Community, the Shadow, and The Cob Oven Saga. A retrospective.

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Above: In 2011 a group of IU students in a course on sustainability designed and built a cob oven, which we planned to use for community bi-monthly pizza parties. What happened next was shocking, instructive, long, consciously destructive, and ultimately transformational.

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For the full story, see the

Cob Oven Saga

More on why, as we go on here . . .

Late yesterday afternoon, podmate Rebecca stopped in. We started talking about community, how the ability to live in close contact with other people is KEY to transforming the madness that is devouring our world. YES!

She told me about what it’s like in the dating scene on social media, how men are looking for one woman to hole up with, to establish the preferred, in America, always and forever, “independent” lifestyle.

I told her of all those times when I lived in Jackson Hole,  I’d be driving by gigantic homes set on vast country lawns, and dreaming of each one as the setting for community. “I mean those houses could hold 20 people, easily!” And now that I’m a permaculturist, of course I now imagine those vast lawns transformed into gardens by the people who live in them. Several of my close relatives also have giant houses, set on vast lawns. .

We both laughed ruefully to think about the millions of relatively rich old people rattling around alone in their giant homes, scared of what’s next. Hey, how about inviting young people to live with you? How about shaking off your calcified habits? How about recognizing that the vast injustice of old people having resources while young people are saddled with debt?  Our younger generations are screwed, big time. It’s time we recognized that, and began, on a personal level, to shift the cultural field.

She mentioned that in her whole life, because of what we are doing here, living in community, just six people so far in two homes, (two old women and four young people in their 20s), but as more and more nearby homes convert to the permaculture way —now that more and more (especially young) people walk by on the street, and, if we are outside working, ask us what we are doing, and could they learn how; now that one of the houses across the street sold to a young family because they wanted to join the burgeoning Green Acres Village; on and on, I could detail how the vibratory field of immense possibility that we have been dreaming into existence is finally taking material form — oops, almost forget my thread of thought here. What I wanted to say is that Rebecca tells me how wonderful it is that she can now relax into helping to maintain and grow the various aspects of our little expanding permacultural paradise, rather than single-handedly trying and failing to get things she had started to continue, rushing from emergency to emergency all the while feeling desperate and isolated.

And, she continued, the problem is that people don’t know how to work with the difficult interpersonal stuff that arises in community. They just don’t know how. So they prefer to live alone, or with one other. And it’s so much harder to do things alone than with others! YES!

All of which put me in mind of the Cob Oven Saga (see above), the extended exercise that we went through here in Green Acres back in 2011 which set the stage for our capacity to actually honor and incorporate the Shadow. Because of course it’s here, it’s always here. It will always be here. What is our relationship to the Shadow? The Shadow inside the Self? The Shadow inside Community? The Shadow inside Civilization? It may be that our survival as a species depends on learning how to take back all those projections of Evil onto The Other that our conditioning has drilled into us, and used as the pretext for conflict, and ultimately, WAR. Enough!

“If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick shadow. Such a man has saddled himself with new problems and conflicts. He has become a serious problem to himself, as he is now unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against… Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has done something real for the world. He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic, unsolved social problems of our day.” C.G. Jung

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