Tuesday, December 4, 2012

the shift

i recently took a look at the outline of the shift musical that my friend samara shaw put together. the 'rainbow warriors' song which came through me on this trip is in there twice; beginning of scene four and then towards the very end. i'm so honored to be a part of this!

the project got the support it needed on kickstarter! thanks to those who pitched in. there are so many worthy projects looking for funding these days. i'm going to keep doing my best to put money towards the world i want to live in. also i see there are opportunities outside of the financial realm to support it! i know with the power of love we can transform this world!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Northwest Vipassana Center to Seattle

on the east coast it was not such a good apple year, but back in the NW it was! as i rode through this rural area i passed by many apple trees on the side of the road. from those that looked obviously neglected i harvested some, filling the last bit of space in my luggage.

at a produce stand in a big gravel lot where two main roads intersect i stop for a drink of water. i follow my impulse to connect with the vendor and put out the positive vibes. he is a really nice guy who has been doing this for many years. he is happy about the big truck he recently got a good deal on at auction. friends of his are farmers in eastern washington and sell him this produce cheaply that he then drives over here to the west side to sell. he gives me sample slices of the honey crisp and pink lady apples, and upon farewell he gives me two oranges.

soon i arrive at the home of the folks i visited fifteen months ago, at the beginning of the trip. the veggie-table ultra still stands by the road in their front yard. there are some new plantings and generous mulching (such wisdom) in front of the house, where i am told someone made a mess of tire tracks. they turned that negative right around and now have some food-bearing plants where there was only lawn before.
the husband was off at work, so i visited with the wife and their two lovely children. the son is just learning to talk and kept telling me 'no'. he needed a nap, and fell asleep at the table while eating a grilled cheese sandwich. i stayed awake throughout the tastey experience. her home-made bread, a recipe from nourishing traditions, was wonderfully moist, lofty, and flavorful. we talked about many things and i sang a couple of songs for them. i was in heaven!
i let hannah know that i would love to come help out in the garden if i was around in the spring. she said they have considered having an intern, but don't know where to house them. we also talked about the option of having young folks from the area come to work and learn about this kind of life. possibilities...
they have two goats now in addition to the four sheep. it is becoming a quite intensive little farm!

no luck hitching first spot in chehalis, but a latino family in a pickup donates $10. next entrance north on I-5 i get a ride with a man who does horse-shoing. his sister knows a thing or two about meditation, there are prayer beads hanging from mirror. she is in thailand. he offers a place to stay and ride the next day to Oly, where he will be going for work. we decide to check out the train option and i decide to take it because the fare is not too much (the donation helps!). i give him one of the apples, he gives me a knot-work bracelet.

i ask a woman and use her cell phone to call my folks in seattle to let them know i am on my way. this is the kind of thing i often overlook, but i know they appreciate. my dad insists on picking me up at the train station. i had imagined riding up the hill to the house, but i surrender to his kind gesture, as i know it will make him happy. i tell this woman a bit about the HOOP TOUR and she seems to dig the idea of the 'economy of generosity'. she accepts one of the apples i harvested. when we get on the train she helps me with my bags! later she serves me a cup of green tea! this contagious spirit of connection and generosity really brings me joy and i put some of that energy into writing a letter.

when my father picks me up at the station i know the HOOP TOUR has finally come to an end. the magic will surely continue to unfold in my life, and the love never stops arrising, if i can just ramain aware of it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

spokane to NW vipassana center

Hoop Rider had been happily stranded in spokane for two additional nights at the home of ran prieur after two days of attempting to hitch a ride to the final destination of the HOOP TOUR, the NW Vipassana Center. the thought had crossed his mind that there might be a rideshare to the course, which are arranged through a rideshare board hosted by the center, but he thought it unlikely that he could find another server coming from spokane who could get him there early on the first day, before students arrived. when it looked unlikely that hitching would get him there on time, he had sent an e-mail to the center letting them know. in response he was told about a student coming from montana who was offering a ride! Hoop made the phone call and all was soon arranged.

the drive followed the route that Hoop Rider had imagined he would hitch-bike. this was from spokane to yakima, then taking highway 12 over White Pass to the west side of the Cascades. the conversation in the car flowed energetically, with a few breaks of peaceful silence. Hoop Rider shared the food he had brought, including a really good organic granny smith apple grown in washington recently and some of the last bag of Loki salmon jerkey. Kent, the driver, gave Hoop the last of his grass-fed steak leftovers.
Hoop was glad to meet another guy excited about working with nature through gardening, and doing inner, spiritual work through vipassana meditation. Kent lives on twenty acres in rural montana. his house is small and without electricity.

the center welcomed Hoop with comforting familiarity. there were some familiar faces there to greet him as well. of the eight other servers, two were people he had met previously on the HOOP TOUR! one of them was a young man named andrew who had been the course manager of the one Hoop had sat in Georgia. he had traveled by bicycle, following a similar route, and arrived at this center a bit earlier. hoop was excited to see him and both promised to share details of their experience when there was time.
the other familiar server was reintroduced as This. she had gone by a different name when Hoop had met her outside the natural food cooperative in New Orleans. she was one of the ones in the spontaneous song circle! it was such a surprise to see her that he didn't recognize her at first. she said that she'd been inspired through meeting Hoop to go to her first vipassana course. since then she had served and sat others.
what a happy convergence of meditating travelers!
another server he was happy to see was joe, who had served the first course Hoop sat back in 2010. joe's spirit was one that Hoop had felt a strong resonation with each time he had seen him since then. he had also been around when Hoop served the course at the beginning of the trip. he was the facilities manager for much of his long-term service. the kind of leadership joe offered as the kitchen manager of this course was flexible and loving. he did not seem to allow his reactive mind to get in the way of his heart very often.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

ran's in spokane

the weather was pretty nice the day i arrived in spokane. ran showed me around his front and back yards, pointing out all the plants he is trying to establish in the beginnings of a food forest. the goumi plants are off to a great start, and the apple tree in the front looks happy. i felt so jazzed to be at ran's place and asked if there were any projects i could help with. we made a pile of juniper branches into smaller pieces and then tidied up his garage. he has collected lots of leaves and has some in garbage bags that he intends to crush and use as cover material in the bucket toilet if he ever runs out of sawdust. i was so happy to see this toilet when i walked into the bathroom. so sensible and simple. i saw he was peeing in jars and asked if there was one i could use. helped me feel right at home!

ran offered me some thick chicken soup that was like a thin gravy actually, thickened with rue. it was so good! ran has very similar eating habits to mine, and i kept discovering more familiar items. kombucha, kefir, pastured butter, quinoa, dried seaweed... what next?

to arrive at the vipassana meditation course on time i had decided to give myself two days of travel. the route i decided to try would be through yakima, from there taking highway 12, which passes near to the meditation center. so i looked for hosts last minute on warmshowers.org and couchsurfing.org. the morning of the 29th, when i was to set out. i finally got someone on the phone who would let me stay with them in yakima! the road there would be an adventure, and i didn't know if it would work out... but i was up for it!

ran rode with me to the freeway onramp. we were able to take the bike trail most of the way! it is a nice one! we stopped in at the main market on the way so i could look it over. main market is spokane's fantastic food cooperative! i try to visit all the food coops, which seem to be almost everywhere i travel... i got a washington grown apple and some other supplies. this is one of the most comfortable and well-stocked coops i have been to. i appreciated their use of signage, highlighting local products.

the weather was great that day and i was happy to be outdoors, even if it was near an interstate onramp. the hours passed and i tried as i always do to project good vibes and show a smile to the motorists. any one of them could be the one to pick me up! i try not to descriminate, but i can't help it. certain vehicles or traits of the driver will attract or repel me. some people look like old friends and i wonder why they don't pick me up.
after a few hours at the browne st onramp without even one person stopping for me i headed down to the maple street onramp, where the word on the street was, 'they aren't letting people fly signs.' it was not important to me so i went to try my luck there.
four cops passed me during the time i was there and none of them even slowed. one of the gave me a friendly wave. but still i had no luck catching a ride, and as the afternoon passed into early evening i knew i'd be spending another night in spokane.

another wonderful evening with ran and housemate troy! i got to make a fire in their fireplace. thanks guys for the friendly hospitality!

