Solarpunk and Sustainable Living: A Flinterforge Guild Home Manifesto

#1

So, disclaimer ahead: I’m not Flinterforge (It’s complicated). But, I at one time claimed that label, and I had some hand in shaping the direction of the house. Grains of salt abound, but consider hearing me out on this?

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PREFACE

I am older than dirt. Okay, not really, but I’ve been poking around the forums for a long time. I’m pretty sure half of that time was spent wagging my finger disapprovingly at people calling Flinterforge ‘The Forge,’ but still.

Long story short, I was here when the very first Guild House topic came to be. At the time, my instinct led me to draft this post . The gist of it – Flinterforge as a state of the art makerspace, with full amenities for any type of creation. Eventually the building, which became known as the Flintershop, got more fleshed out here. The general idea remained the same – everyone who’s a maker has a place here, and there’s space for every kind of Thing.

As PRSFNE, the experimental project that some of us have been a part of, became a thing, the guild houses gained more importance. They became a staple of Neithernor, the abandoned magimystical world that folks explored (the same place mentioned by Deirdre, Cole, and a slew of others).

As we’ve explored PRSFNE, the generally accepted idea was that the Flintershop was some kind of compound. An impossibly large building with a million different nooks and crannies to explore. Also, it was sentient and had a very cool cat lurking. But what if that’s not quite right?

What if the Flintershop isn’t a shop at all, but a city? A green, sprawling, Flintercommunity?

PART I: THE FLINTERS OF FUTURE PAST

In truth, as is, we know little about the history of the Houses. The main information we have is the journal Deirdre kept, which you can view here. As you can see, the Flinterforge appears to be on a deserted mountain, with some kind of industrial/steampunky structure in the distance. So, this is the aesthetic, right? Well, maybe not…

A key part of the MAGIQverse, at this point in time, is that magiq is in flux. What one person perceives is not necessarily the truth, or is only a partial truth. Undoubtedly this extends to Neithernor. As such, it’s entirely possible that this was just one facet of the Flintershop. It’s also possible that the terrain around parts (or even the whole) of the Flintershop were destroyed during the War of Neithernor. It’s quite hard to say.

Flames, brimstone, maybe a dash of steampunk. It is easy to try to associate Flinterforge with these words, from the name alone. If we look at this imagery, it is more often than not very industrial and not harmonious with nature. You’re dealing with a lot of heavy metals, pollutants, toxic materials that don’t vibe with the natural world. Industrialism is a big, big problem that we’re trying to solve in the real world, so how does this translate to the MAGIQverse?

Rather than steampunk, I would like to propose another, more recent type of ‘punk’ – Solarpunk.

One simply has to look at the Flinterforge ethos to understand what the Flinters of old might have brought to their designs. To do what has been done, even better. This is where solarpunk comes in. Why would the Flinters, even the Flinters of old, settle for subpar, environment damaging techniques? It makes a great deal more sense when you imagine them far beyond the concepts of sustainability in even our modern world.

It is also worth noting that, in general, what we’ve seen of the MAGIQverse is very integrated with nature. You can see that in basically every other guildhouse. They aren’t damaging the land or polluting it, but living alongside it. There is a deep respect for nature in the MAGIQverse. It wouldn’t be such an egregious crime to kill another living being if that wasn’t the case. This is what I see in Flinter. A hopeful utopia.

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I like to think that when the first Flinters came to Neithernor and saw the empty canvas that was this sprawling environment, they envisioned endless possibilities. Not just for their own workings in Neithernor, but a future blueprint for humanity to one day follow. And so they worked with the land, developing beautiful sustainable structures that preserved the integrity of the environment.

These early pioneers may have stuck to a smaller scale, anticipating that their future guildmates may one day improve upon their work, building an even better home to inspire all the Flinterforge luminaries. Surely the members of Monarch’s Mountain also had a hand in building upon what the House of Flints had already done.

PART II: WHAT IS SOLARPUNK?

