For those in the Nashville area, this Saturday, July 16, 2011, I will host, along with my esteemed colleagues, a 2-hour discussion on preparedness colonies. We will discuss pros and cons of different types of colonies, how to find, connect, evaluate, join or build one. What makes a colony succeed or fail? What do you need to be an effective member of a colony?
Some time ago, Fred posted a somewhat inscrutable comment that said something like the things we are embarrassed about can be the glue of like-mindedness. Fred’s comments are usually thought-provoking and I have thought about it frequently since then. Apologies in advance if I misinterpret embarrassment as guilt, but it’s a good segue, so I’m going for it.
Despite that I spent my entire career in food service, with the accompanying social tipping pressures, I am an inconsistent tipper at best. I have been told that I’m just plain cheap. I choose to call it frugal, but that’s not the real reason or the point.
I believe deeply in the effectiveness and goodness of clear rewards and consequences for behavior. If there is anything in my life that was successful and I am proud of, it is my children. My approach to fathering was to let natural consequences be the primary teacher. I chose to be a poor buffer and a good mirror. It worked fabulously. My kids were and are wonderful, exceeding me and my expectations in every way.
Apply that philosophy to tipping. It is nothing less than a metaphor for life. Early in my food service career, I was taught and completely bought into the story that tipping began in medieval rough-and-tumble road houses as an incentive for good service. Simple and straight forward. Get the food to me from the cook before it gets cold or spoils. I will pay you for your extra trouble.
When I get poor, inattentive, surly service I often respond with either no tip or a penny to send a clear message. I feel no guilt because I have done the right thing. My intentional action has the potential to result in a positive change that could make the world a little nicer place, at least for the next patron…. Or not… At that point it’s out of my hands and rests firmly with the server who will either change the behavior for better tips or become more surly and angry at me. Their move, but at least I have provoked a conscious choice.
On the other hand, when I get really good service, I take genuine pleasure in rewarding the server with a generous tip. I often go out of my way to clarify the message by commenting to them and/or the on-duty manager what a pleasure it was for our paths to have crossed. I don’t need one of those impersonal, anonymous comment cards.
I was once told that what we are building here at the Village is an “intentional community”. It occurs to me that I have been trying to live all my life out of intention. That is, I think, the opposite of living out of unthinking, guilt-based, or unexplored and poorly understood traditions.
To be clear, I am no saint and no stranger to feelings of guilt. But as I look back on my life, I find that the things I did that worked and I am proud of, almost always came from a positive, intentional motive. Actions starting from guilt often lead nowhere but to more guilt with unintended results. As a motive for quitting a bad or ineffective behavior, I like natural consequences a lot better than nagging, amorphous, brooding guilt.
I am consciously working to build a culture at the Village on Sewanee Creek that is intentional and therefore positive. A place of continuous learning, endless creativity, openness to exploring and recognizing the beauties of this world in their stark, truthful and sometimes harsh natural reality. Nature is a great teacher. I guess a certain amount of guilt is sometimes useful, but I hope that the glue of our like-mindedness will be made mostly of intention.
I would like to share a discussion string from our community website, “Friends of Sewanee Creek” Names, other than my own, and emphasis have been changed.
Grant shared an article on 06/13/2011 07:06:20 am Whoa!! And I thought it was a good thing to be considered a “sustainable developer”.
Jodi – 06/15/2011 01:40:06 pm
Will watch Glenn Beck and Pass the Video to MANY. Thank You!
Debbie 6/18/2011 00:05:37 am Agenda 21 is very disturbing.
Glenn Beck discussed Agenda 21 on June 15, 2011
Ben 06/20/2011 03:34:03 pm
This is my first introduction to Agenda 21 so I am very unfamiliar with the details but the concept of social engineering is nothing new. I think China is a good example of this with the one child policy. In this case you have a country that is facing a huge ecological mess (pollution, water shortages, decreasing arable land from desertification) where a government steps in and attempts to avert having natural factors like starvation or disease controlling population growth by implementing a law to control population growth.
Again I am unfamiliar with the details of this particular “agenda” but I think it is a reality that increasing numbers of humans in the emerging markets pushing into western middle class lifestyles is going to pose some ecological challenges to the planet. Historical notions of sovereignty create complications when dealing with issues like nuclear disasters, disease, or climate change which do not respect borders. I think many of us see this as the nuclear meltdown in Japan directly affects our welfare.
How does the world begin to deal with these larger transnational issues?
Grant Miller – 06/21/2011 06:41:28 am
Good comment, Ben. It strikes me as both thoughtful and brave, two qualities I admire greatly.
Clearly, as the world shrinks and technology increases the power of mankind to foul his own nest (as well as that of his neighbors) the need for some form of control increases. This need is at the heart of your question.
The dilemma lies in the fact that corruption is endemic to power. I keep coming back to the well worn quote, “Power Corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” How do you have a global government where there is no higher recourse without sacrificing liberty and enslaving the world? Of more immediate concern, why would we want to turn that government over to those who have already proven themselves to be thoroughly corrupt?