no luck the next day after another three hours at the maple street onramp. one guy did stop for me. he was only going a little ways, to the airforce base, so i declined. he let me use his cell phone to check on a craigslist possibility. i told him where i was headed and he said, 'can't be late to a meditation course...' or something like that. i said that i was trying to meditate and send out good vibes while on the roadside... "i must have picked up some of those vibes, because i don't usually stop." he said. that boosted my spirits.
when the rain came, then came a little harder, i decided to go back to ran's a second time. i stopped by the coop on the way back and got some groceries: red chard, broccoli, apple, rolled oats, and pastured eggs! almost went for the raw goat milk, but wimped out, forgetting that i was told never to worry about having enough money on this trip. when i told ran he was like, 'OH YEAH, raw goat milk...mmmmm' and i knew i should have gone for it. i had imagined hot chocolate and pouring some in my oatmeal...
i worked with ran a little bit on preparing the wood for building a sturdy kitchen table that he can attach his country living grain mill to. ran baked some bread, i made greens, and we collaborated on a hearty lentil soup! you can see in the pictures that the soup is garnished with a leaf of malva, or mallow, one of the most common garden weeds. another fine meal... and ran busted out his cod liver oil to share! this guy knows what's up!
i got another fire going and we enjoyed the evening in this cozy little home while the rain showered off and on outside.

when i checked my e-mail i found a message from the meditation center in response to the one i had sent about being late. in it there was a suggestion to contact a guy coming from montana who could probably give me a ride! so i called him and set that up. amazing how this worked out! why didn't i just ask for the help of the center in the first place? i had thought of it but it seemed unlikely that someone would be coming from this far east. always ask!

missoula to spokane

again i waited many hours before a ride picked me up. the cold was biting, but at about five degrees warmer it was not nearly as hard to withstand as the cold in bozeman. the greater discomfort was the aching of my feet, lower back, and shoulders from standing, holding my arm out, and holding a sign so long.
this time i got all the way to spokane from missoula with a nice man in a big truck with a covered bed. he was a born again christian and we talked quite a bit about spiritual topics. he also told me many stories from his life and i told him a few from mine. amazing guy who i felt i was 'supposed to meet'. he drove me all the way to the doorstep of my friend's house.

bozeman to missoula

got a ride after about five hours to missoula. tried to catch another ride from there, but the light ran out. talked to a guy smoking on his porch and asked about a place to stay. he suggested checking out the poverello center or trying to meet people at a bar. he gave me five bucks for a drink!
i ended up staying at the poverello center. i met some really nice people! one woman with a fantastic vibe said she had walked about 7000 miles this year! there were thirty people sleeping in the room where i took a top bunk. i forgot to get my earplugs out of one of the bags stored in an office and had a somewhat restless night.
each day the folks staying at this center are required to do a chore. i was pleased with this arrangement. there were so many hands in the morning that it was hard to find something for me to do. i was given a staircase to sweep.

bozeman snowman

found this image on a cool website whe i searched 'bozeman snowman'.

snow was falling the morning after i arrived in bozeman. so peaceful and quiet, i watched it out the big window from the cozy living room. after a leizurely breakfast i rode to the community food coop with ross, the other couchsurfer staying with our bozeman hosts. by the time we got to the store it had stopped snowing, and by the time we got back to the house it was starting to clear up a bit.
that afternoon we went for a walk in a little wetland area nearby. our host, kristina, showed us little places and things she liked about this place, like a spot where the sun illuminates the golden leaves of a stand of trees just right in the late afternoon. this was a special time of communing with each other and nature. we cooked a meal together in the evening and all sat together at the round table.
after dinner ross entertained us with his guitar and singing. i played a few songs too and worked on patching my trusty wool pants.

the next day the fog rolled in again. we hiked up into it in the afternoon, slowly making our way up to the 'M' on the hillside. this was our second experience of communion with creation. we got into a good discussion of spirituality on the way down. kristina says she is atheist, but lives as if she knows god.
the third couchsurfer, kia, was at the house when we returned. she was a perfectly complementary addition to our little group. we were four around the table again that evening, as she took the place of kristina's father. so nice to share meals! i sang the blessing song "for the golden corn...".

on this second day there was an important event i'd like to note. kristina's father had a talk with me about his needs regarding the couchsurfing arrangement. his needs differ a little from kristina's and they were trying to make it work for both of them. i had only planned with them on staying one night, but kristina had invited both ross and i to stay a little longer. her father felt it would work better for him if couchsurfers could stick to the plan that was laid out before arrival. in this case he would be okay with letting us stay through friday night if we needed that. we talked about other things too. anyway it was just important to me that he brought this up in such an open way and we were able to acknowledge each other's needs. this is the kind of work that needs to go on if humanity is going to get through hard times together!

on wednesday all us kids went for a hike in the snow up to palisades falls, a short drive outside of bozeman. this kind of community activity was becoming a strong theme of my bozeman visit! in the car we listened to modest mouse on the way up, and i was in nostalgic heaven, singing along and smiling. on the way down we spun out and went off the road! it was a gentle crash though and we got right back on the road, just a little shaken up.

ross made a satisfying breakfast of egg/qionoa wraps for kia and i on thursday morning. they both took off after breakfast. i ended up staying another night. it was nice to have some more solitary time and the chance to interact with kristina one-on-one.

Friday, October 26, 2012

minneapolis to bozeman

a ride came along on craigslist that ended up working out perfectly. this guy was coming through minneapolis and going to bozeman on monday. Hoop Rider had been unsure where he might stop between minneapolis and spokane, but his intuition had guided him to look into bozeman. searching 'permaculture bozeman' showed him there was some going on there. one of the people he contacted on couchsurfing.org accepted Hoop almost immediately. when the ride came through craigslist, with room on the bike rack, it seemed meant to be.

so early this monday morning Hoop filled the remaining space in the car and the long trip began. this time he departed without the hula hoop he had been carrying since maine. he had leaned it against the front fence by the sidewalk upon arrival at this third host's place. since he was running late to a workshop that morning, and distraction of an excited dog, the hoop remained there. it was not remembered until the next morning, when Hoop went to meet a friend for breakfast. the hoop was gone, apparently found by someone who thought they could use it. it could have been a child who wanted to play with it. he hoped so.

the countryside was beautiful to view along the way to bozeman, especially after passing into montana. Hoop and the driver, a younger man passionate about the outdoors who has worked as a carpenter and white-water rafting guide, got along well and chatted off and on throughout the trip. Hoop worked on making the arm bands to match the rainbow headband he had made in chicago. he meditated in the car, which he found more challenging than in a still, quiet space. they ate in the car, Hoop sharing some food he'd brought so the driver would not have to eat crappy road food.
Hoops new friend in the driver's seat said he would like to start growing more of his food and have some chickens. he went on to explain that an older man he knows had bought some property in montana and was thinking he would try to get some young folks out there to grow food. this is another example of a new kind of partnership between property owners and young farmers! this is always exciting news to Hoop Rider.

when the trusty car rolled into bozeman it was foggy and very cold. arriving at the house of the couchsurfing host, Hoop relaxed into the joyful embrace of new old friends. there was already another couchsurfer there, who had arrived the day before. Hoop had a good feeling about these two, a kind of familiar, comforting vibe.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

the things i find through people

the night i arrived there was a pumpkin carving at one of my host's friend's house. we didn't get over there in time for carving, but went anyway and had some tea. it was a nice bicycle ride too. i really love riding at night! one of the people i met there told me about a singing event that would take place on sunday called 'singing in the light'. it is one of many community sings that take place in minneapolis it turns out. i was excited, but wasn't sure i'd stick around 'til then.
my host and her friend told me about sisters camelot, where there was opportunity to volunteer during the week.

