my sight to the other side
And felt smugly gratified
that it wouldn't reach.
We'll show them,
I told the quiet tide.
We'll show all of them who think
We're so damned little.
My plan was to take a 50-mile walk following the same path Robert F. Kennedy chose for his historic 50 mile walk in 1963 at this same time that year. I was motivated to see how this hike would have felt for him and also as a way to try and relive my attempt at a 50 mile walk in the summer of 1963. (Click here to learn more about the 50-Mile Hike Phenomenon back then)
According to the news of February 9, 1963, Robert F. Kennedy chose to walk along the banks of the Potomac on the towpath of the C&O Canal National Park in 20 degree weather. He started his walk at 5:00 a.m. at the Great Falls Tavern Visitors Center (Potomac, Maryland) which is at milepost 13.2 and ended at or near Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. The C&O is unique in that its towpath follows the Potomac for 135 continuous miles and has a well maintained, 7' wide, flat gravely surface.
Q&A with Cassie
he past couple of weeks at Dance Exchange, it's felt like a sprint to the finish line as we complete the planning process for the How To Lose a Mountain 500-mile walk. The plans are falling into place and the news is being spread far and wide about why Cassie is doing the walk and how folks can join the project. But the real marathon is just about to begin. With less than one month before the long-distance physical journey begins, I checked in with Cassie Meador to see how she's feeling as the walk gets closer.
What are you most excited about as the walk becomes more real?
The fact that we're getting to share the news with more people is an exciting part of it. I've been thinking about this walk for over 3 years now. I had the impulse to walk out my door and just do the walk, so to wait 3 years is a long time. I think probably the most exciting thing is feeling the support of everyone in the organization behind the project. To be in rehearsal this morning for the events at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and the Kennedy Center and then to step out and see staff members and interns meeting about finalizing the end of the route, it all feels like its truly coming into being. I had a friend that emailed me the other day and he had been talking about the walk with some of his family. His enthusiasm about the project reminded me of the excitement around all of this. When we're wading through the logistical weight of the walk, its good to remember the excitement around it all, too.
I don't have wanderlust. I like to feel at home and I feel most at home…well, at home. Although I've seen bits of it and there are bits I'd still very much like to see, I wouldn't spend any of the three wishes a genie gave me on a trip around the world. I am not haunted by the yearning to inhabit a different body or a different belief system.
The most significant distance I have traveled in my life was a trip to the garbage can. In my hand, I was carrying my birth control pills. And again: it's not that I was in some situation that made it especially brave, objectively speaking, for me to do this. I had grown up with loving parents. I had a loving spouse. I had a home and a job. I didn't dislike kids. I had simply never been moved by the desire to have one.
I'm moved and inspired to hear of this long-distance march that took place earlier this year in Bolivia. A group of 120 people, many of them disabled, walked 870 miles from Trinidad, Bolivia, to the nation's capital of La Paz to lobby for disability rights. 870 miles in a wheelchair on difficult roads? Incredible.
Disabled people in Bolivia on the march in quest for equality
The Guardian, January 11, 2012
A group of disabled people in Bolivia is walking 1,400km, from Trinidad to La Paz – a route taking in both tropical climates and snow-capped mountains – to demand state benefits and an end to discrimination.
Reposted from 50milehikers.wordpress.com with permission.
In 1963, during the end of the Kennedy administration, a strange fad quickly grabbed the nation's attention. Based partly on a genuine concern for the public's fitness and partly on a dare, the nation briefly took to the streets in record numbers. Most walked like they never had before and would never do again.
Most of us learn to live comfortably within our limits but occasionally we like to test where our boundaries lie. When presented with a difficult physical challenge, we might assume that only someone with extraordinary motivation and self-confidence could pull it off. However, there are situations where, conditions being right, a small spark can ignite a huge fire. Given the right set of circumstances, even average people can reach well beyond their limits and achieve something they never thought possible.
On Saturday (4-28-12) I picked Cassie and Matt up at Rockfish Gap, right where they finished hiking through the beautiful Shenandoah National Park. While trying to figure out exactly where the access point was located, I found the following historical tidbit:
Rockfish Gap was the site of Mountain Top Tavern, one of the most famous taverns in Virginia. Many important conferences were held here. In 1818 a convention of 28 prominent citizens of Virginia, including Chief Justice Marshall and ex-presidents Madison, Monroe, and Jefferson, met here at Mountain Top Tavern to decide whether the University of Virginia should be in Staunton, Lexington, or Charlottesville. (Guide to Shenandoah National Park, www.guidetosnp.com/web/LogoftheDrive/logs6.aspx)
One of the most intriguing questions of this project for me is: when have you felt compelled to live your life in a different way? I came across this story by a friend of friends named Manjula Martin who rode her bicycle across Europe for 6 months: ht.ly/aFwsa
Manjula describes some of the impetus for her trip: "My situation wasn't unique or dire. Things were going all right, except for money. I liked my apartment, except for all the piles of objects I couldn't seem to stop accumulating. Social life? Great, if it weren't for the feeling of isolation rising in me thanks to day after day spent staring into various screens. I was restless."
