The Sustainability Project
Emerson Brook Forest Center
For a future we can live with

National Public Lands Day

Saturday, September, 22nd 9am - 3pm

Music & Art in the Forest Open House

Sunday, September, 30th from 11am - 3pm

clay from last year...

Music & Art in the Forest Open House

Join The Sustainability Project on Sunday, September, 30th from 11am - 3pm for its Annual "Music and Art in the Forest" Open House Celebration at the 33-acre Emerson Brook Forest Center, 57 Emerson Brook Drive, in Gilsum. This year’s event features tours of the center; a guided forest walk on McIntire Trail, named after a highschool student who defined the trail as a senior project; nature-inspired art exhibits, interactive art, live solar powered music, a tour of the Piedmont-Fleischmann off-grid homestead, light refreshments and the solar raffle drawing. Bring a picnic lunch and be part of the magic! While there is no admission fee, donations to support The Sustainability Project’s endeavors are gratefully accepted. The Sustainability Project, a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational organization, promotes a love of nature, environmental stewardship, caring communities and ways of living that deepen our understanding of the interconnected web of life.


11 - Welcome
11:15 - ~1/2 mile hike on McIntire Trail
12 - The Solar Sisters
Wood Fired Pizza
2 - Solar Raffle Drawing
2:15 - Tour of the Piedmont-Fleischmann off-grid Homestead

All Day: art exhibits, clay play & other interactive art, nature journaling, scavenger hunts, and acts of spontaneous music, poetry and movement!

Artists include: Jean Balamuth, Michael Nerrie Brian Bishoff, Sue O'Hara, Hilliare Wilder, Diana Damato, Riplee, Barb Davis, Valerie Piedmont & Jeanne Sable

Jean Balamuth

I moved to Alstead, NH in the Fall of 1980 from Massachusetts.

It felt like I was camping for the first few years! My rural advantage may come from sheer survival techniques used in daily life here in the Monadnock Region. You have to be creative to “make it” here. Learning to unfreeze pipes, get out of 18 inches of mud, and simply navigate the terrain, e.g.

The change of seasons gives me inspiration and anticipation. I find it so rewarding to watch and wait for that sunset, sunrise, rainbow, wildlife, first snow, etc. The natural highs are plentiful. The neighbors are terrific; they come with a tractor to pull your car out of that mud. I love living here.

Retired from cooking to become a farmer and so my art comes with me to Farmer's Markets and it makes a great conversation starter!

I am always creating something for someone or just for "art's sake". This weekend I will make a lemon cake for a 90 year old friend and decorate it with flowers in shades of blue because THAT is her favorite color. And, I’ll mix up a moss and buttermilk slurry to grow moss on a concrete garden sculpture I made for my kids first home.

I have made an artist’s website and hope to show/sell some art via the internet!

Michael Nerrie

I grew up in Wantagh, Long Island, New York, only 40 miles from New Your City. As a very young child, my neighborhood was rural and undeveloped, and I loved exploring the nearby farms, forests, fields, and wetlands. By the time I became a teenager, however, literally all the open land was gone, replaced by housing developments and shopping centers.

After getting a BS in Design from Cornell University in 1973, I moved to the Monadnock Region to live with my childhood sweetheart, and future wife, Kathy, who was attending Keene State College. We had both dreamed of moving out of suburbia to the “country”, and fell in love with the Keene area and the rural lifestyle it offered. Finally I could explore the natural world again just by walking out my front door.

We lived in South Acworth, and then Gilsum, before building a timber frame home in the hills of Walpole in 1979, where we still reside. Since moving to this corner of New Hampshire, we have come to realize how special this area is. The majority of the towns are still quite rural, and many of its residents and organizations have a land and community ethic that is unequaled, which plays and important role in defining the Monadnock Region, and making it such an exceptional place to live and work.

