Part of my decision to walk away from a 40 year old social experiment was motivated by the opportunity to start my own experiment.
My mom purchased 30 acres of forested hillside right around the time all the "tyrant drama" was going down.
So my choice was pretty obvious. Lets see....stay at the Farm and try to work through drama so I can keep putting in 60 hour weeks of unpaid garden managing, OR seize the opportunity to build - from the ground up - a site that makes sense, is energy efficient, and I can invite only those people I WANT to live with.
At N. edge of clearing facing south.
The Land aka "Eagle's Nest" has a cleared house site of about 2 acres on a southeast facing slope. The clearing was done about 10 years ago on a natural bench or flattish area about 150' above the valley floor. A well built driveway winds up about 400' away from the "main road" which is gravel and has only 4 neighbors upstream/up the road. From the clearing we cannot see the road or any neighbors, though we can hear their chickens and cows.
It is difficult to get permission to build a house in the "impacted F2 forest zone" but most of that hoop jumping was completed by the previous owner (our neighbor) so the Land came with site/septic approval which is worth about 2 years of process and 5K in fees.
There is a conservation easement on the Land, which basically means we cannot log it for commercial purposes. We're OK with that. We can harvest trees for firewood/building purposes, and the Forest consists mainly of 40-50 year old alder and maple with a few nice stands of fir about the same age with a sprinkling of cedar.
Our neighbor had some equipment building a road for him, so for pretty cheap these guys came out and dug us a hole, using the fill to add some more flat land on the downhill side of the clearing.
The hole is the start of our house. Bottom story: daylight basement, 3 sides concrete, south facing framed window wall with french doors to (eventually) an attached greenhouse. Wood stove and laundry/utility room go here. Top story: straw bale on 3 sides, framed south window wall. Kitchen, 1 bath, bedroom and dining room go here. Plans include an enclose "mud porch" entry on bottom floor, east wall, and small deck/porch over entry to 2nd story, east wall.
We meet with the County tomorrow to turn in our plans and have a "permit review meeting". Mom is acting as the general contractor, with admin support, "bad cop role" and inspector approval incentive via the power of cleavage supplied by yours truly.
I can be very persuasive.
Winter found us installing our gravity feed water system, clearing brush for a fire break, building a compost shed, digging septic test pits, and gathering re-purposed/free materials.
There is plenty more to tell, but I should finish my birthday breakfast beer (yep, 37 years ago today, I fell to earth) and start looking over permit forms, blueprints, engineering and site plan to get ready for our meeting tomorrow. Already got a tight sweater picked out.....
Blogger changed my dashboard and is messing with my style....I don't like the cluttered single paragraph look, but haven't figured out how to fix it.
It was a beautiful time last summer. The Garden flourished. We contributed to a community CSA, and took our produce to market every weekend. With Soil Sister's knowledge and collaboration, and the help and hard work of many friends and visitors, we not only planted nearly all of the existing beds, but broke new ground for artichokes and grapes. The Farm experienced a time of peace and harmony unknown for a long time. Even Soil Sister remarked that in 10 years, she had never seen the Farm so prosperous and happy. It was a magical time.
Unfortunately, the contagion of fear crept back in.
For me it began with an incident of bizarre behavior by a member. As I was happily forking a bed to plant beets (or some such crop) the Farm's newest Member, Harley, peeled out of the parking lot and jumped the bridge a la Dukes of Hazard in the aging pickup truck that was one the Farm's few remaining functional vehicles. These vehicular hijinks were followed with a stream of vehement obscenities screamed towards the garden from the road with such vitriol as I have rarely seen.
"YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!!!!!!FUCKING COCKSUCKERS!!!!!!GODDAM FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!!!!"
I leaned on my fork, dumbfounded. My mind scrambled for a rational explanation and decided that someone had stolen our truck. I ran to the Farmhouse and began ringing the emergency bell. The People started gathering near the bell, and I was told the story of how Harley had freaked out because the gas tank on the truck was below half full.
I tried to absorb this as the adrenalin pulsed through the veins in my neck.
Our rickety bridge was held together by prayers and Faerie Magic, all the fasteners having worked their way out some years ago. The truck was held together by baling wire and duct tape. It had never occurred to me that one of our own people would treat our Farm with such blatant disrespect.
My Farm was not cursed and attacked by an outsider, but by a Member; someone who was responsible for setting the tone of non-violent behavior the Farm strove to uphold.
I couldn't grok this. I sat down. I smoked a cigarette.
Zach offered me a beer and I gratefully accepted it with a shaking hand as the rush began to wear off.
This incident was followed by a number of meetings, spurred on by an eloquent letter to the Membership (by yours truly) outlining all the reasons this was totally unacceptable behavior and demanding consequences. Now our Brother Harley is a 'Nam Vet, and I have deep compassion for those bearing such wounds to their psyche. But no counseling was ever set up, many excuses and one apology were made, and Harley's behavior continued to get more bizarre.
