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Acker: Cultivating Resilience

I never think about getting older, but I do cultivate resilience. I walk for happiness. I go to yoga and the Y for strength. I wear a wide-brimmed hat and kneepads for farm and garden work. I love using a pitchfork. I eat lots of vegetables and sunflower seeds.

And I cultivate optimism. I thank others for being optimistic, especially in these times with heartbreaking news all around. I glean hopeful stories from my neighbors and from organizations working for social justice.

More than fifty years ago, I was fifteen and holding signs against the Vietnam War outside a draft-board in Philadelphia. I decided then to become a socially-conscious artist and gave myself ten years to find something to say. But I soon discovered that this would take a lifetime. I also learned that art, both created by myself, and created cooperatively can be equally compelling.

But there is one place where I do call myself “an elder” - and that’s at The Intervale Community Farm's board meetings, where I've served for twenty four years. Remembering the roots of an organization has a good place on this earth.

Beyond helping on farms, planting berries and tending flower-gardens, learning from young people, and making time for my landscape-painting, I now need to look ahead.

It’s time to stop procrastinating and catalog my lifetime of art so that samples of my work can go to a university-archive or another publicly-accessible center. I've been so inspired by past artists and I hope that future generations can be inspired by me.

It’s also time for me to learn more about climate change and wildfires. My beloved daughter has been a wildlands firefighter out West for five years now. To honor her and her crew-members, I need to speak-up more loudly for environmental stewardship, local and global.

In the time ahead, I hope to expand my horizons and my usefulness. And I’ll continue believing in those coming after me, as we all search for ways to save this precious planet.