I might be skipping the Burn but to avoid any FOMO I’ll be attending TWO awesome festivals in September! It’ll be my first time at the North American Permaculture Convergence in Hopland in mid September and then on to Symbiosis Gathering for some righteous end of summer celebrations! If you haven’t heard of Symbiosis it’s kind of like Lightning in a Bottle’s flair blended with the deep, intentional aspect of Lucidity …and all taking place on a beautiful reservoir filled with art boats and swim up stages and installations! ALL HAIL GLORIOUS WATER!
The quote “Know Thyself” comes from an ancient greek aphorism and I don’t know of a more short and powerful directive. During unstable times, social structure is always at its most malleable. Historically powerful forces actually embrace (or even create) the chaos that brings fear and unrest as an opportunity to seize more control. But times like these also offer an equally huge opportunity for positive evolutionary shifts to emerge.
A snowy Mount Shasta mid summer in northern California. The purple “What Comes Next?” inscription on the back of MoBo, my adventure-ready landship, is always thought provoking but has never felt more poignant. I’m on a community property research expedition stretching from the foothills of the southern Sierra up to Ashland in southern Oregon during which I’m exploring opportunities that are helping usher in the future of what community can look like. How can groups of individuals, ranging from a handful into to the hundreds who share some common thread or set of values, purchase land together? How can the finances and decision making process be managed in a clear, smooth and egalitarian way? How does currency function when some people work within the community, while others do business in the outside world? How will these communities be examples of resourcefulness and self reliance while still maintaining a healthy connection to the rest of society?
THE BRIEF: I’m back in SoCal after a memorable roadtrip through the deserts of Utah and the southwest. Definitely more rough than imagined but valuable insights were gleaned 🙂 I’m relocating to the mountains near (but not too near) LA for a month near Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear area where I’ll continue to dive into some travel & fiction writing projects. I’m also looking forward to deepening my nature survival and backpacking skills!
“We are [all] storytellers, sharing our perspectives and experiences through the art of media. Those who write the stories, influence the world. By transforming the predominant narrative, by being conscious with the influence of our media, we explore the possible shift of the story we are weaving together into one of triumph, cooperation, and celebration of humanity’s greatest potential as co-creators.” If you dig that sort of thing, check out the other themes of this interesting book: http://reinhabitingthevillage.com/ NOTE: Looks like it’s currently out of print but I’m trying to get in touch with them to see about a download link 🙂
…California AND Oregon! Oooh, baby! While the last decade in CA drop kicked me into manhood through a series of unique projects, memorable adventures and even a few misadventures, OR soothed my rough edges with the sweetest people, verdant forests and countless meandering rivers. I miss you already, dear OR, and will return soon to continue our budding romance <3
Happy solstice everyone! Here’s a pic from last night’s intimate MOBY show at the Integratron in Joshua Tree which prompted a 2015 intention setting… 2014 was all about personal and professional growth. And I gotta say it was one beautifully memorable year! Special thanks to all friends, colleagues an coconspirators, new and old. 2015 will bring even more creativity and focus grounded in sustained MENTAL & PHYSICAL HEALTH. Thus I am looking for a life/nutrition/fitness/wellness coach/guru who wants a challenging (but no doubt rewarding!) client experience. SUGGESTIONS WELCOME!
Last year I had wanted a big birthday party. In fact, as I entered my 30th year, I decided that the appropriate thing to do was combine forces with the relentlessly altruistic Sloane Berrent, for yet another once in a lifetime tuxedo clad quest: Cause It’s My Birthday! 7 parties, 7 cities, 7 days! For charity of course! So last year I ate cake and dank champagne for a solid week while raising $20k for fighting Malaria. This year I was going to take it easy.
I decided to not tell anyone that it was my birthday and after one of the more challenging months of my life I woke up, said goodbye to my roommates and high tailed it for the farm. This was in fact the only gift I wanted. Even my family kept asking: “What do you want for your birthday?” I told them that I was opting out of the whole chronologically contrived gifting cycle. I thought it was pointless and often found the expectation stressful and unfulfilling. Furthermore, I think birthdays should perhaps be a time where instead of expecting to receive gifts for just being born, you actually show the world why you are worthy of occupying any space at all. OK, but that rant aside, I’m officially opting out of it, and that goes for Christmas too. I can’t sum up the love that I have for my family and friends on a time and price agreed upon schedule.
