Most people don’t follow the news in Japan, but some encouraging things are happening in the wake of the Fukushima accident. It turns out my pessimistic forecasts about the current pro-nuclear government and it’s ability to restart nuclear reactors closed after Fukushima were overly pessimistic (usually not my problem). There are several things which are happening in Japan which make the worlds former third largest nuclear power (after the US and France) seem like it is almost completely retiring from this field, as Germany has, despite it still having a pro-nuclear government and a technophilic culture.
The first thing is that Fukushima is increasingly not under control. The US press carries little about this, but in the last week 3 of the 7 newly built underwater storage takes at Fukushima have failed, dumping high level radiation into the sea again. Over 120K liters had leaked, before this third leak was discovered. These tanks have failed in fairly rapid succession, increasing the chances that all these tanks will fail in the near future. Thus with over two years experience and billions invested, one of the worlds largest utilities can not manage one of the simplest aspects of this disaster and the situation is deteriorating. TEPCO also does not know why the tanks are failing. In addition to this the plants cooling system has failed twice in the last two weeks. While not news in the US, this does influence public acceptance in Japan of the restart of reactors.
The second factor is the new nuclear regulator seems to be taking it’s job seriously, despite having a distinctly pro-nuclear bias. The NRA (no relation to the US gun lobby) has released a draft proposal for the conditions needed for restart of reactors. This includes installing filter vents in more than half of Japan’s 50 reactors. Something which will cost significantly and delay restart of these reactors by years. While the NRA has given reactor companies a 5 year grace period to build second remote control rooms for reactors, Japanese nuclear utilities will need to include this additional cost in their calculations about restart costs.
The NRA has not been lenient with regard to fire proofing cables in reactors. The regulator is not giving reactor operators a pass on this one. This means in the case of older reactor designs the entire plant will have to be rewired. This upgrade likely makes the restart of these older plants financially impossible. And even for newer plants (many of which are waiting to hear if they are on active fault lines, with the new expanded 400K time horizon for seismic activity) this upgrade could take years.
The final news is that Japan is ditching it’s highly effective government mandated energy efficiency programs this year AND there will be a 6.7% energy surplus in 2013 AND this is with 48 of 50 nuclear power plants off line. What this means is that the utilities (contrary to last years dire black out forecasts with these reactors off line) dont need to restart reactors to handle the nations energy needs.
So a slightly tough regulator plus new slow regulations plus no urgent need for the reactors to come back online plus continuing problems at Fukushima plus 160K people still displaced from their homes because of Fukushima equals likely long delays in restarts.
Things look little better for the nuclear industry here at home. Former US NRC chair Gregory B. Jaczko said that the problems of the current US nuclear fleet cannot be fixed by upgrading them and the fleet should be phased out and replaced with new technology. He also said he was opposed to reactor life extension, which is perhaps the most important remaining fight in the US. Add to this the recent GAO report pushing the NRC to expand it’s 10 mile emergency evacuation radius, which would make siting new plants more difficult and I think these last 5 reactor blocks under construction in the US will be the last full sized reactors built in this country (and they might not even all get finished).
Oh and did i mention the costs of renewables is dropping below most fossil fuel (and especially nuclear). And private investors are staying far from nuclear projects, since government guarantees for these investments are shrinking most places except the UK and France.
After 3 decades of fighting this beast, it is comforting to see it slowly dying.
Wil changed his name to Wild Horse, which fully represents his old name, but projects more of his real character. Here is a picture from earlier today, when he had a friendly lizard climb onto his hat.
Here is a bit of a detail of the lizard on his hat
Wild Horse had saved the lizard from a cat which was trying to kill it. And the lizard felt safe on the hat and actually crawled back onto it once when he put the hat on the ground and took the lizard off gently.
Ultimately, the lizard went off into the grass, and Wild Horse picket seeds with Mac and i late into the night, with only fond memories of his new friend.
Dearest Friends and Readers:
i just discovered that WordPress is now more actively putting ads on blogs. I totally understand their need to monitorize this service and i dont want ads on my blog [especially for outfits like Walmart, which i am trying to boycott]. So bear with us for a bit, and we will pull them off as soon as possible.
My brother very generously gave the communes two dozen free tickets and back stage passes to his show last night in Cville. The Acorners and Oakers loved it. Some attendees were repeat offenders from last years show.