As I was looking up Solarpunk inspiration, one of the earliest article titles I came across said this: “Science fiction doesn’t have to be depressing.”

This is the definition of Solarpunk, from that same article:

“The genre envisions stories set in a future that runs on renewable energy, such as solar or wind, and where race- or gender-based discrimination is more limited than it is today. Solarpunk gets its name from other punk genres of science fiction, such as cyberpunk, where stories revolve around a future combination of low life and high-tech, and steampunk, which marries technology with Industrial Revolution–era aesthetics. But solarpunk combines the punk ethic with an optimistic, climate-friendly future. Its aesthetic is solar panels, windmills and leafy high-tech societies. “Steampunk is to coal as solarpunk is to renewables,” says Flynn.”

For some visual references:
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PART III: THE FLINTERS OF THE PRESENT

So…what does this all mean for modern day Flinters? What does their guild home look like?

With Neithernor now abandoned, a shell of its former self, there’s room for recovery. In many ways, the canvas is blank again, and that leaves room for the modern day Flinters to explore. Will they take the concept of sustainable living from the Flinters of old and run with it, or go in a new direction? That’s a hard question to answer, and depends entirely on who makes up the guild. It’s a story that’s still being written.

That said, I think there is merit in exploring solarpunk, both in the more classical sense and the more experimental sense. Because solarpunk is technically science fiction, there’s room to grow it in really strange and beautiful futuristic ways. I mean, it’d be pretty naïve to assume the modern Flinters would want to stick with the old ways, when there are undoubtedly better forms of building and architecture.

I feel like I should address Flintercat and the sentience of the Shop. I believe that both of these are possible. The Flintercat just has more room to roam in the Flintercity. There’s room for the hands too, but they might become more naturalized. Also, I feel there’s a huge possibility for improvement. Maybe, through the force of will of the new Flinters, the Shop/City could become a sort of geolocked Neithernorian Siri. The possibilities are endless!

SIDE NOTE: WHERE IN THE WORLD IS THE FLINTERCOMMUNITY?

Now, let me share with you a picture of a very cool place that I totally have no vested interest in:

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This is Los Angeles. Notice, astute readers, the very scenic mountains back there. That’s because good ol’ LA is in a basin. A lively, vibrant basin that is home to some incredible exports (entertainment, anyone?).

It’s also a gorgeous place.

You have the lushness of the valley:
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You have the stunning beaches:
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And the desert looms to the east:
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I use Los Angeles as an example because it’s such a varied terrain. You get a little bit of everything. And that fits in my understanding of Flinterforge. You’re not inspired by verdant hills? Walk a little and you’ll reach the shore. Not interested in the beaches? Well, go the other way and you’ll hit the desert. Keep wandering and you’ll hit a mountain. There’s something for everyone.

While exploring in PRSFNE, the location of the Flinterforge guild house has always been nebulous, in flux. We never really settled on a distinct location. I’m not saying that it is LA, but just something like it – a flexible location that allow for all forms of work. You wanna be a subsistence farmer? Go for it. You want to be a sand art sculptor? Go for it. You want to be a wizened old crone trapped in a dank cave? Live those dark dreams, friendo. That kind of DIY work environment fits well with the Flinter identity, in my opinion.

At any rate, these are my current feels about the Flintershop/House/Community, and the guild aesthetic as a whole. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, what you think of solarpunk, and what kinds of ahead-of-its-time creations the Flinters of old might have been integrating into their home.

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#2

Solar punk. That is the way forward. No doubt about it.
Since nature and creativity are very very interlinked there’s no sense in having a creative space that ignores that.

I didn’t realise I was getting wrong calling the space “the Forge”. I didn’t know how things had moved on. I may have to rethink my headspace a little with it.
But a multi modal creative space, powered by nature and with its own cat, has my name written all over it. As long as there’s still space for a kettle.

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#3

Rev, this is hands down the best thing I’ve read in a long time. I love this view of the Flinterforge home and way of life. Kinda wish I could visit wherever you guys call home now.

