Joya: AiR / writer in residence / Richard Sidy / Arizona USA
‘In the state of Arizona I am involved in non-profits in rural communities with the goals to enhance awareness and solutions for the challenges of local food security, sustainable communities, and environmental education. The main organization that I work with is Gardens for Humanity. This organization was founded by artists and poets who were moved to find solutions for creating and healing communities through education, art and gardens while teaching environmental stewardship.
For many years I have felt that we are not listening to Mother Earth. We usually talk about her from the viewpoints of science, religion, economy, environmentalism, politics. It has only been the artists, poets and naturalists who have given her voice vivid and compelling beauty, clarity and urgency.
Most of my time in Arizona is spent developing and supporting programs that impact the missions of the organization I work with. My writing is mostly non-fiction or essay. Writing poetry is a luxury for me. Therefore, I looked forward to my residency at Joya as an opportunity to focus on writing poetry that gives voice to the environment and projects a connection to place. I used my time to observe and write poetry that I call as a whole, “The Earth Speaks to Us: Word Sketches -Discovering a Sense of Place.” To me it is important to listen to the stories that a place is telling us both from the viewpoint of nature and also from the viewpoint of those who live there.
Upon learning that I would be spending a two-week residency at Joya, I was inspired to start writing “The Earth Speaks to Us” to tell the story of where I live, that is rich in Native American culture, with influences of settlers and the Spanish conquistadores. Perhaps now I will continue that and join Andalusia and Arizona places that have many common elements.
A bonus for me was that in Joya, Simon and Donna have created a working sustainable artistic community that supports the arts and the art of living sustainably. So it was extra inspiring to actually see an example of these goals in action. This felt like a perfect fit to the areas of main focus of my life activities’.