The band played it’s only platinum album Flood, for most of the show. And on this album is the song Hot Cha, which is the most clearly-about-me song my brother has written. The lyrics of Hot Cha were written (i believe) in response to my disappearance from contact with my parents for much of 1982. My brother and i often played the game Derby Day when we were little and Hot Cha was horse number two and my favorite. Despite his claims otherwise, i am clear that this song on the Flood album is about me.
The funny thing is that i told Mac that this song was about me just before the show and when it started playing she said “This is your song!”. But i did not really recognize it. At first this struck me as odd. Here is this song, written by my brother, on his most famous album, which is about me and i don’t even recognize it. That seems lame.
But really, i am not that big a fan of my brothers music (i do appreciate their theatrics) and it turns out that i dont know most of this album. And he does not know my stuff, so it seemed fair that i might not be paying super careful attention to this critical media.
Before the show we bumped into Olivia in front of the Jefferson Theater with her TMBG t-shirt on, excited about the show – i had never met Olivia before this evening. The conversation turned to the point where i admitted that my brother was in the band and Olivia said “You must be Pax”, which is i think the first time that someone has identified me by name for this connection. I was so excited i gave her one of our back stage passes.
When the show was over, we went thru the strange underground tunnels that lead to where the bands relax. The woman in the wheel chair from Louisa who i had worked on a local campaign with me, who i donated tickets to, could not come with us to the back stage party, which made me sad.
As is often the case, my brother was gregarious and generous. The commune hippies descended like locust on the food and drink in the back stage area. When we left half an hour later it was all but gone. We talked a bit about his coming tour to Australia, about angry audience vibe in Cville and other places. I also reminded him that he was completely right in his political forecast about Obama’s re-election. In May of 2012 he had forecasted “people will be surprised how much he wins by”. When i congratulated him on this forecast he was both dismissive (“could the Republicans have chosen a worse candidate?)” and quick to follow up with a new forecast for the coming two years.
“The Republican Party has opened a Pandora’s box of troubles which will ultimately tear the party apart. The Tea Party and other wingnuts will crash it within two years.” I am doubtful, but i thought Obama was going to be much closer than he was, so i will suspend disbelief.
He talked about his work to stop fracking, his insights into NY Governor Cuomo’s completely political nature (“he has no moral compass.” John said) and the unexpected popularity of their coming Australia trip.
Having evaporated the food, my crew left the green room of the Jefferson theater without Olivia, who lingered behind in the place she always wanted to be.
Since there seems to be a bunch of TMBG fan traffic to this post, i should perhaps go more into detail about my contention that this song was written about me, since there is at least some dispute about it. The song refers to the first time Hot Cha went away a float island was his home. A pretty clear reference to the time i spent hitching on sailboats across the Pacific.
In the original Hot Cha video (which seems now to have been pulled from You Tube) i am told there was a phone with “PAX” on the center of the rotary dial.
My brother certainly feels some affinity for the prodigal son story in light of my disappearance and we did eat fondue together when we were growing up, which is a bit of an odd food choice.
Okay, enuf parasiting off my brothers fame, on to other adventures.
One of the most studied attacks in military history is the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor at the end of 1941 near the start of WW2. One of the often criticized aspects of this daring and hugely successful attack was the failure of the Japanese to launch a third wave. Had the Japanese hit a third time, they would have been able to destroy much of the pearl harbor infrastructure and would have set back the US pacific fleet from attacking Japan perhaps by years.
Similarly, organizers of the great Acorn 20th Anniversary Land Day party needed an exceptionally successful after party, to both finish the beer left behind at the main event and to offer something wonderful but much smaller and more intimate to the people who made this large commemorative event happen. The pants-less dance party was everything it needed to be to deliver this critical third wave of fun.
Part of what made it tremendously successful was that it was organized in the highly organic, super low overhead Acorn style. [This is quite different for me than the Twin Oaks parties i have helped plan which have far more meetings and logistics associated with them.] For the Land Day after party the organizing went like this.
“We have two kegs of beer left over.”
“We should have a party and drink at least some of it!”
“What will get people to come to such a party?”
“We could have a pants-less dance party at the Rec Collective!”
That was it. No advertising (all word of mouth). No fancy decorations. No invite, you had to be at Acorn already to know about it to be there. Someone did put out a cool blue colored flashing light. i wore a skimpy green negligee, tho i changed dress theatrically a couple of times over the evening.
