Renton Carco Theatre, The Nature of Change April 2011

Hillman made a mint selling clear-cut land to immigrants.  Those same immigrants, deed in hand, forged ahead and made the best of the situation. And so it goes: the stark  before-and-after reality of events, oddly captivating and full of opportunity.

40 years ago on May 18th, Mt. St. Helens erupted sending ash and smoke hundreds of miles into the air and all across the region.  I remember standing right outside my house, watching the distant plume fill the southern horizon.

They say the eruption killed over 70,000 deer, elk and bear; virtually all birds and smaller animals; 12 million chinook and coho salmon fingerlings in nearby hatcheries, and 40,000 young salmon in the wild.

And yet where there’s a disaster, there’s also an opportunity. Signs of life amidst the devastation showed up within the first week. The lowly gopher survived by retreating deep into the earth during the eruption. When the noise died down, the gophers popped their heads out and found surprisingly good pickings. The process of digging through the rubble and  ash helped work seeds, debris and nutrients back into the soil. Strangers in a strange land, non-resident Meadowlarks, rock wrens and pipits moved in to survey the devastation. Acres of dead trees and debris, a billion toothpicks spewed across an ashen landscape, made for unexpectedly good real estate.

What looked like a ravaged moonscape to us was a clear opportunity to others, and so it goes….

Artist reception at the Carco Theatre, April 23, 2011, 5-7pm.

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