|Celebrating the Next Generations!|
“Here, have some of mine…!”
The Seedlings Club at Earthaven had buttery corn muffins and tea at ("Miss") Sara Carter’s 30th birthday party. She’ll miss their times together while visiting her mom in Ecuador this Winter.
When she's not in Ecuador or hanging out with the Seedlings, Sara manages the Hut Hamlet Kitchen. Everyone says: Come home soon, Sara!
How Children Fare in Community
by Diana Leafe Christian
Daniel Greenberg, who in 2015 was elected President of the Global Ecovillage Network, wrote his thesis for a Ph.D. in child psychology on the emotional well-being of children in intentional communities. He surveyed 235 or so intentional communities in the U.S. and personally visited about 30 of them to interview community members in person.
He learned that if a community was stable and didn't have high member turnover, the children seemed to thrive in measurably higher ways than non-community children of the same ages. Children raised or living in intentional communities seemed more confident and competent than similar non-community children; they learned skills most people usually learn only as adults. They were also more verbally and socially skilled (and even verbally precocious) at earlier ages.
Daniel believed this was because the children had adult friends in the community who weren’t their parents, relatives, teachers or school principals or any other adult authorities, just friends or neighbors who spent time with them and showed them how to do things (like garden, cook, repair things, care for animals, etc.). He also found that, unlike in the “outside world,” different ages played together and seemed to like and enjoy each other.
If, however, a community had a high turnover, with many families moving away, the children did not do as well; they felt like brothers, sisters and cousins to each other, and found it emotionally wrenching to keep losing friends who felt like family. I’ve seen similar things in my own informal research into communities around the world, and by personal observation living at Earthaven.
At Earthaven, we see children roaming the property with friends of various ages, in a kind of “kids herd” paradise where every adult knows them, cares about them, and can look out for them. Paradise, indeed!
Diana Leafe Christian, author of the books Creating a Life Together and Finding Community, speaks at conferences, offers consultations, and leads workshops internationally on the tools and processes that help forming communities succeed, and on governance and decision-making in communities.
|Rites of Passage for Teens|
by Arjuna da Silva
This past year, Michelle Dionne and Brent Hickey’s mutual interest and experience in mentoring youth found a ripe group of adolescents, at and near Earthaven, eager to work with them towards meaningful rites of passage. The program went so well that they’ve planned a year-long journey with local teens starting this coming March. The two interwoven circles, ages 12 to 17—one for girls and one for guys—are designed “to re-weave the web of support throughout our community, guiding our young people to become capable, healthy adults who feel empowered to help the culture heal.”
Michelle writes: “Throughout human history, communities gathered around their young to guide them into maturity, teaching them the skills necessary to sustain life and helping them discover their unique gifts. Tribal cultures realized each person playing their role effectively was essential to the survival of the tribe as a whole.…
“Our intent is to help our young people deepen their sense of belonging and purpose. As they explore and develop their gifts and become more skillful, they get to put them into action through community service. Our focus includes earth skills, hands-on projects, nature-based ceremonies and healthy teenage sexuality.”
Michelle began teaching and mentoring adolescent girls eight years ago, bringing herbal medicine, healing dance, ceremony, tribal culture, homesteading, and sacred relationship to her work. Brent’s Bachelor’s in Counseling and Psychology has been useful in various settings—serving orphans, homeless and special needs youth, directing camps and apprenticeship programs, counseling at-risk youth, teaching photography, as well as managing community service projects. For more information, please visit their website at www.themandorla.com.
|Annual Feast Celebrates Ancestors|
Our annual Ancestors Feast brings members, residents, friends and neighbors together in the Council Hall to highlight stories of beloved friends, family and teachers who have gone before us.
When we all gather for a feast in the Council Hall, it takes all our tables arranged in a tight crescent to fit us around the altar. We get to mix with folks we may not see much of. At one table, Aidan sat next to (clockwise) Amelie, who sat next to Chuck who was across from Mary, Dorien, Sue and Geoff. Earlier, we sat silently in a contemplative mood of pictures of our ancestors and our memories of them.
The Ancestors Feast is a unique and treasured annual event many of us look forward to each yer. We offer a special bow of appreciation to Kaitlin Johnston for organizing such a beautiful and sacred event for us!
|by Kimchi Rylander |
On November 14 & 15, a cluster of our village family and friends joined over a hundred people in Asheville for a Grief Ritual with Sobonfu Somé, sponsored by the School of Integrated Living (SOIL). Sobonfu is a gifted spiritual teacher from the Dagara tradition of Burkina Faso. This was the second time we were able to work with her.
It was especially enriching this year to share the ritual space with over 20 people from our extended village. We have woven together a life complete with broken dreams, shared losses, the hardships of living together, and the collective longing for a better world.
Sobonfu led the drumming and song that announced it was time to grieve. We created three altars: one for the ancestors, one for forgiveness, and one for grief. Each of us placed something on the grief altar to symbolize our grief. While grievers mourned, witnesses stood near and supported each one, as did the musicians and singers. Together we became a village with specific roles that made the grief ritual as powerful as it was. All in all, the message was—we cannot do this alone.
