A Kickstarter Campaign that will Bring Books and People to a High Mountain Ranch

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It was just two summers ago when Buffalo Peaks Ranch’s bunkhouse (to the left) and the Cooks House (to the right) were in dire need of repair. Both had been untouched for more than 30 years.

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Our first summer of volunteer work focused on two very leaky roofs.

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Here are HistoriCorps volunteers laying down the last few shingles on the Cooks House.

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By summer’s end both buildings had new roofs, just in time for another fierce South Park winter.

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Last year we were back to rehabilitate all the windows, and give many fresh coats of paint to some very thirsty boards.

We’re very excited to report that we’ll be launching a Kickstarter Campaign on February 21st to complete the Cooks House. We’ll be working on the interior:

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As you can see the interior is in good shape, but we need to bring water back to the Cooks House, along with installing the greenest energy system possible.

In the end, we will have two new lodgings for guests, a warm & wonderful kitchen, a large classroom space, and here’s something exciting, the ranch’s first library!

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Someday soon this space will house a dedicated collection of Land Library books (perhaps the Native American Library). But for now, later this summer we’ll be shelving an assortment of great books that suggests the RMLL’s broad range of titles focused on people and the land. Books such as these:

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photo by Michael Ciaglo

Stay tuned for much more on our Cooks House Kickstarter campaign, launching on February 21st!

To See the World Anew

“Why do so many of us have bookshelves bending under the weight of yellow-spined copies of the magazine? It’s simple: we cannot bring ourselves to throw away such beautiful things. We know what has gone into their creation.” — Nigel Holmes, National Geographic Infographics.

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Here’s the latest addition to the Rocky Mountain Land Library’s always growing collection:  National Geographic Infographics, just published by Taschen.  This beautifully done oversize volume captures the top charts, diagrams, and maps from the National Geographic‘s past 128 years.

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What a timeless resource for artists, scientists, naturalists, and lifelong learners of all ages!

8bb9ddebc3fffce8f05fe3d2e32313e2This hefty tome is divided into seven sections: History, The Planet, Being Human, Animal Worlds, World of Plants, Science & Technology, and Space.

And there are many eye-opening surprises along the way:

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The recent work of National Geographic artists are well represented, but some of our favorite images come from the oldest, dustiest of the yellow-spined treasures:

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From natural history to the daring “futuristic” Mercury space capsule design:

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National Geographic has long helped us all see the world anew:

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Stay tuned for more Land Library new arrivals in 2017!

See you on Thursday Night!

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The Puritan Pie Factory in autumn, a wonderful photo taken just this past weekend by super volunteer Wendy Campbell. Thanks to Wendy for taking a break from the hard & gritty work, to capture the Pie Factory in transition!

Come join us this Thursday night as we celebrate the Rocky Mountain Land Library’s new inner-city Denver location, the last piece of the Headwaters to Plains Network that includes South Park’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch, and our Waterton Canyon Library. For the past many weeks, volunteers have been cleaning, and clearing space in Denver’s Puritan Pie Factory for the first few Land Library books to arrive:

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The Pie Factory’s major themes will be nature in the city, urban homestead topics, and kids and nature — with plenty of books on the natural and cultural heritage of the American West.

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Eventually we’ll erect over 125 bookcases donated to the Land Library by the Tattered Cover Book Store. But on Thursday night you’ll see us display books using whatever is on hand at the Pie Factory:

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Water will always be a big theme at all the Land Libraries along the Headwaters to Plains Network. Here’s a few that have found a temporary home in a claw-foot bathtub.

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So many great books — it’s hard to pick just one to feature!

Click here for more information on this Thursday’s Pie Factory Pop-up, plus how you can get a ticket ahead of time, or at the door! 

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There will be food, drink, music, and of course, lots of books and lots of pie.

Thanks again to Wendy Campbell for her wonderful photos, and to all our amazing event sponsors:  Aurora Water, Billy’s Inn, Chelsea Green Publishing, Davis Graham & Stubbs, Denver Water, Hopwares, and North County restaurant.

The Story of the Land, from Headwaters to Plains

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You can sense the change of season at Buffalo Peaks Ranch. But just as the summer winds down at the Land Library’s headwaters site, we have exciting news to report back here in Denver. The Rocky Mountain Land Library will soon be opening it’s third place-based learning center at Denver’s old Puritan Pie Factory, located in the historic Curtis Park neighborhood. This urban branch is designed to help connect people to nature — not the distant natural history of our nearest National Parks, but the nearby nature of the neighborhoods where we all live.

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The Puritan Pie Factory at 26th & Champa.

We have two city-inspired collections that we are anxious to share, namely a Kids Nature Library (with thousands of books on bugs, birds, bats, and more), along with (what we’re calling) an Urban Homestead Library, featuring books on nature in the city, with many volumes on green-living, including hundreds of titles on edible landscaping, urban farming, beekeeping, raising chickens, and much, much more.

