Creating an Art Monastery

Posted by on Mar 6, 2011 in Otherhood | 10 Comments
Creating an Art Monastery

 

Living in intentional community is not for everyone—the idea triggers an autoimmune response in some people, for whom it might signify the sacrifice of personal autonomy and individuality—but once you develop a taste for the stuff, it doesn’t fade. I unabashedly love it.

Since I began this blog-inquiry into monasticism just six months ago, dissecting Taoism, Vedanta, Eastern and Western Christianity, as well as the various vehicles of Buddhism into what I have called the elements of monasticism, community is an element I haven’t written about directly much at all. Yet it figures in my mind as an important piece of what all monasticisms are aiming at. For those individuals who dwell in abbeys, ashrams, friaries, priories, sketes, lavras, mathas, mandirs, koils, gompas, lamaseries, wats, viharas, community is a powerful spiritual practice.

So we’re making a monastery.

No, it’s not the one pictured above—the famous Cluny Abbey, founded in 910 by William the First of Aquitaine—which I include in this post because, although it grew into something massive (such a symbol of opulence that it was destroyed during the French Revolution), it started out modestly enough. William donated his Burgundy hunting preserve and an abbey was born.

Starting out even more modestly, we are making an Art Monastery in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I met Art Monastery Project co-founders Betsy McCall and Christopher Fülling in April of 2008, a few months after they had moved to Italy to start the pilot Art Monastery, and a couple months before I received an MBA in Sustainable Community Economic Development from BGI. I volunteered for the Art Monastery Project in Italy for 17 months out of the next two years.

Last October, I moved to the Bay Area to be with my fiancée, Phoebe, and to start a new Art Monastery here. Since then, between the 8-night Artmonk Retreat and four chapter meetings in Berkeley and San Francisco, after conversations with Phoebe, Joel, Michelle, Tom, Nancy, Annette, Derek, David, Lesley, Eden, and a dozen others, I have a rough idea for how to make it happen.

As I learned in Italy, birthing a self-sustaining community of monastically-inspired artists is an almost unbearably hard and tortuous process. Yet, as far as I and a few others are concerned, there’s nothing more valuable, nothing worthier of our time and our steady effort (aside from, perhaps, practices of contemplation and art-making).

Living in intentional community is not for everyone—the idea triggers an autoimmune response in some people, for whom it might signify the sacrifice of personal autonomy and individuality—but once you develop a taste for the stuff, it doesn’t fade. I unabashedly love it.

Since I began this blog-inquiry into monasticism just six months ago, dissecting Taoism, Vedanta, Eastern and Western Christianity, as well as the various vehicles of Buddhism into what I have called the elements of monasticism, community is an element I haven’t written about directly much at all. Yet it figures in my mind as an important piece of what all monasticisms are aiming at. For those individuals who dwell in abbeys, ashrams, friaries, priories, sketes, lavras, mathas, mandirs, koils, gompas, lamaseries, wats, viharas, community is a powerful spiritual practice.

So we’re making a monastery.

No, it’s not the one pictured above—the famous Cluny Abbey, founded in 910 by William the First of Aquitaine—which I include in this post because, although it grew into something massive (such a symbol of opulence that it was destroyed during the French Revolution), it started out modestly enough. William donated his Burgundy hunting preserve and an abbey was born.

Starting out even more modestly, we are making an Art Monastery in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I met Art Monastery Project co-founders Betsy McCall and Christopher Fülling in April of 2008, a few months after they had moved to Italy to start the pilot Art Monastery, and a couple months before I received an MBA in Sustainable Community Economic Development from BGI. I volunteered for the Art Monastery Project in Italy for 17 months out of the next two years.

Last October, I moved to the Bay Area to be with my fiancée, Phoebe, and to start a new Art Monastery here. Since then, between the 8-night Artmonk Retreat and four chapter meetings in Berkeley and San Francisco, after conversations with Phoebe, Joel, Michelle, Tom, Nancy, Annette, Derek, David, Lesley, Eden, and a dozen others, I have a rough idea for how to make it happen.

