Writing on the Land: Exploring the nature of the place we live with poet Verandah Porche

Wanted to share a quick post – we kicked off our fall residency with poet Verandah Porche yesterday and you can still join us in Bethlehem tonight or in Lincoln tomorrow if you’re interested in a place-based writing workshop for educators or in a (free) community poetry reading & scribe training where you’ll learn to record people’s stories as a “told poem”.

Fascinating method, fascinating poet, and all a part of our beginning efforts to capture northern New Hampshire’s relationship with the land through the arts. We’ll hold a wider community discussion on October 8th (Bethlehem) and 9th (Lincoln) as well, facilitated by North Country Listens.

Join us if you can, and spread the word – and thanks!

p.s. High school students who want to join our new youth arts program can email me or click here to learn more. We’d love to see some high school students trained as scribes too!


Exploring Arts & Nature in Northern New Hampshire

Although I may not have been able to articulate it six months ago, I think one of the areas in which the Arts Alliance most distinguishes itself is environmental arts. Between showings of the documentary “Mother Nature’s Child”, workshops on Environmental Literacy & the Arts (where lessons included the creation of nature journals and discussions addressed ways to develop writing and other curricula with students in an outdoor learning environment), and of course the White Mountain National Forest Artist in Residence summer program, I’ve gotten to learn about and experience the power — and natural fit — of arts in nature in myriad ways since I began my work with the Arts Alliance last fall.

Living where I do in Franconia, I am closer to – and more in dialogue with – nature than I’ve ever been. As a kid, I felt connected to the outdoors, spending entire days in the woods by my suburban home, communing with caterpillars and writing journal entries and stories by the light of the sun filtering through the trees. Now I am constantly bombarded by new experiences in the North Country. From starting my car at -8 degrees, to walking across the street to go for a hike and a picnic by a waterfall, to seeing my first moose cross the road by my apartment, to standing in our driveway, surrounded by fields and fields of fireflies — we are so lucky to have these incredible nature-based experiences at our fingertips. Not to mention that while I could see lots of stars growing up, the skies here definitely have suburban New Hampshire beat!

It’s no wonder that artists have been coming up here to capture the beauty of our area throughout the past two centuries. We of course continue the tradition with our White Mountain National Forest Artist in Residence – Susie O’Keeffe is this year’s artist, and I can’t wait to see what insights come from her time in the Wilderness! She’s an artist of many talents and interests, and her main area of study explores the power and importance of spending time with and in nature – a good bit of therapy for all of us! You can learn more about her here.

This summer, we kick off a new youth arts program at the Arts Alliance of Northern NH. We’ve wanted to do this for a while: the goal is to give high school students interested in the arts a place where they can meet other young people from around northern NH, get hands-on opportunities working with professional artists of all types and become more connected to the arts organizations in the region. We anticipate that volunteer options, job shadowing and lots of leadership opportunities will come out of this, and we’ll be designing the program with the students themselves.

Why do I mention this here? Well, we’re actually beginning with an arts & the environment program this summer. Students entering grades 9-12 can join us in Bethlehem, where they’ll work with a photographer, a poet, two painters and an eco-artist and curator. By the end of the program (which starts July 1 and meets over four days in July), they’ll have worked together to create a variety of artwork inspired by the environment – and they’ll have curated their own art show to share with the community. You (and any youth who might be interested) can learn more about it here. I can’t wait! (We’re also partnering with the “Girls of Summer” program in Lincoln, offering participants time with the same artists.)

Do you ever make art in, or inspired by, nature? I’d love for you to leave your comments here. We’re also looking for adults interested in helping us to craft the youth program, so don’t hesitate to reach out on that either. Thanks for reading, and enjoy all of the beauty around you this summer!


Updates from the Arts Alliance of Northern NH – plus, I’m blogging nationally!

Hi friends!

With the craziness of moving, I’ve been negligent in posting, but I wanted to give you a few quick updates.

1. We’ve created a regional Program Book, and it isn’t too late for your business (or for you) to advertise while supporting quality arts programming across northern NH and beyond. Learn more here! We’re also offering discounted ads as a new member benefit.

2. We’ve got some wonderful events coming up, from professional development opportunities to great artist residencies – visit our website to learn more! I’m particularly excited that Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem will be performing and hosting a community jam (location TBA any day now)!

3. I was asked to contribute to blogs to the Americans for the Arts Rural Arts Blog Salon! One is on Rural Communities as Cultural Hubs in Northern NH, and the other is about cultivating a sense of place and environmental literacy in northern NH.

I’m honored to have been a part of it, and hope you’ll check it out if you have a moment – there are some great blog posts and discussion on their website.

p.s. Personal plug – I’m performing with my fiance and a couple of talented theater friends on Friday, March 7th in Bethlehem as a part of First Friday at my fiance’s new music studio (in the WREN Central offices behind WREN local works). If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll stop by! Open house with tea and treats starts at 5 p.m., with music from 6-8 p.m. It’s a great night out (gallery openings, etc.) if you haven’t visited yet.

Arts Fairs in NH – Not Just A Passing Fad!

Out and about in New Hampshire this past weekend, it struck me that the “buy local” movement has really picked up steam in our state. While the national trend of mall and big box shopping continues, here in the Granite State there are definitely significant numbers of shoppers who are seeking to make a local impact when they shop for gifts this holiday season. nitelites

A quick stroll through the local papers shows we had more than fifteen local arts markets this past weekend across New Hampshire (downtown Manchester had three different hubs for local arts on Saturday). Incredible! From the usual open hours of the Picker Building in Nashua (a wonderful old mill building with three floors of artists) in the southernmost portion of our state, to church holiday fairs and events, art was everywhere – not to mention activities for kids at tree lighting ceremonies, parades and even the Hobo Railroad in Lincoln! In our region there were productions of the Nutcracker ballet in Bethlehem and Berlin and great holiday concerts. train Christmastrain Christmas

MM bridal fun

How fun is this photo from last year’s Midnight Merriment in Concord?

I myself made a trip down to Midnight Merriment in Concord – shopping local is extra fun when all the businesses are open until midnight, and I made sure to tour the Kimball House Mansion while I was there.

There are just as many opportunities for shopping local this weekend, so don’t fret if you didn’t find time last week! Victorian Christmas in Littleton Friday night should be a blast, and the William Rugh Gallery in Lancaster has a holiday show and sale. You won’t want to miss the WREN Cookie Walk (this Saturday) in Bethlehem; WREN also has a holiday party Thursday evening if you can’t wait that long for some festive fun. The Rey Center in Waterville Valley also hosts its Holiday Fair for a few more weeks.

Let us know what your shop-local, attend-local plans are for this week. Planning to go to events I haven’t heard about yet? I’d love for you to leave a comment here.  We also promote our members’ events on Facebook and Twitter (as well as in our e-calendar), so if you have something to share, please reach out to me at jamie@aannh.org.

I’m hard at work lining up our programming for this winter and spring while working on our Annual Appeal campaign. Know a school in need of arts programming? Have a business looking to support arts in their community? Send them my way!

Stay warm, and have a wonderful week!