With thousands of books as an inspiring resource, the Purtian Pie Factory will be home to workshops and classes, nature clubs and activities for kids, neighborhood gatherings, plus artist & craft studios. If the community has a creative need, we would love for the Pie Factory to help fill it.

For instance:

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Some of our favorite books are on seeds (really!). Along with seed books, we’ll be setting up a Free Seed Library, much like this wonderful photo from the Manitou, Colorado Seed Library.

 

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How about a Teaching Kitchen for both kids & adults? Over the years we have noticed that the intersection of food & land is a perfect place to feel those connections we all have to nature and the land! (This fun photo is from the Organic Teaching Kitchen in New York).

Thanks to the visionary owners of the Puritan Pie Factory, so much is possible! Over the next few weeks & months we’ll all be learning more about the Pie Factory and the Curtis Park neighborhood. Who knows what new ideas and programs will emerge as we explore this amazing opportunity together!

Many of us are especially excited that the Pie Factory is already part of Denver’s Beat Tour. Just next door to the factory is the site of Neal Cassady’s boyhood home.

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We’re already stacking up our Beat books, everything from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road to Gary Snyder’s Riprap Poems!

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Let there be Pie! From Headwaters to Plains, from South Park to Curtis Park:

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Poetry in the Park

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There’s still plenty of activity at Buffalo Peaks Ranch this coming month, but we’re already looking forward to what’s ahead in September — such a glorious time in South Park as the air grows crisp, and the leaves start to turn. This September’s Ranch workshops are all devoted to poetry. Come join us!

Please note: Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, we are very happy to be offering special Student/Teacher Discounts to both of September’s poetry workshops!

Here’s what we have coming up:

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Saturday, September 10th, 10:00am – 2:00pm: Jodie Hollander returns! Jodie, and a small group of writers, will explore Poetry, Memory and Childhood. Prepare for a great discussion, with writing prompts to get you writing your own poems, plus plenty of time for questions and sharing.

Jodie Hollander has published in poetry journals across the globe. She is also one of the founding editors of Garo, an on-line art & literary journal inspired by the Rocky Mountain Land Library and Buffalo Peaks Ranch.  To register, and to find out much more about Jodie, and her poetry workshop, click on this link!

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Saturday, September 17th, 9:00am – 3:00pm: Poet Gary Schroeder will be offering Haiku Moments/Haiku Mind, a poetry workshop perfectly set in the high mountain grasslands of South Park. Gary and his small band of students will explore the Haiku experience, enjoying brief Haiku hikes across the ranch.

Gary Schroeder is the author of four volumes of poetry, and his new collection of Haiku, After Rain, is forthcoming from Folded Word Press.

To register, and to find out much more about Gary, and his Haiku workshop, check on this link!

Jodie and Gary are wonderful teachers,  expert in creating such a warm and welcoming environment. We feel lucky to have them both at Buffalo Peaks Ranch!

And, for fans of poetry, come see a sampling of the Land Library’s growing collection of poetry books, from across the globe — volumes such as these! 

 

Take a Trip to Buffalo Peaks Ranch

Thanks to a planning grant from the Borgen Family Foundation, the Rocky Mountain Land Library has been working hard this winter on renovation plans for Buffalo Peaks Ranch. Soon we’ll be carefully adapting this historic ranch, and creating a residential library devoted to people and the land.

Here’s a terrific new video on what’s ahead. Thanks to Winton Media for telling the Land Library’s story so well!

Watch, enjoy, share, and HELP the Land Library grow!

https://vimeo.com/157618176hhh

For much more information, here’s Your Trail Guide to the Rocky Mountain Land Library, or write jeff@landlibrary.org!

 

Your Trail Guide to the Rocky Mountain Land Library

South Park's Buffalo Peaks Ranch, future home of the Rocky Mountain Land Library's global collection of books on people and the land -- from the Arctic to the African savannas.
South Park’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch, future home of the Rocky Mountain Land Library’s global collection of books on people and the land — from the Arctic to the African savannas.

We find our place in the world through land and stories, and the Rocky Mountain Land Library unites our passion for both.” — Mark Fiege, author of The Republic of Nature: An Environmental History of the United States

Books are the tools we love best. They have a way of connecting people across the globe, and over the centuries. Books help us discover and celebrate the beauty of our improbable blue world. And books provide us with the tools we all need to live lighter on the land.

Our webpages (listed above) describes the Land Library’s books, programs, and the emerging Headwaters to Plains Network — a series of book-lined spaces, encouraging discovery, quiet thought, creative pursuits, and active community involvement.

Over the years, our website has also featured posts on some of the books that excite us to no end. You’ll also see that we report on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we all have to restore a historic Colorado ranch. Set in the high mountain grasslands of South Park, Buffalo Peaks Ranch will soon be the headwater site of a residential library — a place where you can come and stay for as long as you like.