As I learned in Italy, birthing a self-sustaining community of monastically-inspired artists is an almost unbearably hard and tortuous process. Yet, as far as I and a few others are concerned, there’s nothing more valuable, nothing worthier of our time and our steady effort (aside from, perhaps, practices of contemplation and art-making).

This is a living document:

Vision 1

Simply put, we envision a self-sustaining community of artmonks in the Bay Area.

By “self-sustaining”, we mean that there will be one or more mechanisms of revenue generation. Whether through the production of art, running Artmonk Retreats, or a related social enterprise “Business Unit” (effectively a division of the project, but perhaps legally a separate business) whose profits go to the development of this and other Art Monasteries, money and land are the keys to getting this thing started and running smoothly.

This community (of 30 or so permanent residents, 10-20 artmonks-in-residence, and a few paid staff) will live an experimentally-monastic life together: through a shared routine, shared rituals and celebrations, shared contemplative time (if not shared contemplative object), shared meals, periods of silence, retreat, and philosophical debate, shared monastic rule (community agreements) and vows (statement of personal intention), and the guidance of tripartite leadership team (an abbess or abbott, a spiritual director, and an artistic director), developing together an open-source art monastic lineage (e.g. the Otherhood of Artmonks) in close affiliation with the Italian pilot Art Monastery and other Artmonk chapters around the globe.

We will inhabit a beautiful monastic site (an existing one or a newly built one that is architecturally inspired by monastic tradition, yet which honors California’s weird spiritual architectural heritage) located within a two-hour drive of San Francisco or fifteen minutes away from a BART stop. This site will have private spaces for living, performance and gallery spaces, musical practice spaces, a vast garden, kitchen & dining hall. We will collaborate and perhaps even share space with existing local arts and academic institutions (e.g. the Graduate Theological Union here in Berkeley).

Throughout we will create world-class art (through e.g. a resident theater company, dance company, musical ensembles, visual art installations, sculpture gardens, a poetry and literature publishing house, a film residency) together.

What kind of art will it be? The kind of art that could best happen in an Art Monastery in California.

Values

As an Art Monastery, we value art. We value the discipline, contemplation and sustainability of monasticism. We value monastic art, and artistic monasticism (a form of “social sculpture”). We value the process, as well as the final product.

As a business we honor and respect people and the environment. We seek to do no harm. Our profit goes to the common good.

As an organization, we honor the vertical as well as the horizontal. We are an egalitarian community, yet we utilize the effective power of credential, authority, hierarchy, and institution. We believe in transparency & accountability (open communication; checks and balances of power, etc.).

As a community of individuals, we honor autonomy & privacy, as well as self-transcendance & community. We honor paths of personal, interpersonal (community), and transpersonal (spiritual) development.

As artists, we value virtuosic, world-class art, yet we believe that, as Joseph Beuys said, “everyone is an artist.”

As Artmonks, we aim to live at the intersection of the good (ethics & activism), the true (spirituality & contemplation), and the beautiful (art & creativity), and to serve as a mirror for the world (reflecting its sanity in our rules, while reflecting back both sanity and its insanity in our art).

As part of an order, the International Otherhood of Artmonks, we share our models, tools, structures and solutions with other communities within and without the Otherhood. We act as an autonomous representative of the brand, open-source lineage, and institutions of the Otherhood.

As humans (and as representatives of Northern California), we honor the mystic as well as the skeptic; the hermit as well as the cenobite; the sacred as well as the profane; stabilitas as well as flux; individual religious faiths as well as no faith at all; sexuality as well as celibacy; singleness, monogamy and polyamory; homo-, hetero-, bi-, trans- and a-sexuality; intoxication as well as sobriety; the dual as well as the non-dual.

From the Ground Up

“I have one word of advice,” my friend and adviser Joel Levey said to me a couple months ago as I was talking to him about this grand project: “Pacing.”

