Archive for June, 2011

A little bit and dinner

So I got my new glasses, which was awesome because suddenly the world is light again (although it will take a little while to adjust to the new lenses), and to celebrate (or actually just coincidentally) we went down to Provincetown to see a drag show with Mirra. It was great doing something with her again– we get along so well– and we had a lovely (though long) drive to P-Town, walked around for a while, ate our picnic lunch, walked around for another while, waited at the door for an hour so we could get good seats, waited in the performance hall for an hour and you’ll know it was a good show when I say it was worth it. Although there was a little too much penis for my likin’. Some of the acts were awesome some were weird and some were somehow awesome and weird. We got back home a little after two and up at ten (which is five hours after we usually get up) so today was a little slow.

Today we started really digging into thinking about our IndieGoGo campaign, cooked, of course, and then took a bike ride. We’re just about to watch Firefly and eat popcorn (olive oil and salt… mmmm) but before I go I thought maybe I’d tell you about one of the meals we made today. We’re incredibly food-focused people (you have to be to spend an hour cooking every meal), and since it’s such a big deal to us, maybe it’d be interesting to you. So here goes;

Dinner:

Squash sauteed with olive oil and soyu

Refried turtle beans with leftover chili and mezuna

and

Reheated brown rice.

 

I love cooking with leftovers; it makes the question ‘what am I going to make’ so much more simple. My mom made a vegetarian chili a few days ago which was just too hot for me (I don’t like my food being too hot because I think it ruins the taste of it). So, to use the chili but to tame it a little I cooked a pot of beans, smooshed them, fried them a little bit and then mixed in the chili, cooked it a little to merge the flavors and then added the mezuna until it was wilted. It would have been really good except I was a little impatient and didn’t cook the beans long enough. Maybe tomorrow I’ll make a stew out of it. Leftovers of leftovers. Mmmmm…

 

Stamps and stencils

I know, I know; it’s been too long. I’ve been meaning to write for more than a week, but there’s just so much going on. Last week I made these awesome communitywalkabout shirts, which we’re planning on using for rewards when we launch our IndieGoGo campaign. Aren’t they sweet? All hand stenciled and stamped.

Indie GoGo is a fundraiser tool, which we’re going to try to use to get some money together for our trip. We’ve hired consulatants, Mindy and Ryan from WithinReach, partially because they’ve successfully run fundraising campaigns before and partially because we think they’re super awesome. They did a community tour a few years ago, on bicycles, with the intent on visiting over a hundred different sustainable communities. They went into debt to make their sustainable community documentary and we’re excited about the idea that we can help them out and help us out at the same time. They’re starting a consulting firm connecting people with communities and helping them out with fundraising.

For the fundraiser we’re going to make a video, hopefully after I get new glasses. I lost mine two weeks ago and have been wearing my sunglasses ever since, which has been really annoying. I ordered new ones from Zenni Optical because it was two hundred seventy dollars cheaper than getting them made here (there’s totally a glasses prescription monopoly thing going on in this country) but it does take them a little bit longer to come in. (My glasses usually cost three hundred dollars because my eyes are so bad they tell me it costs an extra two hundred dollars to get the special plastic the lenses are made out of. And yet it only costs Zenni an extra ten dollars. Suspicious?). Everything’s been a little dark. It’s been surprising, though, how few people have asked me why I’m wearing sunglasses inside. No one has, actually. At night, in the dark, inside on a dull, rainy day, no one has addressed the fact that my eyes are covered with half an inch of brown plastic.

 

Thinking about the video we’re going to make has led me to thinking a lot about intentional communities. Why people live in them- what they are. I picture the average American dream- which really works for the average American person. Your own house, your children, your pets, your husband or wife. Having lived in a community, with thirty other people, it seems so empty now. No- it always seemed empty, to me. It’s harder and emptier. Harder cooking good meals with only two people, harder cleaning up with only three. Emptier living without children running about underfoot, without good friends you can find when you’re lonely. Harder to live with two other people being always in each other’s faces. I’m not complaining- I love my life as it is, right now. But the future I imagine is more populated.

Intentional communities are an alternative to conventional life. They allow more people to live with less resources; three people cooking for fifty is more conservative than fifty people cooking for fifty. At Ionia there were two cars for thirty people. And Intentional communities support the residents; parenting is shared, taking the burden out of a twenty-four/seven job. Household tasks are made easier and more fun when everyone takes part. When you live in a community you don’t have to be alone, or to face anything alone when you don’t want to. If you can’t handle something, you find someone to help you.