What made it an excellent after party (in my never humble opinion) is: It was quite lively. It was quite sexy without being raunchy. It was inter-generational. It had mostly people who knew each other with a handful of trusted outsiders. We practiced fabulous consent culture with lots of people asking to kiss or touch other people. There was a highly fluid mix of dancing, cuddling, chatting and making out. These things happened between the three spaces of the rec collective small dance floor, the newly constructed giant mattress in the rec collective and near by smoke shack.
It also felt like a gift to most of the organizers who had made the big land day event happen, who had to do next to nothing for this nice event.
Cabo San Lucas. The tip of Baja California, the first milestone of the voyage, where the land ends and the ocean begins, where we enter a new phase. It already seems like long ago that we spoke of resting here, provisioning for our journey west, across the Pacific. Los Angeles and our life there have begun to drift into memory, as we settle into this new life on the sea.
Actually, after hearing various accounts of Cabo – ranging from: “it’s like the zoo – nice for a day”; to: “it’s like Venice beach on steroids, stay away!”, we decided La Paz would be a better launching point. Tomorrow we will sail into the Sea of Cortez and explore the last of our relaxed Mexican anchorages on route to the ‘Peace’ city, where we plan on spending a week before sailing off into the great expanse.
For now though, we are at the zoo, and it’s fun for a day. Jet ski’s whiz past our little ship, as she sits snugly to two anchors overlooking the majestic rock formations that this town is famous for. On shore, hotels and designer brands line the beach while men yell ‘taxi’ or ‘fishing trip’ as we walk by. Still, it’s land, there’s internet and coffee and tacos and beer and we are happy.
The ride here was a bumpy exciting one! We left Bahia Asuncion with 25knot winds on the forecast – ready for a fast passage to Mag Bay. Sure enough, 25 to 30knot gusts pushed us to our destination, averaging over 5.5knots per hour. The wind was exhilarating, even pleasant… but the seas such breeze kicked up, especially as we were sailing relatively close to the coast, was challenging, at times terrifying! Huge walls of water rose up behind us, and just when I was sure it would rain down upon us, Portal would gently lift her stern, white wash would snow around us as it broke, and we’d surf down the wave. Well offshore waves tend to roll out, creating potentially bigger swells, but much longer and therefore smoother ones. Coastal sailing like this means short sharp waves that kick up in different directions, often pushing us 40 degrees off course. Constantly correcting our position, we were grateful for our short 2hour helming shifts.
I was glad for the experience though, and proud to see our little ship so well handled by the crew. We made good, simple meals and even managed some sleep here and there. By Mag Bay though, we were beat and ready for rest!
An overnight stop in Bahia Santa Maria, where we spent a memorable morning sunbathing, skinny dipping (dipping is all it was – the water was still freezing!) and lazing around in the little deserted anchorage, before heading 20miles up the road to Mag Bay proper. During that afternoon sail, we – at long last – caught a fish! What a delight!! A small tuna, a foot and half long, fed the four of us gleefully as we giggled around the table, bathed in our cozy cabin lights. This day was a real treat – simply relaxing!
The next leg was 150nm to Cabo San Lucas. Our forecast read light breezes, so we pushed off around 2pm, hoping for a 4knot average – bringing us into the Cabo bay by early morning. We should have known though – Portal doesn’t ‘do’ slow anymore. She hurried along at 6knots and our new arrival time became more like 11pm. I am REALLY not a fan of landfalls in the dark (such stress and anxiety!) but seeing it was an easy to identify and open bay, I reluctantly agreed to enter whenever it was we arrived. Around 10.30pm, Charlie and Lydia put two reefs in the main and ran in under such reduced canvas. A good thing too, as the stretch between the two capes – Cabo Falso and Cabo San Lucas - often have famously strong winds by the day’s end, and tonight was no exception. I heaved the tiller over to windward, holding it there with my thigh, working us closer to the coast. Beam on to the wind and waves, Portal and I would hold our breaths as large walls of water crashed into us, momentarily heeling us over with a deluge of spray into the cockpit. I begun yelling in an old-salt Irish accent, encouraging us on, despite my white knuckles and 40knot gusts. The crew down below listened to my ranting and the crashing waves, while Charlie constantly confirmed our position on the charts. It was an exciting entry!