Around the same time, Harley was befriended by Wormtongue, a garden intern and veteran around the same age. An us VS them dynamic was set up that I was mostly unaware of. Wormtongue had his nose so far up Momma Hen's butt she couldn't see straight. He even got to Soil Sister, convincing her that I had taken over the Garden and it wasn't "hers" anymore.
I was aware of none of this, until a meeting was called where Wormtongue accused me of being a tyrant in the Garden. I was shocked, since there are several steps to go through to resolve conflict before it goes to a meeting. No one had tried to talk to me one on one, no one had asked for a third person meeting to discuss the issues they had with me. I think many of The People were as shocked as I was that such judgmental accusations would be made in meeting.
What could I do but ask my fellow gardeners how they felt? Dream didn't say much, thinking perhaps his input would be blown off since we were a couple. Soil Sister described how she had been feeling; like it was "my" garden now. Squidee, our newest garden intern said "I don't know what the answer is, but we gotta do somethin 'cause the plants ain't happy." Only Kathleen really stood up for me.
Momma Hen was the Facilitator of the meeting, and though I appealed to her to intercede, she just stared stonily at me while allowing Wormtongue to go on and on about how I was a tyrant, giving no examples but using the same language over and over again.
Finally I put a stop to it myself.
"I think we've heard enough from you. This is an issue for a third person meeting." to Wormtongue.
And to The People, My Family who I lived with and loved and worked my ass off for; "I'm really trying to handle this in a rational way, but what I'm feeling right now is like saying 'OK People, YOU figure it out. Cause I've GOT someplace else to be, and better things to do if I'm not wanted here.'"
I felt thoroughly betrayed. The group process had been ignored and broken down. I decided that if the Membership could not work within their own process and set an example of behavior for others to follow, than this Beautiful Dream was dead, and I was stuck in nothing more than a bizarre episode of 'Survivor'.
I tried to complete my residency commitment, and to help bring in the harvest and plant the fall crop, but my heart wasn't in it. Just being in the Garden made me sad. I had a good talk with Squidee one day, describing how I felt. He is a good listener. He understood. I cried on his shoulder. I realized the other day that he is in a select group now. He's one of only 5 people in this valley who have ever seen me cry.
One day I woke up to Wormtongue's loud, boisterous, self inflating stories being hollered across the lawn. He and some visitors were picking all the apples on the Farm. The apples were not yet ripe. They were set in the pantry where they proceeded to rot, as much of The Harvest rotted in the field.
That day I left.
And many of the most highly functional People left at the same time. The remaining sane people were driven off one at a time by the core of fear that now lived in the heart of the Farm; even Soil Sister and Snow Gently Falling who had been there for ten years.
So I didn't live happily ever after at that vortex that is the Farm.
But I still live in the Green Valley, and lots of My People that I shared that magical time with still live here in the Valley too.
Time is so much different now. The last post a year ago feels simultaneously like yesterday and a lifetime ago.
Maybe I've been out here too long to be able to relate to the paradigm that still continues out there. Going into town freaks me out now. It's like going to a different (hostile and unfamiliar) country.
There is something happening here. I'm not sure I can describe it, since part of it seems to be transcending language.
How much more direct and authentic and joyous would your life be if everyone around you listened not to the words you were saying, but the feelings you were experiencing? To the intent you were really trying to communicate?
This concept is terrifying to some. To those who hide behind the bluster of ego, and feel safe riding in the same track our parents and their parents and their parent's parents have worn for us.
It's pretty fucking tricky even for someone committed to a path of personal growth.
There seem to be lots of periods of self loathing when you truly are willing to face your ego, your patterns. Self loathing is useful as long as you learn your lessons fast and well. I feel OK indulging myself in about a day and a half of self loathing. Any more than that is rather pitiful. But it IS part of the process. To allow the negative to fall away we must confront it, and all the ugly feelings it brings up. So feel it. Own it. Then move on. Cause you're better than that. I'm better than that. There is a beautiful, shining future waiting for us if we can get through this.
Everyone I encounter is a reflection of me.
That dominant asshole douchebag boss who wants my total submission? That's what I hate in ME. So I better fucking examine MY patterns and make a conscious decision not to participate in that.
What do I do with the boyfriend who can read my my thoughts? That's fantastic until somebody else catches my eye.
There IS NO HIDING FROM YOURSELF!!!
What do I do then? Honesty is the only option. And self examination. What do I seek when I feel lust for someone? I can't accept that physical gratification is all it is. Not for me. A beautiful mind is so much more interesting than a beautiful face (tho I like that too.) I think I use sex as a way to have a direct ego-less energetic connection with someone. I think that's what I really want. Maybe I don't need sex to get there. It's just how I know because in this fucked up culture of fear, real emotional intimacy with another is outside the box (outside the bedroom, anyway). With sex always seems to come the pair bond, and the ensuing jealous/possessive behavior. Pair bonding is only a useful pattern if I intend to produce offspring (and maybe not even then). I don't believe humans mate for life. I don't, anyway. We live too long and change too fast, especially now. By embracing a diversity of emotionally intimate relationships I see more clear reflections of myself and have the capability to learn about myself faster and deeper.