laurel, who hosted me in milwaukee, lived in minneapolis before and had some suggestions for what i might get involved in while there. on tuesday it almost worked out to join in an apple harvest with fruits of the city. the location was too far outside the city and i didn't want to ride all that way. the carpool didn't come together.
i spent some time on the community computer at cafe southside, where my host was working, and later went back to help out in the adjacent community garden, 'paradise garden'. i collected some leaves from the alley. some had already been bagged up. i made a pile and put some in a compost bin, picking trash out. i wasn't sure what to do with the two bins full of stemmy plant material... thought i better wait to speak with someone. when i saw a man who looked like he was working around the property i asked him if he was involved in the garden. he was the owner of the property and gave me a contact. he told me his realtor had recommended that the space be turned into a community garden to increase the value of the development.
the main coordinator of this garden showed up eventually and i was able to work with her on cutting up the materials to help them get started decomposing in the bins. there is just too much air space when it is all stem! it would be best to mix such materials into a pile of other, finer materials like food scraps, wood shavings, leaves, and manure. they could allowed to dry out and begin to decompose in a rough pile and then be used during the growing season, when a lot more green materials are available.
this woman was a good christian and we talked a little about jesus. i told her briefly about my experience with the twelve tribes and what i had been learning. i still don't feel totally comfortable discussing or explaining what i feel about these things. she asked if i have a bible. i didn't so she gave me her little pocket bible. this is the second bible i have been given on this trip. the last one i left in eugene. this one was of a much more manageable travel-size. so i accepted it. this kind woman also asked if there was anything in particular she could pray about for me. i told her that i wanted to be able to understand god's will in my life so that i could do his work. so if she could pray for that...
we had not made much of a dent in the pile when we both had to get going. i was off to the sharing circle event i'd been looking forward to. i was a small and powerful experience including guided meditation, dancing, and song(led by me). this was definitely a place i was destined to arrive. the woman who led facilitated gave me $5 when we were on our way out of the building. i had just been thinking how i could have asked for donations for the trip... i didn't even have to say anything!

wednesday i helped out at a garden connected to sister's camelot. these generous folks grow a lot of their herbs there, but not much of their food otherwise. i helped turn and tuck in some compost. we disturbed some very comfortable rodents who had made homes in dry pockets. this can be avoided by keeping a pile evenly mixed and moist. but then, why do we not want them around? do they do more harm than good? regardless, it is a sign of a dysfunctional compost.
the next day i went and helped out at the kitchen bus of sister's camelot and then went over to bare bones headquarters, another group laurel had told me i should check out. soon after arriving there i was helping paper mache a ghostly figure. i told the artist that it reminded me of butoh. he said he does butoh and was very happy to meet someone who was interested in it and knows folks in the seattle community. he offered to give me a place to stay if i needed it.
heard from a woman working on another project at bare bones about a community just a little east of the tri-cities called anathath. it would have been great to visit them, but i decided to keep moving forward towards washington. almost home!
at the end of the day there i ran into a very old friend named rosie from washinngton. we had known each other briefly in my teens. it was so great to be reunited! such a surprise!
i went back for just a couple hours the next day to help out a little more with crafting and meal prep.

the second person i stayed with, in NE minneapolis, is currently attending one spirit interfaith seminary school. i'd never heard of such schools before! unity among religions! finding the commonalities and cultivating acceptance for all traditions.
the daily quote on the day i looked at the site was from barbara hubbard, who is in the video on this recent post.

"In order to fulfill your higher purpose, you have to find others to join with you. You’re not going to be a conscious activist all by yourself. Instead of finding someone and joining your genes together to make a baby, you start joining your genius with that of others to bring something new into the world. … There’s an intense flash of joy that accompanies what I call the ‘fusion of genius.’ So, instead of your work being a sacrifice, it becomes a fulfillment."

then i did a google search for interspirituality. very important work i feel.

at the sharing circle on tuesday i had been told about a workshop that would be led by kaia svein. this is who i had found the sharing circle through and i really wanted to meet her. also the workshop sounded like something i should be part of... "Deepening the Practice of Inter-being with Other Peoples & Species"
so that saturday morning i got up early, packed my stuff, and moved to another host's place. she'd decided to join me to the workshop and drove us there, which was a relief since i was running late, as usual.
the workshop was wonderful. i cried during a guided meditation in which kaia read a poem about endangered species. i shared the song by joules graves, we are healing ourselves. and we learned the dandelion dance!
in the evening my kind host drove us to the bare bones performance! it had heart like cirque de soleil, but was not quite as spectacular or long of a show. i really enjoyed it anyway and loved that it was done in a park, among the trees! the live music was a really great aspect of it, and one of the coolest puppet techniques was these inflatable beasts! they rose out of big eggs and took their shapes like fat animal spirits (octopus, buffalo, and eagle).

did you know the 21st was world singing day? on this last night in minneapolis, i attended the song circle i had been told about my first night in town. it exceeded my expectations. there were about fifty of us in one big circle of chairs. all ages were represented, from the baby to the grandparents. i learned some new songs and got to share 'rainbow warriors', to which barbara contributed a wonderful piano accompaniment. the spiritual energy that soared throughout the space awed us.

"I have seen the power that music has to uplift, inspire and bring people together. In fact, I think music might just be the catalyst needed to transform this world."
-scott johnson (world singing day)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

madison to minneapolis

hoop left his host's in madison around 12:30 on monday. no ride had come up on craigslist, so it was hitch-biking that would have to get him the 200+ miles to minneapolis. there had been a suggestion from mike, in milwaukee, to ride some of the beautiful countryside north and west of madison. hoop felt out that idea, but decided that it was more important to attend the hoop jam on sunday and then make the trip quickly to minneapolis to ensure that he could attend a sharing circle that was to take place tuesday evening.

the spot he chose to try hitching from was on the shoulder of a lesser highway coming out of madison just before the junction with I94. heading for minneapolis. the bicycle trail that had been hoop rider's most traveled path during this stay led most of the way there. on the way one of the bolts on the front fender of the bicycle fell out, and the chain really needed some lube, so hoop decided to stop in at revolution cycles, which is right on the trail. he bought a bolt and installed it for $3 and the nice shop keeper let him use the house lube for free!
the home of the buddhist nun, where hoop had worked on the cobb oven with periphery, was also on the way, so he decided to stop in, see the oven, and deposit a bag of kitchen scraps in the compost. the decorations on the oven turned out beautifully! a drop of water on the front and a flame on the back. chodin was happy to have some tips on composting, and hoop was glad to have a chance to connect more with this kind soul. she mentioned that she collects hoops... which hoop rider had noticed in the garage during the previous visit. they are for the children to play with.

on the side of the highway hoop waited and waited... and waited. this was one of the longest waits of his whole trip around the country. his arm and feet began to get sore, and after more than two hours he was beginning to consider options for staying another night. chodin would probably be glad to help... but just then hoop noticed a car had pulled over and was backing up behind him!
steve was on his way back from chicago and had been dealing with some car trouble that delayed him in madison. otherwise he would not be driving home at this time in the afternoon. he traveled by hitch-hiking when he was younger. he said he never offered gas money, that it seemed like an insult to the generosity of the driver.
he lives with his wife a little south of minneapolis. they have a small organic garden and want to produce more of their food some day. steve says he dreams of doing it with real horse power!
hoop rider asked if steve would be willing to partner with a young farmer, who could offer labor and knowledge of farming, in exchange for a place to live, and build a little house perhaps. many young farmers don't have land of their own, and this kind of arrangement is something hoop rider hopes will work out for him some day. steve replied, "that would be ideal."

Monday, October 15, 2012

hoops and coops

the main reason i decided to stick around madison until sunday was to attend the hoop jam at the center for conscious living. there were also other events i wanted to attend, but this was the most attractive to me. the weather, dumping rain off and on for the first half of the day, led me to stay in and spend more time with the computer. this was good, though i was getting stiff and sore from sitting so much. i had come down with a cold and i wasn't sure whether staying inside was helping me get better if i was also spending so much time in front of the screen.
so i missed the ecstatic dance, and i didn't get out in time to stop by the potluck at the place where i'd worked on the cob oven... nor to check out the mysterious exciting happening that my friend periphery had told me happens at one end of state street. but by the time i headed out the rain had settled down to the lightest drizzle and i barely got wet on the way to the hoop jam!

there i had a wonderful time and worked hard at learning to move the hoop up to rotate around my chest and shoulders. i never got it up, but made some progress. sarah sparkles and some of the others gave me tips and encouragement. it was great to be among a group of people having fun and also working hard at improving their hooping skills. these ladies are very talented and amazing! another man showed up about half way through, so i want't the only guy in the room then. i was told that the hoop has been an important part of his recovery from injuries incurred in some accidents. i am beginning to see the great healing and consciousness-enhancing powers of dancing with this simple object.

after the hoop jam i went to see if i could join the folks at lothlorien coop house, where it had been suggested to me i might be able to 'crash'. by mistake i arrived one block away at another coop, part of the same group of cooperative houses, called ambrosia. there i was welcomed and fed dinner, even though they had already finished their gathering. i then hung out in the kitchen washing dishes and chatting for a bit.
when i went over to lothlorien i found a few people in the main floor common space. with one of them i got into conversation about my travels and he asked me a bunch of questions about my experience in this 'economy of generosity'. he has been interested in this kind of travel for a while. it was nice to relate to him in this way and be able to give him some encouragement that it is quite possible and in my experience a wonderfully enriching way to live.
before i left i had another good interaction with a girl who was sitting in the library journalling. i interrupted her to say 'good evening', feeling somehow compelled to connect. i told her i was glad she had this time and space to just sit and write in silence, because we often can't find it. i said i was about to head back and do a little meditation before bed. she remarked that she had just been writing about how she wants to meditate more... and so we got into a conversation about meditation and its purpose. i decided to cut our conversation short and proposed we close it with an OM. that was nice, and with a brief handhug we said farewell.

