If you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans. We spent last winter and spring creating detailed plans for the coming year. Our energies would be directed to the things we prioritized most for last year, that meant long-term planning and readying ourselves to welcome new members. We overestimated the number and stability of work trade support and that left us focusing on keeping the day to day life of community running rather than moving forward on planning.
That said, we did create clear documents to help guide new people seeking membership here. We have revitalized our group understanding of our vision statement, and we’ve created a philosophy document that tries to spell out for others what our ideal relationship to this land involves.
Our members are involved in many community building events outside of Emerald Earth as well. We took part in a North Bay communities gathering in June. We joined many others at the Art of Community gathering in Occidental in September. Brent is taking part in a small group meeting facilitation course that trains by running meetings at communities all over the greater Bay Area. Several of us participated in the Buckeye Gathering in Santa Rosa. We are blessed to be connected to so many people doing great work in the world.
Our solstice celebrations and New Year’s gatherings were especially enjoyable this year. The end of the Mayan calendar and winter solstice brought friends to share food, song, prayer, and dance. The storm that night was so powerful, it made you wonder about the “end of the world”. New Years Day brought a much larger gathering and one of Tom’s annual burn sculptures, this time a sort of DNA melding into a heart at the top. Beautiful to watch and join in singing in the new year with our larger community.
Little Earthlings nature program, run by Cassidy, was a huge success for the kids and parents. Each day began with a hidden message from a fairy or troll that would lead the kids on a nature inspired adventure for the day. They learned tracking, plant identification, how to use plants to make teas and for healing, and how to process acorns for food. While doing all that, they even learned the alphabet and other more standard school curricula. A favorite moment of mine being when Esther came home and “taught” me that the Sun does not move across the sky, but rather the Earth circles around it. Made me realize the power a teacher has. It is not something one would intuit or learn from experience looking at the sky.
Garnet and Esther are now 7 and 6 with ability to adventure by themselves for whole days at a time. This year they learned to ride bikes and swim in the pond without life jackets. Their creativity and exploration are beautiful to watch, as well as the true friendship they’ve built. They have known each other all their young lives and feel truly like siblings to me. I watch them tend a winter campfire from lunchtime until dinner and beg to stay longer. They later crush the charcoal and mix it with water to make a paint which they cover an outdoor table with. Is having six year olds tend a fire dangerous? Maybe. Is the table now messy? Sure, but I love it! These two are empowered, creative, and full of life.
We are eating a much higher percentage of food from the land than we ever have here at Emerald Earth. In the month of October, the Local Foodshed Group challenged people to eat as much as they could food sourced from within 100 miles of their home. We went for it, and haven’t looked back. With the exception of tortillas, tea, some condiments, and cheddar cheese, we have supplied ourselves nearly completely from our own gardens and animals! – Thank you Liz and cows! That is almost six months now.
A description of last year would not be complete without talking about a large shift in our population and the change that has created here. One year ago, the resident population was nine adults and four children, today it is four and two. Yes, we are currently just two families. MJ, Saoirse, Mira, and Cian moved to Philo creating a sewing business and enjoying life on the valley floor with quicker access to friends and horseback lessons. Patrick found that even building a woodworking space next to his cabin did not make life here more appealing than moving to town to be with his sweetie, Lisa. Mika and Cass planned for the entire season to take an exploratory visit to Oregon as a potential new home and after two months decided they would make a go of it there. We are still connected with all of them. Their presence is missed. Those of us here are enjoying the spring as we wait to see what the new year will bring and who the new wonderful people will be who join us in this adventure.