4.4.18 - Stonewall Robb

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As you can see, we have made the foundation of our new effort and chapter a stone wall. Many have asked why, and if there is a significance to the wall. The answer is yes, as it is both the name of the beach at our third generation family place on Martha's Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts, but just as important, the nature and form of the wall represent how we see the relationship between man and nature. The wall is a guide to how we can do our work and live our lives, and a touchstone for remembering that always present beneath the pressure and challenge of everyday life, there is the constant presence of the stones that have endured for so many more years and the sound of the waves washing up on the stone wall - shifting and shaping, relentlessly but purposefully - all holding so much meaning, spoken and unspoken, for our family.

I have been going to Stonewall Beach for all but three of my summers. My kids have been there pretty much every summer of their lives. My grandkids now go in the summer. It is here that my father for so many years would share important words with all of us each August around his and my son Chris's birthdays. It is here where the kids would bring friends, or the cousins would show up, and where we would cook together, relax together, and sun, swim, and walk the beach looking for cool shells and rocks, and visit as a group or one on one. The time on Stonewall Beach each summer was and is a rite of passage in our family, perhaps different for each family member. For me, it is a place where I can stop the world just a bit, get my bearings, reflect on progress made or challenges still to face, gather the counsel of the elder generation, and find some direction and resolve for the year ahead.

One of my heroes, Wendell Berry, wrote these words on stone walls as part of a foreword in the beautiful picture book Stone Walls by Mariana Cook: “These walls are interesting in themselves, and also for the way they fit into their landscapes. They represent a kind of a human establishment upon the land, meant to be as nearly permanent as possible, to be useful, and used generation after generation. They delineate a human form and purpose imposed upon the countryside. Though they are artifacts they are not alien, for they come from the land itself, and they accept the indigenous mosses and lichens and other signs of age and weathering. They are products equally of art and nature. They look both human and natural. Because I am convinced that the human economy must at last be founded solidly upon the land and upon a human intelligence dedicated to the land, I love this artistry of the local rocks for its right intentions and its lastingness. "

You see, our wall on Stonewall Beach just below our house is made of the very same local rocks Berry is talking about, assembled by local people over the years without the aid of any cement or binder. Each year when we return, the stone wall is there, perhaps moved up or down or taller or shorter, or comprised differently, but always there. It is there as the backdrop, as the grounding, as the touchpoint, as that larger calming and reassuring presence we all seek in our lives. For me it represents consistency, reassurance and confirmation. We are not the only family on the beach, but it is still our beach, and over the years parts of the stone wall have made it up to the house window sills, or to our houses across the country. The rocks in the wall carry with them their own special sense of place, magic and meaning. And now you know some of that meaning. With the creation of the Stonewall Robb company, we would like to share some of what has shaped us and our values with you, and we hope to bring some of that magic to our work in the world.