Friday, October 12, 2012

computer time in madison

at this apartment in madison i was given unlimited access to the communal computer. this was a real gift, as i had the chance to explore some things on the web, coordinate the next leg of my trip, and work on this blog.

here are some videos i watched that you would also enjoy i think:

actually an audio broadcast,
piece that was put together at the bioneers conference in 2009.

this video of neale donald walsch and barbara m. hubbard in the south of france with lilou mace exemplifies the spirit of the hoop tour. i love these sweet elders.

it is said in the end of this video that, "the coming together of the hoops represents the world coming together." the world coming together...

these hula hooping videos i found through the blog of danielle, a hooper in madison who went to school with brian, my host.

sunset jam


willy street fair

sarah sparkles

Thursday, October 11, 2012

helmet horns

while riding back to brian's on the bicycle path i passed someone headed in the other direction on his bicycle who had deer antlers attached to his helmet. it made me smile, and when i looked at his face he had a big smile too! maybe he was smiling because of the hula hoop i was riding with. these kinds of moments thrill me.

madison in fall

brian, my host in madison, informed me about this cool farm called FH king student farm. when i looked at their website i found that they have an open welcome for volunteers to come between 11-4 most days. this is the way i like it.
the farm is adjacent to and on the property of a community garden of some 460 plots! close by are another 120 or so and this makes the combined number the most of any community garden of its kind in the u.s. that is what i was told, and i believe it. the bountiful little plots, obviously fed good compost and probably also fertilized by the manure of wild animals who pass through, spread out before me up a slope to the east from the SW entrance. quite a sight.
off in the distance i saw someone working with the compost bins of what i presumed was the farm. just my luck, i'd arrived at just the right time to help turn the compost! axel received me warmly and as we chatted and turned compost from one pallet bin to another another volunteer showed up. she had this huge smile beaming and i remarked, 'you are so BRIGHT! you're brighter than the sun!' (which was wonderfully bright that day). she then began to work beside me at turning the decomposing material, which thankfully was on the dry side.
i'm impressed with the practicality of their compost system. it is a sturdy row of eight pallet bins back to back. each section is two pallets wide and one deep, and the fronts are open. on either end of the row a pile is made against the end wall that is two pallets wide. the new material is piled on one end and digests for a while before being moved down the line.
the material that is recycled in their system comes from the university and residents of madison who participate in their food scrap pick-up program. this is done by bicycle with a huge trailer! the food scraps are mixed at the farm with shredded leaves delivered by a nearby municipality and various materials from the farm. the day i volunteered i brought the food scraps from the place i was staying.

composting side note:
recently checked in on this article on humanure composting i heard was going to be published in dirt magazine. i tried to hook the editor up with my friends who have a bucket toilet in new jersey, without success. it is a fun, short read and gives a hopeful outlook on humanity choosing sane sanitation systems, recycling all materials back into living systems!

a couple things i had hoped to do while in madison were to attend an ecstatic dance and to participate in building a cob oven that my friend, the superhero Periphery, was leading on. both of these i got to do! thursday evening was the wonderful session of ecstatic dance at center for conscious living. Periphery joined me for that and we both had an intimate and expansive, integrating experience. i really enjoy entering this free, accepting space to explore ways of expressing that i don't normally. it is the same with song circles.
the next day i went to the sight of the cob project, the house of a buddhist nun who is sharing her teachings. the project was far along already and i got to help with the fun plastering stage! i mixed plaster (1 part clay to three parts sand, mixed with water and straw)and then helped to apply it to the dome of this beautiful oven. it was decorated with a flame on the back and a drop of water on the front of the chimney. i've never worked with cob before and this was a real joy for me. i'm so grateful for periphery sharing this with me.

cob ovens are being built all over the place these days. one was recently built at a school on the island where i was making my home before this trip, orcas island. my younger brother helped to coordinate the event and build it. you can find pictures here.

periphery encouraged me to check out a project called 'troy gardens', which is part of community ground works. i did not make myself aware of their friday volunteer opportunity, so missed out on it. another example in the madison area of people working for great positive change!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

milwaukee to madison

i'm going to experiment here with writing in the third person...

there was no room for hoop rider with the girls to madison on sunday, and since he had found nothing on craigslist he decided it was the hitch-biking way he would have to go. after a pleasant, relaxing morning with his new friend mike, hoop packed the bicycle, his black dragonfly, and began to make his way out of milwaukee on the route he had chosen. this route included a big section of paved bicycle trail leading from southeast milwaukee to the neighboring city of waukesha. at the golf course where this trail starts hoop was invited to sit at some picnic tables with an older cyclist man who was just about to take his lunch. this man, a retired postal worker(not a currier) was a hardcore cyclist who spoke of motorists as 'the enemy' and has great disdain for 'racers'. hoop leaned into this connection and offered what light he could to the conversation. the two finished eating and rode together into a headwind toward waukesha. hoop continued on when the man turned back for milwaukee, where he lives.

the rest of the trip consisted of a series of rides along highway 18, taking hoop rider closer and closer to his destination of a couchsurfing host in madison. people around these parts proved very kind and helpful in comparison to the rest of the country. many people stopped just to see if they could help, thinking the bicycle was broken down, even if they were heading in the other direction and not able to offer a ride. each time this happened hoop's spirits were lifted a little.

as the sun neared the horizon hoop stood waiting for the ride that would hopefully carry him the last 25 miles into madison. the wind pressed his clothes against his body and threatened his balance. he had to hold the bicycle up while doing the hitch-biker's thumb dance, trying to project his friendliest vibrations and maintain a smile.
one man who stopped was going just a couple miles further on 18 and then turning south to edgerton. hoop rider recalled that there was a farm in edgerton that someone he met in chicago had worked at and thought he should visit. here was a chance to lean into this possibility, but there was a degree of uncertainty... hoop was having a hard time deciding and bought some time by rummaging in his notes for the name of the farm and folks who live there. maybe this guy knows the farm even, and that could be a sign that hoop should go for it! but the information eluded hoop and this he took as a sign that he should not go in that direction. with a kind handshake the man continued on his way and hoop remained on the windy roadside.
soon a woman stopped who said she could take hoop rider at least to the edge of madison, where he could then ride the rest of the way. that worked and so after five rides and some cycling the destination was reached!

at the cozy little apartment by the zoo in madison hoop rider was warmly received and after settling in put his superpowers to work in making dinner from the ingredients available. the rice and eggplant curry vegetable stirfry came out well and all were satisfied.

Monday, October 8, 2012


getting to milwaukee involved an exilerating twenty mile bicycle ride on a cold and drizzly afternoon, mostly on a paved bicycle trail, to meet up with my ride near the I94 corridor at a park in Deerfield. anna, who i'd met at the evanston green living fest, then drove me all the way up to milwaukee. she lives about half way between chicago and milwaukee, so this was extra kind of her. we chatted all the way and upon arrival i was wishing the trip were a little longer. during the drive i ate some of the dinner that her mother had made for us, and some of the rhubarb pie, which she is famous for. delicious of course!

i stepped right in to one of the coziest potluck dinners i have been to in a while. several of us sat around the table and talked into the evening. towards the end we all got together in a game of 'writey-drawy'. it was really fun! i felt so blessed to be part of this gathering.
my host laurel and i rode back to her apartment, which she shares with two other fine young women, and settled in for the night. before i went to bed i had to get something i'd left in the garage with my bicycle and when i went out their cat slipped out too! i felt terrible about letting it happen... but the girls were really nice about it and just did what they could to find him. he was found three days later behind the garage, very hungry, but doing well otherwise.

while couchsurfing with laurel and her housemates there was applesauce and pasta saouce made from scratch. these are two things i love doing in the late summer and fall and it made me feel at home. we shared some meals around the table and even held hands once. all around the country i cherish these connecting moments.