As I made my way down the foggy road to my studio a gentle rain began to fall. Soon it began to pour down, accompanied by the most sever lightning that I’d ever seen. I made a fire, made some hearty soup and read some of Sam Harris’ “A Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values”. All night long the thunder clapped and lightning strobed on the other side of the skylight. The roof leaked and even a small beetle tried to get in bed with me. At times I thought the windows were going to smash inward. Eventually I got to sleep and when I woke up, the rains had cleared and made way for a beautiful day.
Later that day I ran into Hansel, the owner of the farm and mentioned to him how wild the storm had been.
“I’ve been up here for 30 years,” He said through his large grey beard. “and we’ve only had a couple of others like that! The storm of the decade!”
as I walked down to the little waterfall near the farm I thought about what a perfectly dramatic cleanse it had been to end my 30th year 🙂
It is massively hot and fruitful up at the North Fork farm. Boxes of swollen tomatoes need to be plucked almost daily and squash is literally jumping out of the soil. The terrace that I’d begun the previous month is near completion (as Katy’s proud stance affirms!) and will soon be home to a row of fruit trees. I really hope to one day eat the fruit from these trees!
After the days work, I’d escape the scorching heat back at the studio, where I’d write in my journal and take breaks to meditate or do some yoga on the porch. Sometimes I’d just sit on the large rock that protruded from the cliff’s edge and look at the river below and the mountains that shot up on the other side. The grasses and brush had turned a rich golden carpet and was pierced by the still green trees that stood defiantly against the oppressive heat. The only noise from this vantage point is the gushing of a nearby waterfall and the occasional hawk call, telling all the little rodents and animals to watch their step.
On the way up to the Farm, I dropped into Fresno to catch a jazz show with my old friend Ric. Ric was quite a character: he’d been to jail a few times, lost at sea at one point, in crutches at least twice and who celebrated kicking his drug addiction by drinking liters of coffee and smoking like a chimney. He was also a hell of a jazz player before he’d fallen down some stairs.
After the show, we grabbed a few drinks at a local restaurant / bar / music lounge where a few of the jazz musicians had moved on to. The Fresno girls that waltzed in and out were surprisingly loud and trashy. We didn’t stay too long and Ric offered me a spot to crash at his place.
Ric had always had interesting friends and his roommates, or more accurately, his hosts were no exception. He led me through a living room that was either being renovated or just falling apart, it was hard to tell in the darkness. He pulled at a bookcase and it came ajar, revealing a carpeted staircase. I crept upstairs, tip toed past some sleeping dogs, and passed out on a sofa.
As I opened my eyes, I found myself on a dusty couch and for a moment forgot where I was. I happen to find that feeling quite enjoyable – it’s like waking up in a new adventure and trying to figure it out. The dusty room was ornately decorated and furnished with a full oak bar and as my eyes drifted downward they met the stare of 3 equally dusty poodles. Big questions in my head were centered around the responsibility of successfully creating and leading community. And no random house could have been more helpful to wake up in.
I came down the stairs and out of the book case to a morning breakfast scene. Ric and his host, an 86 year old sociologist who wrote a book called “primitive drinking”; Chandler Washburne, had taught for years at UC Fresno, been a friend of Kerouacs and married to Ex belly dancer Beyla, who herself had previously been married to Spencer from Jefferson airplane. I sat on a faded floral-print couch in his study and began a conversation that lasted well into the afternoon. Some of the things we covered:
- Learning the social OS
- Dynamics of various sized communities
- Can communities run in a decentralized way or is hierarchical leadership needed?
- ‘Encounter’ groups from the 60s
- Benevolent dictatorship, positive emotional
- Distributed leadership
- Pre lingual laws Only as many as Can be remembered
- What is the mission out there and do you know if you’ve achieved it.
- How do you quantify social success?
- Establishing of rules and objectives
- Lead by action not by mandate
- Consistency is crucial to successful leadership
- Laughing is an extension of panting – it’s a mammalian thing
- Rat licking experiment – rats that got licked by the mothers were friendly and more exploratory, others were more anxious. This is epigenetic..
- Brains develop differently, ability to use language plays a huge roll in this
- Most people hear music with right side of brain, but musicians use the left because they can put names to things..
- Artists communicate in a non standardized language
- Social hackery to manifest changes, appeal to a visceral emotion
- We don’t see the actor, we see the part they’re playing
- It’s a grand experiment / life is improv
- If life is indeed a play, then all roles must be filled!
With many of my questions answered, or at least on the way to being answered, I sat down and wrote a long email to my Burning Man camp, discussing many of the things that we had covered over glazed donuts that morning.
How can serendipity be so abundant!?