From San Jose, I made my last climb up the Old Santa Cruz Highway and then down through Soquel to a welcome locale: Santa Cruz! The next few mornings, I went to visit the monarchs in their two main Santa Cruz overwintering grounds: Lighthouse Field and Natural Bridges. Many had made it like myself. As a celebration for our arrival, I softly rang a bell at the exact moment of the sunrise. I did this with the idea to make a contribution to composer Brenda Hutchinson’s Dailybell project.
Dailybell is “dedicated to the observation of the sun every time it crosses the horizon and to sharing the awareness of that moment with others.” As part of this project, she rings a bell at sunrise and sunset every day and documents it with photo, video, and/or audio on the Dailybell blog. The project also invites others to do the same and contribute to the blog if they wish.
What is so inspiring about this project is its durational aspect and the extent to which it has formed part of her daily life for 14 years and counting. This past summer, I got to interview Brenda Hutchinson about Dailybell and several other of her socially engaged music projects. What she said about her experience really struck me:
“All these projects that we’ve talked about, I’ve been the recipient of the greatest transformation in each one of them. And so the pieces for me are attempts to try to find some way to make that transformation possible for other people through listening or participating in whatever it is that I did.”
I love that as a model for MWS too. The monarch is an icon of transformation after all. And the adventures of Alejandro Botijo, Ursa La Verre, and Comrade Caracol, are these expressions of a daily practice of riding, planting, and sounding. They’re examples how one might experience transformation through that daily practice. They’re documents of different ways of listening and noticing. After perusing a bit, maybe the website visitor will go outside and listen to their environment in a slightly different way too. Maybe they’ll plant some milkweed in their backyard. Or shoot, maybe they’ll join us on the next journey… hasta la próxima, compañeros!