The Collaboratory

In typical nomadic fashion, we met Ceri Jones Salahadyn through a series of events and people. She invited us to her Collaboratory in Mesa, AZ to learn the craft of welding, plasma cutting, as well as, hear her amazing story.

IMG_4970Exploring the science and process of welding was fascinating and for us “road schoolers” as it offered us a wonderful learning opportunity. We learned that welding is the process of joining two or more metal parts by melting the pieces and adding filler material.  The filler is melted and pools between the other pieces.  The end result after the materials cool is a strong joint or weld. We learned how to Stick weld, which is when an electric current passes between the metal and an electrode (stick).  The electrode melts and combines with the metal to form the joint.

Our project was to make a candle holder. The real fun began once we welded the base to the stem and were ready to use the plasma torch to design our holders. In this process, a gas (oxygen, air, inert and others dependant on material) is blown at high-speed out of a nozzle; at the same time an electrical arc is formed through that gas from the nozzle to the surface being cut, turning some of that gas to plasma. The plasma is hot enough to melt the metal being cut and moves fast enough to blow molten metal away from the cut. We all made individual designs in the form of trees, faces, and shapes. We found that plasma cutting was much more difficult than welding and required a very steady hand.

Through out the course we were able to hear Ceri’s story, which was quite breathtaking. A fabric & abstract artist in her own right, Ceri met her husband and fellow artist Khabir Salahadyn at the beginning of time, or so it felt. Her story intertwined the two dancing and weaving through time and space, doing what they love, creating, inspiring, inventing, and graciously sharing their knowledge and goodness to the world around them. In late march of 2012, Khabir was diagnosed with severe liver cancer and the couple moved from Denver, CO to Mesa, AZ, seeking out healing options and community. They made the journey in their Working Art truck, a 22ft beautiful old Mack Daddy, fully loaded with all their Working Art, tools and equipment. They arrived to a community of hope and healing and explored the realms of alternative and naturopathic possibilities. Each and every step of the way, they received the very best care and treatment opportunities available for Khabir.

However, the time was coming when Khabir would pass from this world. So, with his last bit of breath and strength Khabir helped his wife set up the Collaboratory and transferred his vast legacy, teaching her everything she would need to know in order to continue on. He helped her create the space, encapsulating his presence, his freedom and abilities into the world around her.

When we met Ceri it had only been one year since Khabir’s passing and you could still feel his steady hand present in the space. Ceri carries on with love and light. She is a passionate learner, adventurer and visionary, who desires to empower people and cultures with innovate new ways of communicating through the arts. Her hope is to bring Vision, Mission and Values into the lives of people, organizations and their communities.

We are so grateful for opportunities to meet and be inspired by others we connect with along the way. If you ever get to Mesa please stop into the Collaboratory, create something fantastic and say “Hi to Ceri” from us Hollands!

The Singing Saguaro

Tucson, Arizona was once just a dot on the map for us, but after this past weekend, it’s quickly becoming a favorite. With its breathtaking Catalina mountains, darling historical district just adjacent to a thriving downtown and home to the University of Arizona, Tucson has a fantastic mix of arts, music, food, and sport. It’s a small enough city that the local endeavors stand out but large enough to find your own niche subculture. If there is one word to describe Tucson, it would be artisan.

Happy CampingWe had a few performances in Tucson, including an evening at Monterey Court. A formerly an old run down motel, owners Kelly McLear and Greg Haver redeveloped Monterey Court into an artisan enclave.

The stage was lovely, the food was amazing, specially for a reuben fanatic like me, and Greg was a very gracious host. We had a small but kind crowd come out despite the cold temperatures. And the icing on the cake was a little treasure of a vintage camper Christmas ornament that one of the local venders left behind.

The Hollands! at La Cocina, Tucson, AZWe also performed at La Cocina, Tucson’s venue with a menu. La Cocina sits in the heart of the historic district and has a warm, festive, communal feel. In fact, the reason we wrote them about a performance was because of their self-proclaimed sense of community.

