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Life Arts    H4'ed 1/17/14

Building a New World: The Work of Handyman-Visionary Ross Laird

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A Stone's Throw begins as Ross hikes with his father up a remote British Columbian mountain in search of a mythic stone. There, he comes to find his stone in an icy river.  Ross then takes it home and spends a year sculpting it in his shop. In doing the work, Ross then has an epiphany: He discovers why stones have always been viewed as foundations of community, symbols of the self, and embodiments of sacred wisdom.

As his hands shaped the stone, the persistence of this powerful symbolism continued.  He ultimately discovers that despite general ignorance regarding mythological history, the fables of our ancestors are still imbued with great power. He then reconsiders archaic myths and tales from his own family, linking together the essential religions of the West -- all with stones at their core.  Ross thus illuminates the deep unity among spiritual traditions that are, in the contemporary world, perpetually at war.

A Stone's Throw is about the weaving together of stories by which we construct our lives, individually and collectively.  Ross also explores the forces that lead both Jews and Muslims to revere the foundation stone of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the Taliban to destroy stone carvings of Buddha, and terrorists to attack the World Trade Center. Uniting contemporary art with spirituality, Ross then crafts a volcanic rock into a piece of sculpture.  In so doing, he peels back the facade of the present to reveal the contemporary world as a place where the past is forever working out its unfinished dreams.

Pause for a moment.  What unfinished dreams is the past trying to work out through you today?  What longings in your heart do your family, community, and the very earth on which you live share?  What lies within the material that you are attracted to work with that can teach you where beauty, truth, and purpose lie for you and yours?  In what way do you belong to something greater than yourself?  To what fulfillment are those voices calling you?  What would our ancestors, human and nonhuman, from 4 to 6,000 years ago say to us today?  If you asked them, "What would you have done differently?" how would they answer you?  Is that message a key to what you need to do today?

Ross is currently vested in co-creating an alternative educational program together with his fellow teachers and students. They are asking together, " How would we build the educational enterprise from scratch? If we removed our legacies and biases, if we dismantled our assumptions and judgments, what would education look like? What would the forms of teaching and learning be if we did not try to build them atop crumbling structures that embody the values and norms of a diminishing age?"  Based on the foundation of commitment to the whole person, Ross and his colleagues are building "educational environments that support integrative, purposeful development for individuals and groups."  Now that will be a work of art worthy of so great a spirit.

Ultimately, Ross believes we can do better by imagining a different life and retelling our own story.  The story that we tell ourselves today needs to be changed.  Thus, creative works are needed.  Healing is equal to creativity in Ross' mind.  We must also look towards future and envision a different style of life. 

To listen to an interview with Ross with Envision This!, visit:

Ross's website is at:


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Burl Hall is a retired counselor who is living in a Senior Citizen Housing apartment. Burl has one book to his credit, titled "Sophia's Web: A Passionate Call to Heal our Wounded Nature." For more information, search the book on Amazon. (more...)
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