Books, Empathy, and Earth Day 2017

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The Land Library often refers to books as powerful tools to understand the places where we live. Books also seem to be a wonderful repository of empathy for others. Just being surrounded by books, we’re more likely to think beyond ourselves, feel what others might feel, imagine how other species live their lives. Perhaps even imagine the impact we have on our brilliant blue planet.

Here’s one of our favorite passages from Neil Gaiman, as he writes about the importance of books, libraries, and empathy:

For me, closing libraries is the equivalent of eating your seed corn to save a little money. They recently did a survey that showed that among poor white boys in England, 45% have reading difficulties and cannot read for pleasure. Which is a monstrous statistic, especially when you start thinking about it as a statistic that measures not just literacy but also as a measure of imagination and empathy, because a book is a little empathy machine. It puts you inside somebody else’s head. You see out of the world through somebody else’s eyes.

We love the spark of other lives that books such as these provide:

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Empathy, joy and understanding gained from wildlife across the globe, and from around our neighborhoods!

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With curiosity as our compass, we have a world to explore, sometimes just a few inches from our eyes.

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Many an artist has found beauty in the simplest shapes on the landscape.

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A sense of wonder, that sparks both empathy and poetry. Laying the seeds for love and concern for the planet on which we live.

We hope you have a wonderful Earth Day this Saturday, with time outdoors, perhaps a book at night. What will the year ahead be for our planet, and what can we do to help steer a good course ahead?

We’re Excited: Let the Summer Begin!

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Looking up valley, toward Mount Silverheels in morning mist. photo by Jay Halsey

The Rocky Mountain Land Library is very excited about our Summer Schedule at Buffalo Peaks Ranch. Some favorites return from our first two summers, along with many new workshops, classes, and field courses — along with our third annual Summer Book Club. All will be announced on May 1st — stay tuned!

To give you a feel for what’s ahead this season, here is our first ranch workshop, taught by an accomplished Denver artist:

DRAWING THE LANDSCAPE with MEGHAN WILBAR

This daylong workshop will focus on the process of seeing and translating the experience of the landscape in simplified shapes and colors. You will explore a drawing technique that combines elements of collage, pencil line drawing and ink washes to emphasize space and movement within a landscape. This will be a outdoor workshop, with all materials included.

Saturday, May 27th, 10am to 4pm,  $50 class fee.

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Meghan Wilbar received her BA from Knox College and her MFA from the New York Studio School. She has been awarded several fellowships for artist residencies and has her work in private and public collections. She currently lives and works in Denver. For more, view Meghan’s website here.

For Meghan, the landscape provides inspiration, emotional and spatial relationships, and an overall connection to the human experience. She aims to squeeze an expansive landscape into a compressed, tension-filled space. The result: the landscape’s own experience of reality. Each painting is conceived through a series of on-site drawings. The drawings extract form, movement, and space in simple shades of white, brown, and black. The process of painting integrates the shapes from the drawings into the dialogue of paint. The application of layers, washes, and drips of oil paint furthers the exploration of the emotive quality of the landscape.

“The natural world holds the key to abstraction through the dance between colliding forms and the interchange of negative and positive space, light and color. I use this natural abstraction to create paintings that evoke the experiences one has within one’s surroundings. The paintings are brief histories of moments constantly shifting, reorganizing to reveal the underlying structure in the landscape.” – Meghan Wilbar

For more information, and how to register, contact Jeff Lee at jeff@landlibrary.org, 303-321-3574.

New Goal in sight: over 1,000 Backers!

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The Rocky Mountain Land Library is thrilled to have reached our $125,000 Kickstarter goal. Thanks to all our remarkable backers (over 850 strong) we will be able to completely renovate the Cooks House. With that we’ll have two lodgings, a warm & wonderful kitchen, a large meeting space, and the ranch’s first library.

But with two full days to go in our campaign, we aren’t finished yet. We’ll keep reaching out to new & current backers to help us do even more at the ranch this summer.

Our new goal at the end of this exciting campaign is to bring even more people to the Land Library project.

We would love to gain over 1,000 backers by the end of this Friday! 

There are several manageable work projects that we are itching to accomplish this summer, including fixing up this cozy, donated caravan:

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Along with a roomy bed, there’s even space for a writing desk!

Food, and the communal act of cooking,  will always be an important part of Buffalo Peaks Ranch. With additional Kickstarter funds we’ll be able to dust off this wonderful old Forest Service Manual, and build our very own Hillside Oven:

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“Cooking is all about connection, I’ve learned, between us and other species, other times, other cultures (human and microbial both), but, most important, other people. Cooking is one of the more beautiful forms that human generosity takes…. Michael Pollan, from Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation.

Then, for the comfort of all (and always trying to live lighter on the land) we would love to build two compostable toilet/outhouses for ranch visitors:

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It’s always about much more than the work: Each additional project funded in our Kickstarter campaign’s final hours will be achieved by expert advice and volunteer labor. They will also be occasions that bring people together at the ranch, giving us the chance to work on something greater than ourselves — building something for the common good we all care so much about.

