Spring 2018 Updates from Final Straw

A man on a bike looks up at the last of the cherry blossoms in Sumiyoshi Park, Osaka, Japan (photo, P.M. Lydon, cc by-sa)

It’s getting into late spring here in Osaka, and the cherry trees that burst into pink-cotton ball-like spectacles have given way to a welcome green foliage all around the city. The heat and humidity has not yet reached us, so we’re enjoying being outside as much as possible. Much has been going on with the film and our community activities, so here’s the long and short of all that…

The Branch Pocket Farm

We are fully into garden-building mode in Osaka.

Having been granted use of an abandoned lot, we are now building a “Pocket Farm.” Filled with herbs, wild flowers, vegetables, and open to the public, this space is an east-meets-west undertaking, inspired by the “pocket parks” of Patrick Geddes (Scotland), and built in the spirit of natural farmers such as Masanobu Fukuoka and Yoshikazu Kawaguchi (Japan).

Our wish is for  The Branch Pocket Farm to become a space where neighbors can reclaim their relationship with nature, with all activities based in developing a compassion for all living beings. The herbs grown here will be used for teas, herbal oils, tinctures, and all other sorts of good things that you can enjoy at our community cafe; as well, much of the harvest will be given freely to our neighbors.

The Branch Art Lab

Since the early winter months we’ve been preparing, demolishing, and re-building the inside an old house in Osaka, and now our first physical space for promoting social and ecological wellness, The Branch Art Lab has just hosted its first few exhibitions and events. We’re happy to have already enjoyed visitors from the neighborhood, and from around the world (France, USA, Germany, Turkey, Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan so far as we could count).

Our first workshop was with two Turkish luthiers (stringed instrument makers) Melike Bozkurt and Erdem Temel who, in keeping with the theme of environmental stewardship, decided to help participants build instruments from trash that the found around the neighborhood.

The group came up with guitars, flutes, marimbas, a hand-held drum kit, and a wild clarinet/saxophone-like contraption.

Our first artist in residence, Jeongran Choi wanted to help visitors see the beauty in everyday moments. She brought her painstakingly created works of otchil (natural lacquer) and enamel, and spent nearly the entire time filling our small gallery full of tiny drawings as gifts for anyone who stopped by to take home.

The Branch Pocket Farm and Art Lab are made possible in part by donations from our amazing crowdfunding backers, and with assistance from Chishima Foundation for Creative Osaka, and our good friends at NPO Co.to.hana.

Final Straw in Scotland, Japan, and Turkey

The film seems to have taken on a life of it’s own and is wandering around far parts of the earth these days!

Over in Scotland, Final Straw will be screening at City Art Centre in Edinburgh from 12 May – 8 July, as part of the exhibition of works by the late Robert Callender, Plastic Beach, Poetry of the Everyday. As alumni of the Robert Callender International Residency for Young Artists, we were deeply touched by this man’s work and life, and are pleased to have the film play a small part in this exhibition. If you’re around this part of the UK, we highly recommend a visit to see the inspiring work on view.

In Japan, we’ve finally released the film for streaming with the help of associate producer Kaori Tsuji. The Japanese version of the film can be found on Gumroad.

Final Straw in Turkish

In Turkey, we’ve recently helped a volunteer group finish a subtitle translation, and screenings of the film are underway with the help of Yabani Tarım and friends. The group are arranging a screening tour and series of events related to natural farming. The film is also available for download in Turkish through our distributor Gumroad.

Books and Writings

With much effort from Suhee and our publisher Yeolmaehana, our second book related to the film has been published in Korea. The title translates roughly to Without Anxiety or Competition and it’s available in bookstores around the country (sorry USA, no English version yet!) The book is filled with intimate stories of individuals who are abolishing the social and economic contracts that are no longer working for them, and forging new contracts based in collaboration with this earth and each other.

불안과 경쟁 없는 이곳에서 (Title roughly translates to: Without Anxiety or Competition) a book by Suhee Kang and Patrick Lydon, published by Yeolmaehana, Seoul, South Korea

It all honestly this book turned out more beautiful than we could have hoped for. Our publisher insisted on very high quality ecologically-conscious paper and full-color photographic reproductions to compliment the narrative of travel and life changes during the time spent with social and ecological pioneers around the world.

Filled with positive stories that enrich, enliven, and celebrate the possibilities of life as human beings on this earth, we hope that this book helps plant the seeds of well-being in our actions and in our lives.

Over at The Nature of Cities, Patrick has been co-chairing some interesting discussions about human relationships with elements in nature, as seen through the eyes of practicing artists. The first discussion, Artists in Conversation with Air in Cities, brings together seven intriguing stories —  from the flight of birds and clouds, to the breath of trees — from artists and creative practitioners around the world.

More exciting news in the pipeline, in due time.

That’s a wrap for now. I’ve got to get outside and say hello to the sky before the sun sets!


2 thoughts on “Spring 2018 Updates from Final Straw”

  1. Hi Jeff! There are plans, but we’ve not connected with an appropriate publisher just yet.

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