I am among a growing population that recognizes the behavior of world, US and local leaders as nothing short of self-serving thuggery. People of all political persuasions are increasingly recognizing that national resources and the wealth of the people have been plundered by those with the power to do so. It is increasingly clear that there is collusion between people with their hands on the levers of power whether at the point of a gun (military or police), through government (congress, parliament, unelected bureaucrats, presidents/kings/czars/dictators) or through sophisticated financial manipulation (Powerful Corporations, Global Banks, Wall Street/The City). Many bury their collective heads in the sand, pretending that none of this exists by labeling it “conspiracy theory”. Thinking people are not cowed by this thinly veiled insult. They recognize that we are all subject to our selfish interests and that as power approaches the absolute, corruption is guaranteed.
The genius of our founding fathers was in their recognition of these facts. Their solution, indeed the only solution that has worked since the beginning of mankind was simple and elegant. To limit all kinds of thuggery, power itself must be limited, checked and controlled.
Ben, you just asked the right question in a forum where you might have perceived a risk of being shouted down. That is brave. In doing so, you elevated the conversation. There is great power in thoughtful, honest questions. We all owe you a big thank you.
Frankly, I don’t know the answer to your question. I wish I did. The only level at which I think I have an answer is the local one, precisely because I have no power at the global or any other level. But I do believe that if enough people will exercise the power that they do have, locally, to live a thoughtful, wise, brave, chaste and righteous life, the world would change for the better. That is because people with unlimited power have it only to the extent the masses give it to them.
My dream for the Village is that we will have people here who desperately want to live their lives and surround themselves with others of like mind and commitment to virtuous character. Until that small kernel grows into something more powerful, we will at least provide ourselves a measure of insulation from a world that is out of control due to the greed and lust of all-powerful men.
“Always surround yourself with people who are better than you. If you’re hanging around bad people, they’re going to start bringing you down . . . But, if you surround yourself with good people, they’re going to be pulling you up.” … Donny Osmond
I agree. I NEED to surround myself with the best, the extraordinary, so that I can become my best. That’s easier said than done. It takes work to attract and keep the best in your life, especially if you are looking for people who are better than you are. I have spent the last five years of my life with that single-minded goal, to attract extraordinary people to the Village. Our list of permanent residents is still small, but it includes people of extraordinary talents, skills, accomplishments, experiences and character traits. To name a few, these highly accomplished people, all with post-graduate degrees in their field and stellar life accomplishments, include among their skills: published philosopher and writer, chemist, plant geneticist, musician, Sr. business executive, successful entrepreneur, web developer, teacher, world travelers, electronics/communications expert, linguists, etc. If you include those who have purchased land but have not yet built and moved in, the list becomes too long. Overlaid on these skills are values of hard work, positive thinking, humility, mental toughness, creativity, generosity, mutual caring, independence, self-sufficiency and a strong desire to be part of a cohesive, sharing community.
Have you noticed that on my website, the request for information page includes a text box that asks an unusual question? “Tell us a little about why you are interested in living in the Village on Sewanee Creek and what you would bring to the community as a neighbor.” Do you know of ANY other developments where land is offered for sale, but applicants are asked to justify their contribution in terms other than dollars?
I don’t refer to myself as a “developer”. My primary focus is building this community, so my business card says simply “founder”. Unlike developers whose work focuses exclusively on subdividing, meeting government codes and selling, I actually live here and have different, vested, personal interests. So I spend the bulk of my time blogging to attract extraordinary people, then interviewing and observing to understand whether they would be happy and contribute here. When a person buys land in the Village, only a little of the value they are getting is in dirt, trees, creeks and a nice view. They are buying years of my single-minded labor to assemble a community, a circle of extraordinary people. For some, it is hard to recognize tangible dollar value in that. Those who think the above quotes are only nice platitudes won’t join us in the Village. They are unlikely to commit to the lifestyle we aspire to or even discover my website with its carefully crafted key search words. And that is good. We aren’t looking for average people who have money but don’t get it.
For those who strive to surround themselves with greatness, with people who will lift you higher, people who are like-minded, passionate, intelligent, creative and so on, to these the beautiful land is a nice incidental.
That Village residents understand and value this was recently demonstrated to me by one of them. We were on an outing together to Nashville to see my favorite play, Les Miserable. As we drove together I took the opportunity to discuss some community business. I mentioned that property values in the Village have stayed significantly higher than any nearby as indicated by recent sales. I sought their views on changes to the covenants because I want to make them as minimally restrictive as I can while maintaining the beauty, tranquility and productivity of the Village. A Villager with two young children dismissed higher property values. “Resale value is irrelevant to me”, he said. “I plan to live here the rest of my life.” Then he added, “I just want to be sure you will continue to be selective with the quality of my new neighbors.” BTW, this young, extraordinary man is our post-graduate philosopher/writer/entrepreneur and I would say he gets it.
I’m reading, thanks to some friends of Sewanee Creek, an insightful book that chronicles the creation of the United States. It is called The 5000 Year Leap. by Cleon Skousen.
There have been many aha moments, but I just read the opening lines to the 7th principle of freedom: the proper role of Government. It resonated so strongly with me that I felt compelled to jump on the computer and share it.
