Autumn has officially arrived, but hasn’t yet unpacked a fall wardrobe. The height of the colors is usually the third week of October. Another week to that. Meanwhile, here’s what UPN looked like from Benchmark Road last November....
Earthaven Celebrates 20th Anniversary
with “Intimate” Gathering of 125 Local Friends and Neighbors!
Twenty years ago on September 11, 1994, a dozen people so disillusioned with existing options for satisfying, life-affirming living situations, put their hands and available capital together to put Earthaven Ecovillage on the Western North Carolina map. This year, in the midst of much rethinking and refreshing of goals and potential, we celebrated the theme of Giveaway, a time-honored indigenous peoples’ response to prosperity and abundance. No, we haven’t gotten that big endowment yet, but we recognized our wealth in this special bioregion, this splendid forest, these crystal creeks, these developing farms and gardens, these gorgeous children, the skills and talents among us, and most of all the rich and abundant relationships we’ve formed with one another.
Gathering on the Saturday night before the 11th, we enjoyed a delicious finger-food buffet donated by Tricia, and then joined each other at the community Fire Circle. Carleigh got the fire going with a bow drill (whew!) and then Zev led off a spontaneous offering of stories and memories from our two decades of growth, as winding as the roads that lead us here. Old friends, some who only came around early on but who never lost touch with us, retold favorite memories for the newest EHers to hear.
On Sunday morning, quite a few folks turned up both for Kimchi’s Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) mini-workshop and a Trauma Release session with Gaspar. Gaspar also organized a volley-ball game on the Village Green, and Rainbow coordinated a mural painting party to brighten up the game room that has blossomed inside the old brown storage containers. The younger ecovillagers were given paint and the run of the interior of the game room.
We feasted together on the Village Plaza with local and donated dishes and desserts, and were thrilled to look around and see old friends and former Earthaven family showing up to celebrate with us. A ceremonial circle of gratitude and abundant wishes for the future was followed by a Timeline brainstorm in which we recalled the many big and small events still in our hearts, charting the year of their occurrence as best we could, for a chronological outline of the history of Earthaven. In the afternoon, informal teach-ins and tours were offered, while many just lingered in the Village Center to socialize and absorb the good vibes.
By Zev Friedman
Thirteen Hut Hamlet neighbors recently established a chicken co-op, endearingly referred to as Posse Poulet. From these 50 or so birds, we have been receiving almost all of our needed eggs, and we're looking ahead to a possible moderate increase in number of birds, including some ducks. We’ll also be slaughtering some of the older hens this fall for stew.
Working together, we get an integrated rotational chicken system with a manageable workload and cost for each household, as well as the fun of collaborating. We purchased 45 laying hens from Imani Farm (who decided to reduce their flock this year) and received several hens and another two roosters (one is now digested soup) from Black Wolf. With the financial structure and roles within the co-op set up by last spring, we made the leap and purchased equipment (such as electric fencing, materials for a moveable coop and feed containers) and then the birds in June. Since then, they’ve been rotated through three overgrown agricultural areas in the neighborhood. One of the areas the chickens cleared was around the House of Oneness, which will be deconstructed this season and salvaged for reconstruction as the House of Diversity in the Village Center (see related article in this newsletter).
Kimchi, another co-operative in the coop co-op, writes: “The chicken co-op has been a great way to experience and expand our connections with the land, the source of our food, and learn how to share with each other. What a gift to create rich relationships at Earthaven!”
We've also been experimenting with "alternative feed systems" such as black soldier fly larvae and red wiggler worm production, and of course we feed all of our seedy weeds to the birds, thus reducing weed pressure in our compost piles and giving nutrients to the birds. We've also been experimenting with using charcoal in their pen, nesting boxes and roost to absorb manure nutrients and odor and create biochar.
Recent Childrens' Performance Delights the House
Nothing seems to entertain us and our neighbors more than the simple, sweet and even silly performances our children regale us with from time to time. Most recently, Tricia Baehr coordinated a multi-media event with music, dance, theatrics and short films with the children of Earthaven and the greater community in our Valley. Billed as the Valley Kids Variety Show, highlights included banjo playing, original choreography, song and dance, special guests the Turkey Creek Rooster Tails (mountain music-playing siblings from Leicester, NC), a “witchy” performance from Shakespeare’s MacBeth Act 4, Scene 1, and more: an original one act play (nature-lover gets stung by bee), a Rubik’s Cube master-solver, and a finale of T.S. Eliot poems from “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” Even kids who didn’t appear on stage participated with photography, filmmaking, set design, and technical assistance, and parents and kids worked together to learn what it takes to put on a show and entertain their neighbors.
