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ever feel the need to start anew? afresh?

i’m feeling that here, that this blog has served in its time and now it is time for a little change. i’m feeling that in life now, that my current way of being in the world is no longer full-scale serving.

as the last post depicts, sometimes the soul moves beneath ground and on the surface one doesn’t appear as one thinks or has planned oneself. tonight/early tomorrow morning i plan to board a greyhound which will take me to a vipassana retreat, my first one of this type (though i have done silent retreats and meditative weekends in the past). it will be 10 days of silence, meditation, and introspection. in a way it feels as though/i know that i have wanted this my entire life and it is time now.

while i was in bend, oregon on my bike trip, i went to a healing fair one morning with my friend diane. there were many shamans and healers, etc etc there and it was an amazing morning of engaging and sharing with multifaceted energies. first, i ventured to a woman who worked with stones and she said something poignant as she was reading my energy which i am remembering now, “you’ve been living as a monk.” now whether i have fully disclosed this voluntarily simplistic, even at times ascetic (although also very aesthetic in my way), style of living with the world is one thing, but when she said this it was an ‘of course’ for me. yes, i have felt drawn to the contemplative life often (although in recent years i’ve doused this with a healthy balance of dionysian liberty) and most likely would have joined some sort of religio-spiritual community if not for the wildness in my spirit which bucks organized and entrenched philosophies and rigidly structured communities. that being said, in the secret and quiet of my own person, i’ve practiced a hand-crafted monkish spirituality imbued with plentiful introspection, a myriad of religio-spiritual samplings, and directly rooted cosmic nourishment. i’ve sampled the religio-spiritual traditions. i’ve explored different cultures. i’ve broken down barriers within myself on many levels. i’ve become aware of a lot of the patternings imprinted from the acculturation and indoctrination of my formative years. i’ve met countless self-proclaimed healers and equally magical laypeople with whom i’ve shared many beautiful, at times earth-shattering, cosmic, heartening, challenging relationships and connections of healing and growth for which i am eternally thankful.

yet, i find myself at another juncture and, inherent in this, is an opportunity to grow beyond and into mySelf more. to know myself better. in part it reminds me of one of the most monkish periods in my life a few years back, which i refer to as My Great Depression. i spent a lot of time inward during that period, reflecting on my being in relation to the world, discovering what was important to me, gaining momentum from within, as it were, in order to enjoy a challenging growth spurt in the next rotation of the wheel. included in these periods is often a struggle with latency, ambiguity, uncertainty, self-doubt, inwardness, aloneness, a general pathos of stuckness. having experienced this before, and even gone so far in the past as to question whether suicide is a viable option, i find myself better equipped to be in relation to this inward and decidedly “winter” of my being. this time, understanding the nature of my cycles, it has beckoned the question of whether, as a mirroring reflector of the earth and her rhythms, i am simply in a dormant period, as life in many places around the world is during this season. intuitively, i feel this as true.

this is all to say that i feel very beneath the surface, chthonic, seedlike in this season’s waiting. my dreams are vivid and inspiring. the other night i dreamt of a person in my life i love and feel deeply yet, for whatever reason on the surface don’t talk to or spend much time with in time and space. in the dream she had just arrived and we were sitting next to each other on a bench talking to a new friend of mine who was going to go under for surgery, specifically ACL reconstruction, a surgery i have in fact had. we were questioning whether i would have the surgery too and i said that i wasn’t emotionally prepared for it, that i had thought the surgery was coming in a few days and this is what i was readying myself for. in the midst of this discussion, i let my hand drop to my side where the hand of the girls rested and i let my hand sit atop hers and then slowly held her hand in mine. she didn’t pull away, but held my hand too and we sat there holding hands. of course i was in heaven and i awoke to the daylight and birds singing outside of my squat with the feeling of holding her hand. in reality, my hand was on my stomach, yet the energy i felt in the dream was literally coursing through my hand. it was as if she was with me, as if we were present together.

this dream holds special importance for me because during My Great Depression, this person magically came to me where i was in obscurity and provided the spark necessary for my moving on. this is still what she represents to me and i am thankful for her being and meaning to me.

all of this to say, i am not sure where i am headed. there are a few opportunities on the table for the year, yet, at this point, none of them are calling to me with such intensity that i am certain in my choice. follow the heart, i hear, follow the heart. and yet, my heart is here with me now; we are here together and i’m not sure that following my heart means doing anything different from what i am doing right now.

i may create a new blog. lay this one to rest. i bought the domain name wrenhaffner.com so the new blog may be there, if i can find some hosting service that fits my needs/desires. i’m deeply excited for this opportunity to try the vipassana retreat. on the eve of my departure, this is me letting go. this is me allowing myself. this is me saying i don’t have the answers and i’m open for universal direction in alignment with my deepest wishes and desires here. this is me surrendered and asking to know myself more.

until next time, ciao~

wren!

What a wonderful day today. I am very thankful.