Individualism is the American Ideal, and it really works for some people. But it really doesn’t work for others. Some people get lost in a world they have to face all by themselves. Some people live in neighborhoods or towns where everyone knows each other and helps each other, and some people live in apartment complexes or suburbs where they’ve never spoken to any of their neighbors. Some people want their own house, their own yard, their own car, their own life, and to some people it just seems like a waste. When I found out that intentional communities were a real thing- not just something that failed in the sixties because everyone smoked pot and slept around – I felt as if I’d finally figured out the answer to a question. And when I lived in Ionia, a community that really worked, I couldn’t believe my luck. Since then I’ve talked to other people about intentional communities and I’ve seen a similar thing happen inside them; suddenly the realization that they can live differently. That’s one of the things I hope will come from this; that people will see that there is a different way to live and that people are out there living it. That we can reach people, with this blog, or the book we plan to write, or maybe if we pull off giving presentations. We can reach them and tell them that they don’t have to live in same way other people do. That they can be different. You can be different too.

belonging

The gang minus David

       For the last week I have had so much fun! A whole bunch of my family and friends were in town. My aunt Ann and Catherine just got back to the US, after an adventure in Europe, and stopped here so Cat could get familiar with David’s yacht. My uncles Michael, John, and friend Zara came into town from some yacht town in RI; Michael is on a yacht that is stationed there for the summer; we will see him again. My sister Jane and Mirra came up from NYC, because they both are working for David.

          It was so awesome having so many people I know and love together! We were all having dinner together one night, and I just looked around the room for a few minutes, and felt a deep sense of happiness. It was so nice. I really feel at my best when I am around people I know and who know me. I suppose that this is typical. It really made me happy to see all those guys.

I feel strange sometimes about this journey because community is so important to me- that is one of the main reasons I am doing it, but I am leaving my community in order to do it. I know it is just temporary, but it feels like I am going in a different direction than the community is. I am not really sure what I mean by that. I guess what I am trying to say is, that I felt, and feel, a deep sense of belonging with the people I grew up with, and have lived with all my life, and I feel a little bit like I am moving away from that. It’s been my life so far, all twenty-two years, the people, the place, the ideas. It is hard to move away from that. But I needn’t worry; that belonging I feel won’t go away. Twenty-two years of life doesn’t go away in two years of travel.

Alex

 

Garden growing

Everything’s coming up roses here… I mean turnips. Our garden is looking fabulous. We bought heirloom organic seeds from Southern Exposure Seed exchange, http://www.southernexposure.com/, a seed catalogue which sells heirloom and organic seeds, and which is partially run by Twin Oaks, a community in Virginia that we’re going to visit in October. Heirloom seeds are important because they represent a greater variety of plants than are normally commercially available, varieties that people long ago cultivated for their different qualities. You might be familiar with heirloom tomatoes, which are a completely different tomato experience from the perfectly round, red, balls you buy at the supermarket. Heirloom plants have character and taste, and more importantly, nutrients. In his book In Defense of Food Michael Pollen suggests that heirloom plants might have twice the number of antioxidants and other important nutrients that regular, mass-produced, picture-perfect, genetically bred plants have. That’s because while those plants were being babied and sprayed with pesticides, the heirlooms had to survive generations of insect attacks and disease exposure. It’s the same protections the plants make against insects and disease exposure that helps our bodies fight off attacks.

Anyways, we planted our garden a little late- two weeks into May- and with the exception of the cabbage, which didn’t come up at all, and the basil, which wants a warmer climate and so is still uber-tiny, our garden is bursting. We have already thinned all of the beds and another thinning is coming up soon. (I used to feel bad about thinnings until I realized you could eat them. Most of our plants are greens and baby greens are super delicious.) And we mulched the gardens with cut grass, to keep the weeds under control and to retain moisture in the soil. It hasn’t rained once in two weeks! I know because I water the gardens every day and I keep hoping for a rainy day so I’ll have some time off.

I love gardening- it’s such an awesome way to get a connection to your food. You see it as a seed, as a baby plant, you care for it, then you dig it up and wash the dirt off and cook it and eat it. One of the rewards of working with whole foods is that you really get a feel for where your food comes from. I know what tofu is because I made the tofu from soybeans. I know what whole wheat looks like because I ground the wheat to make the flour. And this is just taking it one step back. Someday I’d love to have a hand in growing all the crops I eat. I want to know what’s it’s like to work in a rice paddy, an apple orchard, a field of beans. What is more human than eating? And what is more animal than knowing what your food looks like?

In other news, Alex is excited about trying to get personal chef work. We’ve already got one lead, and a wine tasting set up where he’s going to showcase his food. I hope it works for him because he’s an awesome chef and it’s amazing to have food which is so healthy and so delicious. And, when he’s got a big gig I’ll get to come along and be a sous-chef and dessert-chef. I designed posters for him, and business cards, and we hung them up around the upper cape, so I’m also his graphics designer and his chauffeur. With a support staff like that, how can he fail?

 

goodbye

I feel a big loss that Mirra is not coming anymore; it would have been easier and more interesting with her. She brought a lot of spirit with her, and I could have used that a lot because I sometimes get depressed, and can’t make any spirit. It is also going to be a different dynamic with two of us, with three you have a bit more to work with, you can toss around ideas and get a group point of view.

I am going to miss Mirra’s point of view; she is always trying to find something interesting and fun. I feel like I am going to forget to have fun and turn this trip into some sort of experiment/research project for a book. Which it is, but I can’t forget that my original interest was that it was going to be SO much fun! When I am down in the dirt and it’s raining, and there is no cars or shelter in sight and can’t think of anything to be happy about, I will try to think what Mirra would say. I will miss her presence; I admire many things about her. Good luck in NYC, Mirra.

Alex