Liz, our server and bar tender for the night was especially welcoming and made us feel like part of the family. A few more faces came out, as it was a little bit warmer than the night before. One kind face stayed through the whole show and introduced herself after. She had heard of us through our friend and comrade, Seth Martin! I immediately hugged her and invited her to dinner at our campsite the next night. What a pleasant surprise to find kinfolk in this fantastic city.

Catalina State ParkWe parked at the Catalina State Park for three nights. We paid $27 a night and had water and 50 amp electricity. The park was well cared for, with friendly guides/officers, hiking trails, and the bathrooms were pristine.

Our friends Jamie and Max stayed with us for the weekend, as Max joined us on bass/guitar at our shows. It was truly the highlight of the weekend having guests on the bus again. We actually met Max two years ago our first time through Bird City. He was living at the Kineo Community House and jammed with us during our impromptu performance at the house. Max married Jamie 10 months ago and it was so refreshing having newlyweds on the bus. Two hands are better than one and the Perry’s work well together. They added a sense of balance to our first weekend back in the saddle, so to speak. We shared story, meals, hikes, a fierce game of Settlers of Catan, Ticket to ride and made music.

A second highlight to the weekend was our hike in the spectacular Saguaro National Park.    We actually started in the State Park and hiked on the border of the National Park, but the Saguaro Cactus were everywhere. The beauty of this area was found in breathtaking mountain range with its the subtle greens and browns, and an occasional orange hue thrown in. There were horse trails as well, which made the hiking even more romantic.

The Singing Saguaro

At one point the sun was wafting between the clouds when I noticed a large Saguaro at the base of a massive rock wall, above that was the mountain range. As the clouds moved the sun would cast a light rolling up towards the large cactus and hold like a spot light for just a moment, and I imagined a tenor singing a ballad of love and passion. The sun would continue to elevate up the rock face and a golden hue would shine, continuing on the sun beams rose up into the mountain where a choir of smaller Saguaro sang the final verse. I sat and watched about three rounds of this movement, before our group lead on. I’ll take that memory to the grave as it was a little taste of heaven.

The Hollands! Christmas Tour

The Hollands! Christmas Tour. We kick off this weekend in Tucson, AZ.

The Hollands! Christmas Tour

 

For details on times and cost visit www.thehollands.org 

Looking forward to seeing all you kinfolk out on the open road!

 

Pepe and the Vacant Lot

The Kineo Community Urban Farm sits on a large block of land in Central Phoenix. Next door to the property is an equally large vacant lot. On the far corners and the back of the lot sits three other small farms. Two of them have horses.

20131123-112807.jpgThis morning, as I was sitting and enjoying my coffee I saw a beautiful cream-colored horse utilizing the vacant land. He was eating and playing. I went out to get a closer look. His owner was standing at the far end of the lot, calling the horse down. The horse, who the owner called Pepe, was frolicking but would only come half way down the field.

I stood there for about ten minutes and I noticed that Pepe spent most of his free time in the back corner of the property, closest to his home. As hard as the owner tried, Pepe would only gallop to the middle and back towards home. I found this very intriguing and pondered how Pepe was given more freedom, but tended to stay just outside of the boundary, not seeing that there is more available. Or maybe he did see and was afraid. I began to philosophy and make assessments about Pepe and his fear of the unknown. Mind you I know nothing about horses. His owner walked close enough that I could share my insights. His name was Sean, a Mexican caballero from Zacatecas, Mexico. His specialty is the lasso.

I shared my observations and he smiled, it was a generous smile. He gave me, “it’s possible” in his eyes but said very simply, that Pepe knew that home was where the people were, and the other animals. Of course! It was community that kept him close.

20131123-112819.jpgI rested in this wisdom. Maybe my perspective was off, maybe instead of representing freedom, the field really was a an overflow of community. Maybe, community is where the real freedom is found. For, if Sean wouldn’t have come over to have a chat, I would have walked away from that moment with my ideology in tact. I would have continued on in my limited understanding of horses, ultimately making parallels to our humanity in a rhetorical way. I would have walked away arrogantly thinking I understood something I really didn’t.

We need each other. As the wise old proverb says, “Your face mirrors your heart. You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another. 