Had the opportunity to go to Cal Earth‘s open house today with some friends, old and new. An hour and a half from LA, one can find Hesperia, CA. I went with the intent of seeing, feeling, experiencing, gaining some understanding on the structures and spirit behind the place. I had a feeling some interesting connections would spark up, and boyoboy did they!

twas an overcast day at cal earth, yet these jewels stand out

twas an overcast day at cal earth, yet these jewels stand out

First, the spirit of the place is quite contagious and I resonate with it on a grand scale. After wandering around weaving through the buildings, at 11 am we gathered around for Welcome, Introduction, Stories, etc. The daughter of the since-passed Architect of the place spoke for a while. We all sat around in a semi-circle shape on some of their structures, next to the first structure built there, the Rumi building (yes, inspired by rumi the poet), a brick circular building.

this building is their example of how beautiful and even fitting into the mainstream their work can be.

this building is their example of how beautiful, shapely and integrated the cal earth designs can be  (inside this house looks very conventional, i bet to show that it doesn’t have to be so “out there” and therefore inaccessible to the majority.

I loved the format of the Introduction and Story Telling. We got to hear stories of Khalili’s life, which were very inspiring to me. Stories of being on the brink of failure and pushing through, stories of the miracles of life, of trying and seeking out things never before experienced by humans. Of passion, a drive to empower All people, to make building homes affordable and accessible for All people! And when they say All people, it is real; they said that when they place the earth bags and fill their contents, they fill it a coffee can at a time! so anyone can do it- one doesn’t need to be exorbitantly strong, a construction-worker male, or even necessarily agile to build these houses. this is very encouraging for the world… and Khalili’s spirit, which continues on in the place, sought out this egalitarian accessibility.

here is an example of some of the bags that didn't get plastered over. these bags provide the structure and fill of the buildings and are held together with barbed wire. one line i especially liked today: the architect wanted to use the materials of war to create these homes.

here is an example of some of the bags that didn’t get plastered over. these bags provide the structure and fill of the buildings and are held together with barbed wire. one line i especially liked today: the architect wanted to use the materials of war to create these homes.

at lunch, i shared a few really neat encounters. this book the ringing cedars of russia by anastasia has been coming to me lately. i heard about it a couple of years ago and felt as though i really resonated with the book and wanted to read it at some point. a girl i met in an earlier recent adventure brought it up, today i saw it sitting in one of the cal earth sleep wombs, and then at lunch i met a couple living in idaho who are living at Vedrica Forest Gardens, an intentional community semi-founded on the guiding light of this book. looking at the couple, they appeared very familiar. sometimes i meet people who it seems look like me in various ways, not necessarily in a flesh and bones resemblance, but something in the eyes, perhaps a spiritual or soulular familiarity. we got to talking, and it was so refreshing to talk with them, to feel their spirits and the exciting and harrowing aspects of their endeavor. i may go visit their community over time.

later i met another woman who i felt connected to in a very deep way. she’s living in santa barbara now, in her 50s, has a very cool story – at one point she went to maui, lived next to a river and waterfalls, built her own house out of cedar. talking with her was such an amazing mirror i kept wanting to laugh and hug her and dance and giggle with my head back, grinning ear to ear. it was so refreshing to hear her speak, to see the joy and love twinkling in her eyes and to feel it radiating from her being and to feel my own being relaxing and excitedly delving into the unfolding conversation. we were both excited to connect with each other, and shared the joys and difficulties of living as very sensitive beings within frameworks that are not always supportive, especially within city contexts. it’s such a blessing to make connections like this, which serve to remind me, rejuvenate me, cause a deep soul grin and inspire and spark me forward.

beautifully colored dome in the light.

beautifully colored dome in the light.

the whole visit today at cal earth was encouraging, enlightening, inspiring, informing and beautiful. if you’re in the area,  i would recommend a visit to their monthly open house.

now, i understand that i am deeply entrenched in the “food movement”, make that “local …. hyperlocal, non-chemical, low-fossil fuel expenditure food movement” …

and most of my readers know this and are, to varying degrees, creatively aligned. yet, how can we hit this one home? this Necessity to grow our own food locally and create landscapes which support and encourage diversity and the abundance of life? how can we seep toward massive culture shift?

one key to unlocking this continuing shift is through the Power of Awareness, of bringing longstanding and embedded subconscious impulses and patterns to light.

i love the spirit behind this, and i would also add: plant native plant gardens, wildlife habitats, create spaces which you find beautiful and life-enhancing, food forests, oasis, desert-scapes, etc etc etc!

i love the spirit behind this, and i would also add: grow native plant gardens, wildlife habitats, create spaces which you find beautiful and life-enhancing, plant food forests, oasis, desert-scapes, etc etc etc!

this morning i walked to a nearby garden and did some stretching, said hello to the california poppies sans poppies as of yet, felt the hot sun on my neck and top of my head. i gave thanks as i sat at the feet of the seed-laden leafless sweet gum (how glorious is this tiered sight?!). i walked home after a while and on my way caught sniff of something horrible. the smell alone made me shoot the air out of my nose and hold my breath as my organism revolted against it.

