Tuesday, May 29, 2012

roanoke cont.

on sunday, the day i had intended to begin riding towards DC, i was not ready to go. i worked on the blog, correspondence, and preparing food for the trip. i rode to a nearby park and laid in the grass of the playfield at sunset.

the next day i was still not feeling ready to go. i had found out about this center for holistic living, where they have an event on monday nights. that was one reason to stay another night. but it i found out, after going to the post office and realizing it was a holiday, that the event was not happening again until next week. shoot!
i'd also been having this itch to get involved in some kind of gardening/farming work. there was nobody around at the nearby community garden, and they did not seem to need help. i searched again for this farm which i had donated my token for reusing a bag to. i found this video of the first day of work at Lick Run Farm. at the end of the video rick's phone number is given, so i called it.

rick seemed understandably bewildered at first, but then became very receptive to my proposal of helping him out at the farm and/or his home garden. when i called he was working on some things at home, and he told me he would head over right away and meet me at the farm to show me around. he was not there yet when i arrived, so i took a little walk around and talked to one of the neighbors who was out walking his dog. i ate some mulberries from a hugely productive tree across the street.
rick arrived and we spent a while talking about different aspects of the farm. he explained what work has been done so far and what is envisioned for the future. i felt like i could imagine it as he was. this will be a bountiful farm where community comes together to create real value together.

his approach to restoring the land reminded me of bob connard, the instructor at green string farm, where i interned in tha fall as part of this trip. at bob's home farm he started with a degraded piece of land that had been a turkey farm for decades. though cover cropping, incorporating organic material, and using compost tea, bob helped the land to realize an incredible fertility.
in the training of young farmers at green string, bob passes on this approach to farming, where there is a focus on " aiding, rather than fighting, natural processes" in order to increase natural abundance. this hope arose in me for someone who has completed the course at green string, and is looking for an opportunity to put their new knowledge and skills into practice, to come and be the manager of Lick Run. i told this to rick and he said he was going to post his need for a manager on the attra site. i know that the right person will come along to help this project thrive. it is part of the greater shift happening right now towards holistic living.

rick and i spent the rest of the evening before dusk working at his productive home garden. i thinned a small patch of carrots and helped him plant some sweet potato slips. we talked about many things as we worked. we shared ideas and parts of our life stories. it turns out he practices the WAPF approach to nutrition as well! we shared a nice dinner of sweet potatoes (last years home crop!), local grassfed ground beef, his homemade sauerkraut, and a salad i picked from his super-abundant patch of mixed lettuce. the dressing was his special olive oil and vinegar with south river miso company's chickpea miso. you can imagine i was in heaven!

when i left he said, "well of course you are welcome to stay as long as you want..." and it was hard to leave, knowing there was so much more good work and sharing to be had. but i am sticking to my grand idea of completing this HOOP and experiencing just a little of all the amazing places and people along the way. my hope is that this will encourage a vision of the whole country moving together towards holistic, healthy, happy life ways. like we are all holding hands in a big circle of gratitude, about to share in a meal, the gift of great abundance from our mother earth.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


i got a ride from anahata with a sturdy little mother and her young ones to roanoke. she happened to be friends with the person who i was going to couchsurf with! i'd found moona somewhat randomly on couchsurfing while searching for hosts along my route north. some cosmic signs led me to feel strongly that i should visit her. my intuition led me well this time.

one important reason for us to meet was that she was able to confirm that i should visit the 'possibility alliance' in missouri. i have really wanted to make this place part of my trip since learning of them through the folks who made the film within reach. i didn't know when i met moona that she had met these folks and is one of the superheroes, going by the name Garlic Frog! she showed me a newsletter she has recently received from the superhero training academy. in it there are flyers for a superhero ride that is taking place in michigan, beginning August 10th, around the time i was going to be passing through that area! this whole trip i am on is like a big superhero bike ride, and i really want to join in with others who are on the same mission! i'm going to do all i can to be there. moona also gave me a 'love bomb' she made out of felt, which is a tradition of the superhero community.

this is a pic of some superheroes i found on the web.

moona, joergen, and i went out on a joyride friday night. we rode some of this 'green trail', i played mbira while they got some ice cream, and then we made our way to this awesome little shop called freckles. moona and joergen played dress-up while i played guitar. a couple girls walking by wanted a demonstration of the the tall bike, so i decided to give it a try. this was my first time every riding a tall bike. it was fun! joergen was borrowing this one from a friend to get around on. that is him in the white dress.

