“Poetry,” as W.S. Merwin said, “is a way of looking at the world for the first time.” These oft-quoted words have come alive again for me in recent days; I have come to think of this place as a poem—a space distinct and discrete in form, elusive and inexhaustible in content. A place of agency and evolution, and of possibilities beyond its own imagining. A walk here in this poetic place, particularly in the company of the writers, artists, and scientists who come to dwell here for a time, is most certainly a way of looking at the world anew.
On several occasions over the last few weeks, I’ve walked among the palms with the Conservancy’s current resident, botanist and systematic biologist Dr. William J. Baker. Bill’s residency is a return to this place; he visited William and Paula here five years ago, and was instrumental in launching the effort to catalog the thousands of palms that William planted here. Bill brings back with him not only his deep knowledge and infectious sense of wonder, but also important new insights into conservation practices and sustainable industry development, derived from his groundbreaking research.
As 2023 gets underway and I look back at this first full year of the residency program, we feel so fortunate to have welcomed seven extraordinary people—Natalie Diaz, Sean Connelly, Carol Moldaw, Arthur Sze, Carrie Fountain, Ada Limón, and Dr. Bill Baker—who see beyond our present moment to new ways of being and creating. To be in the company of each of them is to look at this garden—and the world to which this garden speaks—for the first time.