I am excited to share some new and exciting news. Maria and I had a long meeting with ourselves this weekend and we decided to go ahead with our long simmering plans to hold some weekend workshops here in Cambridge. Now that we have linked up with the Pompanuck Farm Institute, a retreat and learning center, we have a beautiful space to do the workshops we began doing at the first Bedlam Farm – they were immensely popular – and suspended when we moved.
We are planning for two workshops in November, in the weeks following the Bedlam Farm Open House. The first will "Talking To Animals," a weekend retreat and workshop on how to communicate with our animals; what animals are really like; what they really need; how they really think, and how we can learn to listen to them, use emotions, body language, visualizations and food to communicate, and how we can talk to them, rather than shout at them or emotionalize and anthropomorphize them.
This will be a two-day workshop, broken up between talks and lectures and real interactions with animals. Show as well as tell.
The message of the New York Carriage Horses and many other animals is that we cannot understand what animals need without understanding what they are like, without communicating with them and listening, rather than telling them what they think. Talking to animals is important, it means saving animals rather than sending them away or watching while they become extinct. It also means forging spiritual and powerful relationships with our pets, especially dogs and cats. We need a new and more mystical understanding of animals than exists now, and this will be the point and purpose of the workshop.
"Talking To Animals" will take place on the beautiful 90 acre wooded campus of Pompanuck, but also at Bedlam Farm, where we will work together studying sheepherding with Fate and Red in the sheep pasture, sit and talk with our donkeys, learn how to read the body language of a pony. A combination of lectures, talking to one another, workshops with real animals. Not a place to bring your pets or animals.
But do bring your experiences, questions, stories. We will want to hear them.
I'm thinking 8-10 people. I want everyone to have individual attention and individual experience. This is not about animal communicating or animal grieving, those are different subjects. As some of you know, I am working on a book called "Talking To Animals," a 15-year project detailing what I have learned about understanding animals during my time living with them. I will share some of the themes and lessons of the project.
Details to come. We hope the set the dates and costs for the workshops in the next week or so. Shooting for mid-November for both.
The second workshop will be called "Intuitive Quilting," it will be run by Maria. Most people think of quilting as being formal and structured, with fixed rules, competitions and traditions. This is not about the rules and dictums of others, it is about helping each individual person to make their own rules and trust their own sense of designs and pattern.
Maria believes strongly that you don't need the rules of other people to make your art. People will be asked to bring their sewing machines, they can bring their own fabric (Maria will supply fabric also.) Everyone will set up along the big table at the Round House (or maybe in one of the beautiful Yirts) go to work, they will follow their and creative instincts. Maria will be available to help, guide and encourage. Everyone will make something of their own over the weekend. You make your own rules. This will also be a two-day Saturday/Sunday workshop.
Maria will also talk about how she has marketed her art over the past year, she has sold everything she has made through her website.
There are some rooms available at Pompanuck, but other rooms available near by in Bennington and Cambridge. The fee will include food but not lodging. We are excited about this new (actually not so new) direction for us. Deb Foster, our friend and a veteran organizer, will help us to set up these workshops and handle inquiries and applications and fees. She is thinking between 6 and 8 people in her workshop.
So stay tuned, Maria and I will make further announcements as things get finalized. I expect to be holding workshops over the next year on blogging, writing, short stories, and of course, the meaning of animals in our lives. Maria wants to see how this workshop goes, but I suspect she will be launching some Pompanuck workshops as well. Exciting stuff for us, and we hope, for some of you.