most of the first day in milwaukee i spent writing a letter to the possibility alliance and superheroes who were finishing the permaculture course there. after getting that in the mail i went over and volunteered with the 'burdock brigade' at the urban ecology center (washington park location). this is near where i was staying and is where laurel works. joel had another volunteer and i help out with tidying up a nursery area where many small plants had died from lack of water. mostly we talked while emptying the soil into wheel barrows. it was a simple and satisfying work.

i had thought i might leave the following day, but laurel told me there might be a ride with them on sunday to madison and i decided i was not in any hurry after all. this meant i was able to go to the volunteer orientation at growing power on saturday! my experience there was very positive and valuable. the young folks who work there have a certain quality that i admire... i suppose it comes from the daily work of farming and coordinating volunteers in tasks around the place. there is a grace and confidence that they move with.
after the orientation and tour i got to work with a few others spreading compost material on top of a large 'worm depository' in one of the hoop houses. glad for the heavy work for a good purpose (what better purpose than building soil?) i felt myself glowing with vigor and joy. more conversation while working, always sharing stories...
the end of the shift i spent filling flats with their potting mix of worm castings and coconut coir. they grow micro greens in these... hundreds of flats a day.
it was so great to be there and get the feeling from all the subtle things about the place and energies of the people. the feeling of what growing power is. i don't know if i can explain it, but it feels really good, like good country living, but with an energetic urban twist.

i liked how the compost system at the urban ecology center(riverside location) was situated. a steep slope was utilized by making four large compost bin terraces, between which the compost is turned from the uppermost on down to the lowest. that lowest bin is on the level of the bicycle trail, where the vegetable gardens are on either side. there are private plots and one that is tended by the center and is public. i ran into joel, who i'd worked with the previous day, working near the garden. he gave me the okay to harvest a bit.

i enjoyed riding the paved bicycle trail through a green belt much of the way up to my destination that friday afternoon; the home of a woman i'd found on couchsurfing. she works with sanitation in post-disaster haiti, encouraging humanure composting and helping install these systems for residents or urban areas mostly. at her house she served us tea and we chatted for a while. i assessed the condition of her compost pile, which she said was getting as hot as it should. my recommendation was to increase the mass and cover it thickly with the abundant fall leaves. this cover material would regulate moisture and keep heat in.
it was my pleasure also to harvest and bundle up some of the herbs growing in here garden so that she could hang them to dry. sage, lemon balm, mint, and catnip make a fine mix for tea! i took a little catnip with me.

the last two nights i stayed with mike, who's house the potluck the first night had been at. we have tons in common it turns out. he likes some of the same obscure music i do, from the anticon family, including dosh and clouddead. he currently works with teens doing environmental restoration and urban ecology work. he is participating in a small community garden not far from his house.

on sunday i missed out on what sounded like an awesome mass and feast at the franciscan church. mike said there was great singing and the feeling of all the people coming together was uplifting. i had a headache and felt nauseous in the morning, so i decided not to go, even though i'd really wanted to. i thought it might have been from caffeine withdrawals... but maybe it was other factors. my neck has been feeling really tense. anyway i spent the day just sleeping, relaxing around the house, and reading a bit from a book on deep ecology.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

the great turning!

someone who i met at this accelerate 77 'share fair', a kind of sustainability conference for the chicago area, turned me on to the work of joanna macy. this has opened up to me a new part of this story of 'the shift', 'the awakening', which she calls 'the great turning'. and she's been talking about this for a LONG time! how did i not know about her?

after watching a video of her (in which she mentions the same epoch shift that Grace Boggs did when i saw her speak!) i came across this video of David Korten, another person who i was not aware of, who is speaking about everything i have been thinking about! he has also been speaking about this shift for a while... and i wonder why it took me so long to notice... there is this other video of him from more recently. i watched these while finishing the headband i am making for my superhero costume!

i've never read Derek Jensen's 'Endgame', but had been told i should and had intended to. now that i've seen this video i can skip the book. he is similar in attitude i think to Finisia Medrano, author of 'Growing Up in Occupied America'. it was through reading about 'the hoop' in that book that i eventually decided to go on this trip. yet, the anger in that book, which she continues to express, is not an energy i see is supporting the work of 'the great turning'. there is no doubt in me that we must align ourselves with love and non-violence in order to move into an age of holistic, harmonious life. it is by coming together radically with our neighbors in loving community that we will replace the culture of separation that is destroying us.

today i volunteered at patchwork farm. when i was about to leave, after accepting a bundle of rainbow chard from molly, a black man came up to the fence asking about produce for sale. i decided to go talk with him and share my joy about this farm. he told me his wife is sick and they are not able to make it out to farmer's markets, so it is great that he can more conveniently swing by this location during their farmstand hours. molly gave him an informational card and he went on his way. i caught up with him and gave him the swiss chard, which i really didn't need, telling him to cook it like collards, but not as long, because the chard leaf is not as tough. he was very grateful and i was happy. i hope this will help patchwork sell more chard, because they have a beautiful crop of it that nobody seems to be interested in except me.
after i grabbed some produce that the chickens didn't seem to want from the ground in their fenced yard i was on my way out... and i met another man who was walking by outside the gate. he commented that there had been a cat terrorizing the chickens. he wondered if any had been harmed, because the cat was really bothering them. i didn't know. i was in wonderful spirits and leaned into this neighborly interaction. he was curious about my story after i told him i was traveling around the country helping out at farms like this when i can. he proceeded to share about his work with youth in chicago. it was remarkable to him how he had made such a big difference in these people's lives by showing he cared for them when they were not getting that from other adults. this man, Richard, was a real local superhero i realized! this exchange left me feeling wonderful and i rode off with renewed strength to pick up some food supplies at the dill pickle food coop.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

chicago holds the hoop

i'd really thought i was going to attend a permaculture course at the possibility alliance which began on september 24th. the way i thought i would get there was either by rideshare from craigslist or by hitch-biking. this had served me in the past. i didn't consider that it would be more difficult hitching out of chicago and the the train was actually my best bet. if i had thought of it or someone had told me this it could have changed everything... also i had seen one post for a free ride in a pickup going to springfield, IL that friday. i decided not to take it because i was not sure it would be okay to show up to the possibility alliance early and there was the song circle i'd organized on friday. i went through a lot of turmoil about whether to push for getting there or to make the most of more time in chicago. i really wanted to go, but i felt like it was not working and at some point my heart began telling me to stay.

the day i decided finally to stay was sunday, after one last attempt hitching at an onramp to a highway out of chicago. i went back to the apartment where i'd been staying to drop off some of my stuff and then went to a workparty organized by the dill pickle coop to help patchwork farms and foster direct community connection between the producer and consumer. the coop carries the produce of patchwork farms and some other local producers, and make a point of announcing that it is delivered by bicycle!
being at this event felt really good and it was the most beautiful fall day! after all the tension of departure, trying to hitch and wondering if i should try to make it some other way, i felt a great sense of relief at this point. if i could not be at the great possibility alliance, i felt i could find similar value in my continuing chicago experience. there i was, to serve my community by helping out with some of the farm work!
when we were just starting and getting a little tour some folks who were not part of the coop group came in to check out the farm. i encouraged them to come in and join us. they looked around a bit and then were about to take off, so i went to chat with them for a minute. i felt compelled... and it turned out they are from iowa. they would be heading back there after this visit with their daughter in chicago. it felt like an opportunity to maybe get a ride towards the possibility alliance! so i inquired, and we determined that it would not work out. oh well. then there was a second test of my decision to stay when someone suggested, as we stripped the remaining tomato crop, that i might get a ride with someone heading home to st. louis from the ball game that was being played at that moment in chicago. it sounded like a good possibility! i almost went for it, but decided it would not be a good idea because even if i did get a ride i would be arriving in springfield in the evening without a place to stay and then i would have to rise early after little, and low quality sleep, to make the rest of the way to the farm before the course started in the morning. i pictured myself falling asleep during the introduction. no good.
once again i felt a great relief at deciding to stay! i told my friend sharon that i could attend her chicken harvest that evening! that is something i had really wanted to be part of. she was glad.
so, then after the work party was over i stuck around a little longer to help out. just did a few things like watering and helping wash some recently harvested winter squash. CSA members and other customers came and went. one of these customers i struck up conversation with, feeling a really complementary vibration with, asked me, 'what are you doing this evening?' and i knew already that i would have to join her. 'there's this dream circle i'm going to...' and you can imagine how my face lit up. this meant i had to leave after only the first half hour of the chicken harvest, but that ended up being alright. they had all the experienced support necessary.

