(Lauren Woodward Stanley)
This essay by Lauren Woodward Stanley was published in Texas Architect Magazine,
March 2021. Lauren is a practicing architect in Austin, Texas. She is an advocate of nature in cities, an outdoor enthusiast, and a dabbling artist. She currently serves on the board of SICA-USA.
How can I not be at a turning point right now?
this sunlit creek cutting under a trafficked city
this odd synapse of an afternoon
I trip around it like a child discovering:
murky water runs clear
if you leave it alone
I am witness to wonder and woe
everything and nothing will change
from this point forward
I could be a soul content,
or content to slow, from this point forward
upper Waller Creek, 2017
As I write, my 7th grader is standing in his room in a Zoom P.E. class, following exercise directives in close, curtained confines. My other son is cooking mac and cheese before I push him out the door into as much fresh air and sun as he can drink up before his next class. The U.S. Capitol was just stormed, and the structural frame of our government appears to have survived, bruised but intact. The pandemic took its largest toll to date yesterday, and municipal facilities are shape-shifting again to respond to COVID-19 urgent care. It’s gorgeous outside, sun-bright after a cold night and recent downpour. Hawks overhead. Sculpture Falls was flowing yesterday, and Barton Springs is crystal clear. All of this, and more.
As our world makes epic and tumultuous lurches forward, backward, and sideways, we feel an overwhelm that boggles our ability to respond. It’s as if something is trying to tell us something, but the noise in our ears is too loud to hear. We know a piece of what to do, but also suspect it’s not quite the right thing and, generally, too little too late. What does change of the magnitude we’re experiencing compel us to do? Do we try and carry on with the same outlook and strategies we’re accustomed to using, or do we pull the curtain back much farther and see how we might formulate new ones? And how, exactly, can we do that if we’re still inside our own frames of reference, one foot inside the box and one foot stepping out?
Sages might tell us, in this time of disruption: First, just go home and be quiet. (Masks and distancing support this well.) Then: Listen, watch, and start to… READ MORE
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Lauren Woodward Stanley
Lauren Woodward Stanley is a practicing architect, advocate of nature in cities, outdoor enthusiast, and sometimes musician. She lives with her husband Lars, another architect and blacksmith, and two teenage sons in Austin, Texas on a two-acre compound that includes their residence, studio, metalwork shop, and permaculture-based gardens. A native east coaster, she found herself in Texas for graduate school, then Seattle for 9 years, and back again to Austin in 2005, where she has re-learned to beat the heat by jumping in the local springs. She is a proponent of sustainable living, deep ecology, civic engagement, thinking across disciplines, idea brainstorms, art that breathes, and planting trees.