A mile offshore, the mountains finally blocked our breeze and the waves calmed down. We identified the large rocks at the entrance and rounded the point well clear. Thankfully the bay was surprisingly calm and uncluttered and we soon found a suitable anchorage spot. Another two hours later (!), and some very stereotypical husband/wife anchor yelling and grunting, we were satisfied with our holding and tackle – two anchors, cqr at the bow and danforth on the stern, with 3-1 scope on both. As I finally lay down to sleep that night, I wondered when the last time was that I had felt so utterly exhausted – mentally, emotionally and physically. A deep pride in our sturdy little vessel overwhelmed me as I drifted into slumber.
We awoke to the sights and sounds of Cabo San Lucas, with all it’s circus and commotion. After a much needed cleaning of the boat inside and out, we splurged two dollars on a water taxi and headed ashore. Again, we have rejuvenated and reconnected – ready for the next and final leg of Mexico.
Willow’s first home schooling lesson from me was about swearing. I give him a dollar every time he can pick my pocket without me noticing, and he is getting pretty good at it. My son has a dreadful disrespect for the police. i totally forgot to get breakfast for him the other morning. And tonight his 17 year old friend Rowan turned down the midnight laser tag adventure we (Willow and i) organized, because it was going to be too exhausting (Willow is 11).
The joke is that my style of child care will get me to the cover of Negligent Parenting Magazine.
And it was charming working with him on this evenings activities. In a series of staccato conversations it came together.
“Laser Tag – let’s do it!” Willow wanted in on this new game
“We’ll drive in the Acorn car i have.” i offered
“I will get Rowan and Evan to come.” Willow offers
“I will call Craig about Adrian” i suggest
“Where will we meet?” Willow inquires.
“Let’s meet at MorningStar.” i propose
“At 10 PM, we will be ready.” And he turns and walks out of the dining hall with an air of confidence i find unusual in kids his age, but i don’t see him at all clearly.
So let the fine editors of from Negligent Parenting bang on my door. i am helping craft a curious titan, who seems unafraid to take on anything.
This photo is taken almost a year back already. I was going around dumpster diving Amsterdam West, to the market and some supermarkets. One of the things we found was a tree with trash-fruits… And the plants we found are still blossoming at home. A gallery of photos is available at Dumpsterdam.
(This post isn't a subtle cry for help or anything like that- I'm pretty good at obvious cries for help. This is a theory piece discussing why I write about my own struggles with mental illness even though some people will think I am attention seeking whiny pants. It's been languishing in my drafts for a few months but since I'm likely to post about going back on meds a lot in the next few weeks this feels like an appropriate time to post it.)
What is important to me in this coming month is promoting the Loud Love conference and so we get a bunch of people to experience it. We have a good program and a great team of organizers (see below).
Loud Love is about exploring, expressing, exporting and celebrating your romantic identity and experience. There are a wide range of workshops offered from Blues Dancing (a non-sexual intimacy building skill) to Honest Seduction (yes, this is not a contradiction in terms) to Drag King 101, to Transcending Jealousy and building compersion (yes, people actually succeed in this) to advanced polyamory techniques.
Plus there is a days worth of open space technology which permits conference participants to present on topics that the group in interested in.
At the end of our last organizers meeting Sky pointed out that we are not where we want to be for this Loud Love event, which is in two short months. And it made me realize that despite the good work we have done (securing a space, finding presenters, designing workshops, budgeting and more) there is more left to do to make this happen.
i dont usually ask things of my readers, but this post i will. Please think about a friend of yours (or possibly you yourself) who would be well served by this event. Then encourage them to register and attend or let us know who they are and we will let them know you recommend them for our event.
Here are the awesome folks i get to work with on this event:
Sky Blue has been experimenting with relationships since he was 8 years old and did his first
mediation with squabbling friends. He’s been in some form of open relationship for most of the last 14 years. A drop-out from UC Santa Cruz he’s lived and worked in cooperative and communal groups for most of the last 17 years. His purpose in life is to help bring people together to transform themselves, each other, and the world around them.
Kassia is a musician, activist, community builder and all-around nosey-parker. She has traveled the world, lived on a commune, toured the US with a klezmer band, and practiced Jewish Farming. After spending several years in Charlottesville helping start two small collective businesses (a hostel and a home-veggie gardening biz), she concluded that there is more fun to be had on the commune and recently moved back to Twin Oaks to work on her life-goal of conspiring with the universe to have as much fun as possible.