carly and i arrived at the dream circle just as they were about to go around with introductions and sharing. i donned my nearly-finished rainbow warrior headband and announced myself as a rainbow warrior, hoop rider, and explained about the recent turmoil about where i should be. then the one to my left spoke... and he says, 'well, i know davis from orcas island years back, and i was just recently at the possibility alliance!' it was this guy taylor who i had known briefly years ago! what a crazy confirmation that i was supposed to be here. i was kind of blown away. taylor is the bright young fellow from chicago who speaks in this video about the possibility alliance.
throgh my experience at the dream circle, which maybe i will write about in more detail later, i was given a reminder through the example of the spider that i can be patient in awareness as i navigate the web of possibilities. when the web is destroyed the spider just builds a new one. i can also act this way. i can learn a lot from the spider. that is what i got mainly from the dream circle, besides a great joy of being with these people who were very much on the same page as me. i didn't need to convince them a shift is taking place.

the following tuesday i rode bikes with carly up to the going away party for taylor, which was held at the house where he had been staying with a sweet family and other young folks. it was a wonderful party. when i arrived lots of people were working on preparing food together. there was warm conversation throughout the evening and some excellent music got going for a while, before we were asked to quiet down. this really felt like my tribe! i saw in taylor the hope i have for humanity. he represents the way of the hoop. at the party i realized this was important for me to be there to recognize. many of the people there had a similar quality. one guy with great, joyful energy, named adam, performed some of his rapping poetry for us. it was about meditation and the dhamma. these are vipassana folks. he had also been at the dream circle and we had connected there. i taught he and a woman there the 'rainbow warrior' song and we played in song a little after the circle. so good!

i can't tell you all the details now...

on saturday i went to the evanston green living festival to see a performance of 'lake dance'. i'd met clare and danced with her at the contact improv jam almost two weeks before, and i'd been impressed by her. the performance was wonderful, reminding me of my family and also touching my heart with a story of humanity reconnecting to our surroundings, our wholeness.
i met an old man named earle who was seeking composting advice at the compost table. the woman there was not able to give him the help he needed, so i gave it a try. he said he has been growing his own vegetables at home for a long time now but might need to scale back because he can't do all that work himself now. i told him he could get a young assistant who wants to learn from him. sure hope that happens! there are opportunities like this all over!
at one stand i approached on a whim i got into a lively exchange with the young woman there named anna and ended up asking her if she would be interested in helping me out with a ride up to milwaukee. she had told me she commutes three hours a day from north of chicago to her job in wheaton, west of chicago. she told me she only lives about half way to milwaukee, but it was a possibility. she would check out my blog first to see if she could trust me, even though her intuition was already telling her she could.
another woman who is part of an organization that does residential food scraps and other compostables collection took interest in my story and advised me to check out a couple places: the bodhi center and the gan project.

that night i went to stay the rest of my time in chicago at the place where taylor had been staying, which is in roger's park, in the northern part of chicago.

the bodhi center has a celebration service on sundays, which i decided to attend. it was a beautiful, uplifting experience of community through song and prayer. i thought it was great how the service started with everyone jumping up and right into song! i think this is a great example of folks learning to come together for real unity.
that day after the service i rode over to jana's apartment one last time because i had forgotten my special wooden spoon that i carved. i took the opportunity to visit the logan square farmer's market one last time and pick up some pastured eggs for jana and i. it is one of the most lively and lush markets i have been to in the U.S.
after taking care of this i rode back up to rogers park and caught the end of the food not bombs meal serving. i'd really wanted to help out with this and was feeling shabby for being so late. molly and steven are people i really admire and i felt i was letting them down. i'd first met them at the sustainability share fair and then seen them again at taylor's party. he had been helping out with food not bombs. well, it turned out i got to be helpful for a little while at least, with the distribution of produce at the church next to the house molly and steven live in. they actually had too many volunteers there, so i left to check out the gan project before the volunteer hours were over, at 5:30.
when i got there nobody was around. i met a couple of people who were just there checking it out, looking at the chickens. one of the chickens had gotten out and i was able to team up with them on catching it and putting it back in. they offered me to use their phone but i declined. when i went to look at the information on their community board i noticed there was a number to call if nobody was there... should have used those people's phone. dang.
there were surely things i could find to do without a staff person there to direct me... i fed some greens to the chickens and checked out the compost bins. i was happy to see that there was at least a half-decent job done of covering the food scraps that had been recently added to the pile. there was a good amount of dried weedy material and it felt like there was some good activity there, but it needed water. i couldn't find how to water it...
an old man and i chatted for quite a while there. he was trying to convince me that this kind of project was pointless in the end because when shit hits the fan humans are going to be overcome by our animal nature, kill and steal when we are faced with starvation. in the end i just said to him, 'i've learned a lot from you. thanks.' i had really enjoyed the exchange in a way, even though i felt myself reacting and wanting to argue my hope in humanity.
on the bicycle ride back i met a cyclist who i had almost the opposite interaction with. he was full of hope like me and we share parts of our stories and ideas for how humanity can come together and pull through hard times. he said towards the end of our interaction, 'i feel really... proud that we had this exchange.' this is similar to when people say they feel 'honored' to have spent time with me. this sense that we have created value by demonstrating our humanity. i felt it too. so if this interaction represented a kind of pride, the other i thought could represent shame in a way. the other man was somehow limited by his personal shame.

another place i wanted to volunteer in chicago was iron street farm. i went there on tuesday, making the long bicycle ride down the lakefront trail, mostly in the company of a woman who was out 'training for pleasure'. i missed my turn actually and had to wind my way back up through the deep south end to the industrial area where the farm is. it was no big deal that i was late, which i had feared. the place was much more laid back than i had imagined. a real family farm vibe you might say. i got the tail end of the tour. then the other two first-time volunteers and i joined in the work of sifting worm castings and then filling plastic pots with this nutrient dense compost.
you can see some of what i saw in the video on this page about erika allen, the daughter of will allen, who started growing power in milwaukee.

staying with rashana and her family, along with the other fine folks who live in this apartment, was a blessing of community for me. we shared many meals and i had the plaesure of baking a batch of sourdough bread in my style there. one of the guys made this composite image of all of our faces saying, 'we're all one'. funny and kind of creepy.

i cherished the mornings i shared with tzippy, eating breakfast together and doing yoga one morning. i also got to pick lice eggs out of her hair and give her a simple hair cut. really felt like family.

on my last day in chicago rashana, the mother took me to the bahai temple. i had been unaware of this place until just a few days before. it is the only bahai temple in north america. and i almost missed it. bahai is all about unity which has been more and more of a theme in this hoop tour. we must come together in all our diversity if we want healing to occur.

Monday, September 24, 2012

positive change in chicago

John Sacelli, who hosts the 'dream circle' that i attended in chicago, wrote this article about chicago being the spiritual capitol of the world. http://johnsacelli.org/messages/cross.shtml

is it significant that my first day in chicago i attended sadhana at spirit rising?
"We call the time we spend on our maintenance sadhana. It is an essential part of life. If you do your sadhana, your mind can take the pressure. It will guide you and groom you properly." ~ Yogi Bhajan
that day i asked the man who led the practice if we could organize a song circle in the space. he was the directer of spirit rising foundation and he felt like it could happen. it was arranged for friday of that same week. that wasn't much time to spread the word, but i told quite a few people i thought would be interested. even so, it was only the woman who opened the space and i who were in attendance. i embraced it as an opportunity to share one-on-one with this wonderful woman. we shared conversation and sang together a little, sitting across the circle from each other. i had placed the bundle of fresh-baked sourdough bread in the middle, and when the time came i unwrapped it and we broke bread together. i had forgotten it was shabbat! perfect. it was also the U.N. international day of peace. i was glad this intimate and peaceful celebration had come together as it did.
one woman who i thought for sure was going to be there did not show up. she had been impressed by my presence at sadhana and we connected through e-mail after. we got together once mid-week for tea and shared some potent conversation. she began to really awaken a couple years ago, just about the time i did. she became a yoga instructor and traveled to india before moving to chicago. she had been very influenced spiritually by the people of mexico, who she knew while growing up in Aguascalientes. she feels strongly the shift taking place.

