So then what is my dream?

To be surrounded by green and sunlight.
To create spaces to be filled with the many kinds of love we create and share.
To be peaceful.
To grow health and food.  To share these with both loved ones and those in need.
To have time and inspiration to write the meaningful stories that live in my heart.
To co-create beautiful and useful places.
To care for animals as part of a healthy ecosystem and family.
To connect deeply with the land.  To notice and cherish the turn of its seasons.
To be filled with joy and curiosity.
To co-create a community of sustainable interdependence and respect.
To help foster the dreams of others.
To live without the plague of guilt.

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So simple, and yet so grand.  The farming season has begun, so as I become immersed in details of planting plans and watering schedules, I hope to continue coming back to this, my dream, the true future I crave in my soul and am committed to fostering.

What is your dream?

Right now I’m listening to: Iron & Wine

How to live.

Sometimes it feels like we’re prophets, sharing the gospel of sustainable community living (though of course we’re constantly reinventing what that means and how we do it together).  This is most certainly a bit grandiose, and I am aware that I can occasionally fall prey to delusions of grandeur.  But when my housemate says “I want my car to be a community car” and “sure I’ll try the Diva Cup“,  I feel deeply in my bones we must be doing something worthwhile.  This grand experiment of life is not for naught.

I love these people. Not all housemates, but we pretty much always have other people over so it’s an accurate photo nonetheless.

Internal Audit: Home

Soup
Blending soup by hand.

I’m keeping up Namaste House, which involves cooking and gardening and cleaning and arranging and making space that is pleasant.  I’m also coordinating our online bill pay for electric and gas, and will be making a house calendar to keep track of what’s going on with everyone.  I enjoy organizing these things, and creative problem solving, but get stressed when things seem unnecessarily complicated, especially when they involve money, which is something I wish I didn’t have to care about at all.  Maintaining the garden and planting new vegetables for this year is one of my very favorite things to do around the house, as is cooking.  I like both providing for myself and the rest of my housemates, as well as the challenge of DIY.  I feel compelled to do as much locally, sustainably, and without buying new things as I possibly can. 

primroses
I believe them to be primroses.

I’m also finding that I love having people over and cooking for them, to share conversation and good food and not have a particular agenda.  Our monthly potlucks are fun and worthwhile but sometimes exhausting by the end of the night, whereas having a couple of friends over for dinner is a fabulous and energizing experience.

Meet the chicks!

It’s been a lively first week at Ben and my new place in South Minneapolis, what with moving in, a semi-raucous potluck/housewarming party, starting the garden, and new creatures!

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Meet Silver, Buff, and Bar, our squirmy delightful cheeping chicks.  They are a Silver Laced Wyandotte, Buff Orpington, and Barred Rock respectively.

Their recycling bin home looks like something from a sci-fi movie.

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They’ll stay inside with us for 6-8 weeks, and then hopefully will make nice with our inherited chickens that live in the backyard and lay us delicious eggs daily.

Thanks to City Girl Farming for the tips and resources, and general enthusiasm for raising animals in the city.

Visions of sugarplums, or sugar beets more like.

Giving up is easy.  Becoming jaded, disillusioned, very nearly bored with the relentless march of our screwed up systems toward self-annihilation, it’s easy.  Persisting in change, however, is not.  Remaining optimistic, idealistic, dare I say HOPEFUL, is not so easy.  But to persist is to live, and those who provide a reason to persist, particularly without intending to do so, are valuable beyond recognition.

So you can imagine my heart’s gladness when I read my dear friend Caleb’s thoughts on Occupy and my being responded with a resounding YES.  YES I want to create.  YES I want to grow.  YES I want to be part of imagining and building a newbettermoresustainableandjoyful world.

His whole piece resonated with me, and many of the system criticisms, from food to politics to banks, are questions I myself have asked, wondering at how there is a person left on the planet that feels like things are going well.  Our systems aren’t working!  Capitalism is failing the majority of citizens!  We don’t have accountability, for corporations or politicians, and yet we give an inordinate amount of power to both of these sectors!  As Jess Zimmerman writes for Grist, “combating climate change will mean overhauling the free market economy and contracting the corporate sector, and people whose livelihoods depend on big business have a reason to be afraid.”  Those who have managed to suppress their conscience enough to make their way to the top of this inherently unstable and immoral food chain (an incredibly disproportionate number of straight white males, to boot) should expect to be challenged, and eventually to relinquish their stranglehold over the livelihood of the populace.