Angie Tupelo is a queer, anarchist, polyamorous, feminist, sub-identified, sex-positive gal. She recently moved back to the “real world” after living on a commune for 4 years, and is gradually adjusting to wearing shoes. She gives workshops on Polyamory, BDSM for Feminists, Honest Seduction, Kink for Abuse Survivors, and Intentional Community living. She blogs about life, love, revolution, mental illness, and how they fit together in her life, and really really enjoys bacon.
Ali has been bisexual and polyamorous since before she knew what those words meant. She languished in mainstream culture for several years feeling ashamed of her desires for multiple concurrent intimacies with different genders before she found her physical and philosophical home at Twin Oaks. Among Ali’s many life goals is to make sex an acceptable form of social currency and move it from the taboo to appropriate dinner table conversation. She wants to normalize polyamory as a relationship model, move forward the idea of a mischief (group) of interconnected lovers taking care of one another, and to make group intimacy & sex as easily & openly sought as coupledom.
Paxus facilitates a workshop called “Modesty is Dangerous” and you can start figuring out who he is from there. Paxus self-identifies as a revolutionary, but more importantly he identifies you, dear reader, as a potential co-conspirator in designing irresistible ideas which will change the world (super memes). He comes to the Loud Love organizing team engaged, reckless, and feeling intensely daring. His tangled form of activism fuses direct action against those threatening the biosphere (Monstanto, Westinghouse, et. al) with actively fostering and building new income-sharing intentional communities with proselytizing for radical intimacy models (including Honest Seduction). Paxus is one of three parents in a polyamorous family. His biography does not make credible fiction and was thus rejected by Wikipedia. He co-founded and directs the Emma Goldman Institute for Theoretical and Applied Funology, an entity which there seems to be no proof actually exists.
MacGyver dumped her job in high end tine-share real estate marketing to live with her friends in the country and do righteous work for an organic seed company. She drives a tractor, works as cook and carpenter and tends chickens at absurd o’clock in the morning. She spends 97% less time worrying about things than the average US American. Some of her friends call her Surprise. She is not afraid to pick up a microphone and entertain without a plan as to what she is going to say or sing when she grabs it. Not a day goes by when she is not appreciative for ditching the mainstream life and moving to Acorn.
Portal swings briskly from side to side, as we watch the flock of birds from the beach. There is a stiff breeze and we are grateful for this reasonably protected anchorage here in Bahia Asuncion.
We arrived yesterday, after another early morning start from Turtle Bay. Since leaving Ensenada, our first Mexican port, we have had great passages to various small bays and islands. Our first stop to Isla St Martin was somewhat disappointing - we had hoped to explore an enclosed lagoon on the small desolate island, but I awoke with a migraine and spent the day vomiting, as Charlie and the crew moved us to the mainland, 10miles away. We read about a small village there, with a few resources, and the local “Carlos” who would answer our radio call with information. As it turned out, anchorage was taken in 5ft at low tide (barely enough for our 4ft keel) and well offshore so that rowing to land was out of the question. Mr Carlos never answered our curious calls, and our active imaginations have since surmised that the small town must have been decimated by the Cartel, nothing left but torn Tecate signs.
We fled that wild and lonely place, around 4am, with our sights set on Isla Cedros. Anticipating two nights at sea, we were thrilled when we averaged over 5.5 knots, making anchorage by the following evening. Along our way, we were intercepted by a most humbling sight – Three Californian grey whales chose to swim with us for over two hours. We turned our engine on immediately and tried to alter course, but they insisted on accompanying us, sometimes getting so close their blow-water splashed in our faces. Rising up on our stern, then diving below our keel, it was a most terrifying and beautiful experience! They never so much as nicked our vessel though, so I suppose they were well aware, and had no intent of harming us.
Arriving in Cedros, we rowed ashore in our trusty dinghy “Luckey” and were again surprised - a quaint and vibrant town of 2500 inhabitants surrounded us, the people a friendly and relaxed bunch. Colourful buildings with descriptive drawings painted directly to the facade, small side streets of cobbled stones, and cute business’ like the Papeleria selling paper supplies. Being Easter, there was a local parade through the town, complete with Jesus on a cross and his disciples, being banished by the Romans as the story was read aloud through a truck’s sound-system. We made good use of the local internet cafe and taqueria, making friends with the jovial by-passers. We were all a little sad to leave the following morning, grateful for the unique small-town experience, void of tourism.