We have until Friday, 11:59 pm. Please pledge your support and share our Kickstarter link with friends!

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Help bring books, people & programs to Colorado’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch. With your support we will transform a historic high mountain ranch into a residential library devoted to land, community, and the many positive ways we can all move forward together.

But first, CLICK HERE and you’ll find out much more. Learn how you can be an important part of this land-inspired, book-loving grassroots project!

PLEASE DONATE & PLEASE SHARE!

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One of our volunteer-built Leopold Benches, with Mount Silverheels at sunrise.

The Important Work of Daydreaming

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A Good Place to Daydream? Buffalo Peaks Ranch in South Park, Colorado. photo by Jay Halsey

In 2013, author Neil Gaiman delivered a speech at the Barbican Centre in London. The second annual Reading Agency Lecture was titled Reading and Obligation. Neil Gaiman’s words on the power of books, libraries, and reading has guided the Rocky Mountain Land Library ever since.

Here’s just a short passage that we especially love!

“We all — adults and children, writers and readers — have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.

Look around you: I mean it. Pause, for a moment and look around the room that you are in. I’m going to point out something so obvious that it tends to be forgotten. It’s this: that everything you can see, including the walls, was, at some point imagined. Someone decided it was easier to sit on a chair than on the ground and imagined the chair….This room and the things in it, and all the other things in this building, this city exists because, over and over and over, people imagined things. They daydreamed, they pondered….

And then, in time, they succeeded. Political movements, personal movements, all began with people imagining another way of existing.” — Neil Gaiman, from his Reading Agency Lecture, October 14, 2013

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Author Neil Gaiman at his writing desk

The Land Library at Buffalo Peaks Ranch will always be a place to ponder, to daydream and, of course, to read.  As Neil Gaiman writes: “Books are the way we communicate with the dead. The way we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over.

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“They daydreamed, they pondered…”  Buffalo Peaks Ranch with Reinecker Ridge in the distance.  photo by Carl Young

We have 8 more days to reach our all-or-nothing goal! Please pledge your support and share our Kickstarter link with friends!

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Help bring books, people & programs to Colorado’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch. With your support we will transform a historic high mountain ranch into a residential library devoted to land, community, and the many positive ways we can all move forward together.

But first, CLICK HERE and you’ll find out much more. Learn how you can be an important part of this land-inspired, book-loving grassroots project!

PLEASE DONATE & PLEASE SHARE!

Books + Land + (the missing piece we’re all working toward)

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University of Colorado’s School of Architecture graduate students beginning their design work at Buffalo Peaks Ranch.

We love Mark Wren, and the Rocky Mountain Land Library is incredibly fortunate to have him on our Board of Directors. Mark is well-known in the book world, serving as a sales representative for Texas Bookman for many years. He just sent this wonderful note off to friends, and we had to share it with the world!

Mark really captures the urgency (and OPPORTUNITY) coming up in the last 9 days of our all-or-nothing Kickstarter campaign:

Dear Friends,

I would like to give you an update on our Kickstarter campaign for the Rocky Mountain Land Library.  We’re at an exciting stage with our efforts in getting the first building completely rehabilitated and renovated, so we can add the most important element – people!

This will allow us to fill in our missing element:   Books + Land + PEOPLE = the most amazing space and experience.

To all of you who have already pledged on our Kickstarter page – THANK YOU!  To my friends who are still thinking about making a pledge, please know that your pledge is so important.  We all know our world is changing so much, and the Rocky Mountain Land Library is a special place that will allow us to reconnect, reenergize, and revitalize our connections to the land, to the printed word, and to each other.  Ultimately, is there anything more important?

Please visit our Kickstarter page to learn more, and know that I’m here to answer any questions you may have.  Our leaders Jeff Lee and Ann Martin are a constant source of inspiration, and we have them to thank for their vision and amazing commitment.  I hope one day we can all gather at the ranch and celebrate together, with books in our hands, stars in the sky above, and friendship & fellowship with each other.  Thank you – happy pledging, AND reading!

We have 9 days left to go, and we’re more than half way to our goal – so the remaining days are so important!

Link to the Rocky Mountain Land Library Kickstarter page

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All my best,
Mark
Mark Wren, board member

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Help bring books, people & programs to Colorado’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch. With your support we will transform a historic high mountain ranch into a residential library devoted to land, community, and the many positive ways we can all move forward together.

But first, CLICK HERE and you’ll find out much more. Learn how you can be an important part of this land-inspired, book-loving grassroots project!

PLEASE DONATE & PLEASE SHARE!

Land Art Workshop: New Kickstarter Reward!

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The Rocky Mountain Land Library is excited to offer a Summer 2017 Workshop exclusively to our Kickstarter backers at the $750 level:

THE LAND ART WORKSHOP REWARD

Come and be a part of an immersive, on-site creation at Buffalo Peaks Ranch this summer. Accompanied by Colorado artist and sculptor Rik Sargent, participants will generate a narrative inspired by a particular reading from the Land Library’s collection — but mostly it will be the ranch, and the South Platte River that will set the tone for the day. This narrative will be physically manifested at the ranch, using local materials at hand. It’s all about the verb, it’s all about the doing!

