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The Driveway

The driveway isn't just an ordinary or somewhat unimportant place at Olala Farms, it rather is a space to spend some time meditating, listening to the birds and the trees that surround you, a place where many incredible stories are told and many interesting discussions are held. During summertime it's the place to be because the trees provide enough shade to shield you from the hot summer sun, and if you are lucky, a nice breeze will keep you cool and comfortable. The driveway's location gives you a perfect overview of the things happening around the house, with a nice view of the pond, where you can hear the bullfrogs croak. You can also hear the visitors driving towards the house from afar, if the dogs barking didn't already announce their arrival.

Using the concept of 'atmosphere' as an analytical instrument to capture everyday moods "[b]y activating all the senses and testing analytical tools like rhythm, intensity, and props, a new analytical dimension in the study of everyday emerges. To describe a mood calls for a combination of a number of analytical and ethnographic tools that make it possible to turn into words what otherwise disappears without a trace. Things are registered in a glimpse, a passing hunch, or a fleeting image." (Ehn, Löfgren and Wilk 2016, 98) This way of perceiving, observing and participating, by sharpening our senses, has been very helpful in getting a deeper understanding and feeling of our 'research site', particularly since we were focusing on the rather uneventful and slow-paced 'everyday life'. "Trying to capture the sensual dimensions of everyday life means to explore how hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, and smelling work together to define a situation or influence social relations. Ignoring such dimensions of embodied culture makes ethnography thin." (ibid. 2016, 81) To be able to write, or in our case, produce, a thick ethnography, it is necessary to try to capture the totality of the atmosphere, and therefore to better understand what it means to live at Olala Farms. It is the above mentioned combination of tools that led us to produce a multimedia ethnography, not only mixing different media, but also using a somewhat more poetic and literary writing style that is more subjective and personal. 

This video was filmed in the driveway one afternoon while looking at old photographs with Robyn and Arlo. By looking at selected pictures, both of them remembered many interesting stories surrounding Olala Farms, such as how they met, how they got to the San Juan Ridge, and how they dealt with the Ridge fire that burnt down their house and barn, and destroyed all their personal belongings.

This video gives you an impression of various activities happening in the driveway: from a calm and quiet afternoon and playing the ukulele or singing Native American Handgame songs to  conversations with visitors stopping by to play cards with Arlo.

After years of hard work, Arlo enjoys his quiet time in the driveway listening to the birds, meditating and preparing to greet new visitors.

Robyn tells the story of how they met famous filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni, and how they ended up painting the airplanes seen in "Zabriskie Point" (USA 1970).

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Ehn, Billy, Orvar Löfgren and Richard Wilk. 2016. Exploring Everyday Life. Strategies for Ethnography and Cultural Analysis. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield.

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