Co_creation a la LYNDSEY


Top: detail from a mural sketch for Cultivadores. Bottom: giant sunflower perfection.

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“We are exploring together. We are cultivating a garden together, backs to the sun. The question is a hoe in our hands and we are digging beneath the hard and crusty surface to the rich humus of our lives.”  ― Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

When I heeded the gut tug to come home, I thought it might be for a month or two. But it grew.   So it grows.  The garden project took on a life of its own, and the richness of reconciling my roots – in deep mending and strengthening family heart bonds, and making good with my small-town, super simple self – planted a peace that passes understanding.  I’m following where that leads.  This spring completely captivated me in the miracle and mystery of Life’s longing for itself. . . .  Cyclically. Naturally.  Abundantly. Impeccably. Messily. Presently.          – journal, 5/2013

With my heart full of questions, I moved home.  April fools’ day, 2013.  Ha.  Home home:   the state of Being Known.   Growing up in this modest Midwestern town & then fleeing quickly toward broader culture — I had maybe taken for granted the treasure of small-town ways.  I was drawn to and catalyzed nooks in STL where community felt as close-knit, but there I had no past, no people, no accountability.  Which was freeing at first. Through art I made vibrant connections and played at my edges, but I always carried some sense of being sort of an orphan. Isolate. Returning to Rantoul and being “oh you’re one of the Scott girls” again felt strange and interesting to my adult self.  A heritage to live up to – with the requisite constrictions and expectations of that privilege.   But most deeply in a decade, I relaxed. Like the endless patchwork fields all knew me by heart. Like I had nothing to prove.

An idea seed landed in me in late fall 2012 after a lunch catching up with my dad. He was sharing his heart about the process of mentoring men at a prison aftercare facility – challenges he faced in navigating how and how much to give without being taken advantage of, wishes that the organization might be more embraced by the community at large.  Casually he thought out loud about perhaps building a food garden with the men next year.  End of conversation. Then, in February, as I was feeling out my year, it’s all I could think about.  I was drawn to the combo: have my hands in soil, experimenting, and collaborate for the first time with my father.  After a cursory details-conversation and the rest left to faith, we decided I’d come home and help to create a garden.

Where do these seeds really come from? Who plants them?  Why do they sprout just when they do?  What powers the arc that paces their growth? Beans predictably pop to life in under a week. Some pine species require fire to scorch the cones before their seeds can germinate. Once upon a Valentine’s Day, a boyfriend created a digital ‘card’ for me – a time-lapse portrait of an Amarylis opening and turning, captivated, toward the sun.  The life inside these is the life inside me.   Timing, timing, life is timing. Such a time as this. Trust it.

One of my sticky shadow patterns:  I often feel so behind.  In my voraciousness to learn and my ache to be of service, I get sidetracked by mega-regret, wishy-washy wishing that my life up to now would have taken a more elegant, streamlined trajectory I could label “ah, great success!” That my stay in certain cesspools would’ve been shorter.  That I would’ve been ready for important teachings earlier. That I would be as much of a finder as I am a seeker. Two sides same coin: I bless my curiosity, but I resent my turtle’s learning curve and concomitant hesitation to commit.

But when I make like Pema and open to what is, I can peel the label off ‘mistake’.  I can celebrate the inquiry as much as the answer.  I can breathe right into the grief of living in a world gone mad, into the fears of making a mess of my life, and let it be. Look objectively. I can sense the same perfect design that predicts the forking pattern of my veins in the sometimes-seeming lunacy that guides my life-choice map.

The clock and the stone both tell time, but only one knows forever’s secrets.

Earthward. Earthspeed.    You come home right on time.

Witnessing this, I bow to the seed and to the planters of the seeds.   To my first garden attempt in the backyard of my Klemm Street apartment and sweet clueless me: I wondered why tomato plants died in the dusty rootbound shade of an old tree.   To Carol & Carlos who paid me to learn to care for landscapes, how to plant trees.  To Queen Bee at CAMP and the big easy she makes growing food seem.  To my year of illness that jolt-woke me up to the power of plant medicine. To Patricia Allison at Earthaven, her affection and devotion to plant beings and the lay of the land.  To the Possibility Alliance, for daring greatly. To my parents whose love I feel anew, absolutely unconditionally, and who are game to keep growing together.  To all beings, hands in the soil, mending the disconnect and sharing the bounty.

I loved nestling my hands into the compost to feel the heat generated by decomposition.

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W E . C O M E . T O . T H E . G A R D E N . A L L . O N E

Translating the sketch into earth felt like playing sculpture.

Black gold! With thirteen tons of compost in the back,  I felt like the richest woman east of the Mississippi, rattling north on I-45 in the passenger seat of Martin’s derelict dumptruck. Giddy with the wisdom of freshly-read Gaia’s Garden and with no real clue what I was doing at all, Drunk.On.Spring.  “Let’s do this!”  Buds opening, behold — the rain-blossom-hope scented power of all things possible.  Inhale.

Exhale. Landing was bumpy – I had to arnica the purple ego-bruises of “I’m living with my parents” and armor up against the binge-eating that was my high school coping mechanism.  Once I was grounded again, self-responsible in the ‘whys’ of my choice and blood sugar stabilized by my green-smoothie habit, it was go mode. Soil testing, research, orientation to the organization’s history and protocol, meeting the guys and the staff, sketching ideas, making presentations.  The starting line leap-off point, phase of a project I savor.

I loved the play of shadows from the spotlight on our little sunflower, castor bean, mystery squash jungle overflow area. Say what you will, that font is dope.

Jesus is the Way Prison Ministry is a ten-month aftercare facility that hosts men after they leave prison, supporting them as they build a new life.  Jesse Matthes transformed an old Holiday Inn Jr. into “Jesus Inn” – where the men live, cook, and have classes on-site.   Jesse would visit our church when I was little; I remember being fascinated by and a little scared of this giant man with a huge smile and an even bigger voice who told colorful tales of his conversion from a brawling motorcycle gang lifestyle to a life of loving service.  He passed in 2008, and his wife along with a full-time staff of about four others keep the project alive.     Ok. So.        Full disclosure: at the start of the project, even saying the name of this place made me cringe.  The overt religious focus brought up full force the blunted thud of dogma — proselytism-cum-patriarchy — that I worked hard to escape and heal from in my twenties. Obedient and over-achieving, I’d bought in completely during my teens.  Tender from that psychic surgery that sometimes seems irreparably botched, I still bristle when people call God “Him” and try to save me. And I’m gladly returning to the pure seed of faith that was my home base as a little girl:  I’m so game to live Awake as can be, embodying the Christ principle as our man JC and so many rad avatars do & have done & have done their best to teach us how to do.  So I was returning on purpose to the relatively conservative Christian community I grew up in – steadier now, walking my own path – ready to experiment.  Can I focus on what we share instead of resenting how it’s different?  Is there enough common ground to stand together?  Can I forgive & be forgiven, let go of separation and just commune?