At 2am we set off for our next stop – Turtle Bay. Another pleasant and swift sail, saw us anchoring in the well protected bay around 1pm. Touched by the tourism of the annual “Baha-ha-ha” cruisers race, it was never-the-less an enjoyable resting point with delicious coffee and plenty of fresh food and water provisions. We spent the afternoon relaxing on the beach under palm-tree umbrellas, grateful for some rest after such an early start.
The next morning was again a pre-dawn rise though, as we needed to make Bahia Asuncion before dark. We again averaged over 5knots, with reefs in the main and jib, flying downwind in sharp heavy seas. Occasionally we would spot another sailboat beating their way north, and all agreed they were crazy! Thankfully an hour or so of daylight remained after entering the bay, since we dropped anchor 4 times before finding a good hold. Eventually we had success by removing our CQR and installing our Danforth anchor instead. A lighter, weaker anchor, but more appropriate for the loose sand we found here. My muscles were pulsing with exhaustion, after hauling 40ft of chain in and out, in and out, though I still don’t regret removing the poorly placed windlass Portal originally came with.
Now we are here, giving ourselves a full day of rest, drinking coffee and chowing down fish tacos. This is a large bay with a significant village, and so far we have had much help from the local people, particularly in refilling our propane. We will restock on food and water here, then make the run to “Mag Bay”, 200nm from here. Provisions don’t sound promising there, but being a well-protected anchorage, it will be a good rest stop before another 150nm downhill run to Cabo San Lucas. We are definitely taking longer than expected along this western coast, but have decided it is well-worth the delay – such nice communities and the glimpse into rural Mexican life is not to be missed.
As a funologist, part of my tool kit is games. And i like games. And recently i have been laughing quite a bit over a game called Cards Against Humanity, which i had never even heard of a week ago.
The game is elegantly simple. There are black question cards and white answer cards. You get ten answer cards and replace one for each question card read. For each question card that is selected by each player in turn you provide your best answer card. ”Best” is defined perhaps as the one which the reader (who selects the winner) will find most funny or thought provoking or gross. It is a relative of mad libs and the card game Apples to Apples, if you are familiar with those.
When we first started playing the game i searched (as i oft do) for a political slant. The game authors make it a bit easy because they go after Glen Beck in a couple of the answer cards. And there is no shortage of scatological, sophomoric and off color jokes. It is also often funny.
i wrote 50 answer cards tonight for the new internal version we are creating. [The Twin Oaks internal version is called Cards Against Community. Acorn does not have a name for our game yet.] The internal version uses the same format and refers to things which Acorner’s know about like Daniel’s moped gang and bacon that got cooked for 12 hours. My favorite card of my design (which is unusually long) refers to something that has not happened, but many people could imagine.
“I am excited about your homestead and I want to help you find magical people to be in it” I messaged joan. I see myself as a recruiter not just for the communities I live in but for the movement in general. Shagbark looked to me to be a very promising project, and I wanted to help in this way. So it was doubly disappointing to get joan’s reply.
“we are not actually looking for anyone else, we are going to be small for a while at least.”
What makes communities thrive is the people in them. It seems obvious, but when you look at the success rate of new communities, you know that it is going to take some pretty extraordinary people to make them work. joan is like this and then some.
Henna artist, reluctant geek, pocket philosopher, social networker and cute animal magnet, joan underhill Shagbark is one of the tiny crew of pioneers of this 6 acre intentional family homestead, near the well established north eastern Missouri eco-villages of Dancing Rabbit and the income sharing Sandhill Farm. Shagbark is a pod inside the Red Earth community effort.
Shagbark is a careful mix of primativist and contemporary technologies. It fuses permaculture, and the desire to be comfortable with a conscious lifestyle. Shagbark rejects the current money system and touches it as little as possible in its daily operation. The project boasts a number of accomplishments, including planting over 1000 trees since it started in 2009. The culture they are creating is one with no formal meetings and work guided by the members deepest desires.
This homestead boasts an impressive number of projects and animals, but to me what is really impressive is that they are trying this at all. There are much more comfortable and easy lifestyles than this dark green farming practice.
You can help this impressive model of healthy holistic living by going to their indiegogo fundraising campaign. They have raised almost half of the $4200 they need for the coming year, stretching the few dollars they have very far. Please help them continue this critical work.
