On a recent walk through the burgeoning Springtime woods, Suchi took these pictures to refresh those of us who are desk-bound, and to charm you who’ve not visited in a while.
“A deliciously long spring began with Bloodroot blossoming, continued with Trillium coming on, Trout Lily, Hepatica and Violet, and rounded off my ecstatic adventure with Lady Slipper and Showy Orchids. Oh, Nature!” ~Suchi
'Tis the Season of the Students
by NikiAnne Feinberg
Several weekends in a row this past April, we had the pleasure of hosting college groups from the College of Charleston, Furman University, and Elon University.
We dig bamboo, but how many shoots can we eat?! Bamboo needs maintenance to keep it from overextending its boundaries. Here, students help remove bamboo sprouts from a former mini-grove. The voracious grass was coming too close to home and residents chose to remove it.
Earthaven's Group Educational Tours (GET) program offers tours and experiential learning opportunities for student groups year round. Service-learning programs are increasingly popular and have become a hugely successful complement to traditional academic learning environments. Hands-on learning allows participants to create an authentic connection with their world and embody academic lessons more fully, while enhancing critical thinking and teamwork skills.
Students from Elon University help Johannah Femling start a layered “lasagne garden” at the Forest Garden Learning Center. Their Philosophy prof, Anthony Weston, also worked on the site but was out of camera shot.
We view education as primarily a social learning activity. The process of immersion into an active, living culture of sustainability solutions, critical thinking, and systems orientation makes for not only an integrated, holistic approach to education but a rare opportunity to see experiments in action. Please inquire about how your group can get a taste of the integrated life through Earthaven's GET program.
Students from Furman University in South Carolina and Wes Dripps (center), Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, helped members build a stairway up the grassy slope to their home.
NikiAnne Feinberg has over a decade of experience with experiential, nature-based programs in both the non-profit and academic sectors. SOIL is the manifestation and culmination of her life experiences in sustainable living, experiential-education leadership, and program management.
Throw it "Away" - A De-Salvage Operation at Salvation Alley
by Andy Bosley
This March, Earthaven residents participated in a “Spring Cleaning” event, sorting through a ton of stuff (kept because someone once thought each item would someday be “useful)” and hauling much of it “away” in a trailer of metal and a couple of dumpsters of trash. Items from Salvation Alley, the Village Center, and many neighborhoods were gathered and the two mindsets—“Keep it, we’ll use it someday” and “That’s a piece of junk, toss it!”—got a chance to be debated in real time as we sorted through almost twenty years of built-up stuff. To our credit, much was already headed to a landfill and just took a detour here, some as early as a few years after the community began.
The storage barn on Salvation Lane was the first building built by the Earthaven Forestry Cooperative.
The intention of “Salvation Alley” isn’t to hold ritual evangelical healings, but to have a place where salvaged or excess materials from a building, plumbing, electrical, etc., project can be set aside until someone needs just that thing. As one who dabbles in a lot of projects around the community and our farm, I find it a useful resource overall.
But the reality is that the good stuff gets used and the junk stays around. It gets rained on, more dented, broken and smashed, and becomes if not useful for art projects, landfill. While we keep most carbon “waste” on site (stumps, brush, cardboard, all kinds of paper, natural fiber, etc.) where it can break down into soil, the plastics, metals and other materials humans create just don’t go away that quickly.
Sorting with a smile: “Prince” Otter and Spring Cleaning co-organizer Carleigh O’Donnell.
Paul likes to point out that having things “clean and pristine” is a pathology, and I too question the environmentalist who always wants to “clean it up.” However, if our storage area is not allowing us to find and use salvaged goods, we’re not doing any net good anyway.
The Spring Cleaning days were an all-out community effort that brought a lot of us together in a funky, fun way that could become something more regular as we grow and develop our neighborhoods and the Commons.
Andy Bosley runs Yellowroot Farm with his partner, Julie McMahan, and holds many roles around Earthaven including forestry, governance and men’s awareness work.
Council Hall Gets a New Coat
Long-time member and natural builder Mollie Curry trained a crew of Earthaveners in earthen plaster repair and lime plaster techniques over the past year, and the interior walls of the great hall are wearing a new, slightly tinted Spring coat. After completing the rest of the interior straw bale walls, the crew will move on to the exterior walls that had to go through the Winter with just a scratch coat on.
(from left) New Roots Sarah Smith, Seaver Williams and Travis Robb, with Mollie Curry (pink hat). The plaster dries to the lightest shade.
If you feel the call of the earthen textures, Mollie will be offering a Cob Workshop and introduction to Natural Building at Earthaven on July 4th weekend.
Cultivating New Community Members Starts with New Roots
by Arjuna da Silva
Among the many new and exciting things life in an ecovillage exposes us to—new ideas, new diets, new techniques and technologies, new celebrations—one of the most vital are the new people we meet! Our gate is open to visitors who may come for a tour, a workshop, to visit friends or family, or with the clear intention of finding their niche at Earthaven. Some stay or return to do work trades or internships, or to get the ball rolling toward membership.
We call the newest residents at Earthaven our “New Roots.” They come from far and wide, often are under 30, and participate in a variety of ways: as work exchangers, interns or apprentices, as long-term guests of family members, or as employees of on-site businesses. Generally, they’re all here to discover if Earthaven is the place to settle.