“Re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss what insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem.” –Walt Whitman

So I set out on this challenge to be completely myself while also respecting the strict framework of the organization.  Let go of latent rebellion and resentment. Let drama of legalism roll off and just live Love.  Know that when we use human words to parse the big Mystery, it gets flattened.  Inter-dimensional don’t squoosh into right and wrong.  Forgive form, stay in the experience.  Notice shadows. See goodness.

Right away, some undeniable harmony was at play.  Completely independent of my dad’s planning, some of the guys had been starting to compost and buy seeds.  By the time I entered the picture,  they were already planning a modest rectangular plot – so I was able to join their momentum and up the ante with some artistry and nascent permaculture experience.

I’m a baby to this body of work and excited to grow it over a lifetime. I feel about it like I felt after sitting my first vipassana meditation course: “tell me again, why don’t we learn this in kindergarden?”  Bare bones being human.

“Permaculture is a creative design process that is based on ethics and design principles. It guides us to mimic the patterns and relationships we can find in nature and can be applied to all aspects of human habitation, from agriculture to ecological building, from appropriate technology to education and even economics. By adopting the ethics and applying these principles in our daily life we can make the transition from being dependent consumers to becoming responsible producers. This journey builds skills and resilience at home and in our local communities that will help us prepare for an uncertain future with less available energy.”

From cardboard to culinary enhancement smorgasboard in a few simple steps. Bam.

While we were waiting on materials and the go-ahead for the big garden, we built an herb spiral just outside the back door of the kitchen.  A ubiquitous permaculture darling, herb spirals condense principles into a cute poster child for the process.  “Produce no waste” – we flattened kitchen box cardboard to stop the grass then covered it with the gorgeous soil they’d created from their initial compost experiment.  Then we traipsed the grounds and found old bricks and bits of broken concrete that we used to build the short, curving wall. “Design from pattern to detail” – spirals lead us in and please the eye, and create micro-climates based in level and proximity to the stone. Higher areas are drier, lower wetter; and the small wall retains heat and offers shade.   These distinctions make perfect homes for different herbs.  “Use and value diversity” – I’d dug out a ton of overgrown obedience plant from my mom’s perennial garden, so we bordered the spiral with it on a whim. Neither culinary nor medicinal, but whoa dang come August it was a giant bee party!

I loved meeting the men's mentors, community supporters who advocate for them and take the men off site for various adventures from woodworking to sharing meals to water skiing to car shopping. Some watched, some worked -- all contributed to building a place we enjoyed.

The guys weren’t quite sure what to make of me.  Eager to try out their bible study learnings, some would interrogate my life philosophy.  Some would vent their frustrations at feeling like they were still rule-bound. Some would share their joys at reconnecting to their children, the excitement of returning to school and jobs.  I mostly just listened, and dug in the dirt. Connecting to them, hearing their colorful stories, watching them eager to reboot their lives was precious, humbling, inspiring.  And sometimes sad, when they left the program unexpectedly or ended up back inside.  I grew tremendous respect for the challenges they face in re-training their brains out of prisoner mentality and into proactive citizenship. Project-wise, some were wholly intent not to touch soil; some took the ball and raaaaaan, doodling long term sustainable remakes of the entire property. Overall, I’d hoped for more cohesion, more teamwork, more regularity.  But their schedules were packed and the project was an add-on, not a part of the core curriculum.   Those who weren’t working outside jobs yet hung out a lot – mostly to chat. What emerged was the garden as a place to come be.

The main garden took the form of a circle, echoing from the keyhole center, mandala-esque.   We forked the earth to aerate, then laid cardboard, woodchips, and compost. I was following sheet mulch protocol as closely as I understood, but if I had to do it again I would have gone ahead and tilled this first time and laid woodchip only on the path, not at the base of the beds. Eventually it will break down, but this year I think the carbon-heavy mulch robbed the plants of nitrogen, leaching it to expedite decomposition. But blessed be, things grew despite my ignorance, and it was magical to be part of the unfolding.

The drawing comes to life.

I was smitten. Watching the garden come alive sparked such deep joy.  The boundless energy of being in flow fueled the laying out, schlepping, planting, watering, caring, turning compost, studying, long days, happy.  As I planted, I sang freely to the seeds.  An improvised melody came to mind — ooey-gooey hippie-dippie to my inner skeptic, but so well-suited to the mighty Nurture welling up in me right then: this line from Shakti Gawain (…and, caveat: don’t go thinking that I get with a gendered God, it’s just that to imagine the feminine aspect helps balance the patterns of yore, k?) ~~~~~~~~~~ “The divine power of the Goddess moves within me now to manifest the miraculous…..” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~       It felt so good to give in.    Yield.  To belief, to love, to action, to sweetness.  To faith.  To have such a fitting action I believed in completely to pour my full prayer into.  To plant seeds with my hands while in my heart I offered love toward:  the massive wound of the prison industrial complex, the tender truth that someone is living his entire life incarcerated for what he did to me & a number of other women, the oppressive societal deprivation of emotional expression in men, the powerful portal that returning to nature and real food provides.   I sang in and among all the tail-ends of all these story lines converging right there –  Creation. Destruction. Male. Female. Sick. Healthy. Lost. Found. Bound. Free.    These seeds.

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Biking around my hometown, set in motion, I felt something reawakening.      Ah. Dreams.     Danger. I remember these!!!  Until I felt the power of these resurgent daydreams stirring, I wasn’t aware how much I’d turned off my inner-big-dreaming-leader,  in the wake of dreams gone awry…   Was it due to fear of failing, or was it a desire to lead from a deeper place than I knew how yet?   So a funny tug-of-war started in my gut –  “No! It’s not safe to dream here, you don’t want to move back! Stop it. Don’t think those things. You don’t want to live in a small town, you’ll be lonely odd duck just like you were as a kid.”  – “Yes!  Where else makes so much sense to be? Soul symmetry. Why not bring the things you love as gifts back to the place that raised you? This is a good a place as any.”    I let myself just notice this back-and-forthing.   Feeling the rich tug of the prayer: yes-please-grass-turned-gardens—Food not lawns!  Sniffing out the Woody Perennial Polyculture project at the UI south farms, I let myself drift into daydreams of industrial farmers getting turned on to permaculture … what would it be like to walk in the country if it weren’t just rows of monocropped GMO-industrial-farm wasteland? Then, imagining Restorative Circles and yoga in the classroom at the J-way (the pet nickname that was easier for me to say), what if these men had access to more pattern-penetrating concrete practices to equip them for re-entry?  All these worthy-dreamy-maybe-babies load my belly and sing “Pick Me!”  And I know enough by now to know I want to choose wisely.  The lure of big commitment breathes down my neck. It turns me on and it scares me.  I keep asking: commit to a place, a people, a project? To a partner and kids? Or commit to a way of being in the world, cross-pollenating and creating? Wait until I’m clearer or just draw straws and dive in somewhere? ….Take out the either/or.  Live now the Yes, and.  Choices come when it’s time to choose.