yesterday i was in the hardware store, the one in town that my co-worker told me is like crack in that whatever tools you buy there will only give one a cheap quick-fix and then break down. all week long he’s been telling me of the side effects of working in construction – the wood inoculated with chemicals so that it can touch the ground and not rot and be eaten by bugs (yet when one cuts it and breathes in just a few whiffs from one cut it is equivalent to sucking in about 2 cigarettes), the sealant and fiberglass toxicity from working on boats and other manufactured products, the way certain materials and varnishes actually eat the skin and internal organs, the cheap lunch food that can be tasty and is nearby yet, if eaten over time, will leave one simply feeling greasy and fat and slowly growing into this. it’s depressing, these factors, that go into our current manufactured goods economy. walking into the hardware store yesterday it smelled like someone had opened a can of toxic fumes into the room and no one had thought to open a window. all these people milling about, buying and selling in a toxic environment. this is yet another facet of this branching matter …

well, my neighbors had cut their lawn this morning (or some hired hand did) and when i walked by it smelled like the hardware store. as i said, i shot out the gases as quickly as i could from my body and held my breath until i got to some safe air, yet at the time i thought, Perhaps that smell is coming from something in the trashcan. however, i looked back and only organic matter was hanging out of the trashcan. i looked at the lawn and saw the immaculate rectangular patterns from the lawnmower and freshly chopped grass laying along the lines and connected the smell with the smell of lawn chemicals.

oh good glory heavens, oh glory be! does this make any sense at all?

a landscape dependent upon the use of unhealthy chemicals to keep it afloat. a landscape, if left to its own devices, will draw in weeds and shift faster than the shocks of a grey-hair who missed the weekly salon appointment.

something here is grossly misaligned. 

ok, okay… it can make sense. in my final class of college, a formal writing class, i wrote a 15-page persuasive proposal on the subject of lawns. in it, i delved into the history of the lawn, why it is a popular mainstay today, its health repercussions, and alternative solutions. the keys that i wish to point out now, which popped into my mind this morning, are the psychological factors behind the existence of the lawn. essentially, the lawn comes from europe and is birthed from the “against wilderness” movement that swept through around the time of the Enlightenment leading into modernity and industrialization. as europe (and we see this pattern in the christian church as well) was seeking to be rid of the wild, uncontrollable aspects of human/nature and so create what they saw as an orderly, clean, safer and more beautiful alternative, large sections of wild areas were “tamed” and made into beautiful gardens, which included large masses of short grass. it was a sign of wealth and moral superiority to have short, manicured grass, whereas the forests, farmlands, and edges where the twain did meet were considered unruly and in need of control and more human touch.

obviously, these standards and internal prejudices migrated over with a large portion of our ancestry and so have planted themselves within our lawnscapes as well. though this time it is on a larger scale — no longer is it just the elite who can have the perfectly manicured lawn, something which, without the use of fertilizers and chemicals, would take many hands to prune and weed, trim and keep looking absolutely perfect and green and fashionable. with the help of fertilizers and chemicals and lawn care equipment (and through our dependence on cheap fossil fuels to run much of this equipment), all strata of society, from those with little means to stealthily wealthy castle owners, can maintain these ideal landscapes.

does any of this make sense biologically, organismically speaking from a center of health and wellness and looking out for the good of all?

NOT AN IOTA!

yet, these subconscious and embedded historical patterns are taking quite a bit of Energy & Awareness to shift. in the paper, i also shared research i found relating to current suppositions concerning the presence of lawns in relation to gardens, native wildlife habitats, native landscaping alternatives, etc. the qualitative findings were surprising at first, if not understandable, and i think herein lies a key to greater transformation and culture shifting. the grass lawn makers, who, in many cases, control a large portions of neighborhood landscapes, saw their alternative neighbors’ landscapes as personal affronts and downright sins against the unspoken standards of the neighborhood. they used words like Unclean, Bad, Wrong, Unruly, Disrespectful, Shameful, Disgraceful, Letting themselves go. all of which, as i mentioned earlier in relation to the similarity between landscapes and religious doctrine, ties directly into this cultural ideal of moral purity: order is good, chaos is bad. kept and manicured landscapes are good whereas seemingly wild (although most likely tended to varying degrees) landscapes are dangerous and threatening and therefore morally wrong. in short, when things are outside of the norm and uncontrolled by us, they can seem threatening. as humans oftentimes hold primal and subconscious fears of the dark, forests and wild animals and humans found therein, stepping outside of the accepted landscaping box (and the mainstream in general) can be scary, especially when one lives and breathes in an amalgam of acceptance-gets-you-somewhere via the dominant paradigm.

i understand, i get it! so what i’m pointing to now is this Key of Awareness and understanding on the part of those who see the glaring nonsensical and harmful (or, in the least, not life-affirming) nature of the lawn and its wide circle of necessities. it is becoming more and more fashionable to transition this lawn-space into food gardens or beautiful spaces with grass and mixtures of flowers, native plants, rocks, native landscaping (all sans toxins), and this is a great thing. as ones who see, we have the opportunity to speak for these landscapes and to take action aligned with our vision (continually refueled and reminded through our other senses).