Five Parallel Tracks of Development

The creation of our monastery will happen as a result of five parallel tracks (in order of initial importance):

  1. Income (e.g. business unit and revenue stream development)
  2. Community (e.g. the Artmonks that live there; weekly artmonk sangha/liturgy lab; quarterly chapter dinners)
  3. Context (e.g historical and place-based research & theory: “What does an Art Monastery in Northern California look like?”; affiliations with existing institutions)
  4. Art (e.g building artistic credibility through performances and works)
  5. Site (e.g. land & buildings)

Pacing & Phasing

Timeline and measurable benchmarks:

2011 – Income goal: We will spend this year laying the foundations of our “Business Unit”2 and its income stream; we will break even and pay back first-round investors, and seek second-round/angel investment. Community goal: Our second 8-night Artmonk Retreat. Building the local chapter of interested artmonks. We will start a seed community (perhaps of just 4-6 artmonks living in a warehouse). We will strengthen our relationships to existing institutions. Context Goal: We will establish connections with 1 local religious group, interested in partnering with us. We will continue to research monasticism from around the world, and explore the monastic communities that already exist in Northern California. Art Goal: We will put on at least 1 original Art Monastery performance. Site Goal: We will familiarize ourselves with the area and pinpoint preferred location.

2012 – Income goal: Business Unit’s profit growing modestly. Second round of investment in Business Unit. Community goal: We will grow the seed community, and continue to develop our artmonk liturgy (arturgy?). Third of our 8-night Artmonk Retreats. First Artmonk Dathün (monthlong retreat). Context Goal: In the fall of 2012, Nathan will begin a PhD program (either at GTU, CIIS, or one of the UC’s), the aim of which will be to deepen my research of Art & Monasticism and document the creation of our Art Monastery. Art Goal: Two original performances/installations. Site Goal: We will continue to research properties in the Bay Area.

2013 – Income/site goal: We have enough capital and acquire the land to begin building a monastery (if an existing, empty one hasn’t surfaced yet). Work begins on a gardens, chicken coop, beehives, and 2 hexayurts are erected. Community goal: Fourth and fifth 8-night Artmonk Retreats; second Artmonk Dathün (monthlong retreat). The initial seed community of 4-6 is ready to grow. We establish official processes by which new members enter the community. Rules and vows are codified (yet always evolving). Context Goal: We establish an official relationship with medium-sized academic institution. Art Goal: Three medium original performances/installations, one large. A group of 3 Bay Area Artmonks heads to Italy for 1 month in the summer.

2014 – Income/site goal: Building (stage 1: “The Architecture Monastery Project”): A cob dining facility, straw-bale houses, hexayurts, tents, shipping containers and covered wagons. Garden provides 10% of our food for the year. Community goal: The monastery admits five “novices” who will enter a year-long trial period before full-Artmonkery is achieved: four are artists, one is a GTU PhD candidate interested in monastic living. 3 one-month artist residencies. Context Goal: We begin to nail down the brand—What does an Art Monastery in California look like? What are its practices? How is it styled? We establish an official partnership with medium-sized arts organization. Art Goal: 3 medium original performances/installations, 2 large. A group of 4 Bay Area Artmonks heads to Italy for 2 months in the summer.

2015 – Income/site goal: The planning of Building (stage 2: Art Chapel). Community goal: The 4-6 seed Artmonks vote on 2014’s five “novices”, and admits five new ones: 3 who are artists and 2 who are grad students. Garden provides 25% of food. Goats acquired. First arts-based youth empowerment camp (PYE Global model). 6 one-month artist residencies. Context Goal: Continued experimention with meditation, liturgy, chanting the hours of the office, ritual theater, celebration, performance. 1 Artmonk leaves to tour monasteries of the world and make a documentary. Art Goal: 4 medium original performances/installations, 2 large. A group of 5 Bay Area Artmonks heads to Italy for 2 months in the summer.

2016 – Income/site goal: Building (stage 2: Art Chapel). Planning of Building (stage 3: cloister). Community goal: Vote on 2015’s novices. There are now 10-15 Artmonks. Admits 3 new novices: 2 who are artists and 1 a grad student. 1o one-month artist residencies. Art Goal: 8 medium original performances/installations, 3 large. A group of 8 Bay Area Artmonks heads to Italy for 2 months in the summer.

2017 – Income/site goal: Building (stage 3: Cloister).

2018 – Context Goal: Nathan finishes PhD.

2019 – Income/site goal: Building (stage 4: a performance/installation venue, official dining hall and practice rooms.)