Tomwogs and Samfa tune in to seed magic. Mama and I rehaul the front yard. Dad digs in the dirt?!

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I remember being with my mom in her garden when I was young.  I remember her laughing, plucking peach rose petals, rolling them up and sticking them up my nostrils, probably talking in an accent about nature’s aromatherapy. Completely silly.  She was one of my original inspirations, playing while extending some root or weed metaphor about life . . . little garden sermons.   But her own garden has been backburner since . . . life happens.  Busyness of being an ace grandma, overwhelm of chores alone. So it felt great to venture out together in the delight of companionship, the fun of rekindling. Rip out dead bushes, edge, weed, reshape.

The same process was happening in our relationships.  I love my family, a lot. And I’ve spent most of my life also aching for a tribe I feel like I deeply belong to, that has a similar needs to relate and create.  Maybe we all do, feel toward the human birthright of true intimacy that so often eludes our blessed semi-dysfunctional fams. Maybe its just one face of the pain of Separation we’re all healing.  But I see now – in longing for something else, I miss the blessings right under my nose.

My dad works and he gives.  Those are his verbs.  Long on loyalty and generous to a fault, he has taken “To whom much is given, much is required” as core life principle.  I’m so proud to be his daughter. And, I felt as much sting as pride when he was awarded ‘citizen of the year’ – his time aimed out toward community and church left him a mostly tired robot at home.  As a kid I wrote him a Hallmark card asking if we could get to know each other.  I longed for emotional attention he simply didn’t have to spare.  I interpreted this longing that I was never good enough to earn his full attention — despite honors, awards, successes.  This wound hardened into a wall between us– amicably superficial, repressed resentment, a Christmas and Easter daughter.  Then when I was sick, I had a dream that shifted everything. I understood in an instant that my father has always loved me deeply and the very best he knows how. Since then I’ve been working on aligning with that eureka, opening to understand this and forgiving the less-than-graceful ways I’ve tried in vain to feed that void.

Coming home was, in large part, born of the desire to live into deep forgiveness. Become  whole hearted.   Over the past year, my dad and I have been guided into a healing that keeps peeling open, onion layers, fits and starts, triggers, replete with tears and the unmistakable mirror we are for each other.  Adult hindsight assures me he is doing the very best he can, living as he is inside his story. I see and adore his brilliant heart of gold like never before. And I see where I’m still waiting for approval or permission that’s actually my own to give myself.

In it all is a profound tenderness.  Hearts melting into place.  In the mundane are these moments. One day, slow-mo, in the J-way garden…  My big sister is home visiting, my four-year-old nephew is running around playing with ants. My dad is here, planting turnips.  We are together. This. This is happening. Wordless revelation: this, my life.   Unthinkable framework,  a year before.  So simple.   So okay.

I hoped to portray a glimmer of this grace in a a digital birthday card I made my mama, set to the old hymn “I Come to the Garden Alone.”  Over images of her garden and the garden at J-way,  I met tradition with a new set of verses:

We come to the home to the garden, All One/ And we recall the pure joy of creation / The feel of soil / The kiss of sun / Reminds me where I come from

And – she dances with me! And she laughs with me/ And she draws me right back into my soul / ANd the bliss that I feel when i am loving you right here/ makes all of my faith seeds just grow

And day after day things take shape / and its full up of trial and error / but there can be no mistakes / when i’m walking Awake/ Compassion guides my journey.

And she surprises me, and she inspires me / And SHE FEEDS ME REAL FOOD THAT WE GROW!!!!!!! / And the love that we share in communion with dirt + rain + air/ is a bounty that ooooooovvvvverrrrrrrrrrFlows.

The intimacy of coming home to the earth matched the power of coming home to each other.  At night I would bask in this, in the backyard, lying on the earth beneath the stars, held by Mama Tierra, healing my broken image of Father God, overflowing grateful for my earthly parents, asleep in their bed.  Casseopeia winking, as ever.

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Monica's sunshine smile; Me & my first love; Edith's daring nasturtium nibble; Joe's J-for-Joe-Jalepeno

The day-to-day of the garden was easy autopilot come summer.  What felt so magical and gigantic in the making, felt quite small and ordinary once it was established.  The newness of the project had faded and most of the guys were less interested in hanging out in the heat –  but lucky me I’d found a steady garden buddy: my neighbor home from college on summer break, Monica, was all good energy and constant laughter.  Tim and Lil’ Joe sometimes kept us company, watering, double-dog-daring each other to eat earthworms, picking off cabbage worms,  turning the compost.  More playtime than anything – it wasn’t big enough to be serious work; our harvests were…. ummmm, modest.  If that.   But it brought us each back to wonder, to the unmitigated curiosity of cause and effect that the natural world teaches, to the satisfaction of caretaking even the tiniest plot of earth.  Delivering nasturtiums to the secretaries to nibble, making flower bouquets for the classroom tables, chef Bill harvesting herbs for his special sauces, proudly showing visitors around their garden:  the project was small on produce, but super-abundant in jOy.

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The youngest crosspollenator of the crew prepares to walk the labyrinth at Bethany Park Church's Giving Garden.

Bill from J-way is an accomplished chef and was thrilled to find his first job at Java Connection, Rantoul’s first real coffee shop.  In the midst of a personal health revolution, he loves experimenting with recipes and cooking the freshest food – often bringing in surplus herbs from our garden.   He saved his ample kitchen scraps to feed our compost pile – bucket upon gooey bucket of organic matter, make soil happy.   One day on a compost run at Java, chatting with the barista, I first heard about the Giving Garden – Bethany Park Christian Church’s summer outreach, in which they grow fresh food to stock local pantries.   I went immediately to visit, marveling at their abundance of beans, tomatoes, corn, sunflowers – lush.