How refreshing it is to communicate directly with word and e-motion to another BE-ing who has released much of our conditioned patterns, who has no emotional attachment to the outcome of the conversation, who has no desire for dominance or dependance or any of the other fucked up mind games people subconsciously play with each other!
How empowering! When we all stand in our own power, we set the course for everyone else. I cannot stand in my own power by taking power from another. And no one can take power from me when I truly know what it is to stand in my own, OUR own power.
Yeah. It all comes down. Tear it down and build anew.
The Farm has always had an open visitor policy. It's pretty far out to meet the 300 or so people who come through in a season. They are all unique. Each one learns something here, and we learn something from them.
One thing they have in common is that they are all searching for something.
There do seem to be a few broad categories they fall into though;
The Idealist says "Hi, I just became a vegetarian, and I've decided your lifestyle is perfect for me. I want to be a member and live there forever." People in this category seem to think we have all the answers, that we are spiritually evolved beyond the ego that Humanity mind-fucks itself with, and that we dance in the flowers with the unicorns all day. They are typically crushed when they figure out that we work, we do stupid selfish things like all the other humans, and that ultimately they need to take responsibility for creating their own perfect reality. Bummer, man.
I used to fall into this category, and I STILL haven't seen a unicorn. WTF?
The Last Option says "Hi, I just lost my job, my house, my family hates me and I've burned all the rest of my bridges. Can I come live with you?" These people are desperate. They usually have drug, alcohol, or mental problems (or all of the above) It is hard to get them to leave. Even telling them directly that their visit is over doesn't work well. They find a way to weasel a few more days out of us "I'm waiting for my disability check to be sent here. It's in the mail." They seem to believe that if they just hang around long enough we'll let them stay. We're not Nazis, but eventually they get escorted to a new location (kinda like pesky 'coons)
The Privileged have never had to cook anything more complex than a Hot Pocket. They don't understand that Mommy isn't here to pick up after them. They get miffed when expected to sleep on a mattress on the floor *gasp* or ride bitch in a pickup truck, or do any sort of manual labor. They usually leave kinda pissed after a couple days because we make them wash dishes (using hot water and soap, of all things)and the Farm doesn't stock Hot Pockets. We don't have a microwave either.
The Wary but Interested generally have their shit together. They know society is fucked up and are tired of it. They are looking for a better way to be. They come with resources and an open mind. They are considerate of others. They gather information and make an educated decision about whether community is right for them. They don't often stay, but it's usually a good thing when they do.
The Drifters usually come unannounced or last minute. They are an eclectic mix of homeless, eco-terrorists, Deadheads, Rainbow Family, hitchhiking weed trimming hippies. A very few of them are total wack-jobs, but they're generally cool, always have interesting stories, are usually very willing to work, and grateful for whatever food and shelter we provide. I have a lot more respect now for homeless hitchhiking gutter punks. Say what you will, but they are resourceful and don't ask for much. They hang out for a while, then drift off to the next Rainbow gathering/harvest season/music festival.
The Tourists take lots of pictures. They have a passing interest in community, but mostly just wanna see flowers and naked hippies. If asked to work, they stand there and take pictures of us working. Field trips and media articles/documentaries fall into this category too. They don't usually stay long, but I feel like an exotic zoo animal while they're here.
The Disenchanted Gen-Xers are out there, but I'd like to see more of them. They have skills and a burning hatred for the system that ass-raped them repeatedly and left them for dead. They will work their butts off because they believe so strongly in building a better system. Sometimes they have anger issues, and can be very judgmental. My buddy Demon falls into this category, and so do I. "Zach" just showed up from this category too. Sometimes they try so hard they burn themselves out. That's what happened to Chef, and is happening to Demon.
I better watch that one. It'll be fine. "Relax and have fun" is at the top of my 'to do' list.
Visitors of any type are often scheduled to work in the Garden, since that is one of the few supervised areas that always has work to do. Trial by pitchfork is a decent way to test their mettle, but I gotta watch 'em pretty close, and give very specific instructions. (Twist the cucumber and gently pull at a 90 degree angle to the vine...don't just PULL) Sometimes it's wildly amusing to watch homeless anarchists have conversations with momma's boys fresh out of the basement. Sometimes visitors have amazing insights about society in general and the human condition.
Sometimes I need to confirm the identity of a lemon for them. But at least they leave the farm with the ability to correctly identify citrus.
Always I learn again that I am very judgmental (and often anti-social). I'm working on that.
The renewal of the social order, we now see, must begin with
We seek to change our basic assumptions and patterns of daily living; to
accomplish this we must alter our patterns of thought. We must live
ourselves into the future we seek.