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#4

The last picture in Part II is actually really really close to how I imagined the Flintershop honestly (in my head, it was maybe one large building, but if I had been thinking BIG it would’ve been like that). Like, old-school architecture, brick buildings, big windows, but everywhere grown over and incorporated with nature. And I think that very much goes hand in hand with generations building upon themselves. I don’t think any generation of Flinters would look back at a building and be like, nah get rid of this time to start over…but very much would tweak and add and grow.

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#5

@Tinker, I’ve randomly had that illustration saved for so long. It’s always been how I’ve imagined Flinterforge. I’m glad you like it and I love this overall idea.

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#6

My perspective re renovations: I think it’s somewhat the same as in the mundane, in the sense that you have to pick and choose what to keep and what to abandon? In other words, there are times when a building gets condemned because it can’t be repaired, or when a building is so old that it becomes a huge time/money sink to recover. And sometimes there’s just issues with old buildings that can’t be easily fixed. Especially when you’re dealing with ruins, as in Neithernor, there’s a big question of what should or can be saved vs what needs to be rebuilt. But yeah, totally not suggesting Flinters would see a perfectly functional building and be like “It’s not brand new?! Byeee, Felicia.”

I also think there’s an extent that the Flintercity would have to be expanded. There’s so many new forms of art that wouldn’t have been planned for in the 1500s or even before that. So being able to build a 3D printing lab, or a state of the art chemistry facility, that would require branching out. Even with older forms of art, there’s still a big question of what it means to be a fine artist in the 16th century vs now, or a theatrical artist. While the old Flinters would have been thinking ahead of their time, they probably wouldn’t be able to predict all of those things.

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#7

@Revenir @Saberlane now you have completely captured me. I can’t believe how slow I was to wind my way to this. I have been nervous to voice an idea of being Flinterforge until I read this :heart:
This is the fire in my hearts hope for alchemy and artifice. A balance with nature in being. Solarpunk is a beautiful concept and the Flintershop as the epitome of learning with the environment is stunning. Even now there is amazing research showing how fungi can restore the disaster of oil spills and help mental & emotional inbalances. To think of a land or space of knowledge devoid of humanity should not be to imagine desolation but to see abundance in life.

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#8

I’m really glad this helped you feel better about being a Flinter. Personally, the possibility of Flinterforge being heavily industrialized was something that really put me off. I think Solarpunk is a much more appealing aesthetic and is also more idealistic. Less about destroying the environment and more about living in harmony with it.

An interesting thing to me - with the guild groups, you get titles. So for instance, Ebenguardian, Weatherwatcher, Balimoran. The title of Flinterforge used to be Flinterforged. Now, it simply says Flinter. I feel like that’s a product of the shift in the guild. More of an emphasis on the Flinter, less on the forge.

In the guild description, it says this: “You are a big thinker, an imaginer of machines to make life better, of curious treatments to make life longer: ways to grow stronger crops, methods to forge stronger tools. You don’t wait for problems to solve themselves.” I think that’s really important and fits into the Solarpunk ethos very neatly.

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#9

This is a really interesting idea, Rev, and I’m glad it’s helping people connect more deeply to the guild.

To be perfectly up front, I’m not a huge fan of solarpunk, personally. It tends to be pretty abstract in design from what I’ve seen, and that’s not really to my personal tastes (although more power to you if you enjoy it!) I also tend to see solar punk framed more as an optimistic argument against cyberpunk than as an eco-friendly argument against steampunk, and I recognize that I personally tend a little more towards the grimdark, anti-utopian outlook in my sci-fi preferences.

All that being said, however, I think you make some good points regarding how the guild would view sustainability and the importance of harmonizing with their environment, especially in a place like Neithernor. When you take anything and turn it into something new, you will lose the something old, and this should be in our consideration when we are creating. There are always costs that come with modifying one’s environment for societal benefit, and I think Flinters more than anyone would be invested in determining what those costs and benefits are, and finding ways in turn to balance meeting the needs of a population with maintaining the integrity of their environment.