Under the bold header, “What Powers Can Be Assigned to Government” it reads, “The founders recognized that the people cannot delegate to their government the power to do anything except that which they have the lawful right to do themselves.”
My experience in business management taught me that this is a true principle. In many ways I have always been a bit of a contrarian, preferring to march to the beat of my own drum and driven by strongly held, biblical principles of right and wrong. Often, in the course of my employment, I found that my principles were at odds with those in higher authority. On a couple of occasions I tried to institute change from a grass roots level. That approach invariably landed me in hot water and confirmed to me that this is a true principle. In a corporation, those who have position power will have their way, that is as long as they are clever enough to exercise and maintain power, as they usually are upon reaching a high or ownership position.
That understanding emanates from business experience, which can/should be very different from government of a democratic republic. But the underlying principle is eternal and immutable. You can not delegate power that you do not have. In the domain of government, where in America our underlying assumption is of a government for and by the people, the application can become circular and confusing until one inserts the concept of God-given, unalienable rights. These rights and the power that proceeds from them are few and broad, but must be tightly defined.
To return to my business analogy, as a mid-level manager, I had neither the right nor the power to institute change within an organization that I did not own or been delegated rights and powers, regardless of my sense of right and wrong. As stated elsewhere in this great book, rights stem from ownership. Where I disagreed with my superiors my options were, (a) execute exactly as I was directed, (b) convince those in authority of a better way or (c) resign and find a place to work more closely aligned with my values.
Only when rights of ownership and true authority are respected can an organization of any sort reach the potential to achieve the purpose for which it was created. If it is true that the rights of government of the USA are vested only in the people, it is clear that there has been a boardroom coupe. America is ruled by unelected bureaucrats who report indirectly to hands-off elected officials who have made themselves unaccountable to those who should be vested with power, the people. But the people have become deservedly dis-empowered because of their witless incompetence in the exercise of their power. Anyone who has participated in boardroom politics will recognize that only those who exercise their power with wisdom and clever insight will retain power. Even owner/founders are routinely deposed by hired managers. The American people have lost power because they have failed to exercise their true, God-given power. God giveth and the government taketh away. America is no longer a Republic. It is a corporation, ruled by hired managers.
I want to relate this back to something more local, as that is all I feel empowered to speak of with any confidence any more. The Village values individual freedom and rights. Rights stem from ownership. Ownership should be the result of honest thought, labor and investment. This is why individual (not communal) property ownership is a keystone to successful community whether at the Village or Nation/State level. That is why the Village on Sewanee Creek is different from most “intentional communities” that typically end up in flames because they are often built on a utopian socialist, common-ownership model.
It is a little understood fact that the constitution of the United States was not ratified or even drafted till years after the successful conclusion of the revolution. Similarly, I have felt it inappropriate to impose homeowner association bylaws for the Village which should be the product of land owners within the village. George Washington declined the offer to become a king. He was a public servant in the best sense. I desire to do the same. My wife and I own most of the Village property now. But when it is sold, I am a Villager, created equal and with equal rights to other Villagers.
For those who might be interested in a model for government of the Village (not to mention the Republic of the USA) read The 5000 Year Leap.
Feedback from our Preparedness fair last July was excellent but with plenty of room for improvement.
On breadth of content, we received high marks. But because there was so much going on, a lot of folks struggled to get involved in all the activities they wanted to, even with repetition over two days. Things were tightly scheduled, so people were rushed getting from one venue to the next. This resulted in the most consistent piece of feedback, the desire to have more focus and depth at the expense of variety of topics. Incidentally, the fair happened to fall on the hottest day of 2010.
In response to experience and feedback, this year we will have two one-day events, one in the Spring and one in the fall to correspond with planting and harvest seasons. That should assure comfortable temperatures and it leaves room on the calendar for the Village’s traditional Independence Day celebration. The name is being changed from Fair to Workshop to reflect the increased focus on fewer activities, but by having two events this year we can compensate for fewer varieties at each workshop.
I am especially thankful that this year, the burden of coordinating, setting up and preparing for the Fair won’t fall on me. Last year, I spent three full months getting ready. This year, coordination and most of the planning is being handled by our newest Villager with the help of the Provident Living meetup group out of Nashville. If you plan to come, please register with the Provident Living meetup group at http://www.meetup.com/providentliving/ Make sure you RSVP and add a comment if you plan to camp on Friday night.
That should be enough background on the main changes. So, here’s what to expect for our Spring Preparedness Workshop.
To see info about last year’s July Preparedness Fair, click
Recently there was an Obama bashing post on “Friends of Sewanee Creek” our private website. It was one of those chain emails that get mindlessly forwarded by people with a particular point of view. Upon checking Snopes, it was found to be at least a partial fabrication. No surprise. One of the site members, a conservative, remarked that he was tired of the Obama bashing.
I agree that the energy being expended toward “Obama or ANY bashing” is mis-directed. This is not to say that Obama deserves our admiration or support. Only that the focus on Obama is a carefully manipulated distraction from the real issues. Obama is a puppet. So is congress. Both are dangerous to our liberty and to the peace of the world.