But it is not the criticisms that really got me going.  It was Caleb’s vision of the future, a co-created, human scale future.  A future of community and beauty, where work is play and we have not given up on our own lives.  Where the world is Our World, a place where we have stopped artificially segmenting our lives, our relationships, our homes from our workplaces from our parks from our play places.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Wonder is essential in this future vision, a wonder that manifests itself in curiosity, and eventually a drive to create something magnificent.  It is not duty or responsibility alone that will create the new.  It is through longing for a better world coupled with a sharp vision of how we might get there that we will persist, that we will truly live.

To not give up, that is the first challenge.  And to illumine our place in the vision, that is the second.  In the last few weeks Ben and I have committed to finding and purchasing a house without succumbing to the system, instead remaining true to our values of simplicity and human and earth sustainability.  We will find our home through building relationships, through moving into opportunity as it comes while practically examining our personal realities.  I have also personally committed to examine my work, my vocation, and to do the best where I am while honing in on where my passions meet the world’s need.

More concretely: we will have self-declared hours of creativity, to write or play music or paint or cook or whatever.  Once we have a house we will have a garden of food, medicinal herbs, and native plants to support bees; a bike building and maintenance area; monthly potlucks and intellectual salons; safe space for both conversation and quiet; a root cellar in the basement and crafting space in the attic.  Most importantly, we will invite others to join us.

I am idealistic, I know.  I have been berated for it at times, celebrated for it at others.  But what better way to live in the world than in hope, a critical hope that opts out of that which is failing and builds something better?

Rebirth on the Eve of Autumn

Sometimes living things and ideas appear to die.  Their time has seemingly come, with something new to certainly take their place.

Sometimes, however, this death is undone, tossed away, and a rebirth ensues.

In addition to my aloe plant having risen from the dead, in the last few weeks I have found myself in the midst of a resurgence of the deep interest and devotion I felt in high school to nothing other than intentional communities.  It peaked last night with this trailer:

Don’t mind the narration- I think it’s kind of silly too- but the concepts, the vision, the realities of creating and living with others in holistic relationship with the land is delicious, enticing and, most importantly, compelling.

I’m doing a bit of life reorganizing today, reimagining my priorities and focuses, my free time and my vocational path.  And nearly everything I’ve written so far has centered around creating intentional community, establishing space to be and learn and support and create and express and build the kinds of relationships that our individualistic, consumer culture makes so incredibly difficult, nigh impossible.

Ben and I are still looking for a house, which for me is one of the essential steps to inhabiting the community, creative life that I so crave.  We’re hitting a bit of a wall on the financial end- who knew that saving money rather than incurring debt via credit cards was such a financial failing?  But we’re pressing on, with the help of all sorts of people.  I’m generally failing at writing about finding and making home, but hope to return to it once August is over.

Uniting my work and heart’s goals is still an interesting adventure.  But such is life, yes?  What I truly love will be reborn until it fits properly into my life, I think.

Right Now I’m Reading: Refuge

Terry Tempest Williams is quickly becoming the newest addition to the ranks of my favorite nature/travel writers.  The water and forests of Annie Dillard, the canyonlands of Edward Abbey, and the temperate rainforests of Gary Snyder have captured my imagination previously, and Terry is doing much the same thing.  Combining exquisitely detailed observations of the bird refuge near her home with the soul-wrenching personal narrative of her mother’s experience with cancer (not a battle mind you, it’s much more gracious than that), Refuge has touched me in a deeply elemental way.  Plus Terry has somehow managed to significantly change my perspective on Mormonism, a challenging task I’m not certain she even took upon herself in the first place.

Good writers draw you into their narrative.  Magnificent writers make you want to create your own.   Terry must be the latter because I’m finding myself wanting to write, and feeling like I have a centerpoint to start from even.  Ben and I are looking for a house, a place to make a home, and while it isn’t an especially glamorous, exotic, or drug-addled experience, the process and resulting contemplations feels worth sharing.  And we’re only a few months in.

Stay tuned for house related tidbits, though they may be a couple of weeks in coming since I’m Westward Bound for the next couple of weeks, culminating in the wedding of a dear friend.  But then the searching and pre-approval will begin in full earnestness!