I also think every one of the Guild homes would have had the potential to grow into a sprawling community given a large enough population, and Flinter would certainly be interested in honoring and preserving the unique gift of their local landscape and resources in the process. Here are a few things I’d love to see in a Flinter community:

  • a Neithernorian Craftsman architecture movement (emphasizing sustainability and the particular uses of local materials).
  • ethical magi-genetic research/bioengineering
  • magiqal methods of counteracting or limiting sound and light pollution
  • developed local Neithernorian cuisine based on available nutrients and spices
  • low-impact methods of transportation
  • new art mediums based on renewable materials not available in the mundane

I also want to give another perspective on the “forge” portion of the Guild name. I know Rev would always get on people about saying “the Forge” because “we’re not blacksmiths” (or at least the majority of us aren’t; that’s a perfectly legitimate Flinter trade.) From my own point of view, I don’t see “forge” as indicative of literal metalworking or industrialism. In my mind, it more represents the strengthening or tempering of something, working through difficulties, shaping something new through heat and pressure, and I think those are also very important parts of the Guild - hard work, overcoming obstacles, the difficulty of transformation. For what it’s worth, I still use ‘Flinterforged’ when I can, because when I say, “I’m Flinterforged,” it suggests that I’m someone who has looked at something difficult or unpleasant, rolled up my sleeves, and come through it better off. In my mind, “Flinter” came about as an abbreviation, mostly out of a desire for efficiency, like using “Goss” for Gossmere, or “Eben” for Ebenguard.

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#10

I do want to comment on this, briefly. I’ll admit that I’m someone who actually enjoys cyberpunk. I also really dig a lot of other ‘unpleasant’ genres like dystopia/horrors/thrillers/etc. But at the same time, the big thing for me is that… I wouldn’t want to live in them? Like I would not want to live in a cyberpunk world. The aesthetic might be on point, but it’s a miserable existence where corporations basically own everything and the social order is a mess. I grew up watching my dad play Shadowrun on the Sega Genesis so I really have a soft spot for it…but that’s also not someplace I’d aspire the world to be.

Solarpunk is still a very new genre, and I think there is still looseness in what it means. But the general tenets, to me, are ideal - technology living in harmony with nature, a sustainable future, less social injustice. Of any sort of genre, that’s one that’s actually livable. And with Neithernor and the Guild homes, I feel that’s what we’re aiming for? What is a hypothetical society/group we’d want to live in?

I hope that makes sense. I feel like there’s a big gap between, like, the fiction we enjoy consuming and the sort of hypothetical world we’d actually want to exist. If there’s any baggage to the term Solarpunk, then I think another way to frame the Flinter aesthetic could be through eco-architecture, which is a real life art and architecture movement geared towards sustainable living.

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#11

Oh, I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but I should probably add that this is just one interpretation of the guild, borne out of a conversation that happened elsewither.

I don’t have a horse in this race, so I absolutely encourage people to come up with their own manifestos/interpretations of what the Flinterforge guild house looks like. I’m one dude pitching an idea that sounded cool to me, and people are welcome to riff off it, go in the complete opposite direction, or whatever else. Actually even if I did have a horse in this race, I’d still encourage it. :joy:

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#12

Fair point. I wouldn’t want to live in a dystopia, either. :joy: But I internally flinch at “utopia” just as much, because to have a coherent utopian premise, you sort of have to assume “One Right Way,” and that can easily become alienating. (The great majority of utopian literature is satire for this reason; it’s much easier to collect an audience in outrage or a shared sense of absurdity than in an idyllic vision.) And in my case I’m already tapping into that alienation because where many people look at that concept art and say, “Wow, that’s awesome!” I would say, “Ergh, um, no thanks.”

