|Dancing Into Our 24th Year!|
|On Monday, September 11th, we turned 23 years young, managed a small parade in the wake of Hurricane Irma weather, and packed the White Owl for a community lunch and some good old socializing! Then on Saturday night, the 16th, nearby Celo-community-based gypsy jazz band Carpathian Spruce lit up the Council Hall with their wild and celebratory style, while friends and neighbors joined members for a whirl of a celebration! Birthday cake crafted by Tricia Baehr.|
Many changes lie ahead for Earthaven in 2017 and ’18, as most of our neighborhoods turn into linked, separately owned, residential parcels, and we pursue an updated way to manage our Village Center.
right: Early Permaculture Design Class site map of the Earthaven neighborhood now known as Bellavia Gardens.
As you read this edition of our newsletter, please picture us thriving through the changing process and coming out feeling robust and ready to keep growing. It’s a big change from our original all-in-one vision and, though more complex in some ways, it may actually be a reasonable template for other groups considering coming together to protect land and nature.
left: Determined members carry on the Founding Day parade tradition, in the wake of Hurricane Irma's soggy weather.
below: Whirling away at Saturday night's 23rd anniversary dance party.
|This issue shares our sadness and loss of two deeply loved, long-time members: Suchi Lathrop in May, and Chuck Marsh just a few weeks ago. A tribute to Suchi is included this issue (see Hootin’…). |
Our next issue will include more reflections on Chuck’s rich life and legacy.
As we face the inevitable time in a community’s life when beloved members come to the end of their days, we are learning how to care for each other in a restorative, regenerative way. To deepend and share this learning, Earthaven-based educational group, SOIL (School of Integrated Living) is sponsoring two events at Earthaven next year in collaboration with the Center for End of Life Transitions, including Advanced Care and End of Life Directives in March and Home Funeral and Death Care Midwife Training in June.
Looking forward and looking back
above: Processing pawpaws into seeds and pulp
I first learned about pawpaws from Chuck Marsh. He was an enthusiastic advocate of new and under-appreciated fruit. When I became a partner in the nursery in 2010 we gathered and planted selected pawpaw varieties everywhere—his yard, at the nursery, and in Geoffrey's and my orchard. When his first pawpaw tree started blooming, Chuck gathered flowering stems from other trees in the village and brought them to pollinate the flowers in his tree. He was a proud papa when his trees bore fruit that fall!
For the nursery, we gather seeds from superior genetics to grow into plants for our customers. One of our favorite pawpaw sources is Wynn Dinnsen's Pittsboro farm. During a recent plant delivery, I bought 10 pounds of pawpaws from Wynn. The pulp will go into a variety of baked goods and ice cream. And the seeds will grow into pawpaw trees for our nursery customers.
Losing Chuck so suddenly has been a big shock, and I appreciate all the support our crew and I have received through this transition. We were 50-50 partners in the nursery and had each willed our half to the other, to give the nursery its best chance of continuing without one of us.
In addition to producing thousands of useful plants each year, the nursery provides much-needed jobs in the ecovillage—and will continue on. We have a great crew and plenty of plants for the fall and spring. And with these seeds, we will have pawpaw trees for years to come.
Debbie Lienhart is co-owner of Useful Plants Nursery. She lives at Earthaven with her husband Bob and two cats.
|A Common (Earthaven) Subject|
above: Growing food in the Hut Hamlet milpa
Food self-sufficiency is a common and oft-referenced subject at Earthaven. Most visitors ask how much of our own food we grow and/or intend to grow.
Several beautiful and still fledgling farms are developing on designated ag land throughout the central valley, and many residents have vibrant gardens growing for their tables most of the year, including greenhouses and hoop houses for the coldest months and for starting the next season’s crops.
This month we start a new series about pioneering and succession in farming and community culture with an article from one of our big-picture permaculture thinkers, Zev Friedman. Zev has been teaching and leading several project developments at Earthaven, including the Hut Hamlet milpa.
The article is based on Zev's much longer essay titled “Why I Bother to Farm at Earthaven: Maturing Beyond the Pioneer Stage via Cultural Topsoil and Mutual Aid.”
Pioneering and Succession
“The pioneer effort that founded Earthaven created both literal and
cultural topsoil, which is now capable of supporting not only plants
but the human systems it takes to
successfully grow food.”
