I am an Intentional Lifestyles Advocate…

(Originally published for The Liberty Project)

Stand behind any protest you make with some action that helps solve it.

Otherwise you are only giving yourself the power to complain.”

It increasingly seems that civilization is facing too many woes.  We are surrounded by cumbersome and outworn systems that have been broken by greed and a consumer mentality.  But blame at this point is futile.  And unless you take action on behalf of change, protesting to the same mindset that has either created or turned their eyes from woe in the name of material gain only feeds the world’s problems more of your energy.  As Einstein suggested, problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.  Thus it amounts to insanity for us to keep waiting for the profit-driven Hearts to have an epiphany and aim for a trajectory other than their own gain.

So, what action can we take?  What functional solutions are there in the face of such complex, world-wide challenges?  How do we heal the rifts that alienate us from one another, from the natural world and from our greater hopes and dreams?

We begin with the understanding that the answers are subjective.  Meaning, we all want and need different things so the concerns of each person, each household, each community, and each region are going to be different.  This also means that because we want people to be able to know the freedom of expressing themselves authentically, the answers won’t require us to establish a critical mass or convince a large group to change their ways.  But because the answers are subjective, they must start from within our own lives.  And within our own life, they must be born from inside of us, out from our Heart.

This means that you have the power right now, today, to start changing your experience of the world.  Think about the choices you can make to bring your life and your Inner Truth into a greater sense of accord.  Withdraw your support from all those things you would protest and see changed.  Release from your life what isn’t working or doesn’t fulfill you.  Stand-up for the sort of world you envision in your Heart and thoughts.

But don’t stop there.  For what is certain is that the world doesn’t really change one person at a time, unless that person is networking with others.  This is because the Human organism is a living system, which like any living system requires a certain amount of unity and exchange to not only stay organized but to change and evolve.  Thus the Human is truly a social organism with very real social needs.  This tells us that in whatever problem we’re looking to solve, community (or common unity) is part of the solution.

Once we have figured out what it is we need to make our own life authentic we must network.  We must find others who share our common cause and vision of what’s possible and foster critical relationships with them.  We must collaborate and experiment.  We must become pioneers and pathfinders together, forging a way to put our shared ideals and mindset into practice.

Of course we must also consider that the social organism is likewise a living system, requiring a condition of interdependence, accord and interaction with the surrounding substrate.  That is to say, we all live on and from the Earth.  As much as we need to cooperate with one another, we need to cooperate with the world around us just as much.  For we can’t live an authentic life if we fail to consider that which is natural and intrinsic to the composition of the Whole.

There are no blanket answers or tried recipes.  But in every change we are able to make, the possibility of success is greatly pronounced by assuring that you account for three factors – how you will express your Inner Truth, how you will join in that expression with others who desire the same experience or outcome and how you will account for the interwoven world-at-large in any desire you express.

It all boils down to living with conscious, well-focused intentions.  This is why we say that intentional lifestyles are the solution and call ourselves intentional lifestyle advocates.  Living with intention isn’t just a nice idea or a philosophy for the future.  It is a necessity.  Now.  If there is to be any sort of far-reaching solution, it is this.

Weekly Update – 2/8

 

We call our homestead/aspiring intentional community The Liberty Project.  I’ve called this place “Heaven” so many times since diving into our adventure last August that I’m starting to think this blog has just been waiting for me to get here!

IMG_3501 (1024x768)Last night we enjoyed the lovely Full Moon in Leo.  Here on the 49th parallel I’m feeling quite happy to see her rise up above the treetops once again!

To honor the Leo-Moon I decided to try something bold and expressive, that I’d never made before.  Roasted grapes!  I’d noticed a trend toward the ingredient and had saved several recipes to try.  In the end I went with a roasted grape, goat cheese, and honey pizza that I adapted from this bruschetta recipe.  Roasted chicken with thyme, lemon, onion and grape adapted from this recipe.  And a sauce for the chicken that I made from the other roasted ingredients pulsed through the blender, white wine, a tablespoon of apricot preserves and a touch of honey.  Spectacular is a good way to describe the meal – just like the Leo Moon!

I also tried an experiment.  For the grapes roasted with the chicken (that I knew would be made into sauce) I used canned grapes instead of fresh.  Canned grapes?!  Why, yes!  You see, back at the end of Fall, after the sweet and savory jams, I canned the last of our grapes – 7 quarts – using an Amish method I’d read about.  Just to try it and see.  That is, the grapes are left whole and kept minimally processed, canned in a water bath and nothing more.  Although most sources report that grapes aren’t so good for canning in this way, I could see how they would fit nicely into our repertoire if it worked out and thankfully we’ve loved them!  I’m going to can grapes again next year, too!  When I open a quart, I strain off the liquid, mix it with just a bit of agave or honey, and pop it into the freezer for an after-dinner grape-ice treat.  Because of the grape’s softness, the seeds are quick to pop out, if they haven’t  already released themselves, and in specific applications they are perfect.  I’ve used them to make a  grape syrup for peanut butter French toast and a grape cake dessert, among other entirely successful ventures.IMG_3523 (1024x768)

