A Brazilian told me that the flies are less vicious in their country because they have something to peck at all year. In Canada their species is nearly wiped out during the winter, so they are hungrier. We can’t figure out why the skunks, weasels, and raccoons are so desperate for our chickens though. The chickens have freed themselves from the fencing, and nibble on our strawberries. They are fun to throw rhubarb at. Chickens are also easy to talk to, and understand that I know karate.
What sort of diplomacy goes on between animals and humans? According to native mythology, there are certain animals who are our helpers and teachers. No doubt, others are not our friends. Consider poison ivy, who tricks our immune system into attacking our skin. Although a few people are genetically immune to the effects of poison ivy, those who are not suffer worse every time as the immune system becomes more adept at detecting and attacking the poison ivy. Some people joke that the poison ivy is nature’s way of saying ‘screw off humans.’ If only there were a way to negotiate peace with the mosquitoes.
Fortunately, this way of life continuously gives gifts to the land, and the community. Since our kitchen is outdoors and our compost goes to the chickens, we seldom let anything go to waste. Everything from nail clippings to coffee grinds lands somewhere it is needed. The fridge is one of the centers of the local economy, and items which were bought for an individual can become ‘communalized’ by acts of individual grace. I have heard that populations of 30 or higher in intentional communities can split into factions and become competitive. With a population that maxes out at 20 on the busiest day, and averages 13 people, the economy is easy to understand. Money is often not as good as gifts, acts of service, or other ways of expressing gratitude. In a small space the effects of economics are accelerated. Together, we are able to pool our money and afford much more from the industrial world than we could separately. When we go to the grocery store, we buy the 50% section. All of it. We had brandad de morue last night.
Many of our visitors feel disillusionment. They are tired of the city. I feel like I’m in a sentimental echo chamber, where people around me predict or have a sense of social collapse. Lately, and this might because of my Mars readings, I have started to think differently. Sometimes we talk about investment, and the theory of investing. Anyone who is knowledgeable has a grasp of what Warren buffet refers to as ‘value investing.’ Here, meaningful investment is about buying energy, buying infrastructure, money which will immediately serve us, is valuable over the long term, investing for life. To wire an electrical fence I learned how to remove a car battery. I had to come up with a way to use the drill to spin a socket piece since the bolt was stuck and in an awkward position. I had the pleasure of problem solving. I learned about electrical circuitry, how to wire a solar panel to a car battery, and wire a fence energizer to the ground. The car whose battery I salvaged has a broken transmission. What is more valuable: a new car, or the opportunity to fix one? And so it is the same with communities.
I discovered that I love masonry while building a rock wall for Little Current’s new community gardens. The farm here just founded a non-profit that was given a dollar a year lease on property in town. Now I can make plaster, make cement, build a wall, and I have been assigned the project of building a water cistern from rebar and clay. This project is a stepping stone to building an ‘earth dome,’ a livable dome made of mesh, rebar, and clay. These domes are arguably more functional than traditional houses in that they have an excellent water management strategy. They breathe.
This weekend we will be having the solstice party. We are encouraged to dress up in prehistoric/ancient gear. I am going as a caveman. Someone is going as hippie Jesus, and another wants to wear a rhubarb leaf dress. We have invited all of our volunteers, and many others. It will be a big party, and I am excited for it. To relax, we usually hop in a sauna, either the one on the property or the one at a friend’s house and then hop in a cold lake. This involves many naked people, and a lot of essential oils. Today I wondered why I had to wear clothes at all, since almost everyone here has seen me naked. The only good reasons are poison ivy and frequent visitors. When new people come we joke about when to let them know that we are strange. Usually it happens anyway. I think that nudity is an expression of freedom. When showering outdoors on a hot day, looking out over the lake, I experience a sense of unparalleled freedom and laugh about how funny the contrast is between my cramped shower and my new view. It is so much better to shower outside.
The internet is a great tool for acting at a distance. Unfortunately, I still need my physical presence to accomplish some things. I have been trying to move people from far away, but it’s hard to have presence when you’re not present. I hope these posts aren’t a burden on the site. I expect that if I give myself more time, I can come up with more worthwhile things to say, so that when I return, I can move more easily. As a result, my posts will be less frequent. Soon we will be building a greenhouse. I will document my cistern building, and might tackle the transmission, and maybe win a car in the process. Stay tuned!