PHOTO ESSAY: Green Acres Holiday Open House

Expansive Jupiter is in generous Leo — at 22° as I write this. And our party felt downright Jupiterian.

Hold on to your hats. This is going to be long. Mostly photos, however, so you needn’t fear my “logorrhea” (Geez, why did that word spew into mind and out?!)

Anyway, I’ll begin with an email I received this morning from Julia (a former neighbor and friend who moved to the Bay Area) on this day after last evening’s incredible Holiday Open House that felt supercharged with energy and love. As well as being a deeply educational experience for all sorts of folks, since many had shown up precisely because we were going to conduct pre-Winter Solstice nighttime tours of our little Green Acres two-home “pod” with its various sustainability projects (solar, water catchment, chickens, GANG garden, year-round use of food grown, shared patio and back yards, etc.). That’s what this photo essay is about, thanks to podmate Katarina’s photographic artistry.

But back to this morning’s email. Julia titled it “Ode to Money,” which is perfect, both since the party cost money (which I paid for, given that I am blessed with more money (my deceased husband’s pension) than the others who live here, plus I was the one who suggested the party!); money which I consider “tuition,” as usual, in exchange for lessons both given and received. Maybe I should just call it “currency,” for yes, it is the “current” in this consumer culture that keeps, especially, things “flowing.”

For example, I thought four quarts of egg nog and a pint of rum would be enough. Are you kidding? They were both gone in 30 minutes flat. So I sent someone to the store for 12 more bottles of local organic egg nog and before I could say, “go to the liquor store, too” neighbor Kathy volunteered to run back to her house to get a quart of rum. Interesting that Kathy was once a member of our gifting circle, as were a number of folks who came to the party, and the spirit of the gift obviously lives on.

Here’s Kathy, on the right, with neighbor Jelene.


The gift culture (see this and this and this and this and this and this, etc.) is of another world, one in which we assume trust, and begin to share our lives and skills and tools in an ever expanding web of interdependency. As such, gift culture is utterly unlike the disgusting “money culture” that infects our humanness by separating us from one another, forcing us to compete as “individuals” in an environment of scarcity — and meanwhile renders us lonely and lost and terrified and/or bored, craving endless distractions and addicted to life-defeating habits. I featured a cartoon version of this capitalist culture in a post a few days ago — and it’s what prompted Julia’s email. Okay, here she is:


I heard this song the other day on KALX . . .

It reminds me of the graphic art you posted the other day–saliva, vomit or semen all being associated with the lust for the dollar.

I hope you enjoy your holiday party. You seem to glow with happiness and I’m so glad you have a wonderful community surrounding you.

(Can I talk about vomit and happy holidays in the same email-yip)


It’s that last parenthetical remark that grabbed me. And I say yes, yes, we can talk about the vomit we see and feel around us and have a happy holiday at the same time. In fact, we must! For what will transform the yuck but love? Fierce, directed, continuous love, streaming from our heart centers through which it courses in from the quantum field, an endless flow, an entirely different kind of current, a limitless currency beyond measure.

This flow, continuing — even increasing — even as we descend into the darkest days of winter — is new for me. To NOT be a scrooge. To NOT cry “bah humbug” at every little thing that I “hate” while feeling “superior” to it all, separate. And yes, lonely (but not admitting it). Lonely like everybody else!

As I wondered in yesterday’s post, what is this joy, this continuous flow of universal abundance? For I feel it as never before, always, as a continuous inrushing rapture (Jupiter in Leo?) that spreads into behavior, way way stronger than any cobwebby Matrix bullshit.

Yes, it’s not just that we must be able to expand our minds and hearts to hold the contradiction of seeing/feeling the world of fear, paranoia, lust and greed while holding open and impulsing the much vaster universe of abundance for all, it’s that these two seemingly opposite realities are NOT in balance, they are continuously tipping one way or the other until the momentum finally carries us into whatever future world we collectively decide by either our surfeit of fear or our surfeit of joy. Sorry folks, there really is no middle ground. We are either fully alive, spiraling in and out, free — or we are robots, mechanical, going round and round, dead.

And with that I’ll get off my Sagittarian high horse (my 72nd birthday tomorrow!), and let the photos roll.

But first, tell me, are we not the very first neighborhood garden/ecovillage pod in the whole world to offer tours of a community garden in the dead of winter at night? Can anybody else claim this momentous, hilarious feat? And feat it was. Rebecca must have led six different tours between 6 and 9 p.m. to 4 or 5 or 6 people each time. I stayed inside to hob nob. We were both doing what we do best, utilizing our diverse skills for the task at hand in service of our common vision: right now, we wish to educate and inspire people to at least check out this burgeoning two-home template for community life that we are creating here, in plain old suburban Green Acres Neighborhood.

A number of representatives from other neighborhood associations attended, and I think they all “took the tour,” and hopefully, drank the kool-aid! Because it feels good, what we’re doing here, damn good.

The location:


Approaching from the street, the garden’s perimeter lit up.

garden lightsThe gate and sign . . .

sign and gateOne caveat: we stupidly scheduled the event for the evening of the day that IU finals ended. Which meant that, since a lot of finals are now turned in over the internet and don’t need to be emailed until midnight of the due date, Kiryssa, my other podmate, and Leah, Rebecca’s podmate, couldn’t be with us for the party that they helped organize! Plus, Katarina didn’t get off work until six which is the time the party was scheduled to begin. Which all meant that both Rebecca and I had to set up our houses alone and stay in them rather than gravitate to each other’s house — since somebody might come to one of them and nobody would be home!