i met a woman at freckles that night who resonated strongly with the idea that there is a shift occurring. don't remember exactly how it came up... she had recently gotten into painting and we joined her to her little studio nearby to have a look. she is painting in a very childlike way that is wonderfully spontaneous. a larger work was a figure in the midst of a rainbow sunset, with love flowing up through her. this woman also said she was into contact improv dance, which is in the same arena as ecstatic dance. we had a heart connection. i felt a very strong confirmation through her of the shift, which i am on a mission to tell people about.

i'd like to mention that moona lives in a wonderful little apartment building with an herb and flower garden in the courtyard and an active compost system out back! this kind of conscientious management is reassuring to me. there is a community garden nearby, Grandin Gardens, where i preferred to donate the compostables from the kitchen. i like thermophilic piles more than rotating plastic bins, though the later, if designed well as the one here is, serves the purpose.

in looking at the facebook page i just realized that there is much more going on at the site of this community garden that is of interest to me. looks like this organization, the universal mind, is just starting to really get going. i think it is a little cosmic that the place i am staying is less than a block away and i decided to incorporate materials into one of their piles. do you find it somehow interesting?

there is a nice natural food coop a few blocks from moona's place, where we dumpster dove and i purchased supplies for the ride ahead.

another place i spent some time was at this bikeshop downtown. the place had a little sitting area and offered filtered water and coffee to visitors. this reminded me of a similarly styled shop in seattle, 20/20 cycle. anyway the shop's owner, james, was working there this saturday, while outside the 'festival in the park' was going on. james took interest in my story and told me he thought i might do well to meet the occupy community of roanoke, who he said were presently having their weekly meeting 'up the mountain'. i was focused on getting my drivetrain running smoothly, and by the time i left i just wanted to get back to the house for a late lunch, so i decided to let that possibility go. he was very kind to let me use one side of his shop stand and to assist me in some of the work. turned out we did not need to waste time trying another freewheel to match the new chain. the one that was already on my bike felt better than the other one we tried. so all i needed was the new chain and a replacement for the worn out 34tooth ring in the front. he had a nice, steel Sugino 36tooth of the BCD i needed! that was a major sign that i was in the right place. i could have fixed the drivetrain issue in tallahassee, but then i would not have had this good encounter with james.
i tried to pay him $30 but he was tricky and ran my debit card for $25. everyone wants to be generous towards me for some reason. when i was getting ready to leave he mentioned that he dug my mbira, so i played a little while, seeing this was something pleasant i could offer him.

when i reused a plastic bag for my groceries at the coop i got to donate a token worth five cents to one of four non-profits in the area. i chose a three acre urban farm project that sounded very promising. the terms permaculture and biodynamic were used in their description of the project. this article was all i could find so far about this urban farm.

Friday, May 25, 2012

resonating at anahata

i found a ride at dance church that whisked me off to the community of anahata. on the way we picked up another member of this community at the top of Pilot Mountain. there was a great view from the top and summer told us that the mountain is said to be an energetic hot spot. i think i felt it a little bit...

thunderstorms- while i was at anahata there were three separate thunderstorms. the first was the most dramatic, and when it cleared in the early evening there was a beautiful double rainbow that graced the view out the window of the main house for a good while before dinner.

nettles- i'd had nettles on my mind since brasstown, and in asheville it was mentioned that they could be harvested in these forests. at anahata i was told that there was an abundance of them along a small stream across the river. my first day there i waded through the cold water, entered the forest on the other side, and harvested four shopping bags full! the stream was such a tranquil and vibrant corridor. it inspired a feeling of reverence and i remembered to give thanks as i snipped the tops off hundreds of the emerald-leafed nettles. i did my best not to trample the delicate plants and soils as i ventured into dense patches of forest fertility.
these nettles are different from the ones i am familiar with on orcas island. they grow one large leaf from each node rather than two and the stems are more fleshy (more like asparagus than celery). when i lightly steamed them the stems became pleasantly tender.
we ate almost half of what i picked and i hung the rest to dry on lines we strung up in the drying area of the house, where screens and sheets were being utilized already. this system of lines above head level is how i used to dry herbs at wild's edge on orcas island. i thought it could be a useful contribution to this place. summer, the girl who had been doing most of the herb drying, didn't like that it was so high up and would require a ladder. seemed too much trouble to her. i felt really bad about it until she expressed to me that she still appreciated that i had gotten all those nettle up to dry, even if it was not in the way she liked best.

community interactions- dinner is shared most nights. there were two community meetings in the time that i was there. with three separate households in the anahata community, it is sometimes difficult to bring everyone together at the same time.