Thirteen New Roots, including New Roots Committee member (also an Exploring Member) NikiAnne Feinberg (left, bottom row) along with Community Service Coordinator Lyndon Felps (center, black tee shirt), got to know Earthaven and each other better at a recent check-in.
The New Roots are mentored both by the individual members who host New Roots and by the New Roots Committee. At periodic check-ins, New Roots get a chance to meet and discover how each other are handling living in the woods, coping with so much that is new and different, such as staying in tiny houses or communal set-ups, using and conserving off-grid power, reusing and recycling like crazy (including their own pee and poop), and shopping at the Free Store. Their adventures are life-changing!
Almost a quarter of those present at a recent check-in said they were interested in getting on the “membership track,” which begins with an Exploring Member interview with the Membership Committee. The interview also includes suggestions about what the potential Exploring Member might need to learn about Earthaven before joining. Exploring Memberships last up to a year, and Exploring Members are encouraged to attend (and sometimes join) committee meetings to learn about work going on behind the scenes. Financial commitment also expands at this time.
Within that year, the deeper commitment of Provisional Membership (the last step before the “jump” into Full Membership) is under consideration. Although not everyone takes the journey to Full Membership, just about everyone becomes part of Earthaven’s extended family, returning for long or short visits again and again.
Arjuna da Silva, a co-founder of Earthaven, has been a writer, editor, counselor and communitarian since before she can remember. She’s been focusing on a newer passion—natural building—for the last ten years or so, coordinating courses and a natural building internship program at Earthaven, now in its fifth year. |
SOIL at Earthaven
Our first 6-week ecovillage immersion program
in quite a few years begins in July, sponsored by the School of Integrated Living (SOIL),
a new Earthaven-based education program. A few spaces are still available for this unique opportunity to experience ecovillage living from the soil
Among many other skills, students learn alternative building techniques.
From Culture's Edge
(followed by an improv performance) is June 28. Sign up now for limited spots!
Pana Columbus’ Elements of Transformation returns July 19-20.
Wintertime Events We Hosted... (Gone but not Forgotten!)
Chikomo Marimba kicked off February with their Zimbabwean music and song, to our dancing delight. Two weeks later, storyteller/coach Pana Columbus used her Elements of Transformation approach to guide participants into making big life changes through the magical tales souls can tell.
Chikomo Marimba Band
The following week, Robby Boyer took time out from his teaching role at UNC-Charlotte to lead a Comedy Improv workshop for adults and teens that culminated in a lively performance; the audience hooted and hollered during a standing ovation. All these wonderful folks will be back again before too long, so stay tuned for updates and announcements.
Robby Boyer (left) and the improv crew: Sara Smith, Dylan McBride-Wood, Kayla Stephenson, Bailey Baehr, Suchi Lathrop, Arjuna da Silva, Hany Nagib, and Mollie Curry. Brandt Baehr was also in the workshop.
Our Winter season ended with a day and evening of sacred songs and dances, meditations, communion and friendship with Sufi Dance leader and teacher, Saraswati Rain.
Firekeeping for the Commons
by Kimchi Rylander
As Firekeeper (aka President) of Earthaven for 2014,
I am excited to announce that we will be turning 20 years old this year! Earthaven has been an intentional community seed bed all these years, attracting villagers to settle and explore what it means to take responsibility for the care of our land, our natural resources, and each other. Over the past two decades, we’ve gathered some magnificent things to share—harvested from our experience developing practices and norms for stewarding what we share in a way that will benefit its future stewards.
This week I read an inspiring work by activist and writer David Bollier, who looks at the study of “the Commons” as a new paradigm of economics, politics and culture. These days, when most of us think of “the Commons,” we are likely to be referring to open source software or Wikipedia or even the Internet. However, Bollier says that “…a commons arises whenever a given community decides it wishes to manage a resource in a collective manner, with special regard for equitable access, use and sustainability.” This touched me deeply in my core, as it dawned on me that building Earthaven is a vibrant expression of commoning!
Visitors on a tour of the Earthaven Commons, which includes hundreds of acres of forest.
“Commoners are determined to open up new social and political spaces in which people can make their own rules, negotiate their own governance, and craft solutions that are tailored to their local circumstances.”
Some of the news in this issue highlights what friends and neighbors have been up to recently to make life more meaningful, common resources more accessible, and the future more abundant. Earthaven is commoning all of the time...!
I invite ya’ll to explore your Commons. Just start small. It can begin with organizing a neighborhood work party. Bring snacks to share. Build relationships in your community one neighbor at a time. And, as most of us learned in kindergarten, it turns out to be true that—to have a righteous good time—“You gotta share, and… everybody gets to play.”
Kimchi Rylander, an artist and permaculture activist, has been practicing sustainable living for decades. She’s lived at Earthaven for the past 13 years and when she's not organizing a work party in her neighborhood, she's out with her rabbits, or tending her compost shrines.
Ramona Evangeline, the first girl to be born to Earthaven parents in ten years, made the angels and her parents smile when she came smoothly into the world on May 9th. Perfect and precious at 9 lbs. 2 oz., she’s hanging out with Mom (Julie McMahan), Dad (Andy Bosley) and big brother, 3 year-old Forest, while friends and neighbors manage a two-week “meal train,” bringing delicious homemade dinners to Ramona’s house every evening.