Spend a weekend (July 29-30) at the ranch, camping (or stay nearby in Fairplay), foraging, and collaborating. Be among the first to establish Buffalo Peaks Ranch as a creation space!

This workshop reward is limited to 6 backers at the $750 pledge level. Backers at this level will also receive: the Digital Photo Collection, Outpost Correspondence, Sponsored Book, Land Library Bandana, and Land Library Book Bag. 

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Artist & sculptor Rik Sargent in his studio

Rik Sargent has created incredible pieces of public art that equally emphasize the sculpture itself, and the environment it rests in. Below are a few pieces from Rik’s extensive portfolio:

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‘One World, One Water’ — a 14 foot bronze sculpture at Metropolitan State University, Denver 

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‘Spread Your Wings’ and ‘Eggolution’

We have 10 more days to reach our all-or-nothing goal! Please share our Kickstarter link, with friends, especially with those who would be intrigued to take part on our very first LAND ART WORKSHOP!

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Help bring books, people & programs to Colorado’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch. With your support we will transform a historic high mountain ranch into a residential library devoted to land, community, and the many positive ways we can all move forward together.

But first, CLICK HERE and you’ll find out much more. Learn how you can be an important part of this land-inspired, book-loving grassroots project!

PLEASE DONATE & PLEASE SHARE!

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Two Weeks to Go and 51% Funded!

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Dawn breaks the darkness at Buffalo Peaks Ranch. photo by Sarah McLaughlin

We saw a sizable boost in Kickstarter pledges last week and we’re extremely thankful for the press coverage we continue to receive. Special thanks to all of you who have shared our project with your friends and contacts.  Everyone’s support and enthusiasm has energized our team and we’re excited for what is in store over the next 14 days.

Another big THANK YOU to everyone who tuned in and viewed our Kickstarter Live stream last Tuesday night. We hope to thank and converse with ALL of our backers at some point, ideally around a table in the Cook’s House, and at the workshops and events coming up this summer!

We have a mini-goal for the next few days. Join us to spread the word and get our campaign over 600 backers by next Tuesday

Kickstarter is an ALL-OR-NOTHING effort, and with the incredible support we’ve received thus far, we know we can make it! Who would you want to know about this project? Message our project link below to anyone else you know and follow up with those who you may have already shared our project with.

Project Link:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1402759381/buffalo-peaks-ranch-a-literary-home-on-the-range?ref=8744wr

Inspiration can be born in an instant when we’re all working together!

In closing, we’d like to share a favorite book passage from Rocky Mountain Land Library Director and Co-founder Jeff Lee. The passage is taken from The Bottom of the Harbor by late legendary author, Joseph Mitchell.

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Mitchell, who died in 1996, was the great wandering and listening soul of New York City. True, you won’t find any of his titles at local Nature Centers, but his sketches of the urban scene shows us a writer immersed in his home landscape. From Fulton Fish Market to McSorley’s Saloon, Joseph Mitchell observed his given plot of land keenly and compassionately, like the ideal naturalist that he was. Back in 1992, his work, long out of print, was resurrected in a wonderful anthology, Up in the Old Hotel.

The following passage, The Rivermen, from Joseph Mitchell’s The Bottom of the Harbor touches on one’s relationship to the river and the city he inhabits. Cities around the world were founded on the banks of rivers and streams allowing humans to naturally network with one another along and with the river itself. This unstoppable, steady, yet often gentle flow can sculpt any landscape and has certainly shaped our thinking at the Land Library. The South Platte River has inspired the Headwaters to Plains network settling Land Library sites at Buffalo Peaks Ranch, Waterton Canyon, and in inner-city Denver.

Rivers and books each share the power to bring people together.

“I often feel drawn to the Hudson River, and I have spent a lot of time through the years poking around the part of it that flows past the city. I never get tired of looking at it; it hypnotizes me. I like to look at it in midsummer, when it is warm and dirty and drowsy, and I like to look at it in January, when it is carrying ice. I like to look at it when it is stirred up, when a northeast wind is blowing and a strong tide is running — a new-moon tide or a full-moon tide — and I like to look at it when it is slack. It is exciting to me on weekdays, when it is crowded with ocean craft, harbor craft, and river craft, but it is the river itself that draws me, and not the shipping, and I guess I like it best on Sundays, when there are lulls as long as a half an hour, during which, all the way from the Battery to the George Washington Bridge, nothing moves upon it, not even a ferry, not even a tug, and it becomes as hushed and dark and secret and remote and unreal as a river in a dream.”

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The South Platte River slowly ripples by, with Buffalo Peaks Ranch in the distance.

From the Hudson River to the South Platte, please SUPPORT all things global and local at the Rocky Mountain Land Library! 

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Help bring books, people & programs to Colorado’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch. With your support we will transform a historic high mountain ranch into a residential library devoted to land, community, and the many positive ways we can all move forward together.

But first, CLICK HERE and you’ll find out much more. Learn how you can be an important part of this land-inspired, book-loving grassroots project!

PLEASE DONATE & PLEASE SHARE!