September 15th, 2012

I like the idea of making things that exist quite happily without me being around them. In music, you talk about releasing records, and I always liked that expression because that is exactly what you do: you release it from yourself. You release it from you standing around and defending it and saying this or that about it. You set it free and it is just floating with everything else out there and then it takes whatever value is conferred upon it. I am very keen on this idea of conferral of value. The old idea with artists is that they take dead material and fill it with value, and I never liked that. From the age of fifteen I didn’t like that. What I liked was the idea of making things that attract value to them. They can be quite small. You put something out into the world and either it disappears completely, which often happens, or it starts to accumulate resonance.

–Brian Eno, from Interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, 2000

September 10th, 2012

Wreck this Journal from munge on Vimeo.

I believe this is the Korean version of Wreck this Journal. Very cool animation. I have wanted to do something similar for a while. Guess you beat me to it Munge!

September 3rd, 2012

This is a photo of Till Kresslein on a secret mission, (sorry to blow your cover Till). If you are wondering what mission Till is on I cannot tell you. Then it wouldn’t be secret. I will only say that it is assigned in “This is Not a Book”. This is an example of what I get every day in my inbox. What a great job I have, non? For some reason “This is Not a Book” has been growing in popularity of late. Sometimes my books have a slow burn, it takes a while for them to creep into the consciousness of the world, but once they do…

My days are completely filled with yummy family life, unpacking and setting up a house, and bookmaking. I have so many wonderful projects in the fire, none of which I can tell you about yet. I always hate it when authors say things like that, but there you have it. I have some things that you are going to love, just know that. I know it because I love them and if I love them then usually others respond to them too. I love my work. And I love my readers. And I love all you teachers who are writing me every day. Together we will change the world!

What can I share with you that you might enjoy right now?

Some things I am excited about…

The Natural Navigator by Tristan Gooley. I am learning to navigate the world without technology. So cool!

…after dreaming about it for so long we bit the bullet and bought a Bakfiets, it arrives this week! we are crazy excited. really!

…Wreck this Journal is still rockin the bestsellers list in Canada! I love my country for this!

…for my eighth wedding anniversary my husband gave me a copy of Where the Heart Beats by Kay Larson. Excited to start it (after I finish the navigation book).

…in our house we have seen every episode of River Cottage at least twice. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is such a fixture here that we walk around the house saying “What would Hugh do?” (My path recently crossed with Hugh’s after he too became a resident thinker for Nowhereisland, a few weeks after my post. I was rather giddy and proud when I found out. I wanted to write him to introduce myself but decided against it, as I don’t like want to sound like a crazy fan. Maybe I’ll send him some books instead.)

…I just knit Otto for my babe, with a few of my own alterations (I made his arms skinnier and somehow his face is pointier, photo to come). Mine looks quite a bit like a rat (he’s brown) and we are quite in love with him.

…a few years ago I picked up a very musty copy of a book called “And it Came to Pass Not to Stay” by Buckminster Fuller at a garage sale on my street in Troy. I almost didn’t keep it because the smell was so intense. But as many of you now know I have a bit of an obsession with Mr. Fuller and so the book got packed away before I could read it. This week as I was unpacking my beloved books I came across it again, this time opening the front cover and to my great surprise and delight found this:

Now you must also know that I am not one to shy away from a mystery. So immediately I am thinking, who is/was Ned Pattison?

A search was in order. I find that there is a Government Center named after him in Troy. Then I see that he was a former US Representative and named Edward “Ned” Pattison. I found his obituary here. So what were Ned and Bucky discussing? Immediately images of secret meetings and undercover operations filled my overactive imagination. What were they working on together?

Man do I love it when this happens.

Let me know if you find out anything.

August 15th, 2012

Have you seen these yet? Wreck this Journal has been expanded and given several new covers to choose from. I am very pleased with how they turned out! My personal favorite being the paper bag. But interestingly it is the red one that people are responding to the most. The story behind it is somewhat serendipitous. I had created the first two covers and we were needing a third, but nothing was working for me. I tried EVERYTHING I could think of (I am rather particular about how I want my books to look). But none of my hundred or so attempts had the right feeling. Immediately after I got off the phone with my editor, after feeling a bit frustrated with it and wanting to give up, I found the perfect solution while making my dinner. Do you know what it is? Sometimes you just have to let go and let the answer come to you on it’s own.

I also have some very good news for all of my teacher readers. My editor at Penguin has been hard at work on a teacher packet for “wreck”, (she has done an amazing job), and you can download it here for free Keri_Smith_teacher_packet (it includes some pages from Wreck, so you don’t have to buy it, unless you want to.) As you may or may not know, I am totally over the moon when I hear from teachers who are using my books in their classroom (it happens a lot now in all levels of education), and I have wanted to create something like this to help them in the process!

So to celebrate the release of the new covers and the teacher packet I am going to donate copies to three classes (one for each student), so to all you teachers out there, write me and tell me why your class is great!

