Sunday, November 29, 2009


Or , sorry that 's an opener, taking care of Health Care . This subject has been looming and it'll hit a head as it's potential improvement (or NOT) gets voted on by the Senate this week . There's alot of debate about the now called , Public Option , which has been renamed and covers those unable to get health coverage . How it'll work or whether it'll work is under debate ,... and depending how the question gets asked whether the public at large understands the importance of the option ??

What seems really misunderstood is that every year thousands of people are dying due to lack of any health care coverage . They have NO choice , NO option currently . If you need further prompting go to to days NY Times and read Nicholas D. Kristof's  article 'Are We Going To Let  John Die ?' . Note the figure he quotes as Americans dying each year from NO health care is.... 45,0000.  For a further read on the health care debate go to .

I was reading these various articles thinking why aren't we encouraging people to EAT better ?
The then came across Melanie Warner"s article in the Business section today (SUNDAY) on the program initiated by Zoe Finch Totten called Full Yield which looks to offer cafeterias of large businesses better /healthier options for Lunch . With added benefits and adding incentives for employees to eat better and perhaps lose weight , also exercise more a healthier work force is being seen as a benefit , both as less of a strain on company health insurances and improved wellness... "adding things to your life and feeling better psychologically and physically ...." Sounds good !?  

My query is why we aren't looking at this issue from a larger perspective and with the Full Yield approach encouraging more people to EAT well . We're bogged down in the notion of choice and which plan we choose when we're sick ... NOT improving our life style choices so we might NOT get sick ? WE're also engaged in producing so much UNHEALTHY food and pumping vast quantities of anti-biotics into animals in the production of Meat , we are producing super strains of Bacteria which lead to other health issues ,....  

Sustainable food production seems as important as what insurer to choose for Health Care ? If we are constantly feeding ourselves less nutritious foods and exercising less we're going to be sicker MORE often. AND we could afford NOT letting John die , by being healthier as a whole. BUT we're not taught to think of the whole ... it's MY choice , MY right .... 

Which funnily enough brings us on to Micheal Sendel's new book : JUSTICE "what's the right thing to do ?" (a profressor of Govt' at Harvard ) which looks at how politics and a certain preception of justice effect policy . There's coverage of theories of justice as well as honed explainations of the ideas of Aristotle/ Bentham/Kant/ Mill and Rawls . I quote the book review " virtuosic untangling of Kant's notorious knots , in under 40 pages ."

There's something truly strange when a society can allow a large part of it's populace to dye due to not being 'cared for ' and yet almost simultaneously preach value of life and sanctity of that life BUT allow such an injustice to prevail ? As though those dying had made that CHOICE.

There's a larger examination here and one which we ALL need to start looking at if we are going to really work on fixing the Economy , our Education system , the Financial institutions , the Mortgage rate , the Car Industry , the HealthCare System , the Energy Crisis which is what defines a healthy, fulfilled life and HOW we support that life ( or NOT ) ?

I think we need to take a much more creative approach to many of these issues which are so inter connected yet we keep treating the symptoms not looking at what produced the condition
They're big issues but if you really care you might start by making the choice about your next meal ?  And yes so close after Thanksgiving and just before the next major Holiday season ,....

Its akin to making art you first have to start asking why you might be making a piece of art ?
Then how ,....

When it hits home it starts to feel real when you start connecting you begin to see the me in them and perhaps start to relate to the WHOLE ?

But thats another topic .

later SD

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I tried to post this yesterday but for what ever reason I couldn't get the server to accept it ,...

After an extended period of taking the HFA studios down and bringing them in for the winter there has been new activity in  planning the next events and improving aspects of the project .

HFA is finalizing arrangements to bring the project to the central Hudson Valley region in Putnam County . We are securing a site and a supporting host , plus a number of initial sponsors who will help build six new HFA studios in 2010 . We want to have 6 artists help  build these initial six studios on site , with a possibility of more being built as interest grows and we find different groups to partner with . This initial 'hub' site will continue to have workshops on different topics through out a 5 to 6 month period , with artists taking up 3 week residencies with a potential to work together and with other community groups.  

There will be an Art Panel who will select the artists based on proposals and guidelines HFA is currently putting together. HFA is encouraging the next set of artists to work with a number of themes especially concerning such topics as energy , land use , farming , food and sustainable practices as well as ecological or green issues . There is a potential to engage with 30 artists 
this next season and create a vibrant catalyst for new dialogue and exploration.