Artist Statement

I began creating metal sculptures twenty years ago, inspired by the work of a local welder and artist, Bob Taylor. My sculptures are made from found metal objects, many of which I found in in the woods on our property in Walpole. I have always been interested in reusing discarded materials for my creations. In my college years, I was chastised numerous times by my design professors at Cornell University for using found objects in my class projects instead of designing items from scratch. But, instead of listening to my teachers and changing my design thought process, I remained true to who I am and to what inspires me.

I attempt to use the metal parts for my sculptures as I found them, with no cutting or modification of the metal. The inspiration for each of my creations usually comes directly from the unique shape of a single piece of metal. I love that each sculpture evolves in a way that is unpredictable, leading me to a final creation that I could not have envisioned. This design process allows for both representational and abstract pieces to evolve.

My pieces are mostly whimsical in nature, created for fun as a creative outlet, and are not for sale. My work is on display to the public at Distant Hill Gardens and Nature Trail, an environmental and horticultural learning center my wife and I created surrounding our home in Walpole.

Visit to learn more.

Sue O'Hara

Susan was born in Belgium and came to the United States when she was 11 years old. She attended the High School of Music and Art in NYC, and continued to explore art and learn on her own. She said “I am happiest when I can manipulate clay into something of beauty, and seeing the different ways my ideas develop with just a handful of clay.” Susan is the late mother of Pablo Fleischmann, Sustainability Project board member and owner of Green Energy Options.

Hilliare Wilder

Hilliare Wilder was a visual artist in NYC and later in Keene, NH. He taught art at the public elementary lab school of Keene State College. He now concentrates on being a contra dance musician, and occasionally does large outdoor puppets and constructions.

Diana Damato

Diana has loved writing since she was young, when her notebook and pen opened to "listen" to what she needed so desperately to share. She found in poetry and narrative a way to express the depth of her emotions, questions and her awe about nature’s wonders.

After earning a journalism degree, Diana spent two years writing for the Hartford Courant newspaper, then took time to raise her children. She later resumed her writing and was thrilled to discover the Amherst Writers’ and Artists method. She co-led a pilot AWA group for nearly a year and then was trained as an AWA facilitator in 2013.

Since then, she has been leading groups as an Affiliate and is immeasurably grateful for how this process has transformed her life and those of so many others who have joined together to share their stories.

As part of The Sustainability Project's Music and Art in the Forest event, Diana will display nature poetry, as well as offer some writing prompts that encourage visitors to the forest to come up with poems or narratives of their own. The forest is a place full of beauty and inspiration, a perfect setting in which to put pen to paper, let language flow, and produce creative gems.

Barb Davis

Barb Davis, owner of Old Settlers Pottery in East Alstead, has been making pottery since 1975. She loves the creative process and teaching others the joy of clay. Join Barb throughout the day to explore with clay!

Valerie Piedmont and Jeanne Sable

"Solar Sisters" Valerie Piedmont and Jeanne Sable have been bringing their unique brand of "eco folk music" to the greater Keene, NH area for over a decade. With tight harmony singing and finger-style guitar, they perform original songs of farm and garden, sustainable living, and contemporary issues for fairs, festivals, libraries, schools, and other venues. As founder (Valerie) and adviser (Jeanne) to The Sustainability Project they are dedicated to promoting a love of nature, environmental stewardship, caring communities and ways of living that deepen our understanding of the interconnected web of life.

National Public Lands Day

To help prepare the Outdoor Center for the event, consider joining us as a volunteer in the Emerson Brook Forest on National Public Lands Day, Saturday, September 22nd anytime between 9 and 3. Volunteers have an opportunity to be part of a national effort to promote a shared stewardship of valuable community resources and improve lands for outdoor recreation. This year's work projects at the Center include: wheelchair-accessible trail building and maintenance, hiking trail maintenance, invasive plant removal, garden weeding & mulching, and site preparation for spring crop plantings.

The Sustainability Project
P.O. Box 311, Gilsum, NH 03448, (603) 209-7272

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