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Newsletter | Sep/Oct 2015


PLAYFUL LANDSCAPE INTERVENTIONS AT WESTERBEKE
by Jean Nilsson

In connection with this year’s retreat theme of “Creativity and Play”, we gave the following prompt for our art project: What could we put out in the landscape at Westerbeke Ranch such that when guests come across it they have a playful interaction with it? What is it like to play as an adult?

Participants spent the afternoon in an open-ended playful exercise to generate ideas and discussion for small landscape interventions that might be built at Westerbeke – ones that guests would notice and that would inspire interaction. Working in small groups for about ninety minutes, we met to brainstorm initial ideas and select one of three appropriate locations proposed by the owner, select materials and an approach for modeling or conveying the idea, and set to work building.

One group presents proposal, photo by Jean Nilsson

Each group then presented a model or sketches and a pitch for their idea to the larger group and Wendy Westerbeke, who joined the discussion and delighted in the possibilities. Several groups modeled interventions at the Reservoir, including exploring the reservoir via cards that take you on a walk to a sequence of spots prompting additional actions; play areas such as hammocks and a swing where you get misted; a central climbing structure and platforms at different levels; and a large scale sundial and “clock walk.” Another group suggested small, sculpted creatures throughout the site that connect you to a succession of features–a Westerbeke Wild Things treasure hunt. One group proposed a giant slingshot with target made of materials already on site; a stump section as target, a forked branch as sling shot, and using the local acorns as ammunition. Others presented ideas for developing the fire pit area as a contemplative place for small groups, adding a fragrant sensory garden, a kinetic canopy, comfortable seating and a focal point honoring Wendy’s grandfather.

OWA members have enjoyed a long history of retreats at Westerbeke Ranch and the group has contributed significant landscape pieces, building the labyrinth in 2003 for our 30th anniversary and the Thyme Garden in 2013 for our 40th.

THANKS to Janet, Gretchen, everyone in the retreat committee, our fabulous evening band Homenagem Brasiliera, and Michelle Morales, who prepared us for the evening with an upbeat dance workshop Saturday morning.