Thursday, December 18, 2008
Sitting outside BSLT’s Glen Deven Ranch, Laura Diamondstone would simmer native wild flowers, pine pitch and redwood silt she scavenged nearby, releasing their fragrances into the night air, where they were joined by a hooting dialogue between great horned owls. The process also freed their pigments, which she’d combine with other elements like sagebrush beeswax and ash from the Basin Complex Fires to create striking squares of color and texture profoundly rooted by place.
Growing teary-eyed at her reception – which followed a handful of workshops with local students – she says the experience, a product of a Big Sur Land Trust-Big Sur Arts Initiative artist-in-residence program, and a reflection of the trust’s desire to support community artists and make good use of one of their flagship properties while honoring the donating landowner’s artistic wishes, changed her life.
“It’s all about land appreciation,” she says. “I’ve never been as blissful.”
BSLT has been helping those changes happen in Big Sur as much as ever lately. Unwilling to allow its broadened mission to weaken its commitment to the Big Sur region, the land trust continues to track the well-being of the iconic outpost. This year, BSLT convened a group of local advisors to determine how they might leverage their David Whitney Legacy Fund to maximum impact. Gifts of $5,000 to 10 groups, including the Big Sur Health Center, Captain Cooper School, Monterey County Housing, Inc. and the Henry Miller Library are aimed at cultivating lasting community wellness.
When the Complex Fires roared into the valley, spilling displaced residents into shelters and uncertainty, the land trust was there as well, quickly determining that the best way to help was to donate $100,000 for refugees struggling to pay for food and lodging, which in turn catalyzed other gifts. The $67,000 they later furnished for the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade’s Community Wildlife Protection Plan reflects their strategy of coming at challenges holistically.