By Erin Latimer
When I ask myself, Why Idyllwild? two phrases come to mind. First, “Remember who you are and what you stand for,” the words we chant as a community at the close of each week; and second, this invocation in our school song, written by Meredith Wilson: “make us worthy of this land thou hast chosen to bless.” To me, Idyllwild, and the worthiness to live and work here, are synonymous with service to creative spirit and service to the community—our tiny community and that of the world. Artists hold a crucial role in the making and remaking of human culture, in expressing the value and purpose of the human mind in uncertain times and in an uncertain universe. In Idyllwild, the mountain keeps us grounded, reminds us to approach art and life with wisdom, compassion, and intention.
Who am I? I’ve known I wanted to be a teacher since the third grade, and I knew I wanted to teach at Idyllwild Arts probably about an hour into my first class here as a high school junior. An Idyllwild native, I was fortunate to grow up on the mountain because my artist parents decided the city was no place to raise kids, and this campus quickly became a second home. From my first “all-school meeting” during ISOMATA’s summer camp to the hours I spent watching my dad plant trees along Apela drive and install the first computers on campus, I could feel the magic of this place and knew that important things happened here. When I joined the Creative Writing Department, after two years of public high school, I felt for the first time that I had found my people—a community that would support me in becoming fully myself—and I knew I wanted to continue co-creating this space for other young artists.
What do I stand for, then? First and foremost, my students. Though I may occasionally call myself a writer or a bookmaker, the young people with whom I exchange daily knowledge and laughter, in my attempts to impart some useful skills for their futures, are my greatest works of art and the greatest acts of service I can give to the world. I am most fully myself when I see them thrive, and the eternal drive we share to make ourselves worthy inhabitants of the land, as we aim to become worthy stewards of humanity, is the most hope I have that a more just and beautiful world is possible.