Refocus

20130930-160911.jpgAbout every three months or so we have a “dream talk”, a sort of come to the table talk as a family. Our hope is to refocus, hear each other’s longings, dreams, desires and frustrations, placing them on the table and offering them up to the author of our journey.  We want to be obedient, we want to be good parents, we want to be good stewards of our finances and we want to succeed. However, this isn’t always an easy task as we each often come with different agenda’s.

Our latest table talk exposed a few twisted ideals. We found that we’ve worked so hard this summer, playing shows, releasing our third album, and toiling in the music business that we’ve drifted towards self-sufficiency rather than interdependence without even noticing. We also found that our dream talks were becoming angsty with both of our children making demands about their expectations and us feeling guilty for not meeting them as parents. Needless to say, it has been an emotionally exhausting couple of months. And, although we have seen some beautiful parts of the country, explored rock caves, beaches, forests and rivers, we have forgotten our first love. We have learned that humility is not something we have until humbling ourselves is something we do. We have been isolated much of this time and we are longing for community and purpose beyond just playing music and exploring nature. (Although, we do love both!) Ultimately, this past table talk revealed that we needed to go back to the beginning, to remember where we came from, why we made the life choice we did to swim upstream, and who the author was. We needed to lay down our pride and revisit our vision statement:

“We are The Hollands! We are a Mother, Father, Sister and Brother. Bound by blood and vision to travel about this earth, spreading a message of reconciliation through LOVE. We make our way sharing the gifts and talents given us; Music, Craftsmanship, Mentorship and Instruction, Merrymaking and Community building. Our desire is to connect with those we find along the way and encourage community and growth in relationship.”

With this new focus we are anxious to enter into our next chapter of service and although we don’t know exactly how we will be used we know that we will be used well.

As we make our way down the coast of California we will be connecting with our friends at New Hope Community in Oakland again. They have just experienced the tragic loss of their youth pastor, Jose. He was helping to push a car that was broken down to the side of the road when a drunk driver hit him. He was rushed to the hospital but did not make it. We are prayerful as we make our way to them and however we serve, our hope is to bring a tenderness and strength to our time with them.

The second week of October we will be serving alongside a new community in Monterey, CA. We connected with Brian Bajari through a mutual group on Facebook called The Parish Collective. (on a side note, we also met New Hope through this group.)  We are looking to meeting Brian and his community Gathering By the Bay, learning about their work with the homeless and helping any way we can. We are also keen to learn to surf and Brian has offered to introduce us to that world.

By mid-Oct we will be in San Diego with our hosts, the Penley family. We met them when we visited with our friends and their family in Colorado Springs, CO. They gave us an open invitation. My grandfather was stationed in San Diego and I have always had a fondness for the city. This will be our first time there and we are excited to neighbor with the Penley’s.

The end of October takes us to Arizona, where we will park for seven weeks and work alongside our Kineo Community in Central Phoenix. This will be our second long-term stop since we launched in 2011. Our longest was our first stop in Sister, OR where we stayed for twelve weeks, serving at Vast Church and building our bus.

We are so grateful for our Kineo community’s commitment to us and to all of those around the country who have encouraged us on our way. We are thankful for God’s amazing grace and patience. Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desires of our hearts.

Hope in Transit

20130222-111103.jpgWe met David and Lisa Sprinkle at the last ever Cornerstone Festival this past summer. Lisa introduced herself to us after our performance, sharing her journey and deep felt connection to Craig’s previous band, Ballydowse. She was inspired by their radical message to really care for the widow, orphan and poor. Just prior, her husband Dave was inspired by an idea that Rich Mullins presented to start a traveling music school. And so, the couple began to explore that idea and eventually founded Hope in Transit. Hope In Transit’s primary program is a traveling music school that travels in a weekly cycle to work with Navajo and White Mountain Apache students. They teach bass, drums, keyboard, and guitar at each location, in both individual and group lessons. The Traveling Music School seeks to provide a healthy pastime to young people who are often in a position to choose between dangerous and self-destructive or healthy and productive behavioral patterns.

The Sprinkles invited us to come visit them in the White Mountains of Arizona and we accepted their invitation. Our time together was so inspiring and educational. They shared their story and many cultural insights about the population that they participate in community with. Our first experience was with the Apache children and we learned how to make Cigar Box Guitars. Craig assisted with the power tools, I helped with the art and design and our children were invited to make their own instruments. Below are photos from the Cigar Box Guitar Workshop.

