A colorful mandala made of trash on a Mexico beach… a testimony to salmon endangered by dams, constructed of rusty wire and feathers and overlooking the Columbia River… “Zero Circles,” big O’s formed of natural materials to plead for reducing the number of clear-cut old-growth forests to zero. These are some of the many spiritual-artistic-ecological works that Daniel Dancer has created over the years. A gifted writer as well as an artist, he details the stories behind some of these projects in his book Desperate Prayers. For several years, his primary project has been Art for the Sky, projects he does worldwide with school children and other groups. With their own bodies as the medium, participants form iconic images special to their bioregion—pictures that only make sense when seen from high above.
Recently, Dancer installed a new project on Aspen Mountain in Colorado. Phone of the Winds is a telephone attached to a tree and, as he notes on a sign accompanying the work, “This is a phone connected to Nowhere. It is a portal where you can speak privately to anyone, alive or deceased.”
He was inspired by a similar project in Otsuchi, Japan, which Itaru Sasaki built in a hilltop garden above the sea so that he might communicate with a cousin who had died. The phone grew in importance after the devastating tsunami of 2011 that took more than 20,000 lives. People began seeking out the wind phone to as a way to connect with lost family members, many of whom had disappeared in the wave without a trace.
Phone Of The Winds CU
Daniel has included suggestions for how to use his remote, off-the-grid phone: “Lift the receiver, dial whatever number you wish, and turn a listening ear towards the thrumming mystery of connection. It could be final words spoken to a lost loved one, parting thoughts to an ex, a secret that refuses to be contained, or a simple shot of frustration or gratitude that would otherwise be held in.”
This phone is a tool for speaking words that can be spoken in no other way. Even if no human soul hears them, the trees and the wind do.

Trebbe Johnson
Trebbe JohnsonFounder
Trebbe is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover and 101 Ways to Make Guerrilla Beauty. Her new book, Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty, will be published in Fall 2018 by North Atlantic Books. Her articles about people’s emotional and spiritual relationship with nature have appeared in Orion, Sierra, Ecopsychology, The Ecologist, The Nation, Harper’s and other magazines. She lives with her husband, Andrew Gardner, in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, a region currently under exploitation by natural gas companies.

Image Credit:

  • Phone Of The Winds CU: Daniel Dancer


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Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places.