Erin Hoffman Interview: “Transition”

erin-hoffmanMichael: My brilliant friend Erin Hoffman has ideas spilling out her ears and plates spinning from here to the next century. To celebrate the occasion of publishing her poem, “Transition”, in Reckoning 1, I managed to corner her to ask how she might envision a community forming around Reckoning not just to foster new ideas and beautiful art on the subject of environmental justice, but to be some actual change in the world. Here’s just a bit of what she sent me.

Erin: I love the magazine itself and the fact that it exists. We pan-seared some mushrooms in honor of the Reckoning launch, local chanterelles and oysters. Maybe that should be your launch event—have people cook local flora dinners and message you pics.

Michael: I love this idea!

Erin: What I think would be really cool is if the readers and writers for the magazine could become some kind of genuine community that could share information on what can actually be done, re the activism side of the magazine. I feel like it’s beneficial to me to even just keep hearing about your work in permaculture . . . keeps me thinking about these things.

Michael: (Makes note to ramble about permaculture here at some point. We’ll get to that. We’ll get to all of it.)

Erin: I have this idea about trying to promote backyard farming here in Palo Alto. We have a vegetable garden and because of the idiosyncrasies of where the sun is it happens to be in our front yard. Results in a lot of commentary from neighbors, which is surprising to me because these gardens are not uncommon—we have the most active garden in our cul de sac, and probably only 1 in 15 houses has one that we can see. Anyway . . . their interest was interesting to me, and I thought it would be interesting to try to make growing food more accessible. I was inspired by this segment of the TED radio hour on giving (there was also a whole “the food we eat” show that was great). What I’m messing with is this idea of just telling people to grow one thing . . . and then keeping a community map of gardens where people can share vegetables. So I might decide I’m just going to specialize in asparagus, so I’ll build a planter and just fill it with asparagus and people can come and take it. I might put out recipes in a box alongside the planter. The funny thing about this is that I don’t even think it’s easier to grow one thing than twelve things, but I think people don’t know that. They think growing food is hard. If they had a community purpose around it I wonder if a lot more of them might do it, and then it might also result in actually talking to your neighbors, which would be a nice thing around here.

Anyway, that’s a wild digression. But I do wish I had a community to talk about these ideas with, and it seems like Reckoning might be that place, if it were a place. OH MAN I COULD SET UP A MUD. ReckoningMUD? 😉

Michael: (Laughing.) I am not promising a MUD . . . but a community? I really want something like that. The magazine showcases only one facet of the brilliance and unique thinking of all these authors and artists. That one facet makes me want to see more. It makes me wonder what they could do and make and change if they came together.

Read “Transition” in Reckoning 1.