it also comes to my attention that many people are running into legislative and code issues when seeking to transition their personally owned landscapes. this points to our need to Shift These Laws. i remember when doing research for my paper, i explored the covenants within my parents’ neighborhood in the suburbs outside of indianapolis, indiana. i was shocked to find all of the rules inhibiting certain landscapes and regulating the presence of others. sale of vegetables grown within one’s personal lawn (even when sold at another venue) was explicitly not allowed. for someone in my shoes, who would like to transition any landscape i am around and share/barter/sell the produce, this is a huge inhibitory factor. obviously, it is time to band together and collectively and with gusto and craft (gentle as doves and wise as serpents) face these outdated and controlling laws and come up with creative alternatives.

in short, our world’s health (micro to macroscopic levels) demands it and the potential of vitality and greater life wiggles with excitement at the possibility.

and so, i further realize upon typing this, this voicing is my present-moment landscape responsibility. thanks for listening.

keep attuned for Part 2 coming soon: my landscape responsibility Part 2, joyful alternatives

for lesley 

huntington garden's japanese gardens

huntington garden’s japanese gardens

From a poem by Gabriela Mistral entitled Song,

“night grows maternal before this song that goes to meet it; the stars, with a sweetness that is human, are beginning to come out; the sky full of stars becomes human and understands the sorrows of this world.”

On new years eve in San Clemente, Diane had gone to bed and I felt a pulling to the ocean. I slipped out of the room alone, walked a hundred paces (our room was very close to the shore), and met with the pounding surf. It was nearly time for celebrations and I stood there feeling honored, humble and at one. People heading out on the pier caught my eye and I decided to walk to its end and spend my new years with a strange gathering at the end of the pier.

The moon had already struck me, as it was surrounded by a wide circle of yellow light. The near full moon surrounded and circled. So special. Waves pounding constantly, I walked past the shoreline to the end of the pier. A few conglomerates of people at the end of the pier. I settled into the corner past some asian families.

The waters and sky were dark. At first I could see nothing, only hear the waters churning beneath. The ocean brings out this feeling in me, that I am very small and young, that I am fragile and know very little. Looking back at the moon, she is still circled and huge. The moon is huge and present. We intuit each other.

I had heard earlier that whatever one is doing as the new year comes in acts as a signature for the year. I remembered this and became aware that I was relatively alone, practically in the dark ocean staring with the moon. Ah, I felt as I looked into the deep, and imagined over the dark expanse a flaming tongue coursing over the waters spelling, CREATE.

The waters were more discernible now as midnight came and my human relations on the peer celebrated, popped bottles, kissed and hugged and cajoled one another into greater union. Fireworks erupted on the main land. The moon remained and I stood there, leaning against the rail, contented and full with the message I’d gleaned over the waters.

The smell of firework smoke wafts out across the waters. The sound of churning hits the dock. A couple Cheers one another. People walk the planks and return to shore. The ocean breeze on my face. A glowing moon and burning letters upon the dark. An inner spark.

Walking back, the moonlight cascaded upon the waters, so beautiful. Twinkling and shimmering, so bright. An emphasis on the moon, gazing over dark waters, we create and are created anew.

i wrote the above to lesley earlier as i sat amid the zen garden at the huntington library. i have been beset with a cold/flu to slow me down and i shot a few full nostrils into the surrounding plants. a museum attendant brought me some papers to snot into (although i do prefer snotting forthright on the land). and more remembrance came forth in this time of new moon building, fed by some lines by Gabriela Mistral…

“What the soul does for the body, the poet does for her people.”

i had nearly forgotten my dream seed almost 4 years back at The Mountain in North Carolina. my first community experience, my first taste of the delicate unfolding with support. my dream seed then: Dedicate a year to art, a year to creating, learning art and music making. I had spaced this until now… not consciously a-voiding it, yet given it space, even unintentionally, nonchalantly. and Now it is coming back around. this, the new moon’s intent, perhaps the underlying intent of the year…

photo (2)

written near white sage in the angeles national forest on 1.11.13

In the woods today and continually along the coast on my bike trip, it was just me and the earth; ocean, river, trees, canyon, mountains, crevices… A strange thought returned to me over and over: This is enough.

It would well up within, that phrase, and I didn’t quite understand it. Of course, I thought. When did I say differently? Yet somehow in those moments I knew that acknowledging that phrase shifted something, and on my hike today I have recollected what. Foremost, I am re-membering, I am writing to help myself hear, remembering myself into action.

canyon stream

A bus ride from where I currently reside just outside of Los Angeles, will take one to the foot of the mountains. A 6 mile hike from there brought me to an awe-inspiring sector of Eaton Canyon. Waterfalls, solitude, hopping wildlife, morning light playing in streams and leaves, air I can suck in without thought of harm to my system and water, once purified, that makes me feel so good inside. I trust this atmosphere.

It purifies, refreshes, enlivens, reminds joy, beauty, peace, knowledge of impermanence, wisdom of cycling seasons. It fills me so deep and creates such a mirror for me that many times on this trip I have found myself in deep gladness giggling! Walking along this morning I was so touched by the beauty of the place as I followed the trail along the river. The way the ecosystem changed as I mused along; sheer canyon walls jutting up from the river, maples’ lost leaves scattered over the trail in front of me- what a smell!, the sound and feel of the water in the air as I walked beside the stream, the light breeze, dappled sunlight, the delicate deliciousness of the currant blossoms dangling just so…. I could go on!