Later that week we visted at the Red Sands Navajo School. We were invited to share our Australian Folklore Workshop as well as teach some of the individual lessons through out the day. The coolest moment was watching Graciana teach a young student Uke/Bass and Banjo share his knowledge of Cajun with fellow percussionist. As much as we are happy to serve and share our gifts and talents, it’s these moments that we are truly blessed by the opportunities to learn from others.

How to Donate

If you are looking for a way to lend a helping hand, we highly recommend donating to Hope in Transit. They are a federally recognized 501(c)3 non-profit.

You can donate through PAYPAL, or by sending a check to:
Hope in Transit
PO Box 2096
Lakeside, AZ 85929

Phoenix Arts and Community

20130203-172550.jpgPhoenix hasn’t also been know for the arts but over the past few years the downtown district has done so much to encourage the arts. There is still work to be done, specially in The Zone, which we discovered last time around. However, we meet a community that sites just a few blocks from the desolate streets and offers a constant peaceful and creative presence. We meet Ryan Thurman through our gracious host family, The Skeens and visited his A2J community one afternoon. We were inspired by the communities commitment to their community and to each other. We heard stories of struggles and redemption in the neighborhood. One story included a woman who had been homeless for a time and found her way off of the streets into the A2J community and know offers her gift of hospitality behind the prayer house. We heard about the longing for more families to move into the neighborhood, for a deeper connection with the greater body. We immediately thought of our friends in Oakland at New Hope and our friends, in Omaha at InCommon and began to tell their story. There is something encouraging knowing that there is a global/local community out there. We’ll be thinking about them as we make our way, and encouraging folks to consider hanging with these kinfolk for a while.

We were also able to connect with a number of aspiring and professional visual artists at the Artistree Arts Conference which we offered our Songwriting Workshop, our Swimming Upstream Workshop and a performance. Our kids were able to take advantage of the sketching, journaling and graphic arts workshops offered by other practitioners.  Joel Pritchard spearheaded the event. We met Joel through Steve, with Hope thru Art and are excited to announce that Joel will be doing all of the art and design on our upcoming album. We’ll keep you posted on his work.

While at Artistree we meet John and Elli Milan, world renowned oil painters. And are especially unique in that the Milans create their paintings together. Although John and Elli are both accomplished artists on their own, their collaborations bring out a side of their work that neither could reach by themselves.  The couple says that the Spirit of God inspires their work and allows them to create together and maintain a unified vision.  The end result is aggressive and spontaneous layers of paint which create a bright and playful scenario that is interwoven with hints of narrative.  We were invited out to the Milan farm and studio in Queen Creek, AZ for lunch and had an encouraging visit, learning about their faith journey finding their purpose in creating together. We even saw the beginnings of a painting that was inspired by our album, Ashes to Beauty. We meet two of their four children, who are quite the artists in their own rite. We enjoyed the horses, chickens, dogs and cats. It was energizing to meet a family committed to one another and to creating together.

Rest in the Desert

NeighborsOur last visit to Phoenix in February of 2012 was one of the most profound moments of our journey. It was the place where we actually saw the hand of God knit together the body. We saw the miracle of community woven together like we had never seen before. It was also our first real taste of an economy not of this world. We were looking forward to going back but it is the desert. I know folks rave about this place but for a water girl, the desert is the desert! We were tired and the pieces of the puzzle that we had last time around were not falling into place. We didn’t have a clear picture of who, how, what or why for this visit. However, we moved forward in faith.

The Skeens were our hosts. Jeff, Amy and their four precious children.

Who knew our weary souls would find such refreshment in this dry desert? And, yet we did. Ten days we spent, pouring into community, soaking up the sun… and the rain. Yes, it rained for three days in the desert. There was a harmony that washed over us the moment we pulled into their driveway and we knew we were with family. We shared story, encouragement, laughter, difficulties, meals, and more encouragement.