When Rebecca realized that, late yesterday afternoon, she blanched. I laughed. “Think of it as funny, Rebecca!” I chortled. And meant it. Here we are in this new, and expanded universe, and from left, and right and in between we are catching zingers that upend our hallowed expectations. Stay tuned and stay centered! Roll with the punches! See what develops. Because of course it will, and likely to be way more interesting than anything you or I could have imagined.

Well, right away, both neighbor Kathy and IU student Michael showed up , and at least at my house, I wasn’t the only one lighting all the candles.

BTW: Leah did manage to make rolls beforehand, and showed up near the end. Here she is coming in with Rebecca after one of the tours.

Rebecca and Leah

The party at my house was rollicking. Great fun.

Looking toward the den.

looking to denLooking toward the living room (near the rum).

near the rumI thought people would cycle through, but most of them stayed. A number of neighbors plus lots of permies and would-be permies. A number of IU students. Reps from other Bloomington neighborhoods. Vickie, our irrepressible advocate at the Bloomington HAND (Housing and Neighborhood Development) Department. My son Colin, of the Garden Tower Project, blew in for a few minutes after attending meetings all day regarding the coming rollout of the new manufactured tower. An architect, who appreciated the “sculptural” quality of some of the spaces here, sat and took it all in. A woman who said she tried and failed to buy into this neighborhood when she and her husband arrived a few years ago (the right houses weren’t for sale then). She also told me she’s interested in an “elder community.” I said I was not, I’d rather grow old intergenerationally. Like how? She asked. Like here! I replied, what we’re doing here! Two older women living with three or four young ones in their 20s. “OH!” she gasped, suddenly illumined.

Young and old live together. Yes! The young bring energy and enthusiasm, we old ones bring experience and skill and wisdom and patience for how long anything worth while actually takes to bring into manifestation. And do it right where we live. No need to build new housing for “intentional community.” Just change our minds and hearts in place. Look around. Find someone nearby who might be interested. Declare yourself the founding pod of YOUR neighborhood ecovillage.

And as Katarina said to me this morning, “When I came in to this situation, I had no idea what I was getting into. And now, well, I drank the kool-aid. She grinned. “What we’re doing is both practical and creative.” Yes, and FUN.

Let’s see now, where was I. Oh yes, here’s me with Amy (in the middle) and Sarah.

Sarah Amy and me

Amy is a mover and shaker involved with creating new community on many levels, who has newly moved to B’town. Sarah is a professional artist, whose husband Ivan (behind us) teaches Literature at IU.

(Ivan, BTW, is my “first cousin once removed.” As I discovered last night, when Peter Bane — the permaculture teacher, author, publisher, and activist — stepped in to clarify. Ivan’s Dad Tom is my cousin.That makes my son Colin Ivan’s “second cousin,” Peter announced, since both are children of cousins. Good. I’ve finally got that distinction down.)

Celie and Iris, here with Shadow, in his “holiday greeter” outfit, are Ivan and Sarah’s very creative and unusually composed and articulate 11-year-old twins.

Celie and IrisMeanwhile, as we folks inside talked and drank egg nog and rum, tours outside continued apace. The chicken yard . . .

chicken yardCloser . . .

talking about chickensThe chickens, we are sad to report, are in the middle of a very long molt. No eggs. But they are beautiful!

Inside the GANG garden, Rebecca points out the straw covered dormant (African) hugelkulture beds, with compost in the middle or in trenches on the sides (put kitchen waste in, dirt on top, easily composted by springtime).

in the garden

Inside the DeKist living/dining room, you can’t help but notice Rebecca’s artistry on the walls . . .

DeKist wall composition

And for the season . . .

DeKist wall decoration

She explains on her tours —

at the DeKist house— how we are beginning to use the entire harvest in meals that we are creating in community with both the occupants of these two houses and others in the neighborhood, who volunteer their time or donate money or food. Three evenings each week. No extra cars allowed. So if you live around here, walk! If you don’t, ride your bike or catch a ride with a neighbor. We froze, dried and canned a LOT of food this year. Probably double that, next year, given the new hugelkulture beds. (I hope she showed people the pantry. It’s to die for, the kind our grandmothers used to have.)

I said 6-9, and it ended about 9:15. Perfect! Katarina and I cleaned up here, I went to bed, and she went out. Perfect old/young behavior, eh?

P.S. Going to bed early allows delicious nighttime reading. Right now, a very interesting book about ancient Amazons. They were real, they kept both breasts, and many of them were tattooed.

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6 Responses to PHOTO ESSAY: Green Acres Holiday Open House

  1. sylvia says:

    only got time to browse through this post but makes me very happy!

  2. laurabruno says:

    Looks like a rollicking good time, indeed! We are having a small Solstice gathering at our place tomorrow, also using garden grown produce as most of the basis of the food. The vegan yule log is only partially local, but I did get the chestnuts from a local Amishman. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your party with all of us and Happy Solstice to you and yours!

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