Read about concrete corral stalls given new life as artist studios, our plans for a Land Library for inner-city Denver, complete with its very own Seed Library.

But as you’ll see from many years of web posts, we are happiest when reporting on books inspired by a sense of wonder, and hopeful for an even brighter future ahead.

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Stay tuned for much more from the Land Library in the months ahead!

The Rocky Mountain Land Library is like a gene bank for words, it’s our way of saving the past for the future. — David Mas Masumoto, farmer and author.

For more information on the Rocky Mountain Land Library, please contact jeff@landlibrary.org, 2550 W. 39th Avenue, Denver, CO 80211 (office location), 303-321-3574

Touching Words

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Here are two inspiring books on absolutely brilliant projects that celebrate both words and nature. The Language of Nature : Poetry in Library and Zoo Collaborations sprang from a project conceived by the Poets House of New York City. In select cities across the country poetry installations were discreetly added to local zoos — all in the hopes of raising people’s awareness of the natural world.

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In Beauty May I Walk — Navajo

Or, in other words, poetry was being used as a catalyst for building vital communities, to borrow Sandra Alcosser’s phrase. Along with Alcosser, The Language of Conservation features essays from poets such as Joseph Bruchac, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Mark Doty, and Pattiann Rogers, along with many practical hints on how to launch similar projects in your own community.

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Elk Song — Linda Hogan

Lee Briccetti, Executive Director of Poets House, captured the true genius of this project:

“Millions of people throughout the country encountered the poems at zoos — fragments; full texts; poems in translation from all over the world, often from the place of origin of the animals. In exit interviews, we learned that visitors could remember many of the lines of poetry and that their conservation IQ was actually raised….but that they did not always know that what they liked was poetry.

This confirmed what Poets House had learned from years of work with public libraries and their communities: when people experience poetry, they are often surprised and delighted. But if you tell them that it is coming, they get nervous.” — from Lee Briccetti’s foreword to The Poetic Species : A Conversation with Edward O. Wilson and Robert Hass

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“The arts somehow remind us of our kinship with all other life, and with the mortality of other life — the ephemeral, precious nature of every other form of life.” — W.S. Merwin, foreword to The Language of Conservation
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Back in 2012, a kindred project began in England’s Pennine Mountains. Poet Simon Armitage was commissioned by the Ilkley Literary Festival to write six poems based on his Pennine walks. Simon didn’t realize it at the time, but that was the start of what would become the Stanza Stones Poetry Trail.

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Inspired by the ancient landscape, Simon Armitage (pictured above) would eventually collaborate with a master letter carver, Pip Hall, to create a trail of poems sited across the moors, and carved into existing or introduced stones. As Armitage explains, people have visited this region for many thousands of years “to offer their prayers and express their desires in the form of carved stones and man-made formations.” If done right, the chiseled poems should fit in to this storied landscape.

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“The stones could be thought of as sites in their own right, literal landmarks, places to visit. Or they could be marker posts along the invisible route of the watershed.” — Simon Armitage

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At first, the subject of the poems alluded Simon Armitage, but then the project gained a real focus. Armitage writes: “After another visit to the hills, this time in lashing rain, I came back with a different idea and a single purpose. To let water be the overall subject: the water that sculpted the valleys, the water that powered the industries, the water we take for granted.” And so, the Stanza Stones Poetry Trail is made up of six poems, and six sites spread over 47 miles of the Pennine highlands: Snow, Rain, Mist, Dew, Puddle, Beck (a mountain stream).

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“Streams, reservoirs and waterfalls punctuate the journey, reminding the walker of how water shapes and animates the whole South Pennines.” — Tom Lonsdale, landscape architect, and adviser to the Stanza Stones project
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“Especially surprising and delightful to me is the colour of the cut rock, and its contrast with the weathered surface, which varies from pale honey in peaty chocolate, and silver in mottled blue-grey, to a glowing rufous gold in purple umber.” — Pip Hall, master letter carver

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For more on the Stanza Stones Project, and to read all six of Simon Armitage’s poems, look for a copy of Stanza Stones (pictured at the top of this post). And, not to be missed, we hope you enjoy this short film clip!

Your Trail Guide to the Rocky Mountain Land Library

South Park's Buffalo Peaks Ranch, future home of the Rocky Mountain Land Library's global collection of books on people and the land -- from the Arctic to the African savannas.
South Park’s Buffalo Peaks Ranch, future home of the Rocky Mountain Land Library’s global collection of books on people and the land — from the Arctic to the African savannas.

We find our place in the world through land and stories, and the Rocky Mountain Land Library unites our passion for both.” — Mark Fiege, author of The Republic of Nature: An Environmental History of the United States

Books are the tools we love best. They have a way of connecting people across the globe, and over the centuries. Books help us discover and celebrate the beauty of our improbable blue world. And books provide us with the tools we all need to live lighter on the land.