Because our schedule was light, with only one performance in the area (at the Chandler Multicultural Festival) we had more time to spend really tending to some much-needed areas, including our health. Amy took Grace and I to Holy Yoga. We ended up getting in three session, just the kick-start we needed. I was able to find a chiropractor and a massage therapist to do some intense work on my traps and neck, relieving a head ache I had since October. Banjo was able to really connect with Noah, the Skeens oldest and enjoy the friendship of a brother. Craig and Jeff connected deeply as well and at one point I made a joke about them having a “bromance” but honestly, it really was great to see them as kindred spirits, working out story and building more on the bus. Graciana was poured into by Anna, a Young Life leader from Jeff and Amy’s church.  A real joy and contentment fell over Graciana and a vision of her future was seen.  We shared in song with friends from Kineo Church. We enjoyed continued community with our friends, the Seymore’s, The Hummels, The Ortiz’s, Joel Pritchard, Lori Englert and Steve from Hope thru Art.

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The desert is still the desert, but the community we shared in Phoenix will remain an oasis.  And, we can’t wait to be with these kinfolk again.

“The Zone” Phoenix, AZ

The Zone is an area in Phoenix, where all of those down trodden and tired are corralled by the local government into a three block radios. I believe the idea of keeping them in this area is so they can be monitored and kept under raps. It’s a dark and lawless place filled with double murders, prostitutes, child trafficking, drug lords, mentally ill, refuges and rovers. It’s a few blocks down from the government buildings and the business district of Phoenix. So, the contact with the outside world is mostly from the law and business men/women coming down to get there fix, whether drugs or sex.

Our friend, Steve and his team, are a breath of fresh air and visits these folks regularly. They call their efforts Hope Thru Art. Their purpose is to bring a spirit of healing and peace into that hard environment through the arts. On a practical level, they hang raw and unassuming “disposable art;” installations that can be disassembled by those who choose to take. For instance, Steve might hang the letters HOPE on a fence and then using clothes pins he’d frost the piece with layers of colorful photographs of nature scenes and poems. The impact these installations have on this artistically poverty-stricken population is profound.

We spent a few hours on Saturday afternoon with Steve and Dave down in the Zone. I brought my mandolin, Grace sang, Craig and Banjo brought a drum and our friend Cindy came along and played her instruments. Our first stop was the four corners, this was where folks claimed their status. There was the prostitute corner, the drug dealer corner (which happened to be the only one under shade) and the corners where folks were just trying to get by.  A middle-aged man approached us asking, “what’s you gonna play?”  The first song that came out of my mouth was “I got a home in glory land.” He beamed and began to sing along. More folks gathered around and after about 15 minutes in the sun we decided to cross over to the shaded side of the corners. There we meet Lorenzo, who had kind eyes and a warm spirit. He was so excited that we were there and began to bless us with encouraging words. He ended up staying close by our sides the whole afternoon, singing along to all the old hymns and folk tunes, hand to his ear to hear the harmonies.

After about 20 more minutes on the corner we were ready to walk into the heart of the zone. The rectangle yard was large with a few buildings and a fence around it. Folks were sprawled out on the ground, benches and picnic tables, all trying to find shade and comfort. There was a level of tension in the air and folks who seemed apathetic could be arouse immediately if they felt threatened. We sat down in one corner of the yard welcomed by an old Mexican fella. He asked if we spoke Spanish and Steve answered. A huge smile came over the fella’s face as he realized he was about to receive his own personal concert. I wished at that moment I knew even just one folk tune in Spanish and vowed to learn one. More folks gathered around. A few young fella’s, who looked as if they were once soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan, a woman who wore a badge and acted as if she were the nurses aid in the village but was not, a few older fella’s with anger in their eyes and a number of young girls walked by with vacant looks in their eyes totally unimpressed by of our presence. A man named David came by and asked for prayer for protection and safety. A 30 something black woman  (I’ll call her Stella as she would not give me her name) sat quietly nearby. She had a sneaky grin and at one point she blurted out, “Ya’ll know Amazing Grace?” “Yes,” I answered. “Then play it,” she demanded. I said, “only if you sing along.” She smiled and, we played it happily.