There is a story i often tell, about a dear friend and long time member, Kristen, who went a bit crazy here (Twin Oaks) some years back. It was not a scary kind of crazy, like my friend who punched me in the face while i was driving with him to get some food. This was a more of an Alice in Wonderland affair, where she wandered around the community, spoke German and French a lot (which she had studied years before) and was relieved of her commune work responsibilities while she was on this adventure (kid care, managerships, and other work areas).
Kristen had been institutionalized against her will when she was 23 years old in Kansas, and it was awful. Imagine a prison-like situation with forced medication and unsympathetic medical people. Even in her Alice mindset, she knew she was not going to go back to the hospital; nothing was as clear as this fact. So we carried her. Collectively: care teams were formed, child care was organized, her various work areas were covered by other communards.
Of course this is what Hillary Clinton means when she says “it takes a village”. [Permit me to quickly point out that Clinton does not have a village, she has instead a detachment of secret service officers, which is not the same thing at all.] You want to be able to take care of the people you love in the way they want to be. If Granny gets sick, you want her in her room, with the people who love her all around and her needs getting met.
But there is this terrible problem. Most people dont have a village, Granny has to go to the hospital or the nursing home, because i got stuff to do. There is school or work or what ever it was i filling my days with before Granny or my crazy friend needed any help. Most people just don’t have the flexibility of the village.
Kristen came down from her mania, and slowly took back up her responsibilities. And half a year after her landing, we collectively selected her as a planner and the president of the corporation – our highest executive position (planner that is).
The story comes to mind because a general contractor friend of mine went crazy a couple years back. He did not have a village, and he went to the hospital for a brief stay. But after he landed, the company which he worked for did not want him to come back. They feared that in his manic state, he might endanger the company and they thought they could manage the sales and marketing without him.
They were wrong, and now they are going out of business. I am convinced that my friend could have saved the company if he had been given control again; he had already managed it successfully for many years. [He disagrees and thinks the market is unusually difficult now and they might well have gone under if he had been at the helm].
But the point is, without the village and without the trust and support that the village creates, the fear of bad things happening if you reside too close to crazy people can engender exactly those bad things. Sometimes in tragic ways.
And if you are not lucky enough to live in community and are interested in a community of people exploring alterative ways to deal with mental health issues, check out The Icarus Project …
“a radical mental health support network, online community, and alternative media project by and for people struggling with extreme emotional distress that often gets labeled as mental illness. We envision a new culture and language that resonates with our actual experiences rather than trying to fit our lives into a conventional framework. We believe these experiences are dangerous gifts needing cultivation and care, rather than diseases or disorders. By joining together as individuals and as a community, the intertwined threads of madness, creativity, and collaboration can inspire hope and transformation in an oppressive and damaged world. Participation in The Icarus Project helps us overcome alienation and tap into the true potential that lies between brilliance and madness.”
“The Seed business’ busy season is over when we have two days in a row of less than 100 total new orders” i proclaimed recently.
In a time long past i studied economics. Economists love to define things this way. A recession is two consecutive quarters with negative growth in gross domestic product. [Although one of the many rye and weak economist jokes is that a recession is when your neighbor is unemployed and a depression is when you are unemployed. There is a reason this is called the dismal science.]
We have not quite reached the end of the busy season, which has had me running around in circles in the seed picking room. i have been employing a few operations research and queuing theory tricks to get us going just a bit faster in filling the flood of orders we have for our mostly organic and heritage seeds.
But the busy season will likely end this week (i also love to make guesses and predictions) and then i will be focusing on running around in circles in different rooms.
Today I write less romantically. My friend Pax commented on a blog I wrote a while back entitled "My Best Friends". I intended to answer him in the comment section, but the answer "grew and grew and grew until ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around"... Here are my thoughts, pricked delightfully by his mind:
I believe that everyone wants to be free to make their own decisions. And thus the same goes for Novi, our baby. For him to make his own decisions we don’t have to wait until whenever. In fact, from birth on he’s been the king in the house: we just obey to his needs and give him love and care.
And now whilst he is growing we like to continue on this path to listen to his needs carefully and not to enforce things upon him. Which means we have him sit and enjoy his food the way he likes it. In addition to breast-milk, we now give him pieces of tomato, cucumber, courgette, apple, banana as well as rice-crackers. And he can eat whatever he wants.