It was there, wandering around, that I met Pastor Carol.  She is Lakota, and infuses her leadership at the local Methodist church with her love for the earth.  She keeps the olds ways, and tries new things:  she’s building an inepi out in the country, and she took the entrepreneurial leap of founding the Java Connection – well aware of Rantoul’s need for a relaxed, inviting meeting place.  We connected in an instant.  In our first conversation, she shared an image of idea-seeds that resonated completely and stays with me:  God makes a wish, blows a ripe dandelion, and the seeds scatter, fall across the world on all of us at the same time.  If you’re ready, the seed is planted. You meet someone with a similar idea, alive in similar ways – you got similar seeds.  But it’s no worries if it’s not your time, there are many seeds and many ready people.

I feel this sense of readiness in Rantoul – the thrum of like minds and eager spirits courting change in harmonious ways.   I invited Bethany Park’s pastor, Linda, the Giving Garden volunteers, and Pastor Carol, along with the guys & staff at J-way, to share a “cross-pollenization walk” – a morning of visiting each other’s garden projects, communicating our visions, and learning from each other.   As we walked their labyrinth, a simple curved pathway mowed in grass, I appreciated the grace of an idea coming into its time, the momentum of synergy, and the importance of congregations of faith stepping up to steward the earth.

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At the end of the season, we threw a harvest party. No matter that we had to purchase much of the food from the local farmer’s market.  We made as much as we could from our own produce, and feasted. Monica and I channeled our inner sorority girl and kindergarden art teacher, respectively, to concoct unique awards for each supporter and participant.  Mom busted out her sewing machine to stitch prayer flags, for people to scrawl their hopes and blessings and requests.  I painted a sign, Edith’s Eden, named by the guys to honor Edith Mathes, the gentle-spirited co-founder of the project.  My dad’s award was perhaps the most glittery.  Mustard Seed MVP.  Say to that mountain : : : :        <  m o v e >

Towards eye to eye. Mirrors & mustard seeds.

New flags in place & namesake sign.

Flier for our partay. Totes delish. Chef Bill does not do anything part way.

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I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” - Thich Nhat Hanh

P E R M A C U L T U R E = P O S S i B I L i T Y

And then, in galaxy far far away, just next door: come September, I packed my bike and tent and headed to the Peace and Permaculture Center at the Possibility Alliance in northeastern Missouri for the world’s only electricity-free, gift economy Permaculture Design Course.

Six year old Aspen is painting my feet.   It starts as a design on my toes. Then the decisive aboriginal rainbow code starts to skip, staccato dots and lines, across my whole foot and up my leg.  I think maybe she’ll be done after one.  But no, she urges me to sit still while she paints leg two.  We just met; I’m captivated by her, bright eyes, scrawny legs, earnest vision. I was painting kids’ faces when she turned the tables. I relax and smile, take in this scene, let her do her thing.

Behind me a blacksmith is rhythmic, pounding.   Next to him, a primitive skills enthusiast is instructing a group: with furrowed brows they weave dry yucca leaves into jaunty visors.  The spontaneously-formed Porch Stompers keeps growing, guitars and harmonies laughing skyward as folks take turns leading songs from Rise Up Singing.  The yellowjackets love the apple cider press, gushing spurts of sweet sun for parched tongues.  Hot loaves emerge from the cobb oven, topped with fresh cheese ~ courtesy of those goats bleeting over there.   Women spin yarn while spinning yarns, engrossed in conversation as strong thin fibers emerge from their wheels.   The elm’s wide embrace shades me as I let it in, breathe into the bigness.  Soul school time travel, heart mending-stretching-opening to fit this fullness — simultaneously ancient and new. This harvest festival, our first Saturday at the PDC, is a far cry from our humble harvest party back in Rantoul.  Yet the two are connected, evidence of everywhere ~ communities coming back to the earth,  to each other,  to Spirit.

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Superhero headquarters! ~~~~~~~~~ Living into this ~~~~~~~~~ “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ― Howard Thurman

I am so in love with this place, these people. Two words:  All In.  Not perfect. Pretty zealous.  Soooo soulful.  They are experimenting with their lives, emphatically. Decisively.  Teacher, teach me.

It started innocently enough. Summer 2010: a weekend visit, get-a-way from the nitty gritty city.  This piqued me.  I cancelled fall plans and came back for Superhero Clown Camp for Social Justice. This piqued me.  I started biking with the superheroes. This piqued me. As I’m ready, I keep coming back for more.

What started in 2008 as an 80-acre homestead has doubled in size and keeps growing in vision.  Now the Possibility Alliance (PA) is comprised of three main projects: Stillwater Sanctuary, the original nucleus, grounded in an old Amish house and outbuildings; the Peace and Permaculture Center, founded in 2012 as a training ground for non-violent bioregional livelihood; and the soon-to-come White Rose Catholic Worker, adapting the traditionally urban “radical hospitality” mission to a rural setting.  Simplicity + Service + Social Engagement + Self-Transformation + Silliness: the projects share these core values that reflect their integral approach.  Day in and day out, life is welcome as a verdicts-still-out experiment blending work and play — transforming the world by transforming ourselves.  This unique context for the two-week permaculture design course provided a powerful container for the content to sink in deep, made all the richer by the vast skills and steady support of vibrant community.

Laila & Walter philosophize; Nut Sedge = a new plant friend; Here's my tent-path!; Design by candelight.

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A few hours before our first class began, I cleared a footpath to set up my tent (my first path ever!  So fun. What’s the lay of the land? What’s a natural curve? How can I least disturb?).  Quite different than being issued a retreat center room key to swipe, or staying indoors of any sort. I loved that all our learning took place in a minimally-altered natural environment – direct contact with temperature, weather, smells, sounds, stillness.   Besides two outhouses, only one building exists on ‘campus’: an ample, wall-less, dirt-floor ‘room’ beneath a tin roof hosts the outdoor kitchen (two rocket stoves and a counter top made from a retired dry erase board) and gathering space. Numerous bales of straw shape-shift variously to create a dining room, classroom, or rainy-day campfire circle.  Directly adjacent, the outdoor classroom boasts the same furniture plus shade trees and hammocks.  The library is housed in a sturdy old canvas tent.