I’ve heard early members of Earthaven frequently remark that this ecovillage was framed as a pioneer project: they wanted to start a project that was boldly different than anything that existed, not just graft onto existing societal norms and have to compromise from the outset. They also chose a piece of densely forested land with no clearings, which meant they had to clear large amounts of forest, thereby re-starting the process of succession.
below: Carving Gateway field from the forest
After a forest is cut down, fast-growing, sun-loving “pioneer” plants explode into activity, filling the forest canopy gap with life and beginning the process of what ecologists call succession. Pioneer species grow rapidly, make lots of biomass and begin to restore topsoil, cover horizontal ground, prepare and then give way to secondary succession species, onwards through waves of other stages until a forest ecosystem peaks at around 125-150 years of age.
Due to the initial conditions at Earthaven, the first 10 years of physical work was mostly spent clearing trees and creating basic infrastructure, all while people worked to make income, raise children, and develop the organizational architecture of the community. I’ve heard that many visitors during the pioneer stage remarked on how little food production they witnessed, expecting to see residents eating meals composed of all homegrown food. What they witnessed was an assortment of mostly urban refugees attempting to rapidly master many new skills at once. To nurture the dream of a self-reliant ecovillage would surely take many decades or generations to come into fruition.
above: The milpa in cover crop viewed from the remains of a pioneer-era structure.
Now that Earthaven is going into its 24th year, we’re moving into a new stage of cultural succession, in which collaborative farming has more of a role to play than it did in the early years. Some major infrastructural bones of Earthaven are in place, so the flesh of plants and farming culture can grow on them. Another way to say it is that the pioneer effort that founded Earthaven has created both literal and cultural topsoil, which is now capable of supporting not only actual plants but also the human systems that it takes to successfully grow food.
More from Zev on pioneering and succession in our Winter issue.
above: Zev and friends replanting the Hut Hamlet Milpa.
Feel free to contact Zev directly with comments, questions, and your own stories at email@example.com.
|Earthaven is an aspiring ecovillage dedicated to caring for people and the Earth by learning, living and demonstrating holistic, sustainable culture. Since 1995, we have grown to 55 full and associate members, from twenty-somethings to elders, plus infants, young children and teens. We hope to grow to at least 150 people. We're just 30 miles from Asheville, NC.||
Celebrations, Happenings, and Upcoming Events
HOOTIN' & HOLLERIN'!
Celebrating the lives and accomplishments of some of our favorite people!
Diana Leafe Christian
FIC's Communitarian of the Year!
Diana Leafe Christian, international author, workshop leader, and advocate for ecovillages, community living, and the Sociocracy governance method, receives the Fellowship for Intentional Community’s (FIC) 2018 Geoph Kozeny Communitarian Award at the West Coast Communities Conference in San Diego in September of this year.
The Kozeny Award honors communitarians for a lifetime of work in the communities movement: as networkers, in media relations, as community builders, and/or providing leadership in the communities movement. Diana’s contributions were recognized in all areas, “…sometimes by taking a leading role," writes the FIC, "and sometimes by providing invaluable assistance to others working in those areas.” (Communities, Fall 2017)
above: Diana teaching at Findhorn.
Diana and her Mom, Rosetta Neff (who passed away last May at 100), joined Earthaven in 2002. Diana has played major roles in our Promotions and Membership Committees and introduced us to decision-making practices used in other communities, including Sociocracy and the N St. Consensus Method (a variation of which we now use).
Diana became the editor of Communities in 1993, networking, editing and writing about community living for 14 years. Her book, Creating a Life Together, is a seminal reference for people interested in starting communities. Her second book Finding Community, is now a core resource for people looking for a community to join.
Diana travels internationally, teaching workshops on starting successful new ecovillages and on Sociocracy, and consulting with communities long established and those just starting out. We’re blessed to have her here the rest of the year!
We’re blessed with the arrival of Jasper Ori Millar-Swiftcreek, born to Julia and Jonathan August 29, Virgo Sun/ Sagittarius Moon!
Originally from Richmond, VA, Jonathan came to Earthaven from Asheville in 2009. He is passionate about family and children, and about food production and cooking, nature connection, health and wellness and herbalism. He works with Red Moon Herbs in Asheville three days a week. Jonathan is also Dad to Oakley Swiftcreek, who lives part-time in the Hut Hamlet.
