Switching to cyberspace
I like paper (don't you?). Ever since I was a kid I've liked the amazing variety of textures papers come in and, of course, the awesome experience of waving my magic wand across a page to see strokes and streaks turn into pictures and words. And there's the smell of books new and old! and the feel of a particular volume in my hands. And I love trees, y'know. Living with them among them, really I'm getting to know They Exist in a subjective, sentient way and that it's important for me to be awake to them.

So if the only issue was trees, I'd vote to print an Earthaven newsletter on kenaf or hemp and provide the sensual satisfaction of a paper newsletter to those of us who love it. But the real reason I'm going along with the switch is time! How ironic, you might say. Here I am, a slow-food (slow-whatever) kind of person, and I'm advocating saving time. But the thing is, at Earthaven, Time is the most precious element. Because so much of our time is needed to help build our ecovillage (which includes all the time it takes to live rustically and create homes and gardens for ourselves) we have to balance those demands with some shortcuts elsewhere.

Of course, if we can make the time we devote to community projects our employment, all the better, although much of that opportunity still seems to lie in the near future. And, for sure, if we can find ways to conserve on the time it takes to run our ecovillage, that's going to help a lot. These two things are presently happening to Earthaven's newsletter. One, it's turning more into a cooperative, with elements supplied by a team of us,and you? And second, it's going electronic, so we are still challenged to figure out how to stay connected with the folks who want to keep up with us who aren't computer-savvy. Is there anyone?

Losing fiber journals is a loss. The body cannot digest these keys and this screen the way it can a book in its hands, the turning pages. So I hope this is just a temporary solution and that when we have what feels like real leisure at Earthaven, we can give more of our time back to the aesthetic ways of living.

It is so heartening to see so much progress, in the realm of animal husbandry, happening at Imani. The barn and the rock retaining wall in front of it, embody the combination of practicality and aesthetic harmony we appreciate in our central village farms. The picture to the left shows the barn, a bit of the rock work, Lee and Mihaly and their new cow Bridgit. The investment of time and thought such a young cow of this breed represents is admirable.

Lee gave us this information about the breed
Dexters originated in Ireland's rugged countryside near County Kerry. In England, their popularity grew both with commoners, who could keep this small cow on the commons for grazing, and with royalty for the novelty of its small size. Before refrigeration, the smaller size was valuable for raising an ongoing supply of beef without excess. As one of the world's smallest bovines, the Dexter (sometimes still called the "Irish Dexter" because of its origins) is considered by many owners today to be the ideal homestead or or small holder's breed. They are dual purpose, raised for milk and meat. A milking Dexter cow can produce 1.5 to 2.5 gallons per day, which is more Milk for its weight than any other breed. The milk's butterfat content is 4 to 5 percent. It is possible to get yields of cream up to one quart per gallon. Animals raised for beef mature in 18 months and results in small cuts of high quality lean meat, graded choice, with little waste. The Dexters' small size combined with the ability to produce well isn't the only trait that makes them well suited for homesteaders and smallholders. Like many of the older breeds, they are extremely hardy. Thriving in both hot and cold weather, they can be outdoors year-round with simple shelter, and need less pasture and feed than other breeds.

The fence Lee and Mihaly worked so hard to provide may not be as aesthetically pleasing as the barn and rock work. However, it is essential for keeping in myriad animals. These animals will contribute to the productivity of the farm in the future. It already contains many new inhabitants, around
150 pullet hens have arrived and will soon be in full production. They may greatly reduce the number of eggs we need to bring in from off the land. Thank you Lee and Mihaly, for putting so much effort into furthering sustainability at Earthaven!

For more info about Breeds go to: The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy @http://www.albc-usa.org/

The Continental Bioregional Congress
Earthaven Ecovillage, July 2005
Over five months later, we offer these highlights from Cathy's daily reports:

People came from all over the country—from the Ozarks, Chesapeake Bay, Minnesota, the Great Lakes, Florida, California, Puget Sound, Texas, Mississippi, and Maine; from as far away British Columbia and Mexico; from further south: Guatemala, Colombia, Nicaragua, Argentina, Brazil; and from regional islands: the Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Puerto Rico. We were all assigned to "clans," called by such names as Crow/Cuervo, Butterfly/Mariposa, Deer/Venado.

Tours of our growing community of 60 people were given. Opening ceremony was held in Hidden Valley, to which we hiked, chanting "Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath and fire my spirit." Around the ceremonial circle, spirits of the directions, future generations, and great living souls were called to be with us. Everything was translated into Spanish.

Two hundred people spoke their names and bioregions, offered a silent prayer, and tossed a symbolic stick into the fire. Then came drumming, flute playing, dancing and celebration late into the night. Sunday morning we gathered on the Village Green, where the outline of North America had been traced in grain, each of us standing in our respective bioregion.

Later, inside Council Hall, where a huge patchwork turtle created by a previous Congress had been hung on one wall, our team of facilitators helped focus on the week's activities. Besides scheduled speakers and workshops and a Council of All Beings led by John Seed, time was left for "Open Space" meetings. Children's plant walks, puppet making, painting, and singing activities were planned. A schedule of healing and creative arts took shape, including yoga, massage, music jams, tai chi, plant walks, and natural fermentation.

On Monday, Angelica Flores, a traditional healer from Mexico, smudged us with copal smoke, intending for all: "That every day, we care for ourselves and others; let go of egotism we bring from outside; join hearts and will as one being—with the permission of the guardians of the sacred, all the elemental beings and the force of the Spirit who lived here long ago."

The Bioregional agenda of building strong local economies permeated many of the week's workshops and conversations. One evening, men and women met separately. The men went to Hidden Valley and walked back holding hands, eyes closed except for the leader, practicing trust. They returned to Council Hall just as the women's spiral dance was ending, the women singing "Mother, sister, daughter, friend," embracing each other with moist eyes. High point!