During the day, some of us reached out to each other, feeling the comfort and safety of being held in another’s arms. Being witnessed as we grieve is a powerful medicine, which breaks the spell of entrenched isolation and separation in modern culture that so often keeps us from reaching out. At the close of the ritual, Mana McLeod and Chris Farmer, both of Earthaven, had the honor of burying the grief bundle. I burst with emotion as the group thanked and welcomed them back in. It left me dreaming of a time when we are all welcomed with the same collective gratitude!
At the close of this ritual, my heart was so open; I felt such gratitude for the experiment called Earthaven.
Kimchi Rylander is an artist, deep ecologist, and permaculture activist who has been Earthaven’s Firekeeper for the last two years. Her grandest artistic endeavor is building a resilient ecovillage with 60 other cultural creatives at Earthaven. When she is not chair caning, you’ll find her in the forest harvesting a fresh batch of nettles and chickweed. Connect with Kimchi by email at kimchi-at-earthaven.org.
|PERMACULTURE SCHOOL STARTING NEXT JUNE! |
See more, below…
|Saying Goodbye to the Colors of Fall|
& Welcoming the Glow of Winter
I’m obsessed with time and can’t hold on to it. Can you? Problem is, it dies the instant it stops moving. Like the last blooms of Autumn disappear with the first frost…
Thank goodness for calendars, where we can mark dates and watch them stay in place at least until we get to them!
May all y'all have a blessed journey into the new year!
Next, a preview of what’s coming to Earthaven in the next few months.
Arjuna da Silva helped found Earthaven and has been blessed to live in a beautiful earth-and-straw house. She edits this newsletter.
|Culture’s Edge is starting out the year with an exciting series of workshops that focus on the love we feel for life, for ourselves, for our beloveds, and for our world. SOIL (the School of Integrated Living) has also cooked up an exciting menu of hands-on workshops and activities for the coming year. In chronological order:|
In January, we welcome Whapio Diane Bartlett for an evening and a day exploring the power of awareness and understanding that we receive from life’s great transitions—birth, sex, birthing, and death. Join Whapio for a weekend you won’t forget on January 29 & 30, in the Earthaven Council Hall. For more information, culturesedge-at-earthaven.org or www.culturesedge.net.
Moving with Love
In honor of the sometimes romantic and often heartful time of the year, Steve Torma and Michelle Dionne are teaming up for a one-day workshop entitled “Sex and Intimacy: Moving With Love,” to be held Saturday, February 13, from 10 am to 5:30 pm, in the Earthaven Council Hall. For information, visit www.culturesedge.net.
Telling a New Story
On the evening of February 19, 2016, permaculture designer/educator Alan Booker of the Eldenbridge Institute will begin a weekend presentation for eco-activists and storytellers who are eager to change what can be changed! Join us on Friday night and all day Saturday for a review of the “8 Transitions” that are pressing in on our world, and for a refreshing look at the “New Narrative” we are being called to create. For a closer look at the program, click here. More info at www.culturesedge.net.
You might know kudzu as the vine that will follow you home and swallow your house. But for centuries it has been revered for its generous gifts of food, fiber, medicine, and more. Join Zev Friedman (above) and Justin Holt for a weekend in Sylva, NC where we’ll explore how to harness the zeal of the 'zu for both human and ecological gain! February 25-29. Cost is by donation: give what you can, receive what you need.
On Saturday, April 23, Annie Martin
(aka Mossin’ Annie) will be at Earthaven for a program in the world of mosses. Discover how intricate these miniature forests really how, and which forms grow and serve best in your own microclimates. Annie is the owner of the design and landscaping firm, Mountain Moss, near Brevard, NC.
Join Michael Ismerio at Earthaven for four full days, May 5-8, in a workshop on making your own 10th century Scandinavian "Turnshoem" with recycled rubber soles. Be prepared for a little homework!
SOIL presents a seven-month series (12 days total), mostly at Earthaven, entitled "Growing Staple Foods on a Village Scale in a Forest Ecosystem." With Zev Friedman, from April to October, 2016.
A year-long learning journey, beginning with a 3-month residency at Earthaven. Gain knowledge and skill in systems design, organic gardening, herbal medicine, ecological building, renewable energy, communication and more. June 8 - September 2. Registration is also open for the (certified) Permaculture Design Course (PDC), June 10-26. It continues with seven 4-day topic-specific short workshops from July 4 to August 25.
The Permaculture School is a program of Ashevillage Sanctuary, partnering with Earthaven and School of Integrated Living.
|One recent event of note:|
|Social Skills for Cooperative Culture |
Back in October, we were treated to a fairly last-minute date with Ma’ikwe Ludwig, who is a leading figure in the Communities movement and a principle figure at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Rutledge, MO. The one-day workshop covered a major portion of issues and skills in our lives in intentional and un-intentional communities. We look forward to letting y’all know in plenty of time, next time, when she takes another tour around the country. You can probably catch up with her at the DR website.
That’s Ma’ikwe, on the right, leading a “spectrum” exercise in which Kayla Birstein, Amakiasu Ford-Howze, Suchi Lathrop and the other participants found ourselves spread out across the spectrum regarding how we communicate.
|Thanks to everyone who contributed to this issue (Arjuna's first doing the layout), including Tricia Baehr, Griffin Abee and NikiAnne Feinberg. ♥|