Walking along the phrase came to me again

This is enough

Yes, I agreed in  mutual embrace. Yes, this is so much.

Yet when I think back to riding the bus through the city yesterday, holding my breath as I waited for it on the street. Or drinking water from the tap the day before, feeling the impurities on my tongue causing me to spit it back out in the sink. Knowing how hard the average person must work to simply have a home and necessities within the city. How most everything is intimately tied to the dollar. How we poop in our water…

I am blown away at what we have traded: clean air and water for starters…

What is has cost to sustain livelihood in the city. It’s as if, over time, we said to the abundance, beauty, gift of relationship with the earth:

You have been enough, Yet you are not enough anymore. We are building more enough for ourselves. We are pulled to the city now. To its form of abundance, gadgets, high priced plates of food shipped around the world, all of the excessive material goods … we will hand over our intimacy with you for these as we pollute the streams, erode and poison the soils and filthy the air so we can go wherever we want whenever we will.

I tell you friends, the trade is not worth it for me. Nature’s abundance and I meet and we are the same. We resonate, we dance in that abundance in mutual caretaking and gifting. Nature is so much enough for me. I feel I do not understand cities. I do not love them or promote them and their incessant cry, “More, More!” What type of return to Nature is required? What does the harmony look like? How is the balance forged? In the anvil of experience I will experiment, as many who have come before and will go after have done. Come, let’s co-create in synergistic abundance with the earth! Let us sing, We have enough, We are enough, The earth and our relations are enough!

Dear New Year,

Create an abundance, live in joy beauty good food creation connection with the earth and it’s beings and my fellow humans, shift the paradigm of greed and storing away for the individual (of the stashing and hoarding variety) to one of great abundance and free sharing within community.

~In line with the bodhisattvas that have vowed before me, I vow in humbleness and in gratitude to the Spirit of Oneness which flows through all to live with an open heart and hearth sharing in line with the Highest Good.

I give thanks in this moment as I align myself with the Highest Good, as my heart opens and love from the entire universe flows in and my fears for my own well being flow out as I remember the great care and provision of the universe. I vow to live as an example of this connection in all humility and love. Some know it as the Christ consciousness and it is to this I vow and bow as I walk humbly with all my relations.

Sitting on the surf in San Clemente. It was dark this morning and I waded through my accumulations praying for light and guidance. My heart’s desire burned away all of the dross as I circled along another rim of the Great Dancing Spiral I call my life. As I reflect on the past year’s creativity, I connect with all life and feel all potential and possibility flow through as I remember who I am and celebrate the power of creative love that I am gifted to wield in this world. Thank you great spirit and all my relations as my heart is streaming light, I pour my cup to empty wherever it is needed and know mine will be filled again from the source within, meeting a variety of disguises without. Great thanks Great thanks!

Laughter and knowing, sending these words flowing across the cyber sphere for any ear that wants to hear and give a cheer for this new year’s dear dear infinite gear.

Love in abundance from my heart to yours, to ours,
Ecovillage, partnership, divine purpose and union, connection intimate with the earth and animals and plants, I love you
Excitement, thanks, knowledge of Ability to manifest in alignment with my essential nature and divine unfolding,
This gold of union, Ini, writing, alignment, friendship, joy, creation, collaboration, riding the wave and dancing, in the dark, in the light- with the divine spark

Thanks love!

Originally written for a local online sustainability journal and published to 5miradius.org

love to hear your thoughts!

 

Everywhere there is talk of needing to move into a sustainable relationship with the environment. We know this is imperative. We hear this and we feel it from within; this message is on the wind and there are a myriad of distractions which drown out this most basic of messages. If we don’t shift soon, we hear, the planet is in big trouble, we, its inhabitants, are in big trouble. Many sources say we are already in big trouble. Ecosystems are failing, animals are going extinct, massive populations are impoverished, the earth is acting funny, being hot when before it was cooler, erupting and quaking, the list goes on. The state of life on the planet is changing drastically, we hear, and it’s not for the best.

Yet what can we do within a culture where, in most cases, to live sustainably is a great challenge and against the flow of the main stream? How can we sit amid the reality of this dis-ease and find the courage, fuel and knowhow to take proper action? We ask, what steps can I take, can We take, to reach toward a sustainable life? How can we cease spoiling our nests and not deplete our resources amid a mechanized culture which, in many instances, relies on this devastation to function? How can we take care of ourselves and our environment? How do we balance the need to provide for ourselves with the looming need to shift our standard and mode of living? How can we hear and act?

What does sustainability look like and how do we step toward it Right Now?

Fueled by these questions, I set off on my bicycle in early August from Los Angeles and headed north, chugging along the shoulder of the 1. Like many of you, conscious and sensitive to pollutants in my environment, I have long sought answers to these questions and, becoming overwhelmed by the polluted environment surrounding LA and propelled by the urgency of the inner imperative to be sustainable and healthy, I dedicated myself to this search.