July 6th, 2012

Photos from Denmark, taken by the lovely and talented Camilla Lekebjer.

June 25th, 2012

June 22nd, 2012

Untitled from Urban Play on Vimeo.

I have been away in Canada for the last few weeks, wow do I have a lot of catching up to do. You can see a short snippet about my installation in Copenhagen above. It is understandably short as it is hard to film something that is a unique exploration for each person. It is so wonderful to see the rest of the show though, including my Rebar friends! There are some new photos of the exhibit here.

We had a wonderful time in my home country, visiting friends and living offline near the woods. Many days spent in the garden playing and exploring. To top it off, Wreck this Journal landed on the bestseller list while I was there! It was posted in the Globe and Mail, which was a wonderful treat for me. I felt like it was my birthday for the whole week!

May 21st, 2012

As many of you know we have been on a quest to find a place to live for many years now. I wrote a post about it a couple of years ago which outlined all the things we have been looking for and the big push for a more sustainable lifestyle. I can honestly it has been a lot of work, we looked at all of the possibilities (from building our own structure, east coast, west coast, Canada, US, etc.) We have literally been all over the map looking for something that would satisfy the whole family’s needs and give us a low overhead (something I have always needed given that you never know how your career will be doing a year from now). I learned that I am not at my core “a renter”, preferring to own a space that I can change and alter whenever I wish. The west coast proved much too expensive for our wish of a low overhead. And truth be told we had a hard time with “the rain” in the Pacific Northwest, (though I’m told you do adapt to it if you stay for a few years, and I do know people who are totally fine with it). Our friends and family have been amazed and dumbfounded at the moving around that we have done in the last seven years, and our almost neurotic quest to find “the place” where we finally settle.

And so I am happy to announce that we have indeed bought a house in (drumroll please)…Northampton MA!

It is an interesting story, which I will save the long version for later, but suffice to say this house found us/came to us. The current owner has a radio show and wrote me years ago to do an interview. We wrote back and forth trying to arrange a time, but I was in the midst of going to teach in Vancouver and it never worked out until last year when we went for a visit. We fell in love with the Pioneer Valley and eventually bought his house!

I believe it will satisfy all of our current lifestyle needs. If you look at our list for the Plan for Change.

1. Northampton is extremely bicycle friendly with a large network of bikepaths that take you everywhere you need to go. This will allow us to phase out the car use over time. The town is so bike happy they even collect garbage on bicycles!

2. There is a huge locavore infrastructure, in a variety of areas.

3. We are going to try to eliminate as much packaging as possible.

4. (Eat and buy local). See point number two.

5. (Phase out car use). See point number one.

6. The house is fairly small if you count that it includes two work spaces for both me and my husband. And it allows us to have a low overhead!

7. No need to buy land, we have enough space to put in a couple of raised beds. I read a quote once that said, “The greenest house is one that is already built.” This one is dated around 1900.

8. I am saving up for one of these grow domes which will allow us to grow all year, (and also satisfy my Buckminster Fuller obsession.)

9. We will be composting as much as possible.

10. We are installing some rainwater barrels at the new house.

11. As soon as finances allow we are going to be looking into solar panels, which a lot of people in the area are already using.

We have come to understand that there is no perfect place, every place we looked at had positive and negative aspects, and we learned there are always negatives, from cost of real estate, to toxic waste, harsh weather, access to big cities (or lack of), political problems, and cost of living. The main thing became finding a balance of what we wanted and what was affordable. Northampton has some air quality issues as we learned, though they are working on making it better. But we are very excited and feel confident that it is a good place for us (everyone we have talked to really loves living there!)

Now we are wanting one of these to get us around town, except we spent all of our money on the down payment for the house (sigh). I am devising a plan to turn it into an art piece so that I can justify raising funds for it. Coming soon to a town near you, the Society for Exploratory Research’s Mobile Unit.

May 18th, 2012

I was nominated to be a New Revolutionist (by Sally East), a portrait project featuring women in America who are making their marks in their corners of America (created by the talented Laura Burhenn). This is a very cool project, you can read more about it here.

p.s. Wreck this Journal hit a national bestseller list in Canada! I have waited a long time to be recognized in my own country so it is a momentous day. I am also proud to be listed in the Quill & Quire, which I used to sell when I worked at W.H.Smith.

May 8th, 2012

I don’t think there is a way for those who work in service to the earth — for environmentalists, ecologists — to really woo our culture back into a reciprocal or sustainable relation with the land until we draw folds back to our senses, because our sensing bodies are our direct contact with the rest of the natural world. It is not by being abstract intellects that we are going to fall in love again with the rest of nature. It’s by beginning to honor and value our direct sensory experience: the tastes and smells in the air, the feel of the wind as it caresses the skin, the feel of the ground under our feet as we walk upon it. And how much easier it is to feel that ground if you allow yourself to sense that the ground itself is feeling your steps as you walk upon it.
-David Abram, fr. The Spell of the Sensuous

These words greatly impacted my work when I read them several years ago.


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