From Oneness to Diversity
by Arjuna da Silva
The first structure Earthaveners built together, called the Pavilion, was intended as a kitchen. Foreshadowing the design of the Council Hall, it was a yurt with round, straight walls and an experimental ferro-cement roof. Bamboo harvested from a Weaverville roadside made the purlins, and a wood fiber called excelsior was stuffed behind them. Not long afterward, we realized the flammable ceiling was a deal-breaker for a kitchen. That was 1995.
We went back to the tiny Mud Hut until the Hamlet Kitchen was completed a few years later, and in the ensuing years the Pavilion was renamed the House of Oneness, designated but rarely used as a meditation-yoga space, and then for childcare. I only remember using it for kids’ activities during the Bioregional Conference in 2003. Eventually, after the roof took a hit from a tree limb and the unmaintained interior began to slump, it became a barn for Yellowroot Farm’s adjacent field.
Enter Zev Friedman and his uncanny feeling for the meaning of things. Analyzing the changes in Earthaven culture, he began to call the deteriorating structure The House of Gathered Diversity. He proposed that we preserve the history and meaning of the structure by transplanting the surviving wooden posts to a new sacred space in the Village Center and building a memorial bench to preserve sacred space at the original site.
According to Zev, “this transformation ritually depicts the diversified direction the community seems to be taking, and it creates useful infrastructure to help maintain a sense of connectedness between different parts of the village as we enter the next stage of Earthaven’s life.”
Not long after Ramona Evangeline was born to Julie and Andy (first girl in a long time), Kaitlin and Bruce became parents of our latest ecovillager boy, Rowan Johnston. New Mom Kaitlin writes: “Rowan Kavanagh Lindsay Johnston is the newest member of the Earthaven family. He was born on August 16, 2014 at 2:12 am, birthed by his mother Kaitlin with his father Bruce supporting. Rowan is eating a ton and growing fast. We all look forward to his Baby Blessing and Village Welcome later this Autumn.”
Critters in the Yard
by Peggy Austin-Malone
I'm not sure if it was the full moon that made all these visitors appear, but we sure had fun watching the black snake scale our house and the box turtle come see us at our front door today, while we were admiring the nests of a Carolina Wren and an Eastern Wood-Pewee, each built on either side of the house. Or maybe it’s the three inches of rain in four days (and has us living up to our distinction as a temperate rainforest!). All the while we watched, the neighbor Barred Owl hooted in the welcome bit of sun that's shone this week.
We caught sight of the snake peeking in our window while we were peering out. The Wood-Pewee eggs hatched just three days ago, up in the eaves (ah—a likely snake lure), but three hours later, Heron and I saw it back on the ground, with no big bump in its belly, while the Wren (pictured here) stood guard.
Get ready for the School of Integrated Living's 2015 educational offerings. Classes to look forward to include Renewable Energy, Biochar, Creative Discipline for Parents and Mentors of Young Children, Storytelling, Nature Connection, Conscious Communications, Grief Ritual and more! Stay connected by visiting our website.
THIS WINTER FROM CULTURE'S EDGE
Continuing our focus on more internal development during the cold seasons, we’re planning both new and repeat events for January, February and March, so stay tuned for announcements in the December newsletter. Likely to be scheduled again are Comedy Improv, Dances of Universal Peace, and Writing from the Heart. New programs on the boards include Steve Torma’s Art of Intimacy and an adventure into essential oils and essences for healing mind and body.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT! You’re pretty much the first folks to hear about it—next June at Earthaven we’re hosting the first Restorative Circles in Intentional Communities Conference with Restorative Circles’ founder Dominic Barter and a well-known staff of facilitators. That’s June 4-8, 2015—mark your calendar and spread the word!
Dominic Barter, originator of
the Restorative Circles process.
NATURAL BUILDING SCHOOL NEWS
Plans for an exciting building season in 2015 through the Natural Building School internship program are shaping up to include an on-site version of this exquisite 12x12 built in Asheville this year at Steve-o Brodmerkel’s property in Oakley. The hybrid microhut taught eight interns just about everything they need to know from the ground up, and inside out, about natural and green approaches to small projects. The hybrid wall structure—one cob, one slip-straw, one plywood, and one diagonal boards—optimizes the passive solar design. For more information about building a microhut at Earthaven in 2015, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earthaven is an aspiring ecovillage in a mountain forest setting near Asheville, North Carolina. We are dedicated to caring for people and the Earth by learning, living, and demonstrating a holistic, sustainable culture.
This newsletter was put together for you by Arjuna da Silva, Debbie Lienhart, and Galen Menzel, with contributions from Tricia Baehr, Peggy Austin-Malone, Zev Friedman, Rainbow Teplitsky, Kimchi Rylander, Kaitlin Johnston, NikiAnne Feinberg and Ryan O’Sullivan.