The night before the Full Moon we brought home our new doggie, Sara.  Her mother is a purebred Rottweiler and her father, pure Black Lab.  She was born the day after my husband’s birthday back in the first week of November.  We first learned of Sara’s existence on the Winter Solstice, when she was for sale for $200.  My DH had an overwhelming feeling about her; he had long expressed the desire to cross paths with a Rott-mix puppy.  Yet we’d only talked about coming across a rescue (we watch Petfinder.com), and never buying.  On a whim he gave Sara’s seller our number and we left it at that.  Then on the weekend we were surprised with a phone call saying that Sara’s new owner couldn’t give the puppy the attention she needs and that we could have her if we picked her up by Monday, when she was being taken to the shelter.  She’s housebroken and proving to be really smart and great with the kids!

Also in this last week I guess you could say that I’ve been exploring my love for cheese.  This was originally inspired by my addiction to Mattar Paneer and the realization that like everything else, I could make the dish more often for less money and with better quality if I made the Paneer (cheese) myself.  My final product (And I got to choose the source of the milk and it cost less than $2 for a pound.):

IMG_3511 (1024x809)

This has led me to start delving into other simple cheese recipes like this and this.  And exploring the idea of waxing cheese to store it in the pantry.  I can’t wait to find a great sale on cheese just to try it out!  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Living the Vision

Darrington, WashingtonLast June my world was transformed by a seemingly simple event.  I woke-up to an e-mail from Dear Friend Amy passing along a Craigslist ad advertising eight traditional Mongolian Yurts at the insane price of $500 a piece.  I was certain they’d be gone or there’d be some crazy catch, but I immediately grabbed for the phone.  A day later I was sitting beside my husband in the front of a large U-Haul truck, making the eight-hour round trip to Darrington to pick-up our new yurts.  It felt like winning our own private lottery.  We thought we’d be lucky to find one traditional yurt for under $10,000 – but we’d just bought three for under $3000, the entire cost of the trip to retrieve them, included. 

A few months before this moment we’d arrived at the conclusion that a traditional Mongolian Yurt – the type with horsehair ties and no proliferation of metal parts – was the answer to an equation that would get us onto land and closer to our sustainable, intentional community dreams more quickly.  From that conversation we’d both agreed to add a traditional yurt to our individual vision boards.  We didn’t realize until a few days after we’d actually brought the yurts home that both of us had drawn a semi-circle of 3 yurts on our board – not because either of us had anticipated being able to purchase three of them, but to depict the community spirit underlying the vision!  To us this seemed to be a strong confirmation from the Universe to dive into our dream.  Strengthened by a new faith, we sped-up the timeline of our plan and made some bold decisions.

Yurt DoorWe left the great job, the house we loved, the region we loved, the son in college, the dear friends;and dove in.  It took six-weeks to pull off what we’d been dreaming of for eight years.  Without any significant savings.  Without any clear idea of how it was all going to congeal.  We only knew the general location of where we were heading (we’d narrowed it down to a county, 3 1/2 hours to the east); and that we had three yurts to make it happen.

We started out looking for raw, off-grid land on owner contract, with the side agreement that we would explore any option that presented itself.  We ran ads in the region’s papers, posted to Craigslist and perused land auctions.  We made day trips on days off to explore our findings, the clock now ticking toward a deadline.  Though there was a ton of great off-grid, raw land for homesteading selling on contract, the responses we kept receiving were mostly from other homesteaders heading back to the city and eager to sell.  All of our best options were turning out to be developed properties with amenities we hadn’t anticipated starting out with.  So we changed gears.  A simple shift of focus and we were no longer in the position of just needing to find a place and trust that it would be right; we were now searching for the right place for us.IMG_1656 (1024x768)

We finally decided on a rustic A-frame cabin, on 20 wooded acres with a year-around creek.  The payments were really low and the cute factor was high.  Yet our excitement seemed overshadowed by a sense of reluctance we couldn’t put a finger on.  It wasn’t perfect, but two weeks before we’d been eager to live on land with only the most primitive amenities so “issues” seemed more like “resources to work with” to our eyes.  That wasn’t the problem.  For my part of it, I didn’t want to admit that either of us were feeling a “bad vibe” when we’d been riding so high on following our Hearts and feelings of faith and gratitude; I just wanted to stay thankful and receptive for what was coming our way.  But of course the listening was a necessary part of the following (our Hearts)!

We made one last trip.  We looked at the A-frame, several other properties and then the A-frame again.  It still looked like the best option and we still couldn’t put our finger on the source of our reluctance.  As we drove out of town it seemed clear we’d be signing the final papers for the A-frame in the morning.