we came together in circle at dinner and meetings. summer led songs mostly. in the mornings while i meditated there was a couple who did their morning yoga in the big space of the main floor of the house, which is intended as a meeting place and spiritual practice space. i think it could have great benefits if everyone was encouraged to join together for spiritual practice (inner work) each morning before a shared breakfast. what if...


humanure- last year a huge fortress of a humanure bin was built where the five gallon buckets could be dumped. it was about 7 by 7 feet and 5 feet tall, with double walls of boards and chicken wire filled with hay. when i went to do that chore and saw the bin for my first time i could not bring myself to participate in this impractical approach. this huge bin would take at least five years to fill up at the pace it as currently being filled. the bin was located farther from the outhouse and water supply than necessary, requiring lots of extra energy. the bin was built with four solid walls, so harvesting the finished material, after perhaps six years, would be more difficult than necessary.
i talked with the current coordinator of this project and he accepted my proposal to build a smaller bin out of some pallets that were available. eventually there will be two or three, but i only had enough materials for one. this size bin will be filled in one year or less, making the finished compost available within two years of starting it. the pile does not need to be turned, just built with the right mix of materials (carbon and nitrogen), and kept moist.
there is a method i recommended of depositing the humanure which is illustrated in a video of joseph jenkins, humanure guru and author of the humanure handbook.
for more information on humanure composting i also recommend the site of david and pearl, who met at their winter home near tucson.
there are many methods. one must decide which one works best for their living situation. at anahata they were not intending to use the finished compost for growing food, but in fact it is totally safe to do so when the compost is made in a thermophilic pile such as this. they do not combine their food scraps or other compostables because of wanting to keep it separate, but combining them can have great benefits. the faster the pile is built, the sooner you will have finished compost to feed the soil with! also the diversity of materials benefits the diversity of beneficial microbial life in the compost pile, which acts as another safeguard against pathogens. in the humanure handbook i learned that many of the beneficial microorganisms are predators to pathogens, and that they can also decrease levels of other contaminants in the composting materials. like magic!
it felt so great to be helpful in making the humanure composting more accessible and sustainable at anahata. i hope that eventually all the residents are participating in this sacred practice of giving back. it is a way of great abundance!

paintings- it was pleasant to be in the presence of laurel song's paintings, which are hung on almost every wall in the main house. one's eyes are attracted to their vibrant colors and the spirit of the beings she has rendered. i felt a kind of healing energy coming through them.

i'm so grateful that i was able to experience this amazing place. it has so much potential to become a beacon of light in the U.S. for those learning to lead holistic, selfless, compassionate lives. thanks to everyone there for welcoming me!


oh my, a lot happened during the week i was in asheville!

it turned out my host linda was driving to asheville on sunday and was able to give me and the bicycle a ride! once again my offer of gas money was kindly refused. thank you linda for your support!

asheville is nestled in lush forest green. the old downtown area has a vibrant atmosphere of human activity. i enjoyed the public art both commissioned and spontaneous. there is quite a bit of tasteful graffiti, especially in the river arts district.

i arrived on sunday, and for the first couple nights i stayed at the home of linda's son, able, and his girlfriend. they were in new york for the week, attending a family gathering with linda. when i was dropped off at their house they were already away, so i didn't get to meet them. i felt a little awkward staying in their house because of that, but since we also have a good mutual friend, and linda was so encouraging that it would be fine, i decided to enjoy having a place to myself for a couple nights. what a luxury! i'm so grateful for being given this time to just sort of flop. as a thank you to them i tidied up a bit, with extra care in the bathroom, leaving the place a little better than i'd found it. there was a plaque on the wall that said, 'i keep my home clean enough to be safe, but dirty enough to be happy', or something like that. so i didn't clean TOO much.

while in savannah, with the twelve tribes community there, i had decided i would visit gladheart farm in asheville. it is clear to anyone i stay with how much i care about composting and working with nature to produce our food. when i'm with people who claim they want to do these things but do not take action towards it, then conflict arises in me. for this reason i was sometimes uncomfortable with how things were done in the savannah community. they thought i would have an easier time, would fit in better, at the farm communities. i might feel more satisfied with the lifestyle.
so i went out to stay with them tuesday night. i did enjoy the place and people very much. i once again was offered great hospitality and included in their gatherings. the farm is very ordered, as is the way of these people generally, and many crops were well on their way, growing well. along with a couple of woofers i helped with competition control in long rows of young carrots. with another volunteer temporarily residing at the farm i weeded and pulled hay mulch away from well-established garlic. there had been so much moisture that mold was causing damage to this crop.

