Photo Essay: Pod Life in the GANG, Mid-January 2015

Well, well. This is another of the posts impulsed by synchronicities, not one but two! The first stems from my toying with the idea of posting this piece

Cultural Concepts We Don’t Have in the U.S.

— because of its focus on two “concepts” that very much describe life in our two-house pod during this cold, supposedly dreary, month of January. These concepts are “hygge” (Danish) and “gemultlichkelt” (German).

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Then yesterday morning Rebecca walked in from next door with the socks that she had volunteered to darn for me! WOW! I’ve never in my life had anyone darn socks for me!

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So exciting! Well, maybe that’s the wrong word. In fact, it’s odd, and yes, synchronous, but in that same quick visit, Rebecca also mentioned how winter seems to have set in, and that we are “cozy” inside the houses. Bingo! Hygge!

Also yesterday morning, another synchronicity: My friend, the permaculture designer, teacher, landscaper, and plant-lover extraordinaire Keith Johnson happened to stop by exactly as I was about to put on my boots and head over to the north and east boundaries of our Green Acres Neighborhood. I had been asked to check something out and get back to someone about it. Why? We are going to apply for a grant from the city of Bloomington to do what we are calling “heal our borders” — from the deep wounds left from the removal of the tree protection that accompanied the state of Indiana’s forced “widening of the bypass” next to our east side border two years ago — plus, in 2014, the removal of, again, trees and bushes, this time by Duke Energy on the north border. Duke’s power lines run next to the railroad; Duke carved out an alley to get trucks through.

So we do feel exposed on these two borders, especially those who live in homes next to them.

We’ve been thinking about applying for a fairly large and complex “Neighborhood Improvement Grant” for a year now, and our ideas are only now starting to jell.

What’s exciting about this project is how it’s starting to come together with partnerships from four different group or institutional entites:

• GANA (Green Acres Neighborhood Association)

• the city of Bloomington: (a City Council Member, and reps from the Housing and Neighborhood Development, and Planning Departments),

• a group of five students currently taking the Permaculture Design Course who need a “practicum” and have decided to focus on helping Green Acres continue to work out the plan I and two other PDC students had originally designed in 2007!

• the Bloomington Community Orchard: which has already started to work with one neighborhood on planting fruit trees, and is willing to work with us as well.

As part of our application for the grant, we’re going to do permaculture design for what we’re calling, for want of a better name, the Bypass Tunnel Park, which is an edge area in our neighborhood that borders the west side of the Bypass. Of course it’s a crazy place to put a “park,” — right next to a busy six-lane highway with 45 mph speed limits . . . On the other hand, it is the only “commons” we have in the neighborhood, so far, except for the GANG garden, and that’s on private land (mine).

Here are two screen shots of the place where the “park” will be designed, to include fruit trees and swales (on the hillside), and not sure what else yet. The first shot is the southern portion, and the second shot the northern portion. The “park” is strangely shaped, obviously not very big, and has a bike path running through it down from 7th Street to the tunnel.

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As a design problem, it will be undeniably interesting — not ideal, and difficult, even quixotic! Only one block from a large intersection. Yuck!

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So Keith and puppy Shadow and I walked these borders yesterday morning, talking about plants and design. Lots of good suggestions from him as to what will work and what not. Our original idea to make a “Berry Path” along the RR is not appropriate, because the RR uses Monsanto’s Roundup, so the land is contaminated. Instead, some kind of shortish basket willows, I think he said. Or possibly, some kind of evergreen. I’ll have to check my notes. He suggests Asian Pear trees for the Park, since they seem to harbor fewer pests.

As we were leaving the house, podmates Rebecca and Katarina were also getting set to go out, in their case to canvas the neighborhood, along with another neighbor, Melissa, to put a sweet little double-sided poster that Katarina designed (with my and Rebecca and Kiryssa’s input) under everybody’s front door. Here is what it says.

Screenshot 2015-01-13 16.49.56That’s the front side. Here’s the back:

Screenshot 2015-01-13 16.50.19We plan to begin our Community Supported Dinners next Monday, January 19th, at the DeKist House next door, serving three nights per week. It will be interesting to see how many nearby IU students respond. Stay tuned! This is a new idea, an experiment. Who knows how well it will work! We try things out, and then we either go for it, or we adjust. Either way, life continues to unfold, and new initiatives take hold, even in the “dead” of winter, while we’re cozied up to the fire, darning socks.

Oh! Oh! Oh! I almost forgot! Podmate Leah’s five chickens, which have produced NO EGGS ever since they arrived in mid-August, have now started production. Ommigoddess! Talk about taking the initiative . . . In the middle of winter! Two eggs froze, three more made it inside. Katarina has already eaten one of them, which had the most orange yolk either of us have ever seen. Here are the other two.

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6 Responses to Photo Essay: Pod Life in the GANG, Mid-January 2015

  1. Diane Dormant says:

    Good luck to all of you with the Bypass Tunnel Park and the boundary planting to the north. They both sound like good-to-great ideas.

  2. Sylvia says:

    We too have a Dutch equivalent (gezelligheid), so it seems this concept is not that untranslatable, not anyway from danish to german to dutch and who knows which other languages!

  3. laurabruno says:

    “Gemultlichkelt” was always one of my favorite words in German! Good luck with the tunnel. When I returned to Hyde Park, Chicago after 14 years, they had revamped the Parks system along the Lake. They put these incredible mosaics inside a tunnel, and the mosaics had little pieces of mirrors worked into the designs, which picked up light from either end of the tunnel. Jazz musicians would periodically play inside the tunnel, and their delightful sounds would echo around both sides. It was just lovely and completely transformed my impression of Hyde Park!

    • Zowee! Thanks Laura for this. Our tunnel is a very active spot for graffiti artists, who keep writing and drawing over the last guy’s efforts. At first the city tried to constantly white wash, but has given up, which is good. We need to encourage personal expression, and encourage raising the level of artistry, hopefully. At first, there was a lot of cursing. Not so much anymore.

      There’s a great wall near the market in Seattle that features zillions of tiny messages written by people who have attached them to the wall with gum. The Hyde Park tunnel idea is probably too lofty for us, but, who knows? And LOVE the idea of concerts inside the tunnel.

      • laurabruno says:

        In Goshen, we have a Graffiti Alley, specifically dedicated to street art. There are yarn bombed benches and trees, plus a periodically shifting display of higher class graffiti. That’s another possibility — just upgrade what’s already happening. 🙂 The concerts were great, though! It truly felt like the Chicago experience with all that jazz.

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