2021 – Income/site goal: Bay Art Monastery complete. Profits begin to be divided between the business unit (30%), Bay Art Monastery (30%), worker-owners (15%) and AMP International (15%). Garden provides 50% of our food. Community goal: Goal of 30 artmonks reached.

2031 – Income/site goal: A second piece of land is acquired further afield. A new monastery begun, with a component youth outdoor education center.

Creative Commons License
Creating an Art Monastery by Nathan Rosquist is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at wp.me.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.artmonastery.org.

Notes:

This is a living document:

Vision 1

Simply put, we envision a self-sustaining community of artmonks in the Bay Area.

By “self-sustaining”, we mean that there will be one or more mechanisms of revenue generation. Whether through the production of art, running Artmonk Retreats, or a related social enterprise “Business Unit” (effectively a division of the project, but perhaps legally a separate business) whose profits go to the development of this and other Art Monasteries, money and land are the keys to getting this thing started and running smoothly.

This community (of 30 or so permanent residents, 10-20 artmonks-in-residence, and a few paid staff) will live an experimentally-monastic life together: through a shared routine, shared rituals and celebrations, shared contemplative time (if not shared contemplative object), shared meals, periods of silence, retreat, and philosophical debate, shared monastic rule (community agreements) and vows (statement of personal intention), and the guidance of tripartite leadership team (an abbess or abbott, a spiritual director, and an artistic director), developing together an open-source art monastic lineage (e.g. the Otherhood of Artmonks) in close affiliation with the Italian pilot Art Monastery and other Artmonk chapters around the globe.

We will inhabit a beautiful monastic site (an existing one or a newly built one that is architecturally inspired by monastic tradition, yet which honors California’s weird spiritual architectural heritage) located within a two-hour drive of San Francisco or fifteen minutes away from a BART stop. This site will have private spaces for living, performance and gallery spaces, musical practice spaces, a vast garden, kitchen & dining hall. We will collaborate and perhaps even share space with existing local arts and academic institutions (e.g. the Graduate Theological Union here in Berkeley).

Throughout we will create world-class art (through e.g. a resident theater company, dance company, musical ensembles, visual art installations, sculpture gardens, a poetry and literature publishing house, a film residency) together.

What kind of art will it be? The kind of art that could best happen in an Art Monastery in California.

Values

As an Art Monastery, we value art. We value the discipline, contemplation and sustainability of monasticism. We value monastic art, and artistic monasticism (a form of “social sculpture”). We value the process, as well as the final product.

As a business we honor and respect people and the environment. We seek to do no harm. Our profit goes to the common good.

As an organization, we honor the vertical as well as the horizontal. We are an egalitarian community, yet we utilize the effective power of credential, authority, hierarchy, and institution. We believe in transparency & accountability (open communication; checks and balances of power, etc.).

As a community of individuals, we honor autonomy & privacy, as well as self-transcendance & community. We honor paths of personal, interpersonal (community), and transpersonal (spiritual) development.

As artists, we value virtuosic, world-class art, yet we believe that, as Joseph Beuys said, “everyone is an artist.”

As Artmonks, we aim to live at the intersection of the good (ethics & activism), the true (spirituality & contemplation), and the beautiful (art & creativity), and to serve as a mirror for the world (reflecting its sanity in our rules, while reflecting back both sanity and its insanity in our art).

As part of an order, the International Otherhood of Artmonks, we share our models, tools, structures and solutions with other communities within and without the Otherhood. We act as an autonomous representative of the brand, open-source lineage, and institutions of the Otherhood.

As humans (and as representatives of Northern California), we honor the mystic as well as the skeptic; the hermit as well as the cenobite; the sacred as well as the profane; stabilitas as well as flux; individual religious faiths as well as no faith at all; sexuality as well as celibacy; singleness, monogamy and polyamory; homo-, hetero-, bi-, trans- and a-sexuality; intoxication as well as sobriety; the dual as well as the non-dual.

From the Ground Up

“I have one word of advice,” my friend and adviser Joel Levey said to me a couple months ago as I was talking to him about this grand project: “Pacing.”