i also got the opportunity to build a compost pile! to take full advantage of this opportunity to be helpful, i got permission and had a little workshop with the two wooffers. HOW TO ASSEMBLE A THERMOPHILIC COMPOST PILE. we layered moldy hay with food scraps and green plant material, and ended up with a good start to the pile.
when i went back for another night on friday i checked in on the pile and saw that next to it a load of beautiful kale had been dumped. obviously the information about how to add a layer to the pile was not share with everyone who needed it. i really hope this works out for the benefit of the farm there. i have done what i could to make it possible, short of staying there to oversee the process myself.

this is a picture of me at the farm

the sacred embodiment center is another place i got involved throughout my time in asheville. monday morning i tried to attend 'vipassana style' meditation, but the facilitator was not there, so i meditated ouside the door in the alley. it was really nice, even with the presence of a dump truck at one point. i cooked for the 'come-unity time' on tuesday, attended an amazing song circle wednesday night, and a 'love in' on saturday night. i brought fresh herbs from the farm and made tea to share. from this community i got so much support and encouragement for the hoop tour and i really appreciated having a space i could express myself and feel relaxed with others.

the cooperative natural food store is where i bought food. it is a great example of a coop! it was very useful to me to have access to the internet through their courtesy computer. i found the staff there to be genuinely kind a friendly.

i stuck around 'til sunday partly because i wanted to attend a dance event, sometimes called 'dance church, which the asheville movement collective puts on. it was one of the most fun and enlivening exploratory experiences of my life. perhaps i will write more about this later...

also attended two contra dances while in asheville! one was on monday night and the other was thursday. when i arrived on monday and was locking up my bike i came face to face with an old friend from seattle! it was her first contra dance and i tutored her a little. there were so many very skilled dancers around my age that it make the dance all the more fun! the band, 'devanney's goat', was one of the most unique sounding i've ever heard at a contra dance. thursday it was the same band and caller, but this one was out at warren wilson college, at the 'old farmer's ball'. the caller wore these atrocious plaid pants and kept telling us how he loved us.

i learned of this composting operation near asheville that sounds pretty cool, but i was not able to visit them.

another highlight was that i was taken out to tea on two occasions at this tea house called dobra tea!

Monday, May 14, 2012

folk school in brasstown

my friend lisa, who had been a long-term work study at the folk school years ago, hooked me up to stay with her friends linda and tom. the night i arrived they were out to a movie, and i showed up just before they left. i relaxed and had something to eat, then went up to the school to check it out and find my friend hannah, who's workstudy period had just ended. she is a friend i met through contra dancing on lopez island, near where i was living in washington before this trip. i had forgotten she would be at the folk school at this time, so i was pleasantly surprised when i heard from linda that she was here! i was a little bummed that i had not gotten there on the 5th to attend the contra dance, which was also her birthday. and this saturday there was no contra dance! but that is just how it happened. there were other pleasant experiences, and at least i still caught her before she left.

we had a nice fire out behind the blacksmith shop that first night, which i understand is a tradition of the workstudies there. linda and tom came out after their movie and there was much good conversation. the fireflies were more abundant than i have ever seen! magical sight. the locals said it is unusual and must have something to do with the unusual weather, which has been very wet.

i explored the herb garden and large vegetable garden on my own. they said they eat greens grown there every day, but there was still so much unharvested! maybe folks are not eating as much greens as i would, which is usually the case i find. they are getting chickens soon, and the excess greens can be fed to them! there is a grace about that kind of farm ecosystem.

greens are also great for compost! the large pallet bins were in pretty good order, but there were some improvements that could be made. one thing was that the materials were piled on haphazardly, forming a peak, which tends to shed water. was this purposeful since theere had be a lot of rain? normally you want to catch as much water as you can to keep the pile highly active. this is achieved by keeping the top of the pile flat or with a slight basin. another thing was that cover material had not been spread over the most recent deposit of kitchen scraps. flies were loving it! i thought i might use woodchips from the wood shop, but then found moldy hay near the bins, which seemed to be what was used normally. i spread out the layer of food scraps and weeds evenly, then put a nice, thick layer of hay over that. all tidy and clean! last, i gave the pile a good watering.

i was excited to see a variety of herbs growing all over the vegetable garden in addition to the designated herb and flower garden. i picked chocolate mint, lemon balm, thyme, and sage for tea, which i shared with the workstudies. these kinds of perenial plants are important bee forage as they bloom at different times throughout the growing season, sometimes on into the fall. there are four towers of bee boxes in the folkschool garden, which surely produce some wonderful honey.