The premise of the nascent center is a profound invitation to embodiment: “Let’s build together as we learn. Let’s come inside the process with trust and let it take the time to emerge fully.”  Learning is active; student = participant.   In addition to traditional class format (lots of presentations and q/a), the daily rhythm of our course included time for work, service, and spiritual practice.   When my sleeping bag let me, I rose with the early bell to practice yoga, at the edge of the dock or in the mist of the field. We could choose to aim a chunk of post-breakfast pre-class “bread labor” time at supporting whatever aspect of work our bodies felt most inclined toward – wandering thru the quiet forest to gather kindling, going for a long walk&talk to schlep the water barrels,  grabbing the big saw to let off steam bucking trunks for the hugelkultur beds.   Or resting.  With an eye toward the health of the whole, ‘caring for the super-organism’ necessarily means sitting out when your body’s asking for quiet time.  This runs uncomfortably contrary to the ego’s demands for faster-better-stronger. It felt great to be with people who value stillness as a meaningful contribution.

Beyond permaculture principles and practices, the PA-PDC curriculum also includes conflict transformation, integral nonviolence, “manifesting your wildest dreams!”, appropriate technology, and service.  The vision sounds dreamy, and of course the reality doesn’t yet match up exact.  But it’s the closest I’ve encountered – and the intent is fully there, to live holistically, sustainably, with our powers combined, aware of and transforming our shadows as we see them.  So much of this is made possible by the clarity of the structure & the structure’s alignment with the stated big-picture goals. These words of Ethan’s keep echoing: “If you want integrity, you have to create container.” I used to be more interested in radical inclusion – keep the doors open! See who comes!  Everybody’s welcome!  But as I keep journeying, I see that the desire to go deep necessarily means setting the bar higher, not to bar entry but to create safety. The “container” – the spoken intentions, parameters, agreements – give shape to the experiment. “A river without banks is a swamp.”  So: Substance-free. Petroleum-free. Electricity-free. Going completely without these near-ubiquitous forces that dominate most social environs is a powerful reset button.  Nothing like cold turkey to point out subtle addictions.  Gift economy: without a price tag, tough questions about how we value things and each other rise to the surface, along with worthiness wounds that want to be healed, and hidden understanding around embodied costs. Receiving the course as a gift creates connections with those who have donated in the past; paying the gift forward creates a connection with future participants.  Intergenerational. One of my favorite aspects of our learning context was having kids around; two families with two year olds were at the course, plus Etta & Isla, Ethan & Sarah’s daughters.  Hearing their laughter, taking play breaks, watching their curiosity automatically invites the inquiry:  how can we best create a world that is a gift for them?

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Tree; Country walk to Freedom Lane; Tree-on-tree love

“Stop putting me first, lance the sore of isolation grown up in vapid consumer culture and come home. Come home. Be home. Be at home in this soft animal of my body, be at home in this web where everything is inextricably linked to everything, and there’s time enough to notice just how – to choose action, to steward impact, to marvel at yields produced through harmony. Ultimate savor, not through instant gratification, but through sacred sweat beads like dew drops on the near and present ground of right relationship, right effort. Good aim. Earth, be my teacher. I’m listening.” – journal freewrite to ‘define permaculture’, first day PDC

It felt great to be ravenous for subject matter, edge of my strawbale seat each day.  We spent time setting up our group dynamic, ::::::::Millings Galore::::: , then delved directly into permaculture philosophy and principles, growing more specific each day and balancing hard skills, like animal husbandry, beekeeping, composting, with soft skills, like radical nonviolence and open space technology. We had the joy of learning from numerous teachers.  Adam Campbell and Ethan Hughes were our primary facilitators, each parading into our brains with their particularly poetic passion, weaving Rumi fragments, true stories, and mindbending facts in one heart-centered jazz-hands fell swoop.  Joining them were about ten others — past PDC participants, other PA members, and expert homesteading neighbors who showcased their tiny houses, gardens, and water catchment experiments.

“Earth care, people care, fair share” is the rhyming ditty that traditionally snapshots the aims of permaculture.  Adam was keen on adding a caveat to “fair share”: first, set limits, then share abundance.  Otherwise, who decides what’s “enough”?  He cited David Holmgren: “Systems that are created in times of growth can be pathological in times of decay.” As mindful members in the smorgasbord of planet Earth, how do we decipher what’s plenty? Facts jolted my notion of reality and fed my uneasy awareness of just how out of balance our planet is: We would need three whole earths to bring everyone up to the material standard of the Average American. 1.2 billion humans are without access to drinking water, but each time I flush the toilet is around 4 gallons of clean water?!  Most families throw away about 88 pounds of plastic every year. And for every tragic fact, a miraculous one filtered in to keep me awake to possibility:  There are hundreds of thousands of flowers in every spoonful of honey I eat.  One single tree transpires two thousand gallons per day ~ forests are standing lakes. Mushrooms just might save the world.

I filed all this new info into the framework of permaculture principles, which already felt somewhat familiar to me based in my last decade as a community artist.  A similar ethos pervades.  Especially “creatively use change” . . . aka happy accidents, when the splurt of painting turns into the perfect form you couldn’t have imagined, when the wildcard shows up to the meeting and about-faces the agenda.  Go with it. “Use edge” recalls many years of noticing the ripeness of commons where strangers rub up against each other.  “Patterns to details” is the same edict for oil painting – start general to specific.  I enjoyed receiving an amplified teaching of these ways that feel native to my heart, and the subsequent invitation for us to self-reflect on our own life design process.  Just as we can approach a plot of land with these principles in mind – how do I approach my days, years, skills, desires?

Two of my favorite exercises involved principle number one:  Observe. The first: we each chose a slip of paper printed with one of the principles, then wandered the grounds with an eye toward how that principle is evident.  I picked Observe & did that. The land and people on the land.  People with each other.  Complete permission to do nothing.  Participate by appreciating . Eschew politeness: stare all you want.   What arose in me was an awareness of how much action arises from discomfort or script, from the imposed sense: I better make myself useful, or I better make them like me.  What would happen if we gave ourselves ample time and permission to slowly notice,  then act from an embodied awareness of what’s actually needed, what’s actually joyful?  I’m trying to be this more in social situations — Breathe, pause, look. Take everyone in.  Sense the room.  Relax the need to speak, or even smile.  Observation is like a doorstop that keeps propped open the threshold to possibility. Something other than habit can happen here, something that grows up from a deeper listening.  The second exercise was the “sit spot”  — an invitation to find a place on the land and be still for a half hour or so.   We did so just once, but it’s a recommended practice to get to know land intimately, to take the sit spot daily – witness through seasons– the patterns of light, the weight of snow, the migration of wildlife, the bare shape of the land that stands up when foliage dies back.   That day I lay in a dry creek bed.  I liked imagining the spring gush, noticing what grew in the moist shady. But I also noticed a tired resistance in me – I felt clumsy at this listening,  like I was trying to eavesdrop a foreign language I could only pick out bits of words, no complete sentences. Grumpy- sad-angry I wasn’t taught this as a child. And, glad to have the opportunity now. As the birds relaxed their alert chirps, I flickered between sleep and wake.