Five Parallel Tracks of Development

The creation of our monastery will happen as a result of five parallel tracks (in order of initial importance):

  1. Income (e.g. business unit and revenue stream development)
  2. Community (e.g. the Artmonks that live there; weekly artmonk sangha/liturgy lab; quarterly chapter dinners)
  3. Context (e.g historical and place-based research & theory: “What does an Art Monastery in Northern California look like?”; affiliations with existing institutions)
  4. Art (e.g building artistic credibility through performances and works)
  5. Site (e.g. land & buildings)

Pacing & Phasing

Timeline and measurable benchmarks:

2011 – Income goal: We will spend this year laying the foundations of our “Business Unit”2 and its income stream; we will break even and pay back first-round investors, and seek second-round/angel investment. Community goal: Our second 8-night Artmonk Retreat. Building the local chapter of interested artmonks. We will start a seed community (perhaps of just 4-6 artmonks living in a warehouse). We will strengthen our relationships to existing institutions. Context Goal: We will establish connections with 1 local religious group, interested in partnering with us. We will continue to research monasticism from around the world, and explore the monastic communities that already exist in Northern California. Art Goal: We will put on at least 1 original Art Monastery performance. Site Goal: We will familiarize ourselves with the area and pinpoint preferred location.

2012 – Income goal: Business Unit’s profit growing modestly. Second round of investment in Business Unit. Community goal: We will grow the seed community, and continue to develop our artmonk liturgy (arturgy?). Third of our 8-night Artmonk Retreats. First Artmonk Dathün (monthlong retreat). Context Goal: In the fall of 2012, Nathan will begin a PhD program (either at GTU, CIIS, or one of the UC’s), the aim of which will be to deepen my research of Art & Monasticism and document the creation of our Art Monastery. Art Goal: Two original performances/installations. Site Goal: We will continue to research properties in the Bay Area.

2013 – Income/site goal: We have enough capital and acquire the land to begin building a monastery (if an existing, empty one hasn’t surfaced yet). Work begins on a gardens, chicken coop, beehives, and 2 hexayurts are erected. Community goal: Fourth and fifth 8-night Artmonk Retreats; second Artmonk Dathün (monthlong retreat). The initial seed community of 4-6 is ready to grow. We establish official processes by which new members enter the community. Rules and vows are codified (yet always evolving). Context Goal: We establish an official relationship with medium-sized academic institution. Art Goal: Three medium original performances/installations, one large. A group of 3 Bay Area Artmonks heads to Italy for 1 month in the summer.

2014 – Income/site goal: Building (stage 1: “The Architecture Monastery Project”): A cob dining facility, straw-bale houses, hexayurts, tents, shipping containers and covered wagons. Garden provides 10% of our food for the year. Community goal: The monastery admits five “novices” who will enter a year-long trial period before full-Artmonkery is achieved: four are artists, one is a GTU PhD candidate interested in monastic living. 3 one-month artist residencies. Context Goal: We begin to nail down the brand—What does an Art Monastery in California look like? What are its practices? How is it styled? We establish an official partnership with medium-sized arts organization. Art Goal: 3 medium original performances/installations, 2 large. A group of 4 Bay Area Artmonks heads to Italy for 2 months in the summer.

2015 – Income/site goal: The planning of Building (stage 2: Art Chapel). Community goal: The 4-6 seed Artmonks vote on 2014’s five “novices”, and admits five new ones: 3 who are artists and 2 who are grad students. Garden provides 25% of food. Goats acquired. First arts-based youth empowerment camp (PYE Global model). 6 one-month artist residencies. Context Goal: Continued experimention with meditation, liturgy, chanting the hours of the office, ritual theater, celebration, performance. 1 Artmonk leaves to tour monasteries of the world and make a documentary. Art Goal: 4 medium original performances/installations, 2 large. A group of 5 Bay Area Artmonks heads to Italy for 2 months in the summer.

2016 – Income/site goal: Building (stage 2: Art Chapel). Planning of Building (stage 3: cloister). Community goal: Vote on 2015’s novices. There are now 10-15 Artmonks. Admits 3 new novices: 2 who are artists and 1 a grad student. 1o one-month artist residencies. Art Goal: 8 medium original performances/installations, 3 large. A group of 8 Bay Area Artmonks heads to Italy for 2 months in the summer.

