Thanks for making this year one of collaboration and discovery.
We fostered new partnerships and deepened old friendships to reveal exciting possibilities for the future. Our team grew by two (almost doubled!) and most importantly, we brought folks together in our living landscape to create, celebrate and be inspired.
Fermentation Fest: Spirits Edition drew 1,500 people to Witwen Park, a historic gathering place in the heart of Sauk County’s farmland. Historians, farmers and fermenters presented. Collaborators offered music, food and drink. Ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan read from his new book Agave Spirits, and journalist Ruth Conniff joined Puentes/Bridges in conversation. Artists responded to the park’s wetlands. Little Eagle Arts Foundation (LEAF) organized a Native Art Marketplace and Rural Urban FLOW premiered their Outdoor Land Theater.
Summer in the Witwen Tabernacle: Participants from around the Midwest gathered to learn how to read and sing shape notes, exploring the history of “Singing in the Country.” Seancesorium, a guided experience that drew upon 19th Century spiritualist, French surrealist, and Andean and Amazonian plant traditions, was led by the art collective Plant Contingent, who spent a couple of weeks on the farm.
Foundational Artist Residency Program: We completed our 23rd(!) season and organized field trips around Sauk County for the artists to engage with agroforestry apprentices at Savanna Institute and the fellows at Aldo Leopold Foundation.
We’ve also been envisioning prosperous rural places of the future. With guest editor Curt Meine, we gathered the voices of 30+ artists and writers into a zine publication to IMAGINE thriving rural places in 50 years. And we’re hosting community listening sessions to imagine Witwen Park as a polycultural rural gathering place, part of an ongoing discovery process that includes a Historic Structures Report for the site.
While rural places face distinct challenges, they offer promising solutions that our cities cannot and there is reason for optimism in the year ahead.