“The earth never tires,
The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first,
Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first,
Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop’d,
I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.”
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-Walt Whitman

The table is set for our first shabbat; thanks for our water, workhorses; embodied water stats hit home.

Besides having my understanding of the glories of the Midwestern prairie completely rocked by past PDC student & PA intern Zach Maxon’s imagery-laden intro to mob grazing, the most meaningful teachings, for me, centered on the everyday resources we sometimes take for granted.   Food, water, time, and money were cast in a new light.  BAM: “How we eat largely determines how the world is used.” Let that sink in.      Less than 5% of our massive national corn crop is grown for actual human consumption. Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted. Our cultural love affair with meat and animal products contributes about 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. So, am I willing to pay actual costs instead of settle for the hidden costs of  green-washed big box store organics?    If I truly want to eat locally and in season, am I willing to do the necessary grief work around palette change as I transition toward simplified choices? The decision requires a complete reframing: …..not what am I giving up; what am I gaining? The weekly Shabbat ritual at the PA answers that question eloquently.   A just-so vase of wildflowers and weeds: the table set,  we arrive and share a go-round of the past week as we each pour some from the pitcher to fill the Cup of Joy to overflowing.  Careful not to bite off fingies, we feed each other pieces of fresh bread – hi, eyes. “Shabbat shalom.”  This peace rings true. The menu’s origin story gets ooh’ed and ahhh’ed. The week’s only sweet is shared for dessert.  The connection, simplicity, and intention makes this food precious and delicious.   The sky darkens, conversation deepens. Nourishment on all levels.

One of the most eye-opening teaching aids at the course was a 55-gallon water barrel that hung around, scrawled with sharpie indicating the embodied water used in production of various treats. As catchment systems aren’t yet in place at the PPC site, horses cart numerous of these recycled barrels full of the city water drawn at Stillwater Sanctuary for drinking, cooking, dishes, washing.  Nothing like life without faucets to wake up to the preciousness of every drop:  “Water is essential, heavy, and scarce” – mantra oft repeated.   Filling and lifting the heavy solar-power shower bag to let it drink sun, I became aware of my habitual lack of gratitude for this miracle, and so curious about its future. The average American individual uses over 150 gallons of water each day. The average African family uses about five gallons of water each day. And, gulp, what does it mean for us that 50-90% of all pharmaceuticals are excreted in their original biologically active form and are finding their way into our water supplies as we speak?  We are experimenting with our lives. Occasions like the recent Elk river contamination bring the issue painfully close to home.  As much as luxurious hot baths and extra rinse cycles would have us to believe it’s not so, we aren’t immune to shortage.

(thanks pinterest)

Yet, amidst the bad news is a strong beckoning to the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. Einstein invited us to make the leap:  “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” So here we are, feeling toward a way of being that actually already feels like home. When we taste it – we know that we know it in our bones.   Charles Eisenstein has his pen right on this pulse, articulately reading current culture and describing how to navigate the space between stories. In Sacred Economics, he writes “The present convergence of crises––in money, energy, education, health, water, soil, climate, politics, the environment, and more––is a birth crisis, expelling us from the old world into a new.” Past the grieving and powerlessness, we get to remember, wake up, join forces.  In this shift, ‘money’ gets a make-over. He writes, “Consumption calls upon no one’s gifts, calls forth none of anyone’s true being.  Community and intimacy cannot come from joint consumption, but only from giving and cocreativity.”   Barter, hand-made, gift economy, simplicity — all call us past the big fat Empty we try and stuff stuff into . . . into vulnerability, risk, collaboration, satisfaction.  Without the quick fix, we get masterful at feeling our truest desires & sensing each other’s actual needs.  Oh! Notice: if I really just want to be held, I don’t gotta reach for ice cream&netflix?    I’m starting to like to live pretty simply, but I still have stubborn pockets of not-there-yet. Predictably, the nowhere-to-hide landscape of the PA lays completely bare my ‘please-don’t-go-there’ places.  Accepted as I am, I’m challenged to go further.

Take for instance this faith nudge: one of the most radical practices at the PA is their invitation for members to give saved wealth away.  Free it up.  Let it loose, let it circulate.  Fund amazing projects, help build friend’s dreams.  Rethink the why of ‘savings’.   Again Charles (swoon) in Ascent for Humanity, relates the wisdom of the Piraha tribe: “I store meat in the belly of my brother.” We’re truly rich when we’re all fed in the Now.  The river loves to flow!  As part of creation, we get to rest in the abundance that’s the natural order.  Nature includes us.  When we cling to safety nets, we refuse the universe’s come hither eyes:  Hey you. Yeah you. Consider the lilies. Come adventure with Me. I remember vividly Adam’s teaching about this inherent generosity, in the bright field, mid-morning. I was listening intently, also acro-basing The Flow with the sun in my eyes —-  a golden slow-mo moment, appreciating the earth as my classroom, sky ceiling.  I felt it when he quoted Hafiz →→→  It lights up the sky . . .

The Flow: Don't Worry, Everything's Going to Be Amazing.

As we refurbish our relationship to money   ~  ~ ~  energy exchange ~ ~ ~      we get to heal our stance with time ~ ~ ~  eternity ~ ~ ~ .  Break the watch, burn the to-do list, scratch the 10-year-plan. Or keep them, but prioritize the tuning-inward.  Heartbeat ticktock, emphasis on flow.  Earthspeed is the all new efficient: allowing geological and cosmic time back into the frame.  Seasons, cycles, seeds, storms.  Sensing the tug toward: what doing actually wants to be done?  How do I act when I carry the Whole in my heart, without trying to control the outcome? Can I work in ways that outlast my lifespan?

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they will never sit in.” – Greek Proverb

Pulling back the curtain to see what actually fuels urgency was a personal revelation.  So often I feel like I have to do something, anything, now, better, overwhelm, can’t: : :  urgency encodes struggle and time scarcity.  For me, the turmoil is in part caused by unconsidered pain.  Grief at the maelstrom of horrific news mounting up on all sides,  fear that I won’t get it together in time to contribute like I hope to.  When I can attend to the root of these emotions, regain my footing in Faith, slack to act from flexible intelligence prompts work that’s motivated from love, not fear.