during my stay i helped in linda's work by sweeping the floor of the class kitchen and walking the dogs with her one morning. when they went to harvest one of their humanure compost bins i helped a little in tearing free the wire cage from where it was bound by roots. the bin was a mass of roots and cover material that had not decomposed. there was no sign of the finished compost remaining, and it was rather dry. i think the bin could have used more moisture throughout it's two and a half year life, and that it would not have been overtaken by roots if it were located away from trees and shrubs. i also think the system could benefit from being combined with their food scraps and other plant materials, like joseph jenkins advocates.
i thought it was pretty awesome that i got to stay with these folks who do humanure composting! they use a little bucket toilet of very simple design.

linda is the coordinator of the community garden in brasstown and also of a tiny natural food store called 'vital vittles'. i would have liked to work with her in the garden, but time was short and i prioritized other activities. i went for a nice walk with hannah to town on the second day and took a peek at the garden and shop. i sensed a lot of vitality and potential for growth in these places.

tom is a woodworker with a little shop in their cozy home. he let me use his whet stones for sharpening my carving knives. now i can continue on the couple of carving projects i am carrying with me, a miniature Northwest Native style mask and a spoon i made at Winter Count that is almost finished.

one of my favorite things about staying with linda and tom was that incredible breakfasts where made on the woodstove both mornings! local eggs, sausage, greens, toasted sourdough, raw cheese...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

heart quake

i came across this on another blog... it is written by someone i know a little on orcas island.

The Heart Quake ~ An Oracle's Prophecy

This beautiful posting from Jennifer Posada:

The Heart Quake ~ An Oracle's Prophecy

Jennifer Luna Posada, March, 2011

Close your eyes...can you feel it? A wave is rolling in the likes of which we have not yet known, and in the rising tide and its sure wake we will know ourselves more beautifully and more clearly than ever before...

If you are having trouble sleeping, or exhausted, or wired all day...if you are having headaches, or body aches, or energized like you haven't been in years...if you are at one extreme and then another, or if they are almost beginning to blur into one...if you feel half of the time as if you are losing your mind and half of the time as if you might finally have found something entirely sane, then you are likely feeling the shifts at hand right now, and all they are about to bring into our lives.

In fact you are probably well aware that extremely intense energies are at play right now and impacting every feeling and moment in your life at this time. We have waited so long for this very turning point, one of many powerfully arranged transformational portals on our way to a complete shift in consciousness on this planet, and rippling beyond...

Earthquakes, tsunamis, and solar flares, all of great magnitude, are impacting our planet in astronomical ways, just as we approach an equinox and a "super" full moon that will be closer to the earth than any has been in almost two decades. All of this during a time when a large number of planets are in pisces, sign of integration and completion. As if all of this weren't enough to let us know that change is afoot, we can simply and purely feel the rumble inside ourselves the moment we become still and close our eyes, and perhaps even when we don't.

For we are experiencing the inner and energetic version of what the earth goes through when there is an earthquake. We are feeling the rumblings of the building up of a pressure within, knowing that a breakthrough and unleashing of these energies is eminent. For those of us living in a place impacted by an outer earthquake as well, we are experiencing this with multiple times more intensity.

And the epicenter of this inner quake is the heart. This is where the most potent work is being done...the center point of all else that will shift and change within us. Up until now we have done such massive and committed work in the heart, but it has been for the most part willfully orchestrated and concentrated work. This wave of transformational energy coming in, reaching its peak at the full moon on March 19th and the equinox on March 20th, will simply be so powerful that it will push aside our last abilities to control what is happening in our hearts and let our deepest soul's wisdom take over. For that deepest soul's wisdom is love, and not love as we expect it to be or think it is acceptable, but real love in all of its wild and authentic truth. Real love that doesn't know conditioning or rules and that is stronger than our self-imposed limitations or fears. Real love that will role in like an immeasurable ocean and force our surrender...to all that is more true within us but which we were afraid before even to see, much less to embrace.

This wave will take away structures within us and light fires and perhaps even bring us to our knees, as we find that we cannot stand on our own two legs the way we once did. We must find new ways to stand and walk, on a different kind of strength. That vulnerability will be our greatest blessing. We are going to entirely re-learn how to see who we really are inside in each moment, and how to be that self in the world.

And I know we may sometimes feel that we have nothing left but ashes. And we may even weep into them at the devastation of what we have lost and the lack of security we are experiencing as we face all the old pains without any of the new redemption yet. But those very tears, whether literal or metaphorical, will be the beginnings of the new life. They are what will start the alchemy of rebirth. They are the reason we will rise like a phoenix from the ashes into new life.