On Thursday evening, our Central and South American participants put on a cultural presentation including songs about the dangers of genetically modified crops and cheap corn for export. There was rap poetry, power point presentations and tales of shamans among the Kogi of Colombia. Then special sweets and drinks were offered, followed by drumming and salsa dancing. Plenaries—full group sessions to work on the mission, positions, and future plans of the Congress—rounded out the week in a whirlwind of consensus-based decision-making processes.

Weather-wise, we had rain, rain, and more rain while hurricanes pounded the East Coast. Campers kept spirits high and handled conditions amazingly well. Many new friends were made, old friendships rekindled, and hopes and blessings for our precious world were reinvigorated.

Building progress at Earthaven
Folks often wonder why Earthaven members haven't yet made significant inroads into food production for ourselves. Sure, some ardent and enthusiastic gardeners have created small kitchen gardens, there are perennials beginning to reach peak performance (it was a bumper year for blueberries!), and several members have managed to eek out production in a crop or two over the last few years, but in the main we are all still majorly focused on clearing forest and learning how to design and build housing. So, whereas our agricultural fields are still in the most elementary stages of development, our housing accomplishments are showing a diversity of vision and style, as demonstrated in the following structures. Perched back from Another Way, in the Main Street neighborhood, Holly, Shawn and kids Rose and Eli moved into this 1400 sq. ft. state-of-the-art green home last year. There are three second-floor bedrooms in this earthy haven, a fabulous bathroom with double size tub and chute-type composting toilet, and a spacious first floor. Landscaping and small animal husbandry are some of the exciting next steps the Baumgartner-Swartzes are planning to take.

Rod's hobbit house
Rod Rylander has lived in indigenous villages in the Philippines and in Belize, and when he came to Earthaven he decided he would build as close to the ground (meaning, green, local and inventive) as possible. His "hobbit house" in the Lower Rosy Branch Terraces neighborhood now gets lots of visitors curious to see his mud brick walls, thatched roof, "world door," and the funky, cozy interior he's been creating with a continuous parade of inspired helpers. Ros and company have been building a small methane digestor, and many of us are eagerly awaiting the propane liberating results.

At the top of Suncatcher Way
Geoff and Sue Stone came to Earthaven years ago with visions of building a typically Southwestern, passive solar "earthship" as their environmentally sustainable home. After experimenting with techniques by building a community root cellar in the Village Center, they went on to create this ranch-style two-bedroom casita in our Upper Rosy Branch Terraces neighborhood with great determination and stylistic flair. Earthships utilize old tires rammed full of earth for well-insulated, low cost wall systems. Cement and earth plasters create the exterior finished look. Solar gain is a major feature of the Stones' earthship, and construction has already begun to frame a grape arbor for additional shade in the summer months.

Village Terraces
Village Terraces members' neighborhood vision of common wall co-housing manifested this four- (or five-) family timber frame last year. Many collective functions and support systems are shared by residents, and the trampoline has been a significant addition for Earthaven kids and their friends! A second building is planned for the not-too-distant future.

Settler's Creek
Settler's Creek, Starforest Road. When Brandon and Tanya decided to marry and start their family expansion at Earthaven,Brandon bought this first "basic box" home. It was built by the Forestry Cooperative for Brianna Kalmykov, who left to complete college and go on to graduate studies in obstetrics and gynecology. The taller section on the right is part of the renovation and addition project that has just about come to completion.

The Tanya and Brandon family
Tanya gave birth to Willow, the third girl in their family, on September 17th,at home.Big sisters Aleah and Aurora are thrilled! Willow is petite, pretty as her name, and can occasionally be seen passing from one pair of arms to another at Mom and Pop's White Owl events.

Sustainable Systems
Sustainable Systems Two of our most enterprising and innovative problem-solvers are Chris Farmer and Brian Love. These guys have been "wrapping their minds around" how to make building at Earthaven more efficient and sustainable. Some of their solutions are manifest in their truck, outfitted with everything needed to build a building from start to finish. The interior of the truck is pictured left.

Farmer and Brian's amazing truck is a moveable tool shed. Its shelves house tools, building supplies, desk, file cabinet, vice hose and cord reels. It contains a collapsable chop saw and a table saw (these are super moveable, rolling in and out of the truck). Eliminating the need to build a tool shed for every site, the truck provides for super efficiency, adaptability and on-site organization.

They also chose to increase their investment by installing photo-voltaics in (and on) the truck, as a way of modeling sustainability while building our "green" homes. Their inverter produces pure sine wave/high quality AC power feeding a huge 800 lb (12 volt) battery array. Choosing a diesel truck gave them biodiesil options. They replaced the original alternator with a 200 amp model that has an excellent "bottom end” (meaning it can produce a lot of power at idle), the kind normally used for fire trucks and ambulances.

Farmer and Brian employ permacultre principles with this redundant system: they can charge their battery by idling the truck on biodiesil, or by powering their battery with solar pannels. The solar panels are under warranty for 10 years, with a life expectancy beyond that. The batteries are under warranty for 25 years. Up to now, solar has been their primary source of power, and running the truck is saved for special cases, such as blowing in cellulose or running a grinder.

How does all this translate into benefits for these Gateway neighborhood developers themselves? As they see it, the benefits include the fact that they and their customers don't have to listen to a generator all day. Their high level of efficiency and organization also equals considerable job security. They will be able to build whatever they want for themselves. And, most important to them, they can remain within the limits of sustainable right livelihood.

• • • •

Subscribe Unsubscribe Preferences Send To A Friend
Powered by Mynewsletter Builder  
A member of The ByRegion Network  

report spam