Where I was intending to go with that point was less that I enjoy dystopian fiction, and more that I enjoy it because I’m fundamentally not utopian-minded, and I think, at least for me, that’s also an important element to being Flinterforged: being able to work within the realistic limits of what you have and what you can do. “To do all you can with the skills you have, in the short time you are given.” And maybe that’s two different circumstances in Neithernor and the mundane. Not sure if that explains where I was trying to get, but it’s the best I’ve got right now.

From my quick Google search, eco-architecture visually seems to represent a lot of things I really don’t like aesthetically about a lot of solarpunk art, but I think without those visual references I’m slightly more comfortable with that term, just because it’s based in a realm of real-life goals rather than speculative fiction, and that feels more appropriate when discussing a full-fledged community. And maybe in Neithernor we could overcome some of the material limitations of the mundane that necessitate some of those aesthetic elements (e.g. everything being mirrors).

And you kind of do have a horse in this race? You helped make Flinterforge what it is today, and your opinion is still very much valued here. :cjheart:

(Also, lmk if you have any solarpunk genre recommendations. I’m open to exploring it a little more if you think I’m really misinterpreting something.)

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#13

These are all valid points, honestly, particularly the “no one right way” aspect of utopias. That’s fair, and it might be good to avoid using the term Solarpunk if it evokes utopian imagery. I don’t think any of the guilds would have been perfect.

I actually have a recommendation for a solarpunk comic you might like. It’s called Rechargeable. Unfortunately, it no longer updates, but I still go back to read it sometimes. Basically, it’s set in 2100, so it’s in the future, but still not terribly far. You can see some of modern society setting in, but it incorporates far-future ideals, like special tattoos and highly efficient prosthetics. The creator also made a tumblr blog with lots of cool information about the world, highlighting some of the technology and such. It may call to you because the world isn’t perfect, and the main characters are actually criminals.

Of course, I won’t try to convert you. Just like I’m not into dwarven crafters, it’s valid to be squicked by the kind of clean, minimalistic architecture that tends to be associated with eco-art.

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#14

@Revenir @Viviane I have a simple image I may propose; a simple bundle of reeds. Now I’m sure you can both jump ahead on my concept here but I think it illustrates things nicely. As we know each reed is frail on its on it is little more then a shoot of grass. Yet when bound together they become strong ad powerful and have world over been a building material. This is how I see Flinterforge.

Each person is like a reed. They are a beautiful expression of growth and endurance in nature yet they have frailties. Brought together they are strong and may carry their light further than each individual could alone. I think the schism between your beliefs and perspectives necessary for the life and growth of Flinterforge.

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I also tend to see solar punk framed more as an optimistic argument against cyberpunk than as an eco-friendly argument against steampunk, and I recognize that I personally tend a little more towards the grimdark, anti-utopian outlook in my sci-fi preferences.”

In sci-fi I am also a big fan of the grim dark and tend to enjoy a balance of nihilism and optimism. I can see how one could be made feel ‘alienated’ by utopian ideals or by dystopian worlds. We can see the flaws or limitations in both. However, isn’t it a ongoing human endeavour to address the struggle between both. The reach for an ideal and the over-reach of corporations or powers that exert too high a toll. Maybe it’s just my belief in harmony again :joy: but that these concepts may coexist. (I’m the kind of guy to have a yin and yang tattoo though granted it’s made of mushrooms :mushroom::thinking:)

I think that based on your dialogue that you both put forward Flinterforge and the Flintershop itself seems to be a community space an rather more a maker space or market of ideas. An auditorium or agora in which ideas and ideals may be shared and debated and crafts displayed.
Cheers
Calm

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#15

Not that an Ebie has much weight in this conversation, but as an objective observer, I can see both of your viewpoints co-existing. With regards to “solarpunk” I respond more to the visual aspects than any utopian concept. Flinterforge governs day, the sun at its zenith, and I for one dig that overgrown, old-meets-new, sometimes cluttered, sometimes clean, architecture mixed with nature vibe.

–where people are working toward making something brighter and better, maybe it’s art, maybe it’s food, maybe it’s the world.