For rise, I know, we will...rise on this tide we once thought consumed us, and be reborn within its midsts.

This is a time to be gentle with yourself, perhaps more than any other. Know that no matter how intense and overwhelming it feels at times, everything is going to be okay. You are held, and loved, and cared for even when it seems you are not...and it will be shown to you clearly again in time. In the hard times, being gentle and as loving with yourself as possible will soften the edges and remind you of that deepest and purest love until the full feeling of it returns in your life. Until you can reap the joys of this shift, remember that if your heart is breaking, it is only breaking open, and ultimately this is going to bring in incredible blessings of love into your life and heart. And at the same time allow yourself to honor deeply any pain or other difficult feelings that may be arising. Again, really feeling and freeing those "tears" is what brings new fire and new life from the ashes.

Just take one step at a time down the corridors that are arising in front of you...both the old ones of your deepest fears, and the new ones that are unfamiliar to you yet...or run whenever you decide you want to run. Only you know how to move at whatever pace feels right to you, moment to moment on this journey. What is most important now is that you follow and trust what you feel inside as a new connection to your soul's instinct takes hold during this time. That is part of what we are meant to discover in this reckoning.

And then, when you feel another heart-opening wave coming, and you know it is yours, and the rumbling inside you is building...let it pick you up and carry you. Ride it into the new energies that are waiting for you and in your life. These leaps of courage and faith at the moments that you know are right...when it is as if the golden sun is shining right onto your heart, and you are maybe terrified but so electrifyingly alive...are the gifts of all of the chances you have taken, all the courage you have had, all the work you have done, all you have let go of, and all you have let in...to be here now.

So hold on. And let go. Each in their turn and as your heart dictates, from its place, finally and fully, in charge of all. Guiding all, from now forward...


© 2011 Jennifer Posada. All rights reserved. www.jenniferposada.com
You may make copies of this message and distribute in any media as long as you change nothing, credit the author, and include this copyright notice and web address.

chattanooga to brasstown

ben, the guy taking initiative in composting in the twelve tribes community of chattanooga, gave me a ride out of the city on I75 to ooltewah. i'd made a sign with cardboard i got at the deli that said "Asheville, CAN PAY GAS". it didn't seem to help at all. after more than an hour trying to hitch there i finally got a ride with this cool, old guy named bruce. he told me some stories from his life as he drove out of his way to bring me to the next highway junction.
from there i rode several miles to get to a place where i could hitch from on the east side of cleveland, TN. i'd asked a couple guys for a ride who were in a pickup at a gas station where i stopped to get water. the black man who was driving asked me if i knew the lord's prayer. i did not remember it, so he recited it to refresh my memory. i expressed to him that this was the first time i'd heard that prayer that i really felt it in my heart. he told me if i said this prayer i would be sure to get a ride. i said in my mind as much as i could remember of it while i rode on.
i made my way to a good hitch spot. there i lubricated the bicycle chain after removing my bags from the bike in preparation for another attempt. very soon after finishing that task and sticking my thumb out, a woman pulled over in a van!

she told me right off how she used to hitch hike and now she picks up hitch hikers... but they are offensive and often ask her for money.
this woman was a midwife, and said that day she had a baby to deliver. then she was going on vacation to the florida keys with her relatives. she said she could use some time to relax, and decided to drive me all the way to murphy, where i could easily ride the rest of the way to brasstown. this was fifty miles farther than she was going, but i decided to accept. it seemed like it would be good for her and i was curious about this woman. we had some good conversation. i shared with her the purpose of my trip and some thoughts i'd been having on the topic of spirituality. we really saw eye to eye.
when we were getting near murphy she got a call informing her that the baby was on it's way. she would not be able to make it back in time. i felt terrible, and wondered why it was happening this way for her. she dropped me off there, several miles short of murphy. before i got out of the car she said, 'let me give you some money'. i was like, 'no, no, no...' as she pulled out a hundred dollar bill and put it in my hands. she insisted, and i felt i should accept it. she must be able to afford it. feeling dumbfounded, i got my stuff out of the van and grabbed one of the bracelets i made to give to her. she gave me a hug from the driver's seat and then was off to try to make it to the birth.
i didn't even get this generous woman's name. what a trip.

the ride to brasstown after i got to murphy was really nice. the forest and landscape of rolling hills was very pleasant and the weather just right for riding. i arrived at 6pm without mishap to the home of my hosts, who i'd been connected with through a friend who used to be a workstudy at the folks school. they put some leftovers on to heat up for me and showed me the bucket toilet before heading out to a movie.

