|| The concept of "my place" is challenging for me. Certainly, there are the places that are integral to my overall "sense of place" and its associations with a sense of comfort, identity, and well being. For years, I have lived in Dummerston, a wonderful small home in the Green Mountains of Vermont, with my wife, Pauline. We have a quiet country setting on a hill overlooking the West River, with a vegetable garden and Pauline's flowerbeds. My studio is there in my basement, and I teach at Marlboro College, a small liberal arts college nearby. My son, who is now grown and living on his own, is near enough for us to visit regularly, which is a gift.
In 1992, I co-founded The In-Sight Photography Project, a nonprofit organization that offers photography programming to area youth regardless of their ability to pay, and I have been involved with the program as a volunteer ever since. In that same year, I was introduced to a family on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, home of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe, and I've spent one to three months a year there ever since, staying with people there I relate to as family. I consider the reservation to be another part of my home at this point in my life, especially since Pauline and I met there almost twenty years ago.
Through my work with the college and In-Sight, and being married to an Australian who wants to see the wider world, I've learned to appreciate diversity and culture by traveling a fair bit, often with students. The places we go to and experience with fellow travelers, learning from and collaborating with those we visit in host communities, all feels like a piece of home, welcoming enough to consider them as included in my space. I only hope that, in my treading into these various places from Vermont onward, I can share the welcoming feeling and learning with others so they, too, may gain from the shared experiences.
Copyright © 2015 John Willis. All rights reserved.
I live in the foothills in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. Our old farmhouse is located in the rural town of Buckland, between two moving bodies of water, Clesson Brook and Shepard Brook. The land that surrounds the house is a combination of open hayfields, pasture for livestock, and forest. My studio, in the adjacent town of Shelburne Falls, sits right on the Deerfield River.
The sights and sounds of moving water are a constant in my life―always a source of both meditation and inspiration. I love the water's interaction with the calendar year, the weather and seasons here in the heart of New England. It is always changing in form, wonderfully peaceful, and, at other times, violent. I hear it and see it almost every day. It asks me to listen and to look with attention.
Likewise, the animals I live with—old angora goats—speak to me in a way that is laced with an ancient wisdom and knowingness. We call them our Talmud scholars, for their long, ring-letted fiber on the sides of their deep, watchful eyes. Gentle, quiet, and meditative in aspect, they bring me a kind of solace at the end of a busy day. The ritual of haying, feeding, and watering mark the beginning and end of each day, and the goats are there at the gate reliably, expectant, and silent.
Copyright © 2013 Tom Young. All rights reserved.