Songlines of the Valley: Image as Labyrinth

by Laura H. Mitchell

From Pacifica Graduate Institute



Community and Ecological Fieldwork and Research Handbook 2017/2018 Academic Year

This fieldwork project explores the relationship between the images arising out of living in a specific place and a sense of community identity. I return to the community of Harmony Grove-Eden Valley and its continuing struggle to define its rural character and unique identity in the face of the threat of industrialization. The project rotates around the three components of image, community identity and sense of place. The images arising out of residents’ experience of what living in the Harmony Grove valley means to them are explored phenomenologically and archetypally.

My fieldwork is the story of the creation of a participatory community art project and the development of a community design and learning center. The art project is based on the creation of a large mural of the ancient petroglyphs that overlook the valley and the symbols created by residents expressing their experience of living in the valley. The art project fuses the residents’ dream of the valley with that of the original Kumeyaay Indian inhabitants and the underlying primal structures of the psyche of the valley. The creation of the community learning center, that came to house this art project, is a story of the relationship between implacement and the imaginalis and how community identity might be clarified through the incorporation of the lived images of place.

Petroglyph Mural based on the rock art of the Luiseno Indians situated on the hillside overlooking Sky Mountain Institute.

Community mural, part of Laura Mitchell’s community/ecological fieldwork,

“The Sleeping Lady: The Valley Dreaming”

To prepare for efforts to conserve an area with petroglyphs from development, community members engaged in their own visioning process for the land, placing the images of their experiences on the land next to replicas of the ancient glyphs of their predecessors.