Sunday, my second day in chicago, i chose to attend a contact improv jam. i'd also met some folks who do a Food Not Bombs service on Sunday. since i wanted to go help out with that too i felt very conflicted. but when i arrived at the dance jam i felt so happy, i knew i was in the right place. it was a spiritual practice of moving meditation that requires a great deal of awareness, love, and surrendering of the rational mind to intuition. the hoop was played with in fun ways i have never seen! while sitting out, resting, we sometimes would improvise music for the dancers. this is a wonderful way to express ourselves through touch and experience deep healing of emotional/spiritual wounds. the jam begins and ends in a circle...

some other great things going on in chicago that came to my awareness:

academy for global citizenship

accelerate 77

iron street farm

patchwork farms

stone soup cooperative

dill pickle coop

the plant

co-prosperity sphere

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

bring the hoop along

since Guilford, CT, where i found a hula hoop on the side of the road, i carry a hula hoop with me wherever i go. the one i carry now was given to me by the folks i spent a night with in Cumberland, Maine.

jana asked me the other day, "why do you bring that hoop everywhere you go?" i explained that it is because people notice it and sometimes brings them joy, or breaks them out of their thought pattern. it is for inspiration!
this day it so happened that a magical little interaction occurred because of the hoop:

jana had to stop on the roadside to use her cell phone. when we stopped i brought the hoop into my right hand and was going to just twirl it around a little, making use of the moment to practice. a boy of perhaps 12 came over, attracted to the hoop, and inquired what i was up to with it. he said he could do this trick with it and when i handed it to him he demonstrated. it was to twirl it on his arm, toss it up, and catch it on his other arm. it brought me joy that he would share this skill with someone he just met on the street. i gave him some encouraging words and accepted the hoop back.

this is the magic of carrying the hoop. i've often talked to people i see with hoops. it always leads to a positive interaction and sometimes helps me find special new friends.

Monday, September 17, 2012


so excited to arrive to my friend jana's in chicago! she has started this bike-a-bee project that i was hoping to learn more about during my visit. the evening i arrived she took alex and i to one of her hives at a nearby community garden.

it was great to have full access to a kitchen to do all the cooking i liked! jana paid for all the food and i cooked (mostly)! we got a sourdough starter from the same woman who i'd gotten it from last time i was in chicago, a manager at the food coop, sharon. i gave her one of the first wonderful loaves. we ground the flour fresh with the kitchen aid mill attachment on jana's mixer. we had all the kale and chard we could eat from local gardens! other wonderful produce, pastured eggs, and raw goat cheese came from the farmer's market. we roasted a chicken and made stock. i was in heaven!

i got some yarn at a thrift store and began to work on the rainbow hoop headband that would become part of my superhero costume. sitting around the apartment working on this was very therapeutic.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

berkley to chicago

on wednesday i was hanging out at the little farm stand in the song and spirit driveway with the farmer, Crickety Jim. i'd helped harvest some of the fine produce still fourishing in the garden. tomatoes, kale, collards, yellow wax beans, and some of the last summer squash were available. i noticed a young man riding his bike down the sidewalk and i called out to him, "Fresh produce for sale!" he came over and we started chatting. pretty soon i was thinking maybe this is the reason i hung around here so long, so i could meet this guy.
his name is alexander and he is a  musician who works at a coffee shop called commonwealth in birmingham, just north of berkley. he lives just a little west of song and spirit and was taking a route he does not normally ride when i spotted him. we immediately reflected the wonder, wisdom, and joy back and forth in such a way that encouraged us to keep connecting. he invited me to go for a bike ride with him. i invited him to join us for dinner.

we sat for dinner late in the evening with a small band of superheroes and a couple guest who had not yet identified themselves as such. EpochAlypse, Laughing Moon, Resilient Heart, and i, Hoop Rider joined hands with our friends around the circular table and said a blessing. there are few things i cherish more than coming together to share nourishing food.
the friend of resilient heart mentioned he is going to school for illustration and i decided to share my zine of drawings with him. this is the one i book called feel here too that i made a few years ago. i was still carrying the last copy so that i could share it with people i meet. this guy really liked the images and asked if i was selling it. i decided that YES i could, and asked for five dollars for it. since he didn't have the money on him alex, our new musician friend, paid for it. it was decided that the book would remain in the song and spirit library. that felt really nice.
through this exchange i made it known that i was in need of funds as i continued traveling. i really don't need much, but i like to have some money around for purchasing food and contributing to fuel costs when i rideshare. epochalypse felt a desire to help, and laid 20 dollars on the table! i then felt inspired to give him one of the hoop bracelets i made. i told him it represents 'the oneness and our responsibility to honor that.' he feels this meaning deeply and he accepted the gift solemnly.

i was going to leave for chicago the morning after our going away dinner, but since i wasn't packed up and ready until 2:30pm i decided to stay another night. this gave me the opportunity to ride over to the place of my new friend alex, who was taking apart a roasted chicken and starting his first ever batch of chicken stock. when he told me about it the night before i was really wishing i could get in on it!
i mentioned to alex that i was thinking of asking him if he wanted to take a trip to chicago... as i was looking for a ride. he said he was thinking it might work out to go see his brother. he had a day off work and no plans friday... so it seemed meant to be. amazing!
i found out on the drive over that his brother had actually flown to detroit friday to be there for their other brother's birthday the following day. by the time alex had contacted him he could not refund the ticket. so alex made the trip just to give me a ride and spend the day with me. i am so grateful for this. i gave him money for gas, the salve i still had from greenstring farm, and one of the hoop bracelets. his thoughts about the bracelet, written to me in an e-mail, are very poignant:

"Again, it was such an honor to spend the dying moment with you. It has deepened my love and appreciation for mankind. I personally feel that the bracelet does that. Reminds you that you have always been whole. The reminder and answer is right in front of you. Just look inside the washer and you will see the wholeness of your skin. How deep can you get inside your skin till you see the nothingness which is the wholeness?"

alex encouraged me to start a kickstarter campaign to help me share the story of this HOOP TOUR. he captured some pictures and video with his 'oracle'(i-phone). i've gone back and forth over whether to use kickstarter so many times. i think i am going to do it, when the time is right. that may be when i plant my feet back in washington state.

please check out his story about meditating on 9/11 and look for his upcoming campaign on kickstarter to raise money for his first full-length album

Saturday, September 15, 2012

re-imagining detroit

detroit could be the first city in the United States to go through a transformation to something like a farm-city. i've had this vision of urban transformation for a few years now. i didn't know how real this potential is in detroit until visiting there.

detroit works has been working on some ideas which are being presented for consideration by residents. some of what is said in this article is very exciting to me.

"...neighborhoods that are almost entirely abandoned might be used for reforestation or experimental fields where sunflowers and other plants could be used to detoxify contaminated land."

what if people came from all over the united states to lend their talents and energy to transforming the denuded landscapes of detroit? how many people would it require, and how many years of work, to create a new kind of city that provides for itself? is it possible to create such a city? would the city have to be broken up into smaller, densely organized villages with farmland around them? what parts of our culture would be retained and what would be shed in the transformation? what new cultural wealth could come through it?

if i got a call from my superhero friends there at the heartquarters, on the fringes of detroit, to come join in a convergence of superheroes, rainbow warriors, warriors of the heart, i'd be very compelled to lend myself to the cause.

Friday, September 14, 2012

song and spirit

i returned to song and spirit after my stay at the goldengate restoration project. i arrived to activity in the kitchen, as laughing moon and his friend were preparing dinner. i got right in there and contributed, then we said a blessing and dined together in candle light. i felt a great joy and comfort.

the next day was the Superhero Training Academy open house and i spent much of the day helping prepare for it. the gathering included many local superheroes, including Magma Man, the juggler we'd found in Pontiac. Captain Valor, Knight Shift, and Stream Dancer made it too! there were a couple of ninjas who showed up in their black ninja suits. one of them was the guy who Chris Clark had mistaken me for when we first met. he does look a little like me, with a sharp nose.
i cooked a lot of kale from the garden to contribute to the potluck. we gathered in a circle afterward the meal to meet everyone. then we gathered in the library for presentations and discussion. my favorite part was laughing moon's telling of the history of STA. it is a good story and he tells it well. part of the story is that after being born and developing independently, STA combined forces with the Superhero Bicycle Ride just a few years ago. the first superhero bicycle ride happened twelve years ago and STA was born eight years ago. now they are part of the same coordinated superhero movement. superhero headquarters in missouri, and superhero heartquarters in michigan.

