Plays

I go out in the rain and make "plays", little channels I make on the ground to lead runoff onto different paths. These plays are part of a bigger game I'm playing, the game of The Upward Spiral. 

Rain contains two powers. One is the gravitational potential energy that comes from falling on land high above sea level. If the water flows, this potential energy turns into kinetic energy that can carry soil away, reducing the potential for life on land. The other power is the chemical energy within fresh water. If the rain soaks in, the moistened soil can nourish life.

Reinforcing feedback spirals connect the rain, the soil, and life. If most of the rain soaks in, it can nourish plant life which adds nutrients and tilth to the soil that is then more capable of absorbing even more of the rain. I think of this as an Upward Spiral. But if most of the rain runs off, it erodes the soil that previously absorbed that rain. With less soil and less groundwater, plant life grows more sparse which reduces the protection from the pounding rain that plants provide the soil. More soil erodes, less plants grow, and the water erodes more. I think of this as a Downward Spiral.

Life has the power to shift  this relative balance of how much of the rain soaks in and how much of it runs off. This shifting is what these plays are about. As I do this work, it takes on allegorical significance. We have the power to change Downward Spirals into Upward Spirals. Making these plays teaches me ways to help this happen. (For more on this, watch my video, The Upward Spiral.) May these pictures invite you to play with the world in a way that creates new possibilities. What follows is photographs with explanatory text of certain plays that I am following with particular interest.

Twin Drainage Play - This play I am following with interest as a test of a hypothesis with important allegorical significance. I hypothesize that shifting flows in the headwaters will eventually lead to shifts downstream.

The Play - While walking in a wild area in December, 2009, I came upon a remote headwater that inspired me as the site of a photographically perfect play. Therefore I am documenting this play in detail to watch what happens over the years. I like to imagine this project turning into the computer equivalent of a coffeetable book of photos about the Upward Spiral Emerging. What shall grow from this play?  

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