The US government and virtually all governments are thoroughly
corrupt from the top down. The global military-industrial-congressional complex are collectively the problem because THEY ARE DRIVEN BY GREED AND POWER. The global military-industrial-congressional complex are firmly in power because THE PEOPLE ARE DRIVEN BY GREED AND POWER, corrupt from the bottom up.
Please re-read the statement between the bars and think about it.
It’s simple cause and effect.
No solutions will be evident without a clear understanding of the problem.
Whether overtly religious or not, few people practice Christ’s teachings of charity, love and service either on a personal level or national policy level . Hence, Republicans who are supposedly the party of the religious right continue to support aggressive war and imperialism under the false flag of democratizing the world. But if you listen carefully to their rhetoric you will find the real motives are based on self-preservation of our standard of living over the rest of the world – grass roots greed and power.
No single individual is to blame for the world’s problems. It is all of us together. Therefore, No form of bashing will accomplish anything but distraction from the real problem that lies in each individual heart.
I am convinced that we are now beyond the point of no return where political activism using the levers of democracy can be effective. Hence, while I pay attention to the theater of politics for cues, I believe that our only salvation is in the moral character of individuals.
Never has the saying, “All politics is local” been more true. We must begin with personal morality and by that I do not mean sexual morality, although it is certainly included. For an example of effective political action that can turn the tide, I look to Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, the writings of Henry David Thoreau and especially the example of Jesus Christ. The most effective non-violent movements start by restoring moral judgment to a large, critical mass of the population.
Short of achieving such a mass conversion, the only solution is to work with converted, small, local communities. If you can’t control the world, control yourself, then your personal environment. Perhaps if I prove to myself that I can discipline myself, then influence a small community, I can gradually regain the hope that leads to faith that leads to power, to change the world on a larger scale. That’s what Gandhi did. Until then, I have no right or reason to hope for anything better.
Sometimes it’s overwhelming to think of all the information on the web that points to evil, controlling, manipulative behavior that loosely falls under the category of “conspiracy theory”.
The thing that deludes people into thinking all this is just paranoia is the myth that all evil is somehow coordinated by a small group of evil doers at the top of a great pyramid of evil. Then again, maybe organic pyramid structures are a naturally occurring phenomena.
Watch Saturday morning cartoons. Isn’t it amazing that almost all of them nowadays are based on the simplistic story of a super hero pitted against an arch evil nemesis who is single-handedly out to control or destroy the world? When we grow up, cartoons are relegated to the world of childhood fantasy along with anything that smacks of cartoonishness. Out goes the baby with the bathwater. Ergo, arch-villains don’t exist or are at least an aberration from the norm. Humanity is basically good, so to think that the mass of people would cooperate in a massive evil scheme is… unthinkable.
I view this a little differently. It has been my life experience that most people really care about one thing – getting ahead. That boils down to two words, money and power with their derivatives (fame, beauty, sex, comfort, pleasure, etc.) I have made it a habit of evaluating motives by looking at where the feet are pointing – actions, not words.
Adam Smith, the father of modern economics posited that there is an invisible hand that moves all mankind in a free market to make efficient choices in their own enlightened self-interest that furthers the good of all through general economic growth. Having observed the nature of man in general, I suggest that Smith was absolutely correct, except that there are cumulative evil side effects of the invisible hand. Selfish interests do not produce benign results in the long run. The uncontrolled quest for wealth and power will ALWAYS lead to corruption. Stated more succinctly, “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
While almost everyone knows and acknowledges that couplet as fundamental truth, why is it then, that most people remain so optimistically blind to the fact that big, powerful institutions, with incredible consistency, have only one objective in mind, self-enrichment and empowerment at ANY cost? The higher one rises within the pyramid, the more single-minded one is required to be in pursuit of the one and only god of money and power. Those lower in the pyramid not having absolute power are corrupted, but not yet absolutely.
Once you recognize that as a fundamental fact in our fallen world, conspiracy is not a theory, it is the most routinely observable human behavior of all. Conspiracy is a fact of life for everyone. Everyone is scheming to get ahead. Conspiracy is nothing more than the survival instinct on steroids. Conspiracy is just normal individual human behavior with at least one accomplice. To posit that conspiracy is only a theory or a symptom of paranoid crackpots is to deny that there is greed or evil in the world.
Since we are on the topic of pharmaceuticals relative to the most common of all human diseases, it seems appropriate to ask, “Is there an antidote?”
The answer is YES, but like many antidotes, it’s tough medicine. Attempting to kick habits that are not only natural to the human condition, but encouraged by drug pushers masquerading as executives, politicians and officers is infinitely more difficult than kicking heroine cold turkey. If you decide to make the attempt, you will need a good physician and a support group of loyal friends.
I have a recommendation: There is a good doctor named Jesus Christ who wrote the book and operates a worldwide chain of clinics. There are many alternative cures of varying efficacy developed by prophets, philosophers, gurus and shamans around the world. Some of them are also good. At the core, the good ones all practice the same golden rules. But, for my money, Dr. Christ, GD is the best.
