I’m in rural villages south of Bamako 1-2 times/week, where agriculture is king, extended families keep mud-brick homes in welcoming enclosures, and aged chiefs rule the roost. Of all the things to appreciate about these villages,* I get the biggest thrill from the fantastic design–of homes, shared spaces, meeting places, etc.–that abounds, sometimes running a common thread through the region, and other times rendering unique a particular locale. The materials are relatively standard, but creativity is not lacking; function and form are perfectly served. Here’s a start: Working arbors and trellises: To train gourds, grape vines, and other edibles… …to give shade to livestock, and keep a house front cool. Door and window detail: And stenciling, just for the sake of beauty (or so I was told)…. More to come–there’s always more. *The second-best aspect might be the village names, mouthy, ping-ponging, and overflowing with vowels: Ouelessebougou, Tinkele, Bananzole, Marako, Tounoufou, Bagayokobougou, and on and on.
Been considering the union of people, together. and the union of the self’s many parts, together. On getting it together, on having it together, on what It could be, and why It is apart in the first place. I don’t think Together means order, or simplicity, or rightness. Together means all the parts and pieces–all the elements–are live and in color. they inhabit the same space, the same person, though they’re probably not cohesive, nor pristine, nor even in the proper order. Together can be funky; it can even be ugly. But having It Together means everybody’s present and awake–every character flaw, every failure, each grace and potential. And getting it together means that our motley crew of faults and best intentions start heading in the same direction, and doing it on purpose. Togetherness isn’t an elusive, static perfection. It’s a raucous and colorful ensemble, maybe a bit ragtag, and it carries the promise of a messy, forward march in good company. Tinkele Village, south of Bamako