We will be seeking internships with area colleges and building on community outreach programs in the next few months. 

Odin Cathcart will be heading up a HFA project in Vermont . Now the Exhibitions Curator at the Helen Dat Gallery in Stowe , Odin will be looking to build several HFA studios around the
Stowe area and engage with a number of colleges and Vermont artists. There is an exhibition of artist's work who have participated in  the HFA project planned for the new year at the Helen Day Gallery .

Burlington Community College , NJ  looks as if it will be taking the studio from SCEE in Philly.
Jeff Bailey has been heading up this effort to bring the project and the one studio to BCC .,some time in the Spring of 2010. We have been putting together a plan to have the project take on the potential of working with different departments and growing and being sustained over a few years . This will be an interesting on campus project where the artists studios become the focus of other dialogs with other disciplines , and art integrates with other departments like engineering and the culinary school (to be) . 

Work Space Harlem will be host to a HFA studio workshop and Exhibition of HFA artists in 
March of 2010 . Details , sponsors and specific dates are still being discussed with WSH manager, Dionis Ortiz . Dionis was instrumental in helping HFA partner with Urban Go Green
enabling a studio to be built at WSH !

HFA will be posting a NEW website in 2010 . There will be some changes in the look and content of the project . We are currently looking to have those blueprints and a manual done by early 2010 . Expect to see a NEW T shirt as well , our old supply is dwindling . 

HFA is  partnering with Scott Gibson of Ecopioneer and there'll be explorations into the HFA studio taking on different solar applications and H2O collection systems . Scott has a site up in Kingston which we'll be looking to develop in a number of ways where alternate design and technology fuse with art ... with a view to what's sustainable ?

Lastly HFA will be working on posting some of the pictures of this year's activities in New Paltz New York City , and Philadelphia  which we missed posting BUT want you to see and know about, as we work on the NEW site for 2010 .

We'll be posting new topics  over the winter as we develop the new projects for the various sites for 2010. And we hope to engage with new writers and contributors to the project on a number of issues , as we see the Art and cultural sections of regional publications dry up !

Talk soon , stay well    SD

Saturday, November 14, 2009

CONVERSATIONS AT THE BARN , Saturday November 14th

We have had one of those exciting weeks where you're computer gets compromised and you don't know what information is left unscathed . So amidst this technical debacle the job of blogging  got put squarely to one side .  So apologies for this late post of Joan  Bankemper's invitation to meet
for "Conversations at The Barn" located at East Ridge Rd , Warwick , N Y. at 6pm Sat Nov.14th .

Joan wants to have regular meetings or conversations at The Barn . The goal is to create a dialogue about sustainability. This week she has invited four speakers  who have studied in four
diverse corners of sustainability : a curator, a lawyer an artist and a farmer. Each will give a short
presentation of their concerns in their respective worlds.

Joan will also be serving soup , hot cider and beer to wet you appetites but bring something for
something more substantial .

The guest speakers will be :  Guy Jones , of Blooming Hill Farm , Amy Lipton co founder of ecoartspace , Caroline G. Harris lawyer and artist  and Simon Draper artist and Hudson Valley
resident , originator of the HFA project .

It'll be an informal affair and I think you'll need to dress appropriately as it will i n the Barn !

This week saw the last of the Habitat studios in the city . Todd and I took down the studio at Solar 1 despite strong winds and persistent rains . I was encouraged to see that it had worn well and was surprisingly in good shape . This is the studio that had been seen at ecoartspace in the Spring then moved to East 23rd for Solar1 's CITYSOL event in July and then moved to one side
for the Out door Film festival there in September. 

Monday I took down the indoor studio at Work Space Harlem , on 141st and 5th Ave , and we hope to be having a workshop building a studio there in the new year . Keep posted !!

At some point we have to wrap up , and I mean that literally as well as figuratively the studio at SCEE, Philadelphia . It looks as if through the efforts of one of the summer's participating artists , Jeff Bailey , we will be moving the studio east to Burlington Community College NJ. We hope to be doing this in the Spring of next year and are currently planning how the project will take shape there . We hope to be able to involve not only artists and art students but other groups in other areas , especially engineering and culinary arts . I hope to see further applications of the studio manifesting itself as not only a studio but a kitchen , a work shop or 
a mix of things . Perhaps a hybrid space in which it takes on the character it needs to ,enabling
new ideas to come into the project . 