There’s room for all sorts of makers, be it geneticists, artists, tinkers, or blacksmiths. Maybe blacksmiths in this day-drenched place are using the focused rays of the sun to heat aliquary steel to make a machine work more efficiently (just made all that up.)

It’s less important what you do, or how you define your role or job, and more about how you’re working toward a goal, whether it’s to make something better, or make something new. What you do isn’t as important as doing it. I imagine a lot of Flinterforge philosophy pairing well with The Cult of Done, which has helped me a lot over the years:

I’ve always loved that Flinterforge welcomes anyone who is ready to do The Day’s Work.

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#16

@Saberlane ad @Viviane I deeply value the words and ideals you express and I think you both articulate something deeply meaningful and intrinsic in both the human experience and in what it means to be Flinterforge.

BlockquoteI also want to give another perspective on the “forge” portion of the Guild name. I know Rev would always get on people about saying “the Forge” because “we’re not blacksmiths” (or at least the majority of us aren’t; that’s a perfectly legitimate Flinter trade.) From my own point of view, I don’t see “forge” as indicative of literal metalworking or industrialism. In my mind, it more represents the strengthening or tempering of something, working through difficulties, shaping something new through heat and pressure, and I think those are also very important parts of the Guild - hard work, overcoming obstacles, the difficulty of transformation. For what it’s worth, I still use ‘Flinterforged’ when I can, because when I say, “I’m Flinterforged,” it suggests that I’m someone who has looked at something difficult or unpleasant, rolled up my sleeves, and come through it better off. In my mind, “Flinter” came about as an abbreviation, mostly out of a desire for efficiency, like using “Goss” for Gossmere, or “Eben” for Ebenguard.

To be human or to be Flinterforge is to struggle. It is to toil and work on things we acknowledge are incomplete an challenging. It is to embrace the struggle and commit ourselves to the crafting of an ideal or a desire. Beyond the success or completion it is the commitment to the struggle and the forging.

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#17

Ahhhhh! Sabes, you’re the best! The thing that most of the concept art was missing for me was CLUTTER.

No, seriously. I’m the opposite of a minimalist, and anything too clean or too uncluttered feels less real to me, especially in a space geared towards creating, so I was really not connecting with the aesthetic because it felt sort of sterile and airbrushed, which is also how I see utopian idealism, and all of those things got caught up together in the demonic game of Monkeys in a Barrel that constitutes my brain. :joy: Some people need clean to work. I am not one of those people.

Also, that “Laugh at perfection” bit is perfect, describes really well the attitude I’ve come to in terms of accomplishing things.

But yeah, all told I think we’re describing compatible things. What each guild member contributes to that will be unique, and valuable, and it’s a matter of bringing all those individual ideas and skills together under the sun. :blush:

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#18

Yeah! I imagine Flinterforge, above all guilds, would have places for all kinds of work. Sterile areas for scientific research, cluttered places to tinker and assemble weird things, quiet places to hone crystal creations, and loud places to blow all sorts of things up. :cjheart:

It’s that mash-up that makes it feel so creative and alive.

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#19

To be human or to be Flinterforge is to struggle. It is to toil and work on things we acknowledge are incomplete an challenging. It is to embrace the struggle and commit ourselves to the crafting of an ideal or a desire. Beyond the success or completion it is the commitment to the struggle and the forging.

I love that, @Calm

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#20

I agree. I love the feel of this image and the second image in Part II of @Revenir initial post. It reminds me of the old Ravnica Magic art for the green land cards (sorry geeking) and the Studio Ghibli art. I would definitely fancy a little workshop under a terracotta tiled roof looking out through a window of squared glass as I work at mending something. @Viviane I suspect you would have loved my old home a cabin consumed by ferns and filled with rugs and projects and tools or brushes so that no surface as without a clutter of projects and notes. Now I find my crafting in the simple. I shape ideas and sit in simple spaces waiting for others to bring me things or needs to mend and questions to ponder. It makes me happier to tinker with things that I cannot become attached to.

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