2017 – Income/site goal: Building (stage 3: Cloister).

2018 – Context Goal: Nathan finishes PhD.

2019 – Income/site goal: Building (stage 4: a performance/installation venue, official dining hall and practice rooms.)

2021 – Income/site goal: Bay Art Monastery complete. Profits begin to be divided between the business unit (30%), Bay Art Monastery (30%), worker-owners (15%) and AMP International (15%). Garden provides 50% of our food. Community goal: Goal of 30 artmonks reached.

2031 – Income/site goal: A second piece of land is acquired further afield. A new monastery begun, with a component youth outdoor education center.

Creative Commons License
Creating an Art Monastery by Nathan Rosquist is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at wp.me.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.artmonastery.org.

Notes:

  1. Much of this work was inspired by my time in Italy and in particular, a “Visioning Retreat” we did in Labro last fall. I am indebted to Betsy, Christopher, Liz, Charles, Molly, Iwona and “Judith”.
  2. Stay tuned for more about this mysterious “Business Unit.” Needless to say, it will sell things and/or offer services in exchange for money. As it stands, until the Bay Art Monastery is sufficiently housed in a monastery, its profits will go toward that end. In addition to providing a salary for 2-3 full-time employees, the business will be staffed by 10-15 Artmonks. In exchange for their labors (~10 hours a week each), they get a stipend and a small stake in the company 😉
  3. Much of this work was inspired by my time in Italy and in particular, a “Visioning Retreat” we did in Labro last fall. I am indebted to Betsy, Christopher, Liz, Charles, Molly, Iwona and “Judith”.
  4. Stay tuned for more about this mysterious “Business Unit.” Needless to say, it will sell things and/or offer services in exchange for money. As it stands, until the Bay Art Monastery is sufficiently housed in a monastery, its profits will go toward that end. In addition to providing a salary for 2-3 full-time employees, the business will be staffed by 10-15 Artmonks. In exchange for their labors (~10 hours a week each), they get a stipend and a small stake in the company 😉

10 Comments

  1. Joel Levey
    March 1, 2011

    A deep bow to you Nathan for taking the vision of the potentiality so deeply to heart in your contemplations and so clearly laying out your initial thoughts here for our collective reflection. I’m inspired by the vision you invite us to share and participate in and look forward to continuing to lend support. Christopher joined us here in Seattle tonight for meditation at our home and this weekend we share the vision of the Art Monastery and Art Monks projects with many people at a conference on Whidbey. May the dream continue to reveal it self through us all and bring blessings to all))) Joel

    • Nathan Rosquist
      March 2, 2011

      Thanks Joel, it’s a work in progress, but we’re in good company.

  2. Christopher Fuelling
    March 2, 2011

    Brilliant and inspiring. I love it. As a few incredulous Italian officials said once “we all just talk about beautiful visions… but you Americans write it down into a business plan to make actually make it happen!” Congratulations on a spectacular opening gambit.
    Christopher Fuelling,
    Direttore Artistico of the Art Monastery

  3. Molly
    March 2, 2011

    This is so incredibly inspiring. I am in awe and reverence of your dedication and passion, as well as your phenomenal ability to articulate your ideas and plans. I can’t wait to help make this vision a reality.

  4. Betsy McCall
    March 4, 2011

    Wow. Wow wow wow. I read this an my hand flies to my heart, my heart racing. To read your vision, so beautiful and so grounded, fills me with hope and energy. What next? What now? It is an honor to witness and support you. Go get ’em!

  5. Nathan Rosquist
    March 4, 2011

    🙂

  6. Eden
    March 6, 2011

    Hi Nathan,

    I’m grateful that you’re sharing your vision like this. Wow, it’s really beautiful. And inspires me to work further on my own. in fact, this afternoon, I’m going to a meeting to learn more about collaborative models from some neighbors who wrote an amazing book you may have hear about: the Open Collaboration Encyclopedia. (More info: http://www.pioneerimprints.com or http://www.opencollaboration.wordpress.com)

    Re: the blog post, there’s a couple comments/questions I have about this sentence:

    Simply put, we envision a self-sustaining community of artmonks in the Bay Area. By “self-sufficient”, we mean that there will be one or more mechanisms of revenue generation.

