The Meeting of Life - A Weekend at the SITKA Center for Arts & Ecology

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As a self-employed freelancer you spend most of your life looking for jobs, bidding for jobs, creating decks and proposals and quotes and presentations for jobs and, if you're lucky, about 15 to 20% of your time actually doing jobs.

Furthermore, more often than not, 80% of those jobs that you're actually doing are ones you don't even want to do but have to do to pay the bills.

But every now and then you get a gig that reminds you why you're doing what you're doing to begin with.

One of those gigs where you have to stop, slap and ask yourself "Am I seriously getting PAID for this!??"

Well, this was one of those gigs...

My VR company, Superswell VR, was asked by the SITKA Center for Art & Ecology to produce a 360 virtual reality tour of their campus - a campus that sits at the trailhead of one of the most spectacular spots on the Oregon coast - Cascade Head.

This was basically a retreat - I was given an apartment, a studio to work in, free reign of the property, as well as the 80-acre homestead attached to it where the founders still live, and I was surrounded by artists, creatives, happy smiley people, all of whom's demeanors couldn't hide the fact that they were just happy to be.


to be.

It's the kind of place where you wake up to random Buddhist chanting from the art studio next door, then an hour later, you find yourself sipping your coffee to the sounds of bells and Native American song wafting in your windows from the other side of campus.

I got to witness collage classes and calligraphy classes and painting classes - all these workshops of which are strewn about and between the various studios and nooks and crannies across the campus.

As if all of that wasn't enough, the aforementioned 'I'm getting PAID for this' moment solidified itself when I found myself meandering through old growth forest that led to...well...THIS:

One of the most glorious spots I've stood on so far in my journey in the Pacific Northwest.

The confluence of the Pacific Ocean meeting at an estuary at the headwaters of the Salmon River.

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Within that 3 hour period I saw someone catch 2 Chinook Salmon in the river, made my way through glorious old-growth coastal forest on Nature Conservancy land where an owl announced its presence by silently gliding through the canopy like an oracle demanding your undivided attention, and broke through that forest about 1000 feet of elevation later for my first glimpse of the landscape from above.

Then, on your way back, as you sing your way through this mystical Hobbit land under the twilight, a family of feeding deer go prancing by you.

Forty-five seconds later, you find yourself followed by a herd of elk - it could have been 15 to 20 of them - and, being no more than 20 yards from them - I stood mesmerized. As soon as one turned it's head towards me, and the herd followed his lead in unison, I realized I had no idea if they were dangerous or not.

So I Googled are elk dangerous (yes, that happened). And that's when I extended my tripod to have it on the ready and made my way out...

Needless to say, the SITKA Center is a pretty impressive and special little place. With it's robust programming and its artist-in-residence programs and its location...oh its couldn't find a better way to spend a weekend...or a week...or a month.

This is a haven.

An oasis buried on the edge of the forest where the trees dramatically meet the ocean.

The meeting of life.


This is the meeting of life.

To view and experience the VR video, hosted by Sitka founder Frank Boyden, here it is on YouTube (best experienced in a VR headset, but still beyond awesome to drag around and see in all directions on your phone or browser):

And for you Veer.Tv’ers, here’s that link.

And for the Samsung VR and Google Daydream crowds, click this one.

Finally, if you were in the Portland, Oregon area last weekend and happened upon the Sitka Invitational at the World Forestry Center, amongst a plethora of ecology-inspired art, you might have had a chance to actually check it out in live VR demos!!

Now do your soul a favor, go book yourself a Sitka workshop.

Trust me, it's impossible to be disappointed...

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