Could it even be that our urgent scurrying to solve one problem after another is stoking the fire? Perhaps global warming is a symptomatic fever of our hurrying. After all, why is global warming happening? There are the proximate causes: the burning of fossil fuels, and the assault on the forests and biodiversity that maintain climate homeostasis. And why are these happening? It is all in the name of efficiency: labor efficiency (doing more work per unit of labor) and economic efficiency (maximizing the short-term return on capital). And efficiency is just another name for getting it done faster. One might wish to think that there is good hurrying (to save the planet) and bad hurrying (to use machines to get things done with less work), but maybe the underlying mindset behind both kinds of hurrying is the problem. This mindset is one of the habits of separation… There is a time to act, and a time to wait, to listen, to observe. Then understanding and clarity can grow. From understanding, action arises that is purposeful, firm, and powerful. - Charles Eisenstein (Last one for today.)

I witness this patience alive in the midst at the PA, commitment to faith in the process. But without support of sacred community, it’s hard to sustain the bravery to look It all in the face.  We need each other to break these habits of separation, resist the psychic security of busy-ness, and put permaculture into practice.

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Joanna and I took a Saturday bike errand to glean surplus tomatoes from the neighbors. Generous! Sun-light orbs, each.

And we really got to have each other, dearly, during the course.  Squishy golden tomato heart you are safe here.  Being in a dynamic, intelligent group that reads and responds to collective energy rocks my socks.  From the get-go it was clear we’re here to learn together. Day one millings:  peel off the pasted-on smile and get real.  Tell the whole truth.  Masks off.  Instead of hiding emotions, listen to them and be led.  Learn how: living in an environment where NVC is status quo is disorienting, in a good way.    Sheer proximity necessitates some level of intimacy:  tent living, outhouses, outdoor showers positioned us for more openness.   In a short time, we created a strong culture of authentic support.

Early on, when Ethan was snapshotting the permaculture principles and landed on numero 20, Commit – my gut gave way. Ache. There’s that knot, the familiar conundrum— on one hand, the cultural/biological clock that tells me I should be securely raising a family by now —– on the other, I’m doing the best I can to listen to the pattern that’s my own to live, this inner tug toward crosspollenating that wants to buzz share weave fertilize collaborate….  Noticing my anxiety around it, I spoke up and was encouraged to call a lunch circle on the topic one day.  I did, and this succinct go-round fed me so much — witnessing even just a peek into the whole group’s wisdom, pain, success, and longing around the topic.  Various themes emerged — the pull between soul family and family of origin, readiness for roots but not clarity where to shoot them, grief over the loss of ritual and initiation that would prepare us for such commitment.  My anxiety melted into gratitude for connection, I felt emboldened to keep inquiring as bravely as I know.

Other tender edges produced cloudbursts of tears as evidence of deep desire.  Tara Mohr writes that one good indicator in the direction of your vocation is that “You feel an unusually vivid pain or frustration around the status quo of a particular issue or topic. You strongly feel or clearly see what’s lacking.”   One day, Adam was describing a traditional pattern for education — kids play in the woods all day, and at night around the fire, elders ask them what they learned.   Cue sobbing:   an innocuous anecdote triggered such an active longing – to be part of a culture that honors the autonomy and creativity of little people.   The story put its finger on a pool of blubbery sadness at the pain I’ve witnessed in public schools of the breaking of children’s spirits, as well as angst that I don’t have any close, direct relationships with kid tribes in my life right now.    Then, ditto upswell a few days later when he was sharing about urban farming, greening the suburbs, food not lawns:  the dreamy prospect of sharing permaculture in neighborhoods like my sister’s or my parents’; the aching wish that real food replaces corner store corn syrup snacks for city kids…  Maybe part of choosing a life-path wisely is freeing up that intersect of desire+intelligence by undoing the patterns of doubt, fear, sadness, shame that keep life flow under lockdown.

Ebb, flow.  Slack, tense.   Give, get.   Energy comes around + goes around.  I was so grateful for present loving support, strong shoulders I was blessed to snot on.  In turn, I was honored to share in and witness the open processing of new friends navigating their own stirred-up-ed-ness.  Mirrors we, trading places.  It really was a wave to ride ~ ~ ~ ~ characteristic of big shifting.  One day on top of the world gleeful, the next night sulking in the tent alone with a whopping case of FOMO (fear of missing out!  Finally having an acryonym put to this chronic concern somehow brought to light its comedy and universality…).

One such night was an especially funny illustration of the call &  response of the universe.   I was pms’ing & generally sensitive;  as much as I adore and esteem Ethan he can trigger the bejeezus out of my latent religion-aversion as per his at-times fiery ‘preacher’ archetype, even if I’m down with what he’s dishing.  So I just couldn’t hang with his “Manifesting your wildest dreams” evening session and gave over to the inner pout a la “I don’t even know what my stupid dreams are and anyway I’m too flaky and unskilled to pursue them blah blah whine poor me script”  and so went to isolate and self-medicate with my secret stash of coconut date rolls under the guise of ‘reading in my tent’.  But eventually I had to get up to pee and brush my teeth, and as a goodwill gesture that I’m not completely rotten, I double-dog dared myself to manifest one really wonderful hug.   After finding my way in the dark to the outhouse, I’d gotten so focused I’d forgotten.  Making my way back to my tent, one of the shy-guys of the course trailed after me with some out-of-the-blue encouragement.   “ hey I just want you to know, you’re  one of the the most open people I’ve ever met, I’m so glad you’re here, etcetera ….”   Gold star bear hug.  Bam.  A perfectly timed, complete contradiction to my bitchy inner critic. Blush: oh yeah, we’re making this up as we go along, and the only way I’m disqualified is if I disqualify myself.   DOh.  Come on up to the house.

One sundown, similarly disheartened, avoiding dinner on purpose – the pre-meal song, inspired by Cohen lyrics inspired by Rumi,  drifted to my hiding place:  “Forget your perfect offering – Just sing the song that you can sing – There is a crack in everything – That’s how (that’s how) the light (the light) that’s how (that’s how) The Light Gets In” …… Ha. So aware of how I hide out when I feel bad instead of asking support, letting others see me in my weakness and incompleteness, then developing an identity I cling to about being a misunderstood outsider.  For the love, such a Four.

So I double-dog-dared myself some more, to nudge that ill-fated inner-loneliness and move toward desire, along the lines of bringing singing.  I’ve usually copped out of my songleading wishes, since I’ve been in circles with far more talented, practiced songstresses. But I had packed chords for my favorite Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes songs and stepped thru fear to ask for guitar company.  And lo and behold, I got what I asked for.  Imagine that.  Easy as pie. Just try.

Moon + fire, good friends.