There are also many local support groups. I’m partial to a network forming at the Village on Sewanee Creek of reforming addicts. As with all addicts, it’s a constant struggle to stay on the wagon, hence the need for a support group. As a former senior executive, I can testify from personal experience.
An article about the Village appeared on Huffington Post about a year ago. Yesterday, I happened to revisit it and found a number of appended comments. Most were surprisingly angry and critical. I was at once both amused and troubled. On this site, having formerly been an executive is apparently an unredeemable sin. I was also accused of having spread the disease of American fast food. Of both charges, I plead guilty. I trust in Christ for a redemption of my sins whether in or outside of that role, but I hardly believe the role itself to be damning. On the other hand, I was mildly amused at the self-righteous, hypocritical tone of those who castigate the food industry. I say, “who among you”, especially in the liberal New England home of Dunkin’ Donuts, “has never partaken of the forbidden fruit? Let him cast the first stone.” Not to mention pancakes, ice cream or pizza, for which I also stand double guilty as accused and to which I will probably remain addicted until my dieing day.
One comment suggested I was a Galt. “Who is John Galt?” is the iconic line from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. And so I echo the words of the apostles at the last supper, “Is it I, Lord?”
I think not. But then again, there are elements. . .
Galt calls for a strike against socialist collectivisim. He makes a stand for creative, productive people vs. the “entitled”, indolent masses. I call for cooperation and (quasi-socialist, that’s voluntary) sharing within a community of independent, self-sufficient, yet selfless, caring people.
Galt calls for enlightened selfishness with perhaps a subtext of entitlement to luxury and materialism. I call for people to live a simpler life, voluntarily sharing their wealth with others, including the wealth of nature and the wealth of their knowledge and intellect while enjoying the fruits of both mental and physical labor. Our town is not gated, however, as we seek to include the local folks within our circle of self-sufficient friends and benefit from their local know-how. Nor is it an exclusive enclave for the wealthy.
On the other hand, Galt does call for people of extraordinary talent, education, creativity and resourcefulness to band together to enhance their lives and so do I.
And Galt sets up a community for like-minded, creative people known as “Galt’s Gulch,” a town secluded in a Colorado mountain valley. Hmmm, the Village is built on the Cumberland Plateau, locally called “the Mountain” and Sewanee Creek runs through the Valley we own. Perhaps, in some respects, I’m galty as accused, and for these “sins” I hope to become a little more galty by association.
But first, let me explain why flying geese are so wise:
The Wisdom of Flying Geese
“In the Spring, when you see geese heading North for the Summer or South in the Fall, flying along in “V” formation, it’s interesting to know what scientists have discovered about why they fly that way. It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following.
By flying in “V ” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
Basic Truth #1– People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.
Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.
Basic Truth #2– If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are heading in the same direction as we are.
When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.
Basic Truth #3– It pays to take turns doing hard jobs, with people or with flying geese.
These geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
Basic Truth #4– We need to be careful what we say when we honk from behind.
Finally, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly or until he is dead, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation until they catch up with their group.
Unconventional among “10 best places to live lists”, it focuses on places to survive that are rural and the #1 criteria is CHEAP land.
While the Village doesn’t qualify as having the cheapest land in America, I happen to think that the higher cost at Sewanee Creek is offset by quality of life in a planned retreat where you surround yourself with instant community with like-minded people who are committed to helping each other learn to be self-sufficient.
There’s an old saying about being penny wise and pound foolish and getting what you pay for. Cheap land may not be the defining factor if you have spent your life behind a desk and lack the necessary skills to go it on your own. Even for folks that are die-hard outdoorsmen, going off-grid alone is a tough way to live.
Otherwise, I like their logic. Mountainous, remote, moderate weather, good local and natural resources. His #10 pick is just a few miles away from us and he cites the natural beauty of the area.
Permaculture Design Class 2010I’m excited to announce one of the presenters at this year’s preparedness fair at the Village on Sewanee Creek. Kevin Guenther is a renowned sustainable landscape architect from Nashville. He will be presenting on the Permaculture ethic, how it is both a community building mind-set “PERMAnent CULTURE” and a method of low impact, productive agriculture, “PERMAnent agriCULTURE”. I’m attaching a flyer for one of Kevin’s paid courses on the same topic. Permaculture Design Class 2010
Segueing from Kevin’s presentation, we plan to do a walkabout tour of some of the 500 acres in our Nature preserve to discover naturally occuring “permanent” food and med’s.
Finally, what to do with those natural treasures? We will prepare some of these into edible dishes, topical ointments, or other medical remedies. Practical, hands-on information you can take home and use.
Working towards creating what some would call an intentional community, I am often told by interested folks that they want to live with “like-minded” people. Since I learned early in life that words often don’t mean the same thing to different people, I have been interested to know what “like-minded” means.
Does it mean?:
We agree on everything?
Faced with similar situations we always come up with the same solution?
We have all the same beliefs on politics, religion and other controversial topics?
Our world view is identical as to the cause, effect and solutions for evil or social injustice?