Glen Echo Park used to be the end of the Trolley line for Washington DC. People would ride the trolley out from the city to visit the Amusement Park. The trolley company used the park as inspiration to ride the trolley. Once the park was converted back to its original mission as an Arts & Culture center, Sam Swersky worked to have a replica street car placed at the park as an iconic representation of how visitors used to get to the park. It offers a visual tool for the interpretive rangers to reference when telling the story of Glen Echo Park and its journey to its present day condition.
I have seen
The old gods go
And the new gods come.
Day by day
And year by year
The idols fall
And the idols rise.
I worship the hammer.
the greatest distance
I have traveled
has been in my head
of static thought
by electric impulse
When you are singing, you aren't thinking about how much your feet hurt. When you are eating, you aren't thinking about it either. Or talking, or laughing at a marionette dance Paloma does right at the moment you need something to take your mind off of your feet. Matt Mahaney, a former Dance Exchange dancer and outdoor educator who led our hike, said early on in our 26 mile day, "The way your feet feel now—this is as bad as they're going to feel—they won't get worse". Tender feet that called attention to themselves with every step became another thing to notice as we moved ever forward. They made themselves known like the encompassing green, the sunning turtles, the owl that turned his head sharply to stare us down, the waterfalls, the millipedes, the gnats, the mile markers.
Not sure you have any reason to know Steve Wishnevsky. I sure do, he has been a part of my life in various ways for about twenty years or so now. Ex-hippie, musician, maker, grump, writer, community builder, crusty old fart that he is, he helped shape who I am pretty profoundly. I met him in the early '90's in Winston-Salem at a jam session that he was running.
I had only recently figured out that the long skinny end of a guitar went in my left hand and the big round part went against my body on the right. It was through the extreme patience of Wish and the community of musicians at the weekly jam session at a little restaurant (now long gone to make way for a freeway overpass) called the Rose and Thistle that I slowly started to figure out that a guitar might be used as something other than a prop to attract young ladies. It might be used to, you know, make actual music that some people might even want to listen to. This was a revelation to my twenty-year-old self.
Our town—the closest town to our establishment—Poolesville, MD. We have a town council who meets on a regular basis. They make the decisions with input from the community when needed. Poolesville is made up of approximately 6,000 people!
I have a complicated relationship with New York City. When I first moved there I was young and there was no other place I wanted to be. Smitten in the way that belongs to the young, I wrote bad poetry and read good poetry in praise of it. I collected and read and re-read books about the history of the City or that use the City as a backdrop or a foil. I loved flying in over the vast grey landscape of artificial canyons and fabricated mountains as I returned to what I thought of as "home" when I came back from work trips or family vacations. I was mystified by people who wanted to live anywhere else, and extolled the virtues of what I thought of as "my City" to anyone that did not walk away.
This 500-mile walk is not only about tracing the sources of our resources and the distances they travel to power our homes—it's about the stories in each community that we will pass through. It's about the people, the land, the plants, the places we call home. Cassie Meador's journey is as much about creating a new story as it is about unearthing old stories, lost stories, and untold stories. Dance Exchange has developed a series of beautifully illustrated playing cards (designed by Jenny Greer) to engage communities on the trail (and far beyond) in the age-old tradition of story telling.
I found in mid-February that my first day on the trail would be a 25 mile day. I panicked a little—can my body actually do that? I trust that my body can perform in rehearsal and on stage week after week, but this stamina is of a different sort than what it takes to walk long distances. Also, at the end of hard day of rehearsal, there are things like a warm bath and soft bed waiting for me—not so on the trail.
February 17, 2012
This Spring, Dance Exchange Artistic Director Cassie Meador will walk 500 miles, launching a new initiative in art and environmentalism. The physical journey, which begins on April 10, 2012 will take Meador on a path to explore the energy sources that power her home starting at her house in the Takoma neighborhood of Washington, DC and travelling through Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Stops along the way include the communities of Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Blacksburg, and Beckley. The walk will take approximately two months to complete and will serve as a community engagement tour as well as research and development time for a dance production entitled How To Lose a Mountain, set to premiere in spring 2013. The walk will be highly documented through "500 Miles/500 Stories," a website that will allow the public to follow the walk and read stories contributed from people and communities encountered along the trail and beyond.