We continued to play gentle tunes of hope and rest. At one point an old Chevy pulled up and a fella jumped out and opened the passenger door. He began to hand out brown bags. Folks flocked over and took a lunch. One man yelled out, “there burgers” which brought a larger crowd. Upon further inspection they were peanut butter and jelly and the crowd pulled back. Someone gave Stella a bag and she looked apathetically at it. She was sitting behind the angry fella’s and began to break off pieces of her sandwich and toss them in their direction. The pieces would bounce off of there heads and she would giggle. The fuse blew and they were up at her. Within seconds, a few other men jumped up to stop the angry men. They walked off in a huff, all the while we were singing “Swing Low.” She continued to throw the sandwich, aiming further at another happier fella. He just laughed it off. I tried to engage with her by moving over onto the bench next to her. She ignored me. I touched her shoulder and asked her to sing along. She answered, “What’s their problem, I’m throwing it at the birds.” I looked over and sure enough about fifty feet past the men was a few pigeons. I laughed, she cracked a little cheeky smile. We both knew that she was really aiming at those men and using the birds as an excuse.

That night, I dreamt about Stella. Only in the dream she was a very wealthy woman, still the same disposition, but wealth beyond measure. Everyone knew she was wealthy and would put up with her ill spirit because they all wanted something from her. It was said that she paid her cleaning lady, $15,000 a week to clean her house. I heard whispers in my ear about ways to get her to hire me and if I could just clean for one week, all of my needs would be met. I approached the lady with this mindset and when she open the door the scene morphed into Stella sitting on the bench in the Zone. She sat vacant with a sneer on her face. The woundedness the same in the rich woman as in the woman in the zone. I woke up.

At the end of the day, we are all made of the same mud. At the end of the day whether we have wealth or not, the condition of our souls is what matters.  Regardless of circumstance and status,  we are all apart of  the precious precious tapestry of humankind.

KINEO HOUSE:

We meet Steve at Cornerstone Music Festival. Steve also connected us with the Kineo House, and they were our hosts for the weekend. They are a beautiful picture of folks committed to sharing in community and caring for those around them. They were compassionate and possessed a desire to bless and serve each other and their surrounding area. We were encouraged by their openness to us and their genuine offer to pray for us as we continue our journey. We can’t wait to come back and spend more time sharing in community with Steve and our hosts at the Kineo House.

CONNECTING OF THE SAINTS:

Our original contact for Phoenix was a little folk venue called Fiddlers Dream. It’s an all acoustic venue hosted by a handful of sweet and dedicated folkies.  We were delighted to share in song with them all. Specially our host, Bill, who expressed a great desire to sing with other musicians on a stage someday. So, we invited him up to sing a little Johnny Cash with us.

Through that booking a kindred and gentle soul named Cindy and her hubby, Alan, contacted us and offered us hospitality, friendship and the added bonus of Cindy’s gift with the tin whistle and bodhran. Besides sharing a lovely meal together, Cindy joined us the whole weekend and by the end of our time together a deep spiritual friendship rooted. Alan and Cindy are our family now and we look joyward to meeting down the line.

Our last stop in Phoenix was in Chandler, AZ at a church called The Grove. It’s one of those big mega churches where everything is beautiful and runs like clockwork. It was a bit of a culture shock after our day down in the Zone but The Hommel’s, our hosts and friend of my parents, were welcoming and cared for us with a meal and opportunity to relax. It took me a moment but after processing the dream I had, I realized that my prejudice towards those with wealth, fame or status was burdensome. That morning my heart was heavy as I began to take steps towards rebuking and confessing my false belief system. We can not be all things to all people if we see them with disdain or if there is any hinderance because of jealousy, insecurities or twisted thinking. It’s easy to care for and love the obvious but much harder when the souls around us tap into our own desire for power and security.

That evening we enjoyed a concert on the lawn with a handful of engaging and encouraging folks and once again we were blown away by the provision offered and allowing us to keep on our way. We came to AZ with our last dollar and we leave with just enough to get to CO, by a few groceries and pay for the $200 hoses to fix the oil leak in the engine. A powerful weekend emotionally, spiritually and physically. Just one more reminder that we are not in this alone but apart of a bigger picture. We continue on filled with gratefulness, joy and ready for more hard lessons to be put to the test.