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Easter/Earth Day
From the Gunnison Country Times. April 2004– Maryo Ewell

What a week. One that has both Easter (April 20) and Earth Day (April 22) in it. It inspires reflection.
I use Easter weekend as the time when I really try to reflect on what I do – both for my profession (the Colorado Council on the Arts) and my work (community arts development). Snowing or not, I try to spend the weekend in the garden, repairing winter’s ravages, turning the compost pile, fretting about water, marveling that the tulips made it through another winter. In taking care of my little yard, it’s a good time to act out my belief in this planet’s goodness and my responsibility to it. And a time to reaffirm promises to people I care about. I always read T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets on Easter, too: "…for us, there is only the trying/ The rest is not our business."

A few thoughts from the garden: you think about grass roots a lot as you try to dig up turf, trying to limit the almost appalling amount of grass you are supposed to take care of. Reminded of the interconnectedness of these tiny little roots which make an almost immovable mass. You remember that the community arts movement is aptly named "grassroots arts." A person’s arts. People’s arts. Peoples’ arts. The interconnectedness of neighbors whose community cannot, must not, be dominated by outside forces, economic or artistic. You remember how important it is to talk about your community, creatively, uniquely.
You think about how your garden nurtures your stomach, delights your eyes, returns a little oxygen to the atmosphere – for everyone. You think about community arts, which you have dedicated your life to, and you think how community arts is like that, spiritually, for community arts nurture the spirit, delight the mind, return a little identity to the community.

And then you think about Earth Day and you realize that the work of community arts people and environmental workers is very similar – both about ensuring life, which may be why so many community arts organizations aggressively celebrate Earth Day.

And at the same time you remember a friend who likened your profession to that of the ministry, caring for the soul.

And that makes you reflect on the Easter service, at which one prayer is for the well-being of the community where you live; and also "for the good earth…and the wisdom and will to conserve it."
And you liken that service to a piece of community art, one which celebrates that community, in which everyone participates, in which there is a shared ritual passed on from generation to generation, in which the language is poetry and the music is stirring, in which everyone sings whether they are on key or not, just because that service says something about who they are.

And you think about the Sonofagunn at the Arts Center, and how it dares to try and ask the Big Questions about your community, and you thank the Gunnison Arts Center for having the courage to let the community ask itself these questions, and you realize that this courage is one of the things that makes the Gunnison Arts Center stand out from so many arts groups nationwide. And you think about your own agency, the Colorado Council on the Arts, and what it has tried to stand for, and you realize that whatever happens, the commitment of community arts people is bigger than that of any agency – it is about the interconnectedness of those grassroots, that just won’t let anyone cut through them. Organizations come and go. The grassroots are always there.

Easter. Earth Day. Recommitting yourself to your place and your people.

Saying, "This is who we are. This is creatively saying who we are. No one else can say it like this. This is why we matter."


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