We love this method, that goes by the name of Baby Led Weaning. Not just for the freedom it gives (and the money we save) but also because we really get to enjoy him eating. We don’t spoon-feed him and we don’t force him to eat anything, and in return we get a happy and self-learning baby who simply *loves* to eat.
“i appreciate the work you do around here, like fixing the floor in the smoke shack or the many times i see you up very late packing seeds. There is no doubt in my mind you are a good communard in this sense. ” i was doing my clearness with Bobbie who might be 35 and has been at Acorn a bit longer than i have. But this was not the important part.
“But when i think about you more deeply, i realize i have an enigmatic experience of you. i think i have a pretty good understanding of who most of the people who live here are and what motivates them. With you i am much less sure. i know that i like you and have enjoyed your company, but really what this clearness drives me to do is suggest we hang out more so that i can get to know you better.” She smiles and agrees and a few minutes later our clearness is over.
With Chubby Squirrels on my mind i am thinking a lot about what are the best practices we have in our communities, and the more time i spend at Acorn the more i fall in love with the clearness process. Put roughly it is a forced opportunity for intimacy. Not everyone takes it, of course. There are a fair few “Oh, we are clear” style quick clearnesses. But there is an opening at each one, an opportunity that i have tried to take seriously and every time i have felt better about my connection with someone.
Every forming community must ask itself “What are we going to require of our membership, what is our mandatory behavior?” Non-violence is often required, as well as some form of work commitment. Acorn also requires clearnesses; you must do at least two a year with everyone who lives there (your own clearness with each member plus each other members clearness with you). On the relatively short list of required behaviors this opportunity for intimacy has been selected.
And if you are going to force anything, this seems like the right thing.
Hello from Mexico!
We left Marina Del Rey on a breezy afternoon and had great conditions. Cruising along with full sails up and pushing 7knots, we were a happy crew! By nightfall the wind had all but died though, and after an hour of bashing sails, we turned on the engine. The block on our main sheet traveller had broken under the stress – our first casualty of the trip. She’s an old boat, and things are bound to break – but so soon into the voyage was a little disconcerting! Still, we lashed down the traveller and pushed on for Catalina, thankful that the fracture happened in light airs. Our ‘iron jib’ reliably propelled us forward, all be it at 3knots, and it was several hours later than any sort of wind piped up.
We sailed the last miles into Two Harbors, on Catalina Island, and as we had been there twice before, the late-night land fall was only mildly worrying. It is well lit and buoyed, so we picked up a mooring easily enough, and all fell soundly to sleep.
We spent a full day recovering from the stress/excitement of leaving, just lazing about the boat and beach. Our friend Bob was sailing from MDR to meet us there that evening, but ran into serious trouble with fog, freighters and no radio. Charlie and I even went out on a late-night rowing rescue mission after we lost contact with him, though we couldn’t find him. Later we learned he had turned back and was safe and sound, thank goodness.
Another two nights were spent at different anchorages along the catalina coastline, honing our skills and finishing small tasks. By Thursday afternoon the wind looked good and we were ready to push off for San Diego.
The first few hours were hopeful, with great breeze off our beam. Once again though, by 10pm a dense fog rolled in and the wind completely abated. We were loathe to turn on the engine again, but at 0.05knots we decided it was time. Not a puff came our way until well into the morning hours, just 10miles from San Diego. The fog had lingered through the night too, and I was VERY thankful for our AIS device, which shows us nearby traffic and let’s them see us too.
So then we were in San Diego! Our final port in the USA and a great place for repairs and final projects. A whole six days went by as we rested, tromped around the city on business missions, readied the rest of the boat, and restocked on provisions. We were all anxious to get going, and days seemed to fly by with little productivity. In hindsight though, we achieved a lot and finished some important tasks. Finally, by Thursday afternoon we were off and away, ice-cream, coke and chips in hand (America FUCKYEAH), cruising out of the country on a steady 6knots.
We made great headway in such good breeze and 4 hours later were almost half way. Then the wind died. Around 10pm. Sound familiar? This time we motored in big swells and the constant rolling afforded little sleep. Thankfully, around 4am, she piped up again and we were able to make steady progress with full sails.
At 11am, we pushed into the Ensenada Chanel, jumped off the boat and begun life in MEXICO! Yeeha! Clearing into customs was simple, thanks to the helpful marina we stayed in for a night, and the tacos and tecate (beer) taste GOOD!