I’ve a major crush on Jade Castrinos’ voice in this : it carries the marriage of opposites, fire & water, passion & nurture, longing & fulfillment .  These threads wove together and wrapped me up during our pdc full moon circle.  It was stormy and cold, so Goose built the fire,  masterfully from sticks and kindling,  under the roof inside the dryness.   Drummers built the energy and we circled the flame, evolving into a rousing game of  “Dance Like!” (i.e.  Dance Like… Joanna!  Dance Like… Kevin! ….which my kindergarden yoga class had made up: the circle spotlights one person and mimics them until they pass it on….. amps up the show-off silliness & we all get new moves)…… Sweating and laughing and sounding out and singing . . .  so human, oh I miss this when I don’t get this. Face and skin fire-flushed, I walked into the night and lay on the earth in the rain.  Heart grounded, hot + cold.  Held, lush, whole.

Our crew was replete with song skills and singalongs were rampant, likely to occur at any moment.  One of the bummers about life without electricity seems like it would be iTunes withdrawal. But I think I sang more there than anywhere else in recent history.  Life without recorded music invites our spontaneous voices into the open air.   Random harmonizing ditties would ramble into every-song-we-could-remember-ever-marathons – dusting off hits I haven’t heard since seventh grade.  Shai, Seal, Boyz2Men, Ani D, Fresh Prince, swimming in memories.  Stumped trying to remember the first line from November Rain; * * * * * pause for a shooting star.   Someone breaks the silence:  “When I look into your eyes, I can see your love restrained…..” The timed-right indictment struck a close-to-home chord, nailed in the gut with how i hold back from fear.  Notice & dig in:  I double-dog-dare me to learn to live with such abandon that the raw power-of-Love-thru-these-eyes breaks chains that bind, mine and ours, & opens wide the arms of the Beloved * * * *                    // beat that, itunes DJ. Throwdown.

Walking the lay of the land with an ear for dreams; our zone 1-2 sketch.

After a week and half of class time, we asked our learning into action by developing basic permaculture designs for real life sites. We gravitated toward various site choices to divide into teams— from enhancing a childrens’ garden, to bringing permie systems to local low-income housing development, to brainstorming the map for the soon-born White Rose Catholic Worker, and on. Through a brief interview and visit process, local community members invited us into their homes, projects, and dreams to concoct drawings and suggestions for how to put principles into action.

Our crew of five had fun getting to know our client, a big-hearted near-retiree with 27 acres and a tiny cabin near the old Sheridan river.  Straddling worlds, some heavy golden handcuffs tie him to two homes, a long commute between work and family.  But he’s curious and committed to keep simplifying; he hopes soon to spend more time at the cabin and build a legacy there with an abundant orchard and unique vineyard that hosts grapes and native wine-fruits.  We concocted a plan that was sensitive to the current weekends-only reality with big homestead dreams build-in-able…. drawn by candlelight and sung to him in 3-part harmony. Each design team received rapt attention and astute critical feedback.  We basked in each others’ creativity, and in the joy of sharing even our beginning sparks of know-how with the broader community.

Ethan & Adam don their most professorial to do the honors.

Graduation was a little anticlimactic after we hit the high note of the fireside talent show – - -  jokes and skits and singalongs and Hava Nagila high kicks.   GooFy.   Pre-amble to another epic milling session, we received hand-drawn certificates sporting ecstatic superheroes to verify to the world that we’ve completed an official Permaculture Design Course at the Possibility Alliance.

Now what?

“We are faced with a great inner transformation in nature. The natural gifts, the naturally inherited knowledge, traditional medicines, and so on that have been passed down from ancient times are all losing their value. We need to acquire new knowledge in order to enter into all the interrelationships of these things. Humanity has only two choices: either to start once again, in every field of endeavor, to learn from the whole of nature, from the relationships within the whole cosmos, or to allow both nature and human life to degenerate and die off. There is no other choice. Today, no less than in ancient times, we are in need of knowledge that can really enter into the inner workings of nature.”  –Rudolf Steiner

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Scoot over to-do lists, we now feature "Ta-da!" Lists.

Happy New Year postcard from Adam

Breathe into the tension between urgency and Listening.  Keep my post-pdc-do-this where I can see it, along with those questions that keep gentle, attentive pressure on the acu-points of my higher self’s questing.  Tell me, what is it you want to do with your one, wild and precious life?     What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

…………………………………………………What if I don’t know yet?   Meet my impatience with compassion, meet with Love that fear that the answer won’t come or I won’t hear it when it does. Listen.  Listen past the fear.  Listen like in the stillness of the dry stream bed. Stay awake. Forgive the sleepy doubt, wake up when i fall to sleep.  Start again.  Listen.   And I do hear the answer stirring, somewhere sort of near. Like its hidden under rubble or echoing down a tunnel.  I’m committed to listen.   I’m committed to embody these very imaginal cells, waking up in me, waking up in you, in this will-be-butterfly-soup.

Let’s.  Do the digging to touch the truest desire, and go to work:

Throw Yourself Like Seed ~ Miguel de Unamuno

Shake off this sadness, and recover your spirit.
Sluggish you will never see the wheel of fate
that brushes your heel as it turns going by.
The man who wants to live is the man
in whom life is abundant.

Now you are only giving food to that final pain
Which is slowly winding you in the nets of death,
But to live is to work, and the only thing which lasts
Is the work; start then, turn to the work.

Throw yourself like seed as you walk,
And into your own field,
don’t turn your face
For that would be to turn it to death,
And do not let the past weigh down your motion.

Leave what’s alive in the furrow, what’s dead in yourself,
for life does not move in the same way
as a group of clouds;
from your work you will be able one day
to gather yourself.

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

Thanks for sharing my last year’s learning, in words.  I’d love it if you’re inspired to share yours:  in the comments,  your thoughts & especially your own “work-is-love-made-visible” moments, the ones where you sense and know yourself and your community to be living into the promise inside : : : :

thanks for nourish-meant & camaraderie  ….


2 Responses to EARTHSPEED

  1. Awesome. Love the links. You’re a marvel.

  2. Em says:

    Love this, and thank you for articulating truths, yours and universals.

    My dad wrote me a short email once: “I have the feeling you are working really hard. On the one hand, I think go, go, go. On the other I think rest, rest, rest! How about love, love, love?”

    That is where my heart is at home!

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About me
Educated as a painter, learning as a yogi, and playful as a baby monkey: I am a willing human being __ emphasis on the Be. I am traveling-learning, designing projects to feed my inquiries while attracting adventures and connecting with tribes that grace my journey with experiential wisdom in creative healing and joyful sustainability. My passions are catalyzing radically simple + beautiful + fun intentional community, sparking spontaneous collaborative singing and dancing, acroyoga, permaculture, and loving children.