Julia came to Earthaven in 2011 after exploring community in Europe, Israel and the U.S. She grew up in Louisville, KY. Julia lived in several neighborhoods before she joined Jonathan at Village Terraces. Feminism and women’s spirituality, Judaism, family, holistic healing and gardening are at the top of her list. When Jasper is old enough, she plans to continue pursuing a nursing career.
Letting Go Slowly
When you fall in love with community-mates, over time and through all kinds of circumstances, you develop a relationship very much like family. When they leave or die, it's an amazing loss and also a treasure trove of meaningful connection and nourishing memory. We can’t say enough about them, but we try….
Susan (Suchi) Lathrop
created sacred space at Earthaven for fourteen years, and was stricken with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), a disabling encroachment on natural body movement, not long after her best friend, Kimchi Rylander, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
It’s hard for us to accept and yet when it faces you square on, it challenges us to rise to the situation and lift things to their highest level. And rise we did, with Kimchi (who died in February) and again with Suchi.
Both women wanted to live their final days in the community they loved and so a large contingent of Earthaven members came together to do whatever was necessary to see these beloved women through their end-of-life transitions.
above: Suchi & Kimchi greet firefighters last year.
The following obituary is about Suchi’s life within and beyond Earthaven.
Susan (aka Suchi) Lathrop passed away in peace at home in Earthaven Ecovillage on May 17, surrounded by beloved friends. She had been suffering with a quickly declining condition of ALS. A wake and funeral were also held at Earthaven.
Suchi was a beloved leader in her community, not just at Earthaven, but in and around Asheville. She was outspoken and generous, and was the innovator of many community functions that have since become Earthaven traditions, including the weekly Coffee & Trade event on Tuesday mornings. Her guidance and determination made a huge difference! She was the Earthaven Firekeeper (like a President, only more so), and had a voice in many key committees over the years.
above: Suchi at the Trading Post.
As a core member of the Hut Hamlet neighborhood, Suchi co-owned the Tribal Condo with her beloved friend, Kimchi Rylander, for over a decade. She was an ardent gardener and filled her greenhouse with food all year round.
Suchi grew up in upstate New York, focusing her academic studies in psychology and library science. She has been a dedicated supporter of the Palestinian cause in Israel, and a leading member of the local Friends group in bringing attention to the issues. She was also Clerk of the Black Mountain Friends Meeting for several years.
Suchi’s hope is that people who want to honor her life donate a day or two of volunteer support to local non-profits in her name and the name of her community, Earthaven.
Classes, Workshops, Events…
from Culture's Edge
Behold the Storyteller in You!
NOV. 4 & 5
A weekend of story skill development with Eric J. Wolf
Finding Your Voice as a Storyteller, and Making a Thousand-Year-Old Story from Scratch on Saturday, and a Master Class in Storytelling on Sunday. Take one day or both!
Turkey Tail Tutorial
Finding and Using Turkey Tail
with Bob Broadhead
Learn to find and use turkey tail mushrooms, a locally available and the most extensively researched medicinal mushrooms.
Upcoming from SOIL in 2018…
At Earthaven, SOIL students absorb skills and concepts in context, exploring the village and interacting with residents—human, plant, or animal. They see what their new knowledge can yield in a consciously, collaboratively designed version of real life.
SOIL's upcoming Permaculture Design Course in July 2018 embraces the concept of community-scale design and explores its role in climate resilience.
Instructors Patricia Allison, Zev Friedman (teaching, above), and Courtney Brooke Allen use Earthaven as a living classroom to illustrate permaculture systems for food production, building design, social needs and much more. Learn more about this course, as well as other programs on early childhood education and end of life planning, at the SOIL website.
Also from SOIL…
Wild Leaders Immersion ~ September 2017–June 2018 NOW GOING ON!
Reaching Nature Connection: Storytelling ~ April 7–8, 2018
Reaching Nature Connection: Fire, Knives, Sticks, and Bones ~ April 14–15, 2018
Mission: To create a village which is a living laboratory and educational seed bank for a sustainable human future.
This issue of the Earthaven e-newsletter was brought to you by Arjuna da Silva and many neighbors and residents of Earthaven Ecovillage.
SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY: If you are computer savvy and are interested in a chance to live at Earthaven for a year, Culture's Edge may have a spot for you! Call (828 669-1965) or email us.
We look forward to greeting you again with news from the front lines in a couple of months! Please send any comments and ideas for future issues to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.