We are focused on achieving all the same objectives?
Our methods for dealing with problems are the same?
If any of the above represents a proper definition of “like-minded”, I fear that finding any two like-minded people in this world may be a daunting task. Even within a group of devout believers of a narrow religious sect, reaching complete unity of thought is extremely difficult as illustrated by the failure rate of intentional communities when group or leader-imposed unity of thought and action is the single-minded goal.
So, while living with like-minded people sounds like a nice place to be, in practice it is difficult to define, let alone live.
Take “like-minded” in another direction and I also wondered if it might mean “group-think” in a negative sense. Is it healthy for everyone to think the same? Think lemmings. Think Jonestown, drinking the cool aid and mass suicide. In these cases, wouldn’t independent, rational thinking have been a better solution?
Does that mean we should abandon the notion “like-minded” altogether?
I think not.
What brings “like-minded” back down to earth from the ethereal heights of utopian ideal is its interpretation in terms of broad principles instead of detailed tactics. When people deeply share and are committed to good principles and values like honesty, sharing, love, service to others or unselfishness, their daily actions reflect their core thoughts and beliefs. They may define themselves politically as conservative or liberal, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or hold even more extreme or unpopular views. But if they choose to treat each other with deep respect, love, concern and they choose to serve one another with all their hearts, why should it matter that we hold different views on issues outside our immediate relationships? These differences are the things that bring spice to a conversation, enlightenment to a thinker, breadth and depth of thought. The unchallenged mind is a lazy mind. Let us, therefore, welcome diversity of thought, but strive for unity in purpose, values and principles that uplift and build us as individuals and as a community.
It’s official. Our first annual preparedness fair will be held at the Village on Sewanee Creek Commons, villager homes and gardens and our nature preserve on July 23-24, 2010. Call in advance to reserve a campsite or exhibitor space.
The Village on Sewanee Creek is a self-sustaining community on the beautiful Cumberland Plateau. As we build the community, we could use some help getting our organic community garden off the ground.
We are blessed with some wonderful amenities that make it a pleasure to grow food here. Like…. a 2,000 square foot high profile, heated green house, a catfish pond, the beginnings of a forest mushroom garden, fruit tree orchard, a wonderful amphitheater complete with a 22 foot wide outdoor movie theater and live performance stage. We raise chickens and rabbits. Miles of trails through our 500+ acre nature preserve complete with caves, waterfalls and rushing creek. We have an active online farmer’s market nearby in Sewanee at the University of the South.
We are experimenting with steel shipping container construction, off grid power generation (wood gasification and bio-diesel generators). There are lots of opportunities to learn sustainable living skills and possibly earn some land in the Village.
We will provide primitive shelter. You are welcome to all the produce you can grow to consume or sell under the Sewanee Creek brand. Go to my main website at www.sewaneecreek.com for photos and contact information or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Everything that is really great and INSPIRING is CREATED by the INDIVIDUAL who can LABOR in FREEDOM.”
In this quote, Einstein pulls together several of my most cherished themes (emphasis is mine). I feel most inspired when I can create something with my own mind and hands. It may not be ground breaking to someone else. But to me, it is beautiful. It makes my life happy. I feel inspired.
Yesterday was one such example. I worked all day beside my neighbor, Joe. We put up the frame for a dock on my brother’s pond. That simple installation was part of several other solutions. We now have an inexpensive valve system for a 4″ pipe that won’t freeze and break in the winter, a place to fish from in the summer and overflow control for the dam. I can look forward to extending that big pipe from the bottom of the dam to a micro-hydro generator. I think we finished it in time to let the pond re-fill before summer sets in and to stock it with lots of catfish. All together, it’s a very simple, yet elegant solution that took time and several iterations to figure out and implement, culminating in a sense of satisfaction.
We also restarted the wood furnace and routed hot water through an old car radiator with a fan behind it to heat a greenhouse cold frame tunnel within the bigger greenhouse. I was surprised by the amount of heat it puts out and how efficient the solution is. I went to bed last night feeling good. What a blessing it is to be able to work and create on my own land with my own hands. One of the reasons it is important for Villagers to own their land is that essential element of personal accountability. Without that, it becomes too easy in an intentional community to expect others to carry the load. One must give in order to receive. As the scripture says, “Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread … of the laborer.” Upon achieving a measure of self-sufficiency based on one’s own labors, it becomes even more fulfilling to help others.
Finally, Einstein speaks of freedom. How wonderful to be able to make my own choices and either enjoy or suffer the consequences of my own thoughts and actions. Out in the country, I feel so much more free than in a suburb where everyone is looking over my shoulder, judging every action or inaction, and the epitome of creative labor is how well and often my lawn is mowed.
Relationships: Positive, mutually supportive with capable, skilled people
Spiritual & Mental Health: The foundation for all positive action.
Physical Health: Sustainable, natural health care to supplement a healthy lifestyle.
Water: Reliable, secure source of pure water
Food: Natural food from a source you trust and control (yourself)
Shelter: An energy efficient dwelling
Energy: Redundant, reliable, private sources of storable energy.
