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

My Sacred Intention

Though I ravenously read Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing many months ago, it has taken me all this time to pick up any of her other books.  And the reason for doing so is silly, but deeply rooted: my upbringing has given me an illogical but very present aversion to anything Wiccan/Pagan.  Which is absurd because I find much more truth, both personal and universal, in the feminist spiritual system of energies and elements than in the sterile, separatist Judeo-Christian system of my heritage.

At long last I got Starhawk’s Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature from the library, and I am loving it.  It’s not the sort of book one necessarily needs to read front to back, but rather I am opening to sections spontaneously and appreciating the personal stories, universal insights, and practices that Starhawk shares.

This morning, while idly sipping my coffee and enjoying a breakfast of local eggs and a perfectly ripe nectarine in the long awaited cool breeze after last night’s storm, I was reading through the chapter entitled ‘The Sacred’.  Toward the end I arrived at an exercise to meditate and write on one’s sacred intention, and rather than read it and move on, I decided to take the time to ponder what my personal sacred intention might be.  It is far to easy to think ‘oh, I’ve already thought about those things’, but enormously beneficial when such habit energies are overcome in order to actually consider what and why I think what I do.  Following is my meditation- responses would be much appreciated, either on your own sacred intention or thoughts on mine.

Connectedness is sacred to me- as Tait said at the ED/CO retreat, it is the secular religion.  I believe in and want to support/create: connectedness of people to their own bodies and emotional experiences, people to each other and the larger human community, people to the vast multitudes of other beings, and people to the spirit, the sacred, the larger truth and beauty of the universe.

I want to take a stand for connectedness, feel the need to do so deep in my bones and spirit, but am often not sure how to do so because it is such a vague thing to explain while also being deeply personal and experiential to me.

A world where connectedness was cherished would be glorious and sustainable.  Leaders and politicians would feel truly accountable to those they speak on behalf of.  The disparity of wealth would essential disappear because individuals would recognize and know how to enact the fact that the health and wealth of one is dependent on the health and wealth of the community.  People would be intentional about their choices in everything from what they consume to what they choose as their vocation to how they educate themselves, and such intentionality wouldn’t be overwhelming, but rather seen as an opportunity to better understand the vast web we live in.

I desperately and wholeheartedly want to help bring this world into being, and I long for guidance as to how to do so.  My current work, both as community organizer and urban community house organizer, does not feel in conflict with creating a world where connectedness is sacred, but neither does it feel like the best use of my energies.

I feel blocked in doing this work by the enormity of the systems that are in opposition to a world that cherishes connectedness, by apathy of so many around me, and by my own pessimism/cynicism regarding the future of humanity.  I’m not entirely sure what will help me remove these blocks.  Courage would be good.  Educatedly optimistic mentors and friends would help too.  And a way to process and move beyond the despair that creeps in now and again.  From the universe, I need continued moments of reverence and awe.  I don’t mind crying, and in the moments I feel so much a part of everything I could burst my physical bounds and join the spirit stuff, I know in every cell that something and everything matters.

A beautiful insight on a constant conflict.

As with most individuals in the world, I have a number of internal worldview conflicts.  One amongst them, however, rises to the top of both my meaningful conversations and my quiet musings: should I stay in the city to do change work that may affect a greater number of people while recognizing I only have so much control over my own sustainability/simplicity because of the urban systems in place, or do I move to a rural intentional community where I might have a smaller scope of change impact but can live very sustainably, creatively, and off the grid?

One of the main arguments against the latter is that it often can be seen as running away from ‘real life’ (whatever that is).  Which is why I so greatly appreciated this piece from the Twin Oaks website.  I just might have to consider attending their conference over Labor Day weekend to learn more…

 

A letter to CON.

This weekend I embarked on the adventure that is one’s first comic book/sci-fi/fantasy/all things geek convention.  I went to CONvergence.

I’m still processing the experience, the multitudes of, well, everything.  Tamora Pierce‘s tattoos.  The incredibly complex costumes.  Yoga Quest.  The foam sword fighting.  The vast array of items one could purchase in the dealers room.  Everything Joss Whedon ever.  But before I lost the freshness of the weekend, I wrote a letter, a collection of first impressions if you will.

Dear CON,

First off, I’m glad you exist.  You give a home to thousands of people that in many other circumstances feel extraordinarily out of place.  Secondly, I am glad I attended you, glad I dove in relatively face first and met your denizens, listened to your speakers (Tamora Pierce, OMG), drank your alcohol, perused your wares, and just generally basked in your chaotic blend of costume, intellect, and connection.
HOWEVER… as noted yesterday [in my journal], I do not believe you are my tribe.  I wish you were.  I would love to belong somewhere so thoroughly, with people so filled with YES!  But I do not, unfortunately, and I’m beginning to believe I don’t really quite belong anywhere.  But that’s another story for another time.
There are many things you do so well, CON- you embrace the multitudes, not even regardless of particular predilections, but because of them.  You are unabashedly, inclusively sexual, something the world needs more of.  You provide for your people, with conversations of all sorts and sustenance for body and mind.
But CON, you also hurt my heart.  You produce a lot of waste after a lot of consumption.  You are very white.  You are excessively air conditioned.  You are internet-centric and astoundingly absent of nature.
In the end I stick by my beginning statement.  I’m glad I went.  I am not sure what future years will bring, nor am I certain of what I might want to pursue.  But thanks for loving the oft unloved, CON.

