Almost daily over the past few months, I’ve taken the stone path from the house down to the garden dojo to check on the progress of its restoration, hauling with me a new knot of worries for our world. And I remember yet again that I am walking in a place that has long invited concerns to find a home. A decade ago W.S. Merwin noted:
In gardening, as my wife and I go about it here, what are called concerns—for ecology and the environment, for example—merge inevitably with work done every day, within sight of the house, with our own hands, and the concerns remain intimate and familiar rather than far away. They do not have to be thought about, they are at home in the mind. I have never lived anywhere that was more true.
I have come to think of concerns as companions, and of the Conservancy as a place to host them. The Merwins’ house, the garden dojo, the garden itself were made of concerns enacted as ways of being and living. Now that the initial phase of restoration is complete and critical repair projects are wrapping up, I see anew that this place will long invite our care for the world to find expression in language and on the land, and through everyday actions and gestures. Our programs, both those we’ve long offered and ones we’ll soon introduce, will be invitations to envision and enact our care in new, imaginative ways. This is essential, urgent, and beautiful work for all of us.
We are grateful to the Sidney E. Frank Foundation, the Cooke Foundation, and the Jonathan and Kathleen Altman Foundation for supporting important projects in W.S. Merwin and Paula Merwin’s home, and to Janie Davis, Sherri Kandell, Arlynna Livingston, Pauline Sheldon, Lydia Shigekane, and Jana Wolff, who came together to fund the beautiful restoration of the garden dojo. We thank all of our supporters, whose contributions ensure that this place will be tended with the same steadfast care that William and Paula devoted to it.
This is a place that will long inspire us to keep our concerns at home in the mind. We are eager to tell you more about how we’ll enact this vision at Garden of Verses, our second annual virtual event. On September 30th, W.S. Merwin’s birthday, we’ll be joined by some incredible guests for readings. We will tell you about our plans, and share some thrilling news.
Wishing you well,