Reserve: Store and rotate a backup supply of everything you use (water, food, medicine, tools, fuel, clothing & other consumables)
Trade: Prepare to trade for everything else (Cash, Non-Depreciating Assets, Barter-Valuable Supplies, Practical, marketable Skills)
Knowledge & Skills: True self-sufficiency comes from experience – knowing how to do it yourself.
Take a good look at this list. If this were a report card, what would your grade be on each of these important subjects? For the past 50 years, the developed world has lived in a pampered, complex, yet socially dysfunctional style that values:
Entertainment & Entitlement over productive Work
Self-Indulgence over Selfless Service
Pleasure over Moral Integrity
Intellectual Prowess over Practical Skills
Dependence on complex systems over Independent Self-Sufficiency
Conspicuous Consumption over Provident Preparation.
Is it any surprise that most people lack the skills, preparation, and resources to confidently face a troubled future? Is it any wonder that people feel helpless and out of control? Is there any way you can become confidently competent and provisioned for these ten essential items all by yourself? It’s a daunting task. But, with help, you CAN do it.
That’s why relationships are at the top of the list. That’s why we are building a community of self-sufficient people at the beautiful Village on Sewanee Creek. If your values are the inverse of the above list, If you want to become more confident, more self-sufficient, and more at peace with your neighbors and in harmony with nature, If you desire close, trusting relationships in a like-minded community, but aren’t ready for a religious or hippie commune, give us a call.
At the Village, we encourage intelligent, open interaction about things that matter in life. We encourage a diversity of opinions, seasoned with a good measure of humility as we seek to learn from one another. We have a private website called “friends of Sewanee Creek” where Villagers, prospective villagers and other like-minded people exchange information on many topics and build relationships. Here is a sampling of a recent exchange.
Not to jump on the food scare band wagon, but I coincidentally just ran across this article. It says studies are now linking Monsanto genetically modified corn to organ damage in rats (liver, kidney, heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells).
Naturally, Monsanto claims the studies are bogus. Given the pervasive use of GM seeds in the US, I suspect it will be a long time before conclusive evidence comes to light or anything major is done about it. I’m thinking how long did it take for tobacco usage to be effectively challenged?
Read the article in Food Safety News at http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/01/study-links-gm-corn-to-organ-damage/?CFID=1479691&CFTOKEN=49241182
Right now I’m feeling good that we drink 100% chemical free water from the sky and have a freezer full of home grown GMO free corn.
Added By: Grant Miller On Mon, 01/25/2010 04:49:23 am
Villager 1 – 01/25/2010 08:22:54 am
While I wouldn’t doubt that GM foods have their own problems, I also believe that humanity in general has chosen to go down food paths that are not appropriate to our body chemistry for millenia now.
In fact, all grains (corn, wheat, etc.) cause mild to severe inflammation in the bodies of ALL people. In other words, our bodies are not intended to consume grains in large quantities, let alone as dietary staples. In fact, there is a growing consensus that a grain based diet is the leading culprit behind heart disease and several common cancers.
This problem is magnified by various myths propagated within our culture. The idea that all fats are bad. The idea that body fat is caused by consuming animal fats. The idea that a vegetarian diet (which almost always includes grains) is healthier than a more primitive meat and *true* vegetable diet.
At the end of the day, once a society has sacrificed its allegiances to the alter of convenience and cheapness, its food supply is going to go to hell. GM foods are just one step along the path of a food supply that’s divorced from a natural and optimized state.
Grant Miller – 01/26/2010 11:03:22 am
Politics and Religion are the taboo subjects we are warned never to discuss openly. Ahhh, but then there’s food. Nothing strikes closer to the stomach or the taste buds. So, I thought I would have a little fun with this one. Here’s my best shot for now.
I think it would be fun to hear your ideas about food in the form of a fun limerick.
“We are what we eat” they all say
and make such political hay.
We debate about diet
till we wish they’d be quiet
and leave us quite out of the fray
Some choose to only have meat
While others claim life’s staff is wheat.
Empty carbs make me draggy
my spare tire gets saggy
but then, without bread where will I put my butter?!!!
Now meat, when taken to excess
puts my bowels in utter distress
A constipated grouch,
I lie on the couch
But good meat is simply the best!
No dairy? that’s out of my loop
Ice Cream’s my favorite food group
But milk makes me swollen
down deep in my colon
with gas, but I’ll have one more scoop!
Then come the social elite
when choosing a diet to eat,
say, “let them eat cake”
Oh!, goodness sake
Few things are as good as a sweet.
Others say fruits, nuts and sprouts
will make you most healthy, no doubt
But, Some get quite edgy
while touting their veggies
and leaving the meats fully out
And when it comes down to fat,
I’ll testify, “that’s where it’s at.”
For if you want flavors
that everyone savors
Nothing even comes close to that.
But, as for me and my house,
we mostly just try not to grouse
at the food placed before us
cause Dad always warned us
to clean up our plates or get out.
So, after it’s all said and done
There are few foods I’m likely to shun.
Without rhyme or reason
In any old season,
Moderation is rule number one.