Love,
Lauren

Right Now I’m Reading: Sacred Economics

Sacred EconomicsAnother brief interlude from my Internal Audit posts, but a necessary one because this book is deeply changing my worldview, my ideas on what is possible.  Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics, writes of the story of money, the mythology we’ve created over time of value, growth, and currency, and how we can move into a more positive, sustainable, and loving future with a renewed idea of money.  And he has the book under a Creative Commons license to boot!

I should say that I generally despise money.  Words like financial, stock, market, currency, make me queasy.  My life and path and purpose have always seemed to be in nearly direct opposition to money as a force of change and decision, to unchecked growth as a dominant paradigm.  But Charles’ vision for a world of sacred money- a return to the idea of gift, to eliminating externalities and the disconnect of corporations and businesses from cultural and ecological realities and a false sense of scarcity- is truly helping me view money in a new way.

“Part of a sacred money supply will be ‘backed’ by those things of which we are collective stewards.  Here is one way it could work: first, we reach a collective, politically mediated agreement on the right amount of nature to turn toward human purposes: how much of the produce of the sea, how much of the soil, the water; how much of the capacity of the atmosphere to absorb and transform waste; how much of the land’s ability to recover from the scars of mineral extraction; how much of the gift of fossil fuels, metal ores, and other wealth; how much of nature’s quiet to give over to machine noises; how much of the dark night sky to give to city lights.  These decisions often require scientific understanding, but just as often they embody value judgments.  Both contribute to our collective agreement on how much natural capital to consume.”

Not since Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing have I been this inspired by a vision that both accurately diagnoses the problems of the present and creates a plausible path for the future.  I want to share this book with my father, a bank examiner for the FDIC, with my college friends, with my grandparents who grew up on farms in the rural Midwest, with cynical colleagues and visionary comrades.  It is so empowering to know there are others out there, changemakers, writers, economists, who can see a way forward.

So what do we do?

It is entirely possible to spend an inordinate amount of time completely in the abstract, preaching to the choir about one’s perspective without ever really coming down to find some answer, any answer, to the ultimate question that plagues every social, cultural, and environmental issue:
So what do we do?

This past weekend began with a marvelous gathering of friends around tea and the ideas of Wendell Berry, one of my all time favorite authors, largely due to his unique blend of utter practicality and deeply rooted philosophy.  The group managed to stay somewhere near the topic nearly all of the evening, only minorly distracted by the lavender shortbread and homebrew brought by attendees.  We shared favorite Wendell quotes (“Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed.  Connection is health.”), passionately articulated our frustrations with innumerable systems and cultural norms (ie. garage culture, financial viability as an end all be all), and felt pleasantly challenged yet validated all around.  But the question continually surfaced:
So what do we do?

It’s all well and good to philosophize and commiserate, and I would argue the latter in particular is entirely necessary to both blow off steam and continually flesh out what it is one is truly passionate about and concerned with.  But until practical solutions for building a world different and dare I say greatly improved upon the one we so readily criticize, we are merely venting to one another.

So now what do we do?

I in no way claim to have any all inclusive answer to this all important query.  But here’s what I did with the remainder of my weekend that I think at least begins to create a world that is more holistic, more community-minded, more sustainable, and filled with more of the things that my circles and I are craving.

Ben and I spent all of Saturday riding around to various social gatherings on our tandem.  We built wheels while enjoying homebrew, stopped by our favorite local microbrewery, visited his previous community house to take part in their potluck, and then spent a couple of hours at a folk sing along before heading home, chilly and sleepy with full hearts and heads.

Today I read several more chapters of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle while cooking up homemade wheat tortillas for vegan enchiladas (above), the ingredients of which were nearly all local, aside from salt, spices, olive oil, and kale.  I walked down to our nearby park in the slowly fading sun, stopping en route to jot down a poem of noticings.

So what do we do?

Move more.  Consume less.  Sing.  Cook.  Bike and walk.  Pay attention.

There are days and moments when I feel as though I succeed at this almost extravagantly, and the ensuing connection to my friends, my food, my world is gorgeous.  And there are many more moments and days when I lose sight, get stressed, grasp so tightly to a desire for control that I cannot for the life of me remember that my soul wants simplicity, wants connection, needs the now and here and not the constructions that I fabricate.  So what do we do?  Question, live, and love.

Bulk is Beautiful

Lists on ‘ways to be green’ don’t really phase me anymore- I often find that the sustainability geeks I know are already doing many of the listed suggestions, and that some of the list frequently borders on condescending in its ease.  Use a cloth bag at the grocery store.  Put in a CFL!  However, until our society is more open to considering more substantial lifestyle changes like No Impact Man and RowdyKittens, lists of how to be green are a manageable tool to encourage the individuals toward an intentional lifestyle.

So today I share with you one of my favorite accomplishable, non-condescending ‘green’ actions: buying in bulk.

It’s a pleasant challenge for me to limit myself to grocery shopping for almost solely bulk items.  And it’s cheaper!  Above is my recent $30 shopping trip at the Co-op, which includes eggs, caraway seeds, white flour, wheat flour, granola, honey, maple syrup, sugar, oats, lentils, and two cans of coconut milk that weren’t on my shopping list, but were on sale.

Bulk shopping takes a bit of forethought to be sure- one has to collect the jars and tupperware needed for various items, or use a whole bunch of plastic at the store.  There is something deeply satisfying about the lack of packaging though, and it’s almost impossible to end up with things you won’t use with bulk because most items are 1. preserved already (often they’re dry) and 2. take more time to throw into one’s shopping cart, so picking something up off the shelves absentmindedly doesn’t really happen.

The lineup of jars filled with grains, legumes, spices, and baking supplies is lovely too, particularly when coupled with fresh veggies from the garden.

(the last of my garden’s produce- purple dragon carrots)

Bulk: try it, you’ll like it!