    It looks like you’re using two terms interchangably: self-sustaining and self-sufficient. I don’t know how exactly I would distinguish their meanings, but I wanted to make sure you were aware of that. You also mention in the Values section,

    “We value the discipline, contemplation and sustainability of monasticism.”

    While it appears that you’re only addressing directly economic/financial self-sufficiency/sustainment, I imagine that the community itself must be considered to sustain its members on many other levels, no? Maybe it’s worth fleshing out a little bit the way in which all the hard work you mention being involved in the manifestation of this project will be also nourishing the co-creators of throughout the many iterations of the art monastery. It looks pretty daunting (and fucking amazing) as I see it right now. Perhaps a prioritized process, what we permies call “phasing” to help yourself and all the rest of us get a handle on the small first steps that would really be the initiation, something we could celebrate before the whole dream is here in concrete reality. Oh! I hadn’t yet read your excellent Pacing plan. Well done!

    One thought on that is that, although it may seem a small and very responsible goal to “break even and pay back first-round investers,” I would hope you’d hold out for the possibility that you may get some deep pockets involved who want to invest bigger bucks than what you’re able to recoup in a year, and that would actually be a triumph, not a liability. So perhaps, paying back first-round investors whose investment is a max of what you realistically imagine your income to be, just to allow for that amazing “angel donor/lender” to appear in a way that you can accept their investment without it breaking your commitment to yourselves.

    In 2014, you imagine opening the community up to

    five “novices” who will enter a year-long trial period before full-Artmonkery is achieved: four are artists, one is a GTU PhD candidate interested in monastic living. 3 one-month artist residencies.

    In that same period of time, the art monastery will be engaged in what sounds like a crucial self-identification process, We begin to nail down the brand—What does an Art Monastery in California look like? What are its practices? How is it styled?

    While I understand that both of these are crucial practices, I suspect that the latter may have an enormous impact on the former and I would just caution that those who are being invited in as novices or interns or however that structure is named be fully informed of the phase of the process that the community is in so that their expectations may be best met during their time with the artmonks. In my experience, it’s not very helpful to either intern or project-hosting-intern to have folks on-site who were expecting something already fully polished when it’s still very much emerging from its cocoon, as it were. That being said, I am almost certain that you’ll be able to find the few nearly-perfect candidates to join the artmonk project precisely at that juncture if you describe accurately what that opportunity will include (experimentation! service! imagination! visioning! dedication! creation!) and what it will not (established structures, long-range predictability, etc).

    I especially appreciate the inclusion of reconnecting with and devising new methods of serving the greater community that you mention here

    Community goal: The 4-6 seed Artmonks vote on 2014′s five “novices”, and admits five new ones: 3 who are artists and 2 who are grad students. Garden provides 25% of food. Goats acquired. First arts-based youth empowerment camp (PYE Global model). 6 one-month artist residencies. Context Goal: Continued experimention with meditation, liturgy, chanting the hours of the office, ritual theater, celebration, performance. 1 Artmonk leaves to tour monasteries of the world and make a documentary.

    Nathan, it’s beautiful! I’m eager because you’re eager, I’m inspired by your inspiration and I’m invested because of your articulate commitment to such a whole-hearted vision.

    with much love for now and in the future,

    Eden

    • Nathan Rosquist
      March 6, 2011

      AUTHOR’s NOTE: I added this to the values section: As part of an order, the International Otherhood of Artmonks, we share our models, tools, structures and solutions with other communities within and without the Otherhood. We act as an autonomous representative of the brand, open-source lineage, and institutions of the Otherhood.

  7. Integral Monastery
    March 7, 2011

    This is fascinating! I love the deep integral quality of this vision. It all sounds very healthy and well thought out.

    I will be following this project closely, and with great interest.

  8. Leah
    November 27, 2011

    I live in the Bay Area (am a musician and work for a music promoter so I have business experience in that sense) and would love to get involved in this amazing project. How can I do this? Please email me: leah.m.chisholm@gmail.com

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