I first came across the wondrous New Land of Milk and Honey collective while drooling over Annie Lee Larson’s too-good-to-be-true patterned knits. The Cosby-esque clothing reeled me in, for sure, but Annie’s cooperative artistic mission with the New Land of Milk and Honey group captivated me. I knew I had to learn more about their vision (potlucks and jam sessions and happiness and the aforementioned knits!) and communal lifestyle. Here’s Annie and Brett.
What is the New Land of Milk and Honey?
It is you, and us, and our friends! We are all together! We are one! We are united in our creative energy through independent practice and collaboration endeavors, in fantasy and real life.
Our mission is to create out of happiness, to create on a personal scale, and to help each other be autonomous through creation. It is this goal, shared, that allows us to abandon our jobs to support ourselves through our imaginations and talent. It is an ideal we frame as Creation Without Destruction. In the NLMH, to be a “self-sustaining craftsperson” means that each individual has a continuous source of motivation, to sustain the joy of living and working. Motivation flows from friends, our source of inspiration. This is achieved through being together in our minds, sharing a common love, and nurturing critique and conversation. This way of life is not protected from the everyday responsibilities of paying bills and getting by. We are not a business, or an institution, but an assembly of individuals devoted to sharing skills (craft).
Our collective mindset blossomed from communal workspaces and living arrangements. In creating art and craft in close proximity we watched each other generate ideas and objects. We found ourselves deeply engaged in each other’s creative processes, helping to inspire ideas through conversation and shape projects through critique. These conversations have crystallized into a community ideology that venerates individuality and collective expression. Imagination realized in creation is MAGICK! We are each teachers, and we are each willing students. We have named ourselves the New Land of Milk and Honey in mind of the Midwestern hippies before us, exploring a utopic and autonomous rural mindspace. There is a long history of communal, spiritual, and creative collectives in America and the NLMH works for similar ideals without being hampered by nostalgia. We embrace innovation. We embrace technology, realizing that it provides potent tools for autonomy. The communication power of the Internet allows us to remain decentralized and independent while still connecting our products, art, and ideas to a global audience.
The NLMH has hosted several events in the past year to promote our ideology of skill-sharing, unity, peace, and love. As winter set in upon us, we greeted our season of introspection with a bountiful Harvest Feast. All in attendance brought a dish to share, highlighting individual culinary specialties. Song and dance preceded dinner in the crisp autumn sun, and the community meal was celebrated through various rituals, group harmonics, and a passionate toast by our master of ceremonies. “Raise high your drinks! Yes, the answer is you!“
In early 2010, the NLMH hosted a second event, The Ritual of the Metamorphosis of Solids, at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis, MN. This audio-visual event-horizon was a multi-faceted culmination of many crafts combined. Countless contributions were made through video, body movement, photography, construction, knitting, grammar, art, New Gyroscopics, song, tamales, graphics, speech, and more. We welcomed over 500 community members to participate in The Ritual of the Metamorphosis of Solids. The primary facilitators of this event were Adrian Freeman, Ann Marie De Lathouder Freeman, Brett Smith, Erin Smith, and Annie Larson.
The NLMH Bazaar, held only a few weeks ago, was an all day and evening event designed to engage all five senses through activities in the Zen Center, Activity Center, Creation Center, Inspiration Center, and Exploration Center. Open to all community members, over 400 people joined us throughout the day to participate in various activities hosted by stewards of the NLMH. Some of the programmed activities included: community quilt, group yoga, miscellaneous body movement, tarot, community flavors pot-luck dinner, tie-dyeing, trance tents, weaving, knitting, and so on. The evening concluded with a grand celebration in music, animation, performance, dancing, and skateboarding.
The culmination of these events has gathered together the talents of our friends and community; it has exposed our ideal of creation and promoted of the importance of ideas and energy. On the surface, the New Land of Milk and Honey is a collaborative art project, but in our hearts it’s as real as we have made it. All praise, we encourage all fellow soul-soldiers to taste the richness of the collective experience. Create, and help each other create!
Learn more about the New Land of Milk and Honey through member websites and blogs:
Brett and Erin Smith (Installation, Object), Annie Larson (Knitted Wears), Adrian Freeman (Video Art), Eric Carlson (Agitprop, Harmonics), Annika Kaplan (Weaving, Essential Oils, Jewelry), Baby Skateboards (Skateboards), Aby Wolf (Harmonics), Aaron Anderson (Mixed Tapes, Harmonics, Croix Clayton (The Voice), Crystal Quinn, Soothing Almonds Collective (Harmonics, and More!), Skoal Kodiak (Harmonics), Moonstone (Harmonics), Hooliganship (Harmonics, Animation, Performance), Soap Factory (Gallery)
Or write to them to receive more information about the organization:
New Land News
P.O. Box 3754
Minneapolis, MN 55403