As we have sheltered in place from the pandemic—and then from a hurricane that kindly kept its distance—we have turned inward to listen, learn, and prepare. We are cataloguing W.S. Merwin’s extensive library, readying William and Paula’s house as the future site of a transdisciplinary residency program, and collecting stories and ideas from our ever-expanding community. This so we can in time turn outward, to align the capacities of this place with the needs and possibilities of our reimagined world.
The conversations we are having as part of our interpretive planning process have been rich and far-ranging, and as this process continues and extends its reach, we have begun to frame the central questions that will guide our growth: How will we balance public access with mindful stewardship of the land and its potent energy? How can our programs reach beyond those who can directly experience this place? And in the words of one of our interpretive planning participants: who is changed, who benefits?
As we hone the big, long-term questions of our future growth, we feel our way toward their possibilities in the present. Certainly, in our rapidly changing world, the need for creative approaches to how and where learning takes place is immediate, and we are responding. Our local school partners are guiding us to co-design ways we can share the palm forest as an outdoor classroom, both as a safe place to gather in nature, and as a platform for an integrated approach to learning that enacts many of our shared values. It is our hope that through these teachers and their students, the ripple effects will reach far beyond the garden, through the imaginations and actions of the young people who will shape our world.