Except for Ice Cream, Butter, fat of all kinds, fresh home baked bread, fresh strawberries or raspberries or peaches right out of the garden, a thick, juicy grilled steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, buttered yams with brown sugar and pecans, corn pudding, fresh steamed, buttered broccoli or pretty much anything that makes my mouth feel exquisitely happy and reveals no immediately discernable cataclysmic side effects.
Villager #2 – 01/26/2010 09:14:04 pm
..Love your poem, Grant. Right on!!
Friend #1 – 01/26/2010 10:13:03 pm
I am no expert, but I think we need to remember that almost all the food we eat today has been “genetically modified” in some way. Even non-hybrid seeds are the result of centuries of genetically crossing to emphasize desirable characteristics. One can argue that this is different than the modern GM process; but how much really?
And whether corn, wheat, rice, oats, rye, etc is best eaten fermented, I think there is much biased research out there to stake too much in it. You can find a study that supports just about any point of view.
Inuits can survive on mostly meat, fat, and fish. But, they have many many generations of adaptation. Not sure we could do the same. Does that really mean that grains are bad for us? Like so many foods today, perhaps grains are misunderstood. Perhaps it’s not the grain, but the refining that gives it less-desirable qualities. Breaking a grain apart, throwing away the germ, bran, or other components, destroys the complex interactive ‘wholeness.’
I’ve done research on raw milk. Milk has a bad reputation–many people are stricken with significant stomach ailments after consuming milk products. Raw milk is illegal to sell in most states. In some of those states, a person can arrange with a dairy farm to become a part owner of a cow (cow shares) and consume raw milk from ‘their’ cow. So what is wrong with raw milk? The US Government says it killed people and made many sick at the turn of the 20th Century. Further study, many years later, suggest that most if not all of these incidents were due to improperly stored raw milk. However, the ban on raw milk stands. So what is the big deal? Studies (yep, those darned studies) suggest that lactose intolerance and it’s accompaning stomach ailments in many people, comes from the pasteurization of milk; it kills the good bacteria that aid digestion;It breaks apart the whole, and destroys the interactive complexities. As with meat, if milk is not properly handled, it will make you sick, but most food is that way!
So perhaps the same type of issue exists with grains; breaking them down and refining them takes away the good compounds. Food is wonderfully complex. It’s probably why we can’t duplicate the health benefits of an apple, orange, or broccoli. There exist many supplements on the market, claiming to give the benefits, but they all seem to fall short; they can’t duplicate the complexity of the raw or whole food they derive from.
Grant Miller – 01/27/2010 06:47:15 am
I like your take on this, Clayton. One thing I know for sure is that I don’t know much. In my short life I couldn’t possibly count the number of fad diets, supposedly well-founded on studies, that were quickly superceded by an opposing view. That’s not to say that we should throw all the babies out with the bathwater. Rather, take a long-term, skeptical view. Live carefully, eating moderately, the foods you perceive to be natural, as the gifts from God that they are, and enjoying food to its fullest.
As we explore and test what works well for each of us, share it. I love xxxx‘s conviction about a diet that obviously works well for him and I am grateful to learn this perspective. I’m not quite ready to go there for my own reasons, some of which may be peculiar to my own body or belief systems. Yet, I am enriched to learn more of another perspective and encouraged to trust that more meat could be a healthy way to re-balance what I consume now. Thank you, xxxx, for having the courage to share your beliefs and experience with conviction, yet with the humility that accepts other’s experience and beliefs.
My father was the kind of artist who regularly built amazing things out of discarded trash. If he didn’t have the right tool he didn’t go to harbor freight to buy it, he just built it. He grew up on a farm, dreaming of becoming an aviator, building working scale model airplanes, whittling balanced propellers from sticks. During World War II, he became a mechanical flight engineer on bombers in South Africa and Italy. After the war, he built helicopters for the military as a civilian in San Diego.
He built both houses that my brother, sister and I grew up in. One of my fondest memories was when he took Spring Break off of work to help me build a dune buggy from an old ’49 Chrysler sedan. It wasn’t the best choice to start from, but one we had sitting in the back yard. Another treasured memory was building a canoe from scratch that we took down the Colorado River together during another spring break. He was also a skilled oil painter, wood worker, mechanic, welder, electrician, stone mason, worm farmer, dabbler in solar energy, and the list goes on. You name it, he could do it. If he didn’t know how, he tinkered with it till he figured it out.
My parents never owed anyone a dime for either of the houses they built or the land they were built on. When my father passed away, my brother and I went to his workshop to divvy up the tools. We were shocked to find how little was there. His creative ingenuity was amazing. He was an artist in every sense of the word and my ideal model of a Mechanical Artist.
In my career I took a very different path from my father. I was white collar all the way, never developing the skills he spent a lifetime refining. Yet I continuously longed to express myself artistically as he did. I have a dream that some day the Village will be filled with people who have the same desires. These will be men and women with varied experience and talents. None of them will be afraid to get their hands dirty. All will be driven with a desire to create and share wonderful things that make our lives easier, more beautiful, more fun and more practically sustainable.
Please share your ideas on things we can build – together.