Through Southern, Central, and Northern California, along Oregon’s coast and Washington’s peninsula, and into Vancouver Island, British Columbia, I begged these questions, Provide me with some answers! I visited ecovillages and intentional communities, met individuals and small tribes of humans dedicated to living this imperative of sustainability within their environments, sometimes staying for a day, other times exploring for a month. I want to share three findings with you, 3 B’s (Ways to Be), which will help us to reach toward sustainability now: Be nourished by and create Beauty, Befriend local representatives, and Band together.

In relation to what is truly sustainable and how to align oneself with it, I realized that there isn’t an answer or pat solution. The answer is a constant prodding and continual return to the question itself. We keep asking and realize that there is no one way to be sustainable. It is peculiar, organic and local, specific, immediate, and long-term. The desire for sustainability is our root and, as we grow in our understanding of the implications of what it means to be sustainable, our daily activities become our branches, fed by our hungry rootlets seeking nourishment, prodding ever-deeper.

I found that sustainability is about interconnected systems, from our individual homes (food, wastes, building materials, water, land use, relationships), how we connect to our environment (transportation, income, community), and how our environment connects with us (local and government systems, regulations, laws). Because sustainability is a personal and collective intention, it beckons us to create local and collaborative systems. Sustainability is about networks, branching systems; it is our human web. Think of mycelia underground and how it is strengthened through its web, sometimes stretching for miles, popping up in the right conditions.

It looks like all of these things: a hand reaching out to share with a neighbor, a daily, continual effort, the fruits of which may not come on for 12 years or more, catching water, growing food, carpooling, saving and sharing seeds, building relationships, minimizing waste, co-housing, a gentle and sometimes aggressive digging at and revamping of the systems which seek to support, but which are oftentimes dreadfully in the dark and without substantial nourishment. Yet most of these actions are just branches. We need deeper-reaching roots. The 3 B’s or Ways to Be are a great place to start.

Be 1. Create beauty which supports the shift you want to make. This is simple: Everyone is an artist, let the judgment go and create art you love to have around you. Create art to live with, to inspire, to share, to describe, challenge, encourage. Beauty is one of the biggest motivators for humanity, and the possibilities are infinite. Beauty is everywhere and if we look for it, we will see it. Tune into beauty as a daily activity. For instance, reuse recycled materials in the garden as functional sculptures for trellising, create collages, murals, and beloved objects which remind you of your vision; make space sacred and creative, and it will feed you.

Here are some picture examples of nourishing beauty I found along my trip:

eesunchair

Cob art bench at Emerald Earth Sanctuary, nourishing and functional.

cob

Cob oven at OUR ecovillage, BC

Be 2. Befriend your Representative: Connect and permeate local systems of governance. Let’s face it, many of our shifts toward sustainability (building sustainable and affordable homes, catching water, growing our food collectively and sharing it roadside or at small, neighborhood/corner farm stands and collaborative markets) entail that local governance and laws change to allow for the required creative space of our sustainable systems. Start prodding toward these shifts now! Perhaps you want to build a cob oven, garden and sell produce with friends on the corner in your neighborhood, get government support and rebates for riding your bike to work or planting fruit trees. Like the cherimoya you planted in your yard last year (great job!), realizing legislative shifts may take years to bear fruit. These are the steps we must reach toward now.

A great model for this is OUR Ecovillage in British Columbia or Dandelion Village in Bloomington Indiana, two far-from isolated villages within reach of towns and cities which have steadfastly worked alongside local governance to shift neighborhood zoning and building codes in order to gain permission and even in some cases, government funding, to do what they want to do: build homes, catch water, have so many humans living this closely together on this much land, grow food and sell it, etc. One thing I learned from working intimately with these two villages is the phrase:

Befriend your local Representative – we must weave ourselves through genuine connective friendships with our representative. Hey, become a representative yourself and bring power to your community by sharing your voice.

our new building

The most recent and completely zoned cob kitchen addition at OUR ecovillage, British Columbia

annbuilding

Annabelle and Nigel preparing the cob at OUR ecovillage

Be 3. Band together – Alone we can only do so much, Together we are resilient and strong.

“One man with an idea in his head is in danger of being considered a madman: two men with the same idea in common may be foolish, but can hardly be mad; ten men sharing an idea begin to act, a hundred draw attention as fanatics, a thousand and society begins to tremble, a hundred thousand and there is war abroad, and the cause has victories tangible and real; and why only a hundred thousand? Why not a hundred million and peace upon the earth? You and I who agree together, it is we who have to answer that question.” – William Morris

The strength of our collective voice comes through our relationships. Our relationships are strengthened by communicating our passions, fears, heart songs, dreams, and stuck places. Form mini-tribes which meet together weekly, bi-weekly, monthly. Grow a co-op, intentional community or ecovillage in your neighborhood (or connect to one already in the works), or share a house with neighbors (it is cheaper and communication is more rapid). Practice and study non-violent communication and commit to speaking from the heart and the head in the meetings. We are empowered through our ideas, yes, and also through sharing our feelings which include our fears, strengths, loves, hopes and desires in supportive and enlivening environments. Our feelings are our fuels so collectively band together and voice. Gather two and three to start and grow from there. The embers stay hotter when coals are collective, so gather that fodder and enflame in our collective visioning!

