We use this term to suggest the foundation of the project, which is to manage a sizable tract of rural land based on a appreciation of its particular character, the natural and social history of its fields, woods, waters and structures, the particular attributes and contours of the land and its contents. It is the breadth of this tract, almost a square mile, that raised questions about what it means to “own” land, an interrogation not usually started by acquiring a second home.
(At the risk of straying still further into bombast), out of this inquiry came the idea to create spaces and occasions to engage in those sorts of primal, very old human activities that tend to be obscured by the density and relentless juxtapositions of city life: observing the sky, tending fires, stalking, organizing water, foraging, watching animals, forming crews for work and games, and such.
The truth is that the chthonic gods of ancient Greece and the Shinto spirits of Japan were invented by people, and it is only we who project meaning onto these 500 acres of Delaware County, New York. For us, a dense plantation of Norway spruces is a maze, a concave hillside is an amphitheater, a barn without animals is a place for music and a crowd, wild apple trees are things to be ranked by the quality of their fruit, fallen wood is fuel for bonfires, snow on a hill is a medium for sledding.
The program of activities and events for Franklin Chthonics is calendrical; virtually everything we do is based on a time of the year and virtually all events are, potentially, annual events. Another way to describe Franklin Chthonics is that it is project for establishing traditions in this place.
This schedule of events is described in the 2015 Chthonic Calendar but it is hoped that other programs organized by other sponsors will find their way into it. All sorts of activities, performances, retreats, classes and workshops that could make good use of the land, its assets and its structures, are invited to apply for space on the calendar; even meditation and yoga is ok. We want to establish a level of activity that makes progress towards two goals:
1. Self-sufficiency for the enterprise, including cash flow for repairs to structures, maintenance vehicles
and tools, upkeep of roads and trails, forestry work, mowing, and the like.
2. Making the place continually more interesting and complex.
Chthonic \ˈthä-nik\ : (the “ch” is usually silent)
Is a fine Greek word that refers to the minor, local earth gods residing at a specific cave, spring or tree.
Franklin Chthonics is not a farm or a bed and breakfast or a yoga retreat or a meditation center but saying that is easier than describing what it is or the reasons for this odd name.