Although we were running late, it was still light enough out that we decided to try a new, supposedly more scenic route back home.  It was because of this that we stopped to get gas at a new place; a small junction about 15 miles further into the mountains than where we’d previously ventured.  And it was at this gas station that my husband found the ad.  When he read it to me, the proposition seemed insane.  I protested vigorously.  It appeared to be off in some other county.  We were already further out and the wrong direction from where we wanted to be.  We were already running behind schedule.  The property was still another 17 miles away.  For the price it had to have some horrible quality about it.  I guess I wasn’t being as receptive to exploring options as I thought!  Thankfully he persisted and this is how we found our dream property.

The place had sat empty in the mountain woods for several years, but 30 years ago it had been the flourishing homestead of a bona fide Master Gardener.  Better still, it had been shaped by back-to-the-land intentions and born from community dreams.  It came with producing fruits, nuts, grapes and herbs and amenities like a greenhouse with a seed starting room.  This is where our three yurts have ultimately led us:

IMG_2715 (1024x768)

We pulled out of Wenatchee in the early morning hours of August 1st, 2011 – and the adventure has yet to stop.  In fact it’s only just beginning.  We’re enjoying the love affair with the ever-changing beauty that surrounds us.  We’ve seen animals we never imagined seeing (think – a sky full of eagles, an elk taller than our truck, a jet black wolf slinking across the snow).  Filled up pantry shelves with the products of our own land that were simply here, ready for harvest in the weeks following our arrival.  Learned what it’s like to “take a trip”  just to get to the store.  I wouldn’t change any of it.

We spent the first 114 days without internet (yes, I counted each one) and only started watching a spot of TV again last week.  Cell phones don’t even work out here.  But I guarantee you that my from-scratch baking and crafting adventures have gone through the roof (a slice of fresh bread or a soy candle, anyone?).  And every single day since August I’ve had something new or interesting to report to my journal.  (Example:  “Day 15 – A clear sky full of the brightest stars I’ve seen since Arizona lured me out the front door.  Found myself in the midst of a yard-full of skunks digging for ground hornets.  Can’t get over their size!  They all immediately raised their tails but thankfully fled the scene without a smell.”)

In the next few months we will have the yurts set up on their floors and others will join us here.  I’ve turned the page from living and envisioning to living the vision.  And because these changes accord with the original intents and purposes underlying this blog, I now hope to turn the same page here as well; documenting and sharing this new lifestyle with you.  Follow your dreams!  Namaste.

Collective Intelligence in Small Groups

My DH works as part of a small, intimate team.  They provide intensive outreach for those with severe mental illness and most of their time is spent on the streets, monitoring and assisting patients who otherwise wouldn’t get care or know how to locate important resources available to them.  This involves a great deal of coordinated effort.  In fact, he often remarks that every aspect of his team’s success relies on superlative coordination;  “We’ve learned to think as one brain.”

burak-arikan-os-realtionships-ad-collective-intelligence-2005Being that I am passionate about Community (the Intentional sort), I am fascinated by collective intelligence and its inherent synergism.  I knew I had to share this article on Collective Intelligence in Small Groups over @Kurzweil as soon as I read it.  It’s based on a study performed by MIT and published by Science that found that the Collective Intelligence Factor in the performance of small Human groups is not correlated with the intelligence of the group members, but with how well the group works together.  Maximum collective intelligence is not born from cognitive ability but from “social sensitivity”, which the study defined as the willingness of the group to take turns and apply their individual skills collectively to solve challenges.


The Impossible Hamster

The New Economics FoundationOne Hundred Months,  and  Wake Up, Freak Out have joined forces to produce this poignant video called The Impossible Hamster.  I really felt this and think it is probably the most adept illustration of the senselessness of unbridled economic growth anyone could hope to make in 1 minute 10 seconds:


Conscious Consumerism

Conscious consumerism first requires local action, which is largely facilitated through the concept of bioregionalism.  That is, we are called on to think about the impact of our choices on the local region and consider purchases from the standpoint of sustaining the local biodiversity.  For many that means changing the way we acquire things.  It means shopping local vendors, supporting local agriculture through the regional Farmer’s Market and CSA projects, and discovering your area’s talents and intelligences.  It means stewarding the local community and its unique culture.  Imagine what people united in this effort can accomplish!

Where to Find Organic Products and Services in your area.

Where to Find CSA Farms in your area.

Where to Find a Farmer’s Market in your area.

Where to Buy Fair Trade Certified Products in your area.

How to support Local Farmers.

How to implement your own Sustainable Action Plan.

How to start your own Buy Local Campaign. (PDF Document)

I am from a rather radical school of thought that thinks in a Golden Civilization – a Civilization truly illuminated by the Light of Consciousness – a community that wasn’t sustainable wouldn’t exist.  This is the “solution” for providing sustainable abundance to All (if that is what you desire for the Future).  In keeping with this radical idea I also think that things are best priced based on their true resource and energy consumption (that includes Human energy), and should become more expensive the further they have to travel to arrive at your door…but that’s just my freaky dream of a good future economy!

Back in today’s world, however, if you can’t find what you’re looking for where you live, here are a few good places to turn:

The Conscious Consumer Marketplace

EarthLover

Global Girlfriend

Frontier Natural Products Co-op

The Back to the Land Store