These are steps toward community empowerment that I have gleaned and seen on my travels. I have visited numerous ecovillages, intentional communities and striving and impassioned humans over the last three years of my life and I have dedicated myself to living out this question. I challenge you to continue living it out in your home and community sphere and especially encourage us to DREAM BIG! What is it your really want that is aligned with a sustainable earth-vision? It will look different for all of us, yet in diversity we find strength. Forests which have many species are stronger and more resilient than mono cultures. We know this.

Way to Be 1: Befriend Beauty and Create, collectively and individually. This will nourish, inspire and enliven us in the here and now and times to come! Everyone is an artist and connected to beauty. Yes, you! Way to Be 2: Befriend your Local Representatives. Invite him or her over for tea with your friends. Call her and create a real dialogue, partnership or collaboration. Look at it as a real relationship, because it is and it is people in these positions which have the vocal power to shift our laws and systems by which our larger cultures are run on/planned by. I can’t stress the importance of collective empowerment through local governance enough! Way to Be 3: Band Together. Find friends who feel similarly to you and talk about your thoughts and feelings and once you’ve talked about your feelings and dreams, collect your ideas into concrete actions. Build a community garden after talking to your local governance about that plot of land that’s been vacant or use a space in your friend’s grandmother’s backyard to grow veggies for your families. Grow too much and find a community abundance-trade group like Ripe in Altadena or trade your eggs with your friend on the bus for eggplant. Weave your web and be conscious that it is this through which we are strengthened. All of these individual acts at home are great and they are a start, yet it is through our collective visioning that we are strengthened past what we can be and do alone, through which we are sparked, kindled, enlivened, challenged and loved.

In all of my exploring I have seen these Ways to Be in action: communities living together on the land in the country and in co-housing urban environments. Bi-monthly potlucks, work days, creating heart and logistical planning spaces which act as containers in which humans are talking about and acting on the things which are really important to them, gardens in back yards and surplus produce exchanges with neighbors, active barter economies, connections forged over time with local representatives which bring meaning and lessen the gap between those “in power” and their constituents, gardens which are sacred spaces and exude beauty and practicality, bicycle pathways painted by the city from the ecovillage to the thriving city center, communal car shares, small urban farms producing thousands of pounds of veggies, urban orchards, humanure and a plentitude of composting systems. These connective pathways are happening and we can all start where we are today!

Tribe, consider this an evocative invocation toward co-creation! I wish us courage and clarity on this collective journey as we dialogue and prod our roots onward and deeper in order to grow further reaching branches and weave more expansive webs.

Lauren “Wren” Haffner is the recent creator of a chapbook titled Earthy, a poetic exploration of the intersection between spirit and sex in relationships. This and writings of her visits to ecovillages and her recent bike journey can be found at ourdailyride.wordpress.com. She is also the co-founder of 5miradius (5miradius.org), a community urban farming venture and model which begs to be replicated. She is currently continuing her exploration of intentional communities and welcomes support and collaboration in her endeavors.

A woman plods along planting daffodils at the base of fruit trees, she digs in the earth with a stick, with her finger

The sun is shining and she scrapes the earth like an animal mindlessly
She sits on the earth or squats like a rock, moving from tree to tree like a cloud in the sky, where is the mind, full mind
She sits in the garden and it is like being with a lover, the way her body relaxes and breath becomes deep

This is the process of allowing life, this is the process of realization (and not that there’s anywhere to be or anything to do than here, now)

You might need to shove a stick in the hole… Just to keep the door up, Jesse yells to Raegen as she is near the door latch that is always needing attention

A mouse burrows and gnaws beneath me
The sun beams on my back
I feel my lower lip muscles tense like fish lips

This is the process of letting go, another layer of the onion, another moon cycles through, and I find myself here, embodied, where I always am

A woman moves along the face of the earth, circling trees with daffodils in a bucket, she isn’t doing anything
She plants precious hidden jewels of bursting yellow color that will surprise and remind the earth for a time each season
I am planting daffodils, the bulbs like precious stones in my hand, I am not doing anything

What could be more important
I am planting little yellow suns to spring from the earth,
what is this new birth
What is this new birth
Brown and rounded gems are returning in circles at the base of trees, in spring the fields are full of then

Where else to be
Where else to do

what is that rooster’s name? he has some funny name like tim buc tu or something, but i can’t remember it.

late last week i was watching the kids of the ecovillage while the community held a Community Justice Circle around an event that happened (this is a whole nuther great story!). as we were walking from the housing outskirts of the ecovillage toward the gardens, kitchen, meeting areas, etc, tim buck (or whatever his name is!) attacked one of the children. i looked behind me to see him flying up the ninas back, white wings flapping as he bit her rear. the little girl screamed, cried for all she was worth as the other children flocked to remove the rooster from her. i coddled her as she cried, alarmed.

 

in the next days, talk of the rooster flared. he also tried to attack Chester, an old light-color labrador retriever. chester didn’t stand for it and the rooster almost had his neck bit in half. humans had to pull chester off the lucky cock.