Our webpages (listed above) describes the Land Library’s books, programs, and the emerging Headwaters to Plains Network — a series of book-lined spaces, encouraging discovery, quiet thought, creative pursuits, and active community involvement.

Over the years, our website has also featured posts on some of the books that excite us to no end. You’ll also see that we report on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we all have to restore a historic Colorado ranch. Set in the high mountain grasslands of South Park, Buffalo Peaks Ranch will soon be the headwater site of a residential library — a place where you can come and stay for as long as you like.

Read about concrete corral stalls given new life as artist studios, our plans for a Land Library for inner-city Denver, complete with its very own Seed Library.

But as you’ll see from many years of web posts, we are happiest when reporting on books inspired by a sense of wonder, and hopeful for an even brighter future ahead.

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Stay tuned for much more from the Land Library in the months ahead!

The Rocky Mountain Land Library is like a gene bank for words, it’s our way of saving the past for the future. — David Mas Masumoto, farmer and author.

For more information on the Rocky Mountain Land Library, please contact jeff@landlibrary.org, 2550 W. 39th Avenue, Denver, CO 80211 (office location), 303-321-3574

Setting up a Porch Library

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As the Land Library renovates Buffalo Peaks Ranch, we’ve had to face up to the necessity of placing over 30,000 books in storage. We know it’s only temporary, but still, we’re anxious to start shelving & sharing these wonderful books. (The photo above, courtesy of The Denver Post, represents just one small corner of one of our donated storage sites).

When we have public tours at Buffalo Peaks Ranch, we break out a few choice titles, and set up a “porch library” at the Main House for visitors to enjoy. Whenever we put out the books we think of the titles we have (yes, alas in storage) from the great prairie photographer Solomon D. Butcher. Many of Butcher’s photographs are of prairie families in front of their old sod homes. Often they display prized possessions. As Butcher noted in this classic shot, the young mother photographed below wanted to reassure her family back east that all was good, and yes, they did own an organ:

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The David Hilton Family, near Weissert, Nebraska 1887

We feel the same way every time we set out the Buffalo Peaks Ranch Porch Library!

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All is good, and yes we have many wonderful, inspiring books to share!

When we set the books up we strive to feature a breadth of titles from many diverse disciplines, all focused on people and the land.

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A good cluster on a tiny table, representing the Land Art movement, Lisa Hamilton’s Deeply Rooted (on unconventional farms), and one of our favorite collections of essays, Merrill Gilfillan’s  Rivers and Birds.
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Books on trout (though the ranch is actually at 9,000 feet!), A Literary History of the American West, The Ecology of Running Waters, The Southern Cheyennes, The Natural History of Pollination, J. Frank Dobie’s The Voice of the Coyote (with illustrations by the great Olaus Murie!), and many more.
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Caddisflies, mining, pronghorns, Henry Beston’s wonderful Herbs and the Earth, the Handbook of Indian Food and Fibers of Arid America, bats, ants, snakes, and the alpine tundra too.
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Cutthroat: Native Trout of the West, Ramon Adams’ Western Words, three volumes from Henry David Thoreau’s Journals, and a book that asks a very good question,                 Can Poetry Save the Earth?

It’s always enormous fun to see people browsing through the books, suddenly reaching out to a book they’ve never seen before!

The Abeytas, from just up the road, take a moment to sample the porch library.
The Abeytas, from just up the road, take a moment to sample the porch library.

We also put out a small desk, and make something of a still life, suggesting the quiet creativity the ranch can inspire.

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And we always lay out one of Sherrie York’s wonderful sketchbooks. Do yourself a favor and visit this remarkable young artist’s beautiful website!

In many ways the Rocky Mountain Land Library is already up and running at Buffalo Peaks Ranch:

Porch Library 2014: Casey Cruikshank consults Kaufman's Field Guide to Birds of North America. By the end of the day, Casey added a half dozen new birds to the Buffalo Peaks Ranch Bird List (the handy chalkboard posted on the main house's front wall).  photo by Kalen Landow
Porch Library 2014: Casey Cruikshank consults Kaufman’s Field Guide to Birds of North America. By the end of the day, Casey added a half dozen new birds to the Buffalo Peaks Ranch Bird List (the handy chalkboard posted on the main house’s front wall). photo by Kalen Landow

We’re looking forward to an ambitious ranch renovation this summer. Our goal is to make three of the core buildings (including the Main House) ready for books, programs, and overnight guests. There are many ways you can help. If you would like lend your support in any way that you can, please let us know!

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“Buffalo Peaks Ranch is a beautiful spot of land, the perfect home for a library dedicated to the conservation and appreciation of the land.”
Los Angeles Times