Musketquid Earth Day Feature: CC King

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April 10, 2017 by Natalie

Written by Dan Kemp

On Saturday, April 22, a ceremony at the Concord River near the Old Manse in Concord will kick off the Musketaquid Earth Day events, followed by the Earth Day Parade, and the Arts & Environment Festival on The Umbrella front lawn. Hundreds will gather on the riverbanks to participate in the River Ceremony. Near the Old North Bridge, CC King, as the River Spirit, will emerge from the waters to give voice to a message from the river and from the earth. In song, dance, drumming, and ritual, other performers including Geraldine Barney and La Pinata, will present Native-American, Latino-American, Afro-Latino, and other indigenous messages of connection and respect for the earth.

CC will be continuing a tradition that started on a winter night in 1990 when she woke from a dream with a vision of something round, made of natural materials floating down the river. In the coming weeks she transformed her dream into a collaborative community art project, and by Earth Day over 100 people had worked together in groups to build and launch 13 floats. This first river ceremony was one of two seminal events that would initiate the Arts & Environment program at The Umbrella. In CC’s words, the program is “a set of activities, and a philosophy that invite us to notice in a visceral and embodied way, our place in the natural world."

Now, 27 years later, ceremony attendees will again launch Earth Floats. These small, decorated rafts of natural materials can be built in advance during a workshop at The Umbrella or constructed just prior to the ceremony using materials and instructions provided for that purpose. In canoes they made themselves, youth group members from the First Religious Society in Carlisle will be on the river to guide the floats into the stream.

CC King approaches life with an energy others can only wish for. She is a visual artist, actor, workshop leader, trail runner, hiker, skier, wife, and mother of two. Yet for all her energetic expression, people who meet CC are struck by something else: her intense presence, her engagement, and her absolute attention. For CC King, it’s all about listening: “listening carefully to the culture in this place or in this moment, or in this neighborhood, or between these two people “ and, of course, listening to the earth itself. The River Ceremony provides one opportunity to “get together in a situation where we can hear again our actual relationship to the earth and the other natural things—flora, fauna, beings, and non-beings. “

Originally from the New York City suburbs, CC has lived in or near Concord since high school. Her undergraduate degree is in fine arts, and she has a master’s degree in expressive therapy. An internship led her to work in family therapy.

As a visual artist, CC does three-dimensional sculpture and wall hangings all incorporating natural materials. She is drawn to sticks and branches “things that have a sort of calligraphy and a gesture” But, she has never felt comfortable “just making art, making pretty stuff.’ She has always felt an equal calling “to be doing something around justice in one way or another in the world.”

When her sister was dying in 2000, CC discovered a program called InterPlay. Her sister had been involved with the program and a local InterPlay group supported her during her illness. For CC, “It was her legacy to me. For the first time in my life, my love of dance, singing, theatre, art-making, social justice, and being in community all came together. “ CC is now the InterPlay coordinator for the Massachusetts area as well as a trainer. She facilitates a semi-weekly InterPlay program at The Umbrella where, with fluid and graceful improvisation, participants use movement, music, sounds, song, and dance, to share stories and create community.

She has also applied InterPlay approaches when working with people with memory issues. At the Sunrise Senior Living facility in Weston, she regularly leads activities for elders with advanced dementia. For people with mild memory loss and their caregivers, CC facilitates Memory Cafés at various suburban locations. She leads these groups in playful verbal and physical activities aimed at reinforcing participant connections to their own histories, to their communities, and to each other.

Having lost close relatives, CC is thinking about questions of living and dying and the nature of spirit. “If I’m going to experience it, it’s through this physical, embodied awareness, whether it involves drumming or clapping or standing there at the river with my arms out or singing or chanting or stillness.“ But ultimately “you don’t have to figure it out, just get together, be outside with other people, and do stuff that feels energetically vibrant. And keep doing it! ” And that’s just what CC will be doing at the River Ceremony, where it will all come together: music, movement, ritual, and performance, and the opening for profound listening.


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