 

each time i walk by the henhouse and spy the rooster on the prowl i keep an eye on him, feeling his hot eyes on my back, his beady eyes inspecting my calves for a ripe spot into which to sink his spurs. he hasn’t charged me, well, not until this morning.

what a clear and bright morning it was. the community held a youth convergence yesterday and we’ve hosted a school group all week so youth and adults have flowed throughout the space scheduled and as they please. yesterday brought many activities including a sweat lodge which i would have loved to share in, but from which i was excluded due to the powerful blood streaming from my body over the last week up to now. according to tradition, which still stands here today, women who are in their moon phase hold special power during that time and so are not permitted in the sweat when everyone’s energies are closer to the surface. i took special and sacred solo space yesterday and fell asleep alone to the sounds of a community dance party and bonfire.

after collectively and in each in our own ways moving so much through in the light of the full moon, i woke up restored and clear, cozy in my sack in the tripod which i previously posted a picture of. i meandered toward the kitchen with the mind to co-craft a superfood smoothie for ini and myself, and possibly annabelle, as is the joyful pattern of most mornings. as i neared the rooster, named laksh mi sing (just yelling to jesse, the one who mainly cares for the animals, who is taking his clothes from the line, i am reminded of the rooster’s name), as i neared laksh mi sing, i sensed a different energy this morning. he was watching me. and so i watched him.

quick as the realization struck, he ran toward me, beak pointed at the soft spot behind my knees. before laksh had a chance to strike, i turned and, remembering all of the gusto inherent in my legs from my soccer days, i kicked him in the face with a force to score on a world-cup goalie. it took two kicks for the sing to stumble away, disoriented. he wandered to the henhouse door as if to seek refuge in his flock.

it felt good, it feels good to restore balance to this relationship. here are my boundaries laksh me. remember them, or i’ll remind you. and so this marks the day that laksh me knows that Those-Who-Walk-on-Two-Legs are not beings to mess with.

living as spirit matters

there’s a religion which believes the future holds union, bliss, divine connection

there are many religions which believe this

and so many people who hold onto this idea

 

this implies that though humans, the earth and its offspring, have spirit and make contact with Spirit, there is always some greater, far-off fullness to inherit upon death from the physical form

this leaves humans who hold these thoughts (implicitly, unconsciously, etc) waiting

pulled from the pressing present into some future paradise
the thing about the future is that we never really get to experience it until it’s here, in the present
the only embodied reality is the present, what we experience right now
the future is an idea in our mind, an imagining, a story we tell ourselves

and this is great! with our minds and imaginative story-weaving powers, we can dream up futures to work toward in the present. with these powers new realities can be brought into the material plane, lived, incarnate.

the thing is, the waiting for future union is often tied with the belief that it only happens after death of the physical form.

what i’m here to clarify is that it is possible to live as spirit matters. read the slanted part again. by matters i do not only mean Is of importance or value, but i also imply Is embodied. to bring into matter, into the material plane, usher into corporal form. this is the future paradise of the religions, often interpreted to happen after physical death.

what i’m here to clarify, and many are here now with this message, many have come before pointing the way, is that our ultimate mission is to connect Spirit with Matter, with earth, with what matters. to realize life as spirit. all of life, right now. often the divide between spirit, the sky, light, divine qualities and states of being and the earth plane is great and total. there are times for spirit connection, alone and in group, and then there is the rest of the life, lived on the material plane, engaged in practical, artistic, etc earth activities.

what i most want to say is that i choose to bring spirit into all of these activities. to realize that i am spirit (connected to Great Spirit) and so realize that all of my actions, movements, and beingness are a part of eternity, are a part of the divine flow, are a peace of the whole.

we all have spirits and we all have earth lives. in a balanced life the earth life, spirit life and imaginative/rational life of the mind flow and feed one another.

there is no future paradise. the time for melding within and without is now. if we read again the words of those who have come before, the words of whom one great and massive religion is founded and based, we find this truth:

Neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you. (luke 17:21)

Like the cow, Bossy, i woke up to outside of the wooden shelter yesterday morning, chewing grass, I’ve ruminated on these things for many years now. chewing off bits of truth here and there, swallowing them as i needed, processing in the gut, throwing them back up, biting off more, masticating, integrating them again…and again.

i am at this point to begin to bring this into words, to regurgitate what i feel and know and translate it into the magic of words which create and inform reality. yesterday i read about a new totem in my life, Spider. With ancient and primordial language Spider weaves the two realities together (Spirit and Earth) bringing mystery and divine truth into reality. i am called to this as one of my divine purposes and i choose to answer that call in joy, courage, standing in divine inspiration. i see myself as a channel, as a conduit through which divine truths can move. we all have this within. i choose to listen, to allow, and to share.

living as spirit matters
what will this look like as our daily ride cycles on, with or without the bike, knowing that each day is a divine ride gifted from the mystery. as spirit embodies matter, what will be created on the material plane? what earth and spirit lessons await? how will the great melding appear as it matures, develops, dies and is reborn?

i am curious, excited, even warmly contented now knowing that as i type spirit matters, has mattered, matters as the whole thing eternally!

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