We are pioneering new alternatives with Scott Gibson , of ECOPIONEER . Scott has come up with a wonderful solar system that uses the run off water in a number of ways . He and I have been discussing this idea which came up in discussion between us a couple of weeks ago whilst brainstorming ideas with HFA and his emergency disaster response initiative for a Buckminster Fuller proposal . More on that project later . We intend on building this solar prototype at Scott's IFEE site in Kingston NY . ( Pretty soon weather permitting ). He has some parts of a studio on site and we need to get the structure up before winter hits properly .
We intend this site to be a mixed use site for the merging of design /engineering ideas and art.
Oh IFEE ,.... Institute For Environmental Exploration .....yeah iffey but it works !! For others ,..
Not another outdoor art area ?? But thats limiting .

I am also looking for a site in the Garrison Area for a project to start some time in late Spring , which we can discuss is now what month ?  I've been working with Andy Chmar of HHLT  to find a suitable site and host . This promises to be quite the project and we hope to be getting a wonderful sponsor for this venture which we hope will really start to connect some dots between green building, art , farming /land use , energy and sustainable economic strategy with community !!  YES a big goal but I think its the right place and time to have this discussion .If not here , WHERE !?  It is quite the back yard to a number of notable and talented individuals who are already thinking about these issues ! So a logistical , strategy filled winter is ahead .

The Garrison Project is still being conceived but the focus is how we might set up a number of the small habitat studios in a group and have the artists work collectively as well as with other organizations  and folks in the area which touch on the areas of food , land use , conservation as well as energy and the economy . The resulting site will also influence what events we can plan around this community experiment which we hope will put many an idea into practice !

Before I wrap up for the evening , any WRITERS please write to me with regard to the NEW studio (or Writer's Shack ) at SCENIC HUDSONs Poet's Walk Park , Rhineclif f NY .  We are re furbishing it to suit writers primarily of ALL disciplines ,.... prose to poetry , history to art 
plays to documentaries ..... 2 hours to 2 weeks .  We hope to get it re installed by early summer.
Contact me at  :

Stay well , stay dry and please take a look at the NY Times current Book Review ....  

Some excellent reviews , most notably Harold Bloom's review of Peter Ackroyd's Canterbury Tales ....retold !!  Good stuff !!     Enjoy and digest    ... best  SD


Monday, November 2, 2009


We are in the last stages of taking in the various habitat studios for the winter . We have one still in New Paltz NY , on Huguenot St . We also have one left at Solar One in NYC . Another has gone indoors and is part of an Exhibit ,"Cornerstone" at Work Space Harlem . (until Nov 7th ).

In going through various papers and notes from this last year I found a piece of writing by my then 11 year old , son Aidan on the subject of UNITY . He takes on a big view with a discussion on alliances and countries' tendencies to not trust one another , which invariably leads to war. He then throws in a curve ball and I quote :

" My dad is an artist and has many believes about his art . Because his art could connect , the pieces sink in and stay connected . After a while the art would change. It might have been the colors or it could have been the whole shape. The shape would change by the removing of nails . Later the nails wold hold up a new shape with new pieces. " A reference to the many tiles people have contributed ,...   he continues :

" We must use our believes to nail in place . Every new belief can separate us or make us larger.My dad's art has shaped my whole life . Some of his art was making puzzle pieces , but  now he is working on a new project called " Habitat for Artists " . He has to keep taking these small sheds apart and changing them . He piles the pieces of wood in the back of his silver truck
From there he decides whether just to move their location or to make a new better habitat . I believe we must connect the pieces , like my dad has done , except in a global way for the sake of unity ."

In accordance with this sentiment I read a recent article in the NY  Times by Mary Tripsas in the weekends Business section on the sharing  of new innovations by companies that are of an environmentally friendly nature. In an effort to share new product ideas with out charge !!
Such as Eco-Patent Commons started in January 2008 . Following on from this will be others like the Green Xchange in 2010 .  Innovations include the use of microorganisms to identify pollutants , water based shoe adhesives and packing inserts which are recyclable and use less
fossil fuels to create and transport them. Perhaps more of us can unite under larger ideas for a better world ?

During the next few weeks I 'll be sharing a short retrospective of the year's activities with an emphasis on the artists who participated in the the project from New York City to up river to New Paltz . After a lot of activity and making its time to bring it all in and give pause for reflection . 

We''ll be bringing things inside again but at a new location in Harlem . Stay posted for events and times starting in January 2010.

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s.c. draper & k.k. conner, all rights reserved.