chattanooga surprise

well... when i tried to leave on wednesday, getting a very late start at nearly 4pm, heavy rain and wind caused me to turn back before i'd gone ten blocks. there was a struggle in me over whether i should persevere through the hardship and get on my way or take this as a sign from god and wait 'til the next day. when i turned back the first time the rain stopped, then when i turned around and started away from the house again, another downpour came almost immediately. i laughed and took it as a definite sign. i waited under cover and watched the rain come down for about half an hour before returning to the house.

one result of me staying was that the next day i was offered a ride with one of the vehicles going up to chattanooga, which is 91 miles east of brasstown, NC, where i was planning on going to visit the folk school. they had to take a van instead of a car in order to fit my bicycle, but since i was willing to pay a good share of gas it all worked out. because of this wonderful arrangement i was able to see the yellow deli in chattanooga and meet more of the god-filled members of the twelve tribes commonwealth.

one of the men i met is taking initiative in composting and establishing an urban farm across the street from their 'oak house', near the yellow deli. when i was able to connect with him and hear about the progress that is being made, it gave me hope that the community in savannah could also recognize the value in composting and starting an urban farm there! the lot in chattanooga, where they are going to be growing vegetables once the beds are prepared, is owned by a woman who lives next to it. she had been paying to have it mowed, so she was thrilled about the idea of someone using it and saving her the cost of maintenance. compost is being made from the community's food scraps, including those from the deli, manure, leaves, and straw. i offered my perspective on composting and decided i will buy them a copy of the humanure handbook, which i recommended during our conversation.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

savannah receives me

i was dropped off in savannah at the home of dickie, who i found through a craigslist add asking for help with his composting efforts. he has a facebook page and a blog called planet of the dreamers. this very enthusiatic young man received me with grace as another couchsurfer was just about to depart. this other traveler's name is tasha bowens, and i discovered that she is working on a project called color of food, which is closely related to my project! how exciting to come accross this kindred spirit who is doing such good, encouraging work. i would have liked to visit more with her but she had to be off.

i helped dickie during my stay with the compost at his home and also the pile at the starfish community garden, where dickie has been given a plot and plant starts for free in exchange for being their compost manager.

after staying with dickie for two nights i sought out the twelve tribes community of savannah. these are the folks who's boat, the peacemaker, i stayed on a couple nights in pensacola! the reason i sought them out is that dickie's housemate does not like hosting couchsurfers and the woman who has said she would host me had not responded to my massages... it was either seek their hospitality or find a place to camp this third night in savannah. the guy who i rode into savannah with had mentioned the twelve tribes folks and how i could probably stay with them if i needed to. like a prophecy. when i went to the address on the website someone informed me that they no longer live there, and my heart sank for a moment, then she proceeded to tell me where they now live, which was just a block away! i went there and was welcomed in and served dinner right away! what an amazing feeling of deep joy and relief i felt! like returning home to family.

these folks are trying to start a 'yellow deli' in savannah and will have an organic farm in the future. i was given the top of a bunk bed out at a property they are renting which they jokingly call 'the farm'. there is a medium-sized vegetable garden that is doing quite well despite being more shaded than is optimal. my first morning with them i joined the group welcoming the peacemaker into port. it was a joyful event and it was good to see the people i had met a few weeks before in pensacola. they were hardly surprised to see me with their tribe in savannah.

i helped out a couple of days at one of the job sites downtown and enjoyed working with these men. they run a construction business called commonwealth construction, and that is where most of their income is made. i was pleased to have a lunch packed for me every day by the women, in an insulated lunch bag with my name on it. one day i joined a crew that went to help a friend move a little shed to his new home, where he is establishing a large vegetable garden, building infrastructure, and envisioning a little eco-community in the future. possibly a hostel like hostel in the forest i was told! the place he had been living previously, where we picked the shed up from, is called green bridge farm. now i have been to green string (petaluma), green gate(austin), and green bridge, which is near the small town of guyton, about 29 miles NW of savannah. i found michael and his wife to be very pleasant-spirited people. they believe in the economy of generosity, though michael told me he had never used those exact words. the small farm was producing a lot of food, and a lot of it was ready for harvest. i asked about the chard specifically and he said we could harvest as much as we wanted! i spent about an hour picking the big, beautiful rainbow mix and preparing them for transport. at the last minute i was also able to grab some beautiful leeks! this felt like a great gift to me to be given the honor of harvesting this blessing for the community from the creator through our mother earth. the farm is currently looking for someone to take care of the vegetable production. it was tempting, but i am determined to keep moving and finish this hoop tour!