on friday i joined in the shabbat gathering. it was wonderful to sing and pray with everyone in the chapel. i had gone back to the goldengate restoration project to see if i could work with shane on he compost earlier that day. he had gotten some work somewhere else so i offered to help dr. bob.  i was glad i got to meet him. he'd been away during my stay. at the cafe, where i was doing some pruning, i met a guy who had stopped in to get some lunch. we chatted when i was on my way out and, getting the feeling he could be an important ally, i invited him to come out to song and spirit for shabbat. he was free and into the idea, so i put my bike in his vehicle and he drove us. it was some kind of cosmic meeting, and i'm curious to see what may come of it.

my uncle steve lives in Plymouth, MI and when i got in touch with him he offered to come pick me up and take me to the sabbath potluck at his church there. it was really good to see him and his family and learn a little about the 7th day adventist church they are part of. his daughter was so full of love and playfulness. she was disappointed that i did not stay the night at their house.

i did a lot of cooking while at song and spirit. it was a pleasure to have full use of their kitchen and be able to provide that service to the others staying there. it was usually just laughing moon and i eating together, but sometimes brother al would join us. it is their desire to get more coordinated as a household and share more meals. i was invited to stick around for a while and sort of fill the 'mom' role.

i got really regular with my meditation practice and slept long and comfortably on a bed in one of the many vacant rooms. no rides were coming up on craigslist to get me to chicago and i just didn't feel like hitch-biking. so i decided it was a good place to rest and i could have patience for getting to chicago. the right way would come along at the right time if i stayed attentive.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

sofi's to goldengate

when the superhero ride continued west of detroit on august 29th i stayed behind. laughing moon also left the ride that day and went back to superhero heartquarters, which is housed at song and spirit institute for peace in berkley, just north of detroit. i stayed several more nights at the home os sofi and nils, some local superheroes, making trips out into the city to continue with some solo superhero work and exploration.

one place i volunteered a couple times is spirit farm. this is where the tearful goodbye circles for me and laughing moon took place. the work i helped a little with that day was in moving wood chips that were being incorporated in a 'will allen style' compost pile. this method is really becoming popular it seems. i went back to spirit farm on two volunteer days in the following week to help out. one day i was paid ten dollars to cut all the grass around the farm and church with a lawn mower. it was meditative work and cool to get paid a little. the man who usually does it was very grateful for the help. other things i helped out with at the farm included watering the compost pile, removing lower leaves of kale and chard and feeding them to the chickens, collecting eggs, spreading wood chips in the hoop house, and harvesting herbs.

on my last day with the superhero ride i teamed up with caroline, who is managing occupy detroit's compost at the michigan ave. site. we layered in a bunch of straw and left it with a thick layer of cover material on top. we used some wonderful, sturdy, dried stems of plants growing nearby in this wild lot to lend more support to the freestanding walls.
at sofi's house i did a lot of cooking and cleaning and maintained the rotating drum compost system. it was a pleasure to get back into making food the way i like to after not having many opportunities during the superhero ride. this is one of my addictions...

on the way to my next destination, in the northern edge of detroit, i noticed an herb garden where a woman was working. i stopped to talk to her and she invited me in to pick some herbs. a whole plastic shopping bag was filled with treats such as sage, oregano, basil, thyme, mint, parsley, tarragon, tomatoes, and a little lemon balm. when i told cheryl about the trip i am on, which i consider to be my mission at this time, she told me that the herb garden is her mission from god. she cares for all these healing plants and increases the size of the beds a little each year. eventually maybe the lawn will be reduced to paths. she was not doing her own composting and i arranged to come back another morning and build her a pile. when i went back with my new friend shane a couple days later she said she had a bunch of errands to run and it wouldn't work to do it that day... oh well. i do hope that shane can form an alliance with her and maybe help her with the composting.
shane is who invited me to the Goldengate Restoration Project. we met at Spirit Farm, where he was part of a permaculture course in the summer and has been volunteering since. living at the restoration project, he has been very active in the garden and other priority projects to help the community towards thriving self-sufficiency. he helped me cook a couple meals and we got to know each other a little bit during my stay. he is a superhero who is strongly supporting positive change in detroit.
sharpening loppers with a file in the
fireweed universe-city shop

so i stayed a couple nights at the Goldengate Restoration Project (also the site of what is called Fireweed Universe-City and Dr. Bob's), where a few other superheroes from the ride had stayed before. one drop wrote about it in her blog. four french girls who are part of this exciting project arrived shortly after i did. i went with them on a mission to buy organic foods at the natural food store in nearby Ferndale, then went along with them to avalon, where they were able to use the wifi and we all enjoyed the wholesome community atmosphere of this popular destination for positive people. there i ran into an old friend i'd known briefly several years ago in seattle! it was nice to re-meet after so long. she was visiting with friends and told me about this project they were going to visit called the powerhouse project. the french girls and i proceeded to visit the sites where i'd been working and a couple in addition that were near spirit farm. one of them was the impressive brother nature farm.

Monday, September 3, 2012

story of generosity

received this from a friend. a great example of humanity. this relates to the way the superhero bicycle ride goes out into the world and finds places for a large group to stay spontaneously and giving back as it can to communities it pass through.
this is a bright side of the 9/11 story.

Here is an amazing story from a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15, written
following 9-11:

"On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of
Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic. All of a sudden the curtains
parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain.
As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that "All Business" look
on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta's
main office in Atlanta and simply read, "All airways over the Continental
United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest
airport. Advise your destination."

"No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious
situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined
that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, New Foundland.
He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic
controller and approval was granted immediately--no questions asked. We
found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our

"While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message
arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New
York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings.

"We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told
them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at
the nearest airport in Gander, New Foundland to have it checked out.

"We promised to give more information after landing in Gander. There was
much grumbling among the passengers, but that's nothing new! Forty minutes
later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM! .... that's
11:00 AM EST.

"There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the
world that had taken this detour on their way to the U.S. After we parked
on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: "Ladies and
gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the
same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for
another reason." Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the
situation in the U.S. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The
captain informed passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay

"The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was
allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come
near any of the air crafts. Only airport police would come around
periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane. In the next hour
or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all over
the world, 27 of which were U.S. commercial jets.

"Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for
the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade
Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC. People were trying to use
their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system
in Canada. Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian
operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked
or jammed.

"Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center
buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash.
By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to
mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm. We had only to look
out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not
the only ones in this predicament.

"We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes
one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to
deplane would be 11 am the next morning. Passengers were not happy, but they
simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to
prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.

"Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory
servicing. And they were true to their word. Fortunately we had no medical
situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into
her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without
incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.

"About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up.
We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through
Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.

"After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken
in vans to a small hotel. We had no idea where our passengers were going. We
learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of
10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all
the airplanes that were forced into Gander! We were told to just relax at
the hotel and we would be contacted when the U.S. airports opened again, but
not to expect that call for a while.

"We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to
our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.

"Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of
Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the "plane people."
We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up
having a pretty good time.

"Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport.
Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what
they had been doing for the past two days. What we found out was incredible.

"Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometer
radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other
large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging
areas for all the stranded travelers. Some had cots set up, some had mats
with sleeping bags and pillows set up.

"ALL the high school students were required to volunteer their time to take
care of the "guests." Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called
Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high
school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was
arranged. Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken
to private homes.

"Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right
across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility. There was a dentist
on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the

"Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to
everyone once a day. During the day, passengers were offered "Excursion"
trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went
for hikes in the local forests. Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh
bread for the guests. Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to
the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered
wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash
their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft. In other words,
every single need was met for those stranded travelers.

"Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they
were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the
airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The
local Red Cross had all the information about the whereabouts of each and
every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the
planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully. It was
absolutely incredible.

"When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise.
Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their stay,
impressing each other with who had the better time. Our flight back to
Atlanta looked li ke a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of
their way. It was mind-boggling. Passengers had totally bonded and were
calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers,
addresses, and email addresses.

"And then a very unusual thing happened. One of our passengers approached me
and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never,
ever allow that. But this time was different. I said "of course" and handed
him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had
just gone through in the last few days. He reminded them of the hospitality
they had received at the hands of total strangers. He continued by saying
that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of

"He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our
flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college
scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte. He asked for
donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with
donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and
addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!

"The gentleman, a MD from Virginia, promised to match the donations and to
start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would
forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well. As
I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has
assisted 134 students in college education.

"I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right now.
It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a faraway place
were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them. It reminds me
how much good there is in the world."

"In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this
story confirms that there are still a lot of good and Godly people in the
world and when things get bad, they will come forward.

"God Bless our world!"