there is one nice the natural food store in savannah that i shopped at while here. i didn't need to while with the tribe because all the meals are shared and i was included. i really cherish this kind of daily sharing. before every breakfast and dinner there is prayer and sometimes singing and dancing! to be part of these circles had felt really great!
one of the most special days was on monday, when i joined everyone, including many members of the savannah tribe and some other guests, on the peacemaker for a celebratory parade and 'race' with all the other tall ships who were in savannah for this event over the weekend. there was a big downpour for at least a half hour early in the day. it had cleared up before we reached the open ocean. this was my first time on the open ocean or seeing the atlantic. i felt a little sick, but did not throw up. i spent a lot of the time sitting in the galley sewing and visiting with other guests. i made my third teabasket out of reused materials. the first of those i made at sleeping frog farm, near tucson, and then i made another recently while in tallahassee to send to my friend jana in chicago. hope to get a picture of one soon.
something that was very challenging for me while with the tribe is that they throw all their food scraps in the garbage instead of composting. nobody has taken time, made it a priority, in these households. i asked if i could help by starting a pile, but was told it that they were not sure they could maintain it after i left. then i suggested they could donate the materials to the community garden, which is two blocks from their 'yellow house' in savannah. this was also met with resistance. so i just did my best to collect the materials, asking permission when i was around during meal prep, and then depositing the materials myself at the community garden. this felt really good, and i hope that it will inspire some responsible action in the community so that the materials can continue to be composted after i leave.

at the community garden one day i got to build a little raised bed and transplant a rosemary bush. really fun building that little bed with big cement chunks laying around! haven't done rock work in a while. another day i hauled several yardwaste bags of mixed woodchips and leaves over from up the alley. i spread some around fruit trees for extra benefits and left some to be used as the coordinator sees fit. so much material is sent out of these neighborhoods that could be used for building soil! they could all be deposited on the vacant lots, in thick layers, where vegetable gardens or orchards could be established in the deep soil some day!

i didn't know i would stay so long in savannah, but i am really glad i did. when a rideshare had still not come along by wedneday, the 8th, i decided to get out there on the road and try to hitch. gotta keep moving, on to other wonderful, hospitable communities and opportunities to spread love and good will.

hostel to vipassana center

on the way to the SE Vipassana Center i traversed one of the most miserable, sandy roads in the country. i had opted to take the most direct route and did not consider that the roads might not be paved. after getting onto paved roads again and riding a dozen miles or so i decided to try to hitch a ride. i was getting tired and it seemed like i might arrive after registration time if i didn't speed my way. a very kind woman stopped for me in her pickup truck and drove me all the way to the vipassana center, which was several miles out of her way. she was an amateur woodcarver and had some things to say to me concerning spirituality and religion. the words i remember most are, "religion is when we reach out to god. christianity is when god reaches out to us."

my experience at this course was as challenging as the first one, and challenging in some different ways. i came down with a cold on the first day and continued to hack up phlegm the whole time. i treated it with hot vinegar, cayenne, ginger, and lemon drinks. my right nipple is still the most persistent 'blind spot', and i worked a lot with pain emanating from the base of my skull on the left side of the spine. BIG sankara! i will not speak any more of the specifics of the meditation experience as i do not want to influence anyone's expectations who have not already practiced vipassana. it is different for everyone. let's just say i received benefits through hard work. becoming stronger in awareness and equanimity.

while meditating, one of the most persistent distractions for me was the arena of fundraising for the remainder of this trip through a kickstarter campaign. it all seemed so clear and like it would work out perfectly. i kept thinking of old friends of mine who would surely lend their support. friends i have not thought of in years and want to get back in touch with. it was not clear to me at times whether this was some kind of craving or more of a revelation through the clarity of an equanimous mind. i also had some thoughts like, 'the hoop is dhamma!' and "what would happen if we all lived the life of full renunciation like monks? do we need 'householders' to survive?" which i feel are useful insights.

this center has a healthy compost system utilizing pallet bins. they do a good job of incorporating a good balance of carbonaceous materials, including paper towels that might otherwise go to waste. i would love to see more edible plants in the landscape and a vegetable garden to produce food for the center, and perhaps that will come soon. there is a man i met who is involved in the center and lives next door. he is a green builder and grows some of his own food.

once the vow of silence was lifted i connected with many of the other men. one of them has recently been living with a community in miami that sounded like a hoop-spirited one.
i found a ride easily with a fellow meditator who lives near savannah. he was generous and gave the ride as a gift, not accepting gas money. i feel so blessed!

thank you to all who are following this story and especially those who leave comments every once in a while. keep loving those around you and be well!