Grow

It starts with a seed

Grow—Water—Grow—Water—Grow—Harvest—Repeat

The cycle does not work without water

The seed does not grow without care

The hot, dry air deters both caretaker and seed

They must OVERCOME

Because what remains if they don’t?

Brown, crumbly leaves

Nothing to harvest today

You dropped the ball

WE dropped the ball

BUT WAIT

There’s a live on

From the ruins comes life

In the form of a single, ripe tomato

Save seed, resow

Grow—Water—Grow—Water—Grow—Harvest—Repeat

This time we BEAT THE HEAT

This time WE CARE

We smile as the fruits of our labor ripen

Cucumbers, zucchini, tomatillos, broccoli, beets, kale, cantaloupe, cherries—mmmmmm CHERRIES, watermelon, butternut squash…

And not just one, but a BUSHEL of ripe tomatoes

Tonight, we feast

We toast our resiliency

We do so without ego

For tomorrow the cycle starts again

Grow—Water—Grow—Water—Grow—Harvest—Repeat

This time the movement takes shape

As our seed collection grows, so too does our community

We sow our newly acquired seed of knowledge in the mind of a friend; a neighbor; a willing, complete stranger

And we care as collective consciousness

GROWS

It grows until another comes to harvest

And we CARE

And we SOW

And we GROW

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Let Love Shine

We have reached that time of year again; a New Year—a fresh start. Every January, millions, maybe billions, of people around the globe make New Year resolutions. They see it as a chance to quit smoking, shed a few unwanted pounds or set new career goals. By February, however, at least half of them have picked their habits back up, stopped going to the gym, or convinced themselves that they have reached their current attainable apex of their chosen career path. It’s time to change the way we see the opportunities granted us by the New Year.

Instead of placing so much emphasis on what we can accomplish on a surface level this New Year; let us, instead, focus our energy on how to make this world a more “livable” place. I’m not saying I want everyone to go out and save the Redwood forests in 2014 (although, that would be lovely). Rather, take a minute, an hour, or a day to think about what it is you need to live a more fulfilling life. We are conditioned, in developed nations around the world, to think that our jobs and how much money we make are a measure of how successful our lives are. However, even the scientific world, in which we invest so much of our trust, disagrees. Studies show that once basic needs (food, water, shelter) are met, our happiness levels decrease with increased incomes and more responsibility at work. And as our happiness deteriorates, so too does our health. The mind-body relationship is much stronger than many realize. From this, I am only able to draw the conclusion that modern society and the values which it inculcates, are killing us!

So what is the answer that will allow us to lead a more satisfying existence? Well, I cannot answer that for you; only YOU know what it is that YOU need. And only YOU can build up the courage to pursue it. For me, it comes down to community. The relationships which we cultivate on a daily basis are often devalued. Without community, we as a species may cease to exist. It is our intellect and our ability to relate and connect with one another that allows us to accomplish such wondrous feats as we have throughout human history.

For me, 2013 was a year of intentional discovery. I began by chasing knowledge and expression across the country, and found that they were most easily found within community. So I found a group of interesting people, and learned from them. I grew, with their help, into a more complete person; and, over time, I grew to love each and every one of them.

This particular New Year presents an interesting and rare opportunity. As the year begins with a New “Supermoon”, we are presented with a chance to begin anew. Reinvent ourselves in the image of our own creation, and not in that of a society which hell-bent on robbing us of our individualism and creativity. We must surround ourselves with a community of individuals with a mindset similar to our own. For, without community and love, how will we ever accomplish anything?

I wish love and good tidings to all in 2014!

Welcome to the Thunderdome!

“Row, row, row your boat

Gently down the stream

Merrily, merrily, merrily

Life is but a DRAGON!

It’s really true though”

-Colette

Life at Dharmalaya has shifted gears recently. As new people arrive and integrate, I find that this fluid, intentional community has a life of its own. The hardest part for me to understand is why it feels so natural. Why do these people, who I just met, hold such a special place in my heart? Relationship building seems to occur at an incredibly accelerated rate here and, as a result, I am noticing certain personal attributes which hinder my ability to connect. In noticing these tendencies, I have found my ability to alter these tendencies and allow for development in an environment free of judgment—or at least free of care about judgment.

When Jensen arrived two weeks ago, I started to see the energy around Dharmalaya start to change. It was a little unsettling for me as I was finally starting to feel comfortable in my space here. I felt as if it would take me forever to accept the idea of so many people sharing this space I have come to call “home”. However, here I am, two weeks later and eight land-mates heavier and I couldn’t be happier about it. An incredible group of people have assembled here in northern Eugene, and I can already tell that great things are in store for us.

The first week has just finished and already participants and staff alike are experiencing profound changes through both spiritual practice and the penetrating energy exhibited by the individuals gathered here. I believe our intense Tuesday night journeying experience with Karuna was just the tip of the iceberg in regards to what kind of energy this amazing group is capable of generating.

With the orientation week finished, it is going to be interesting to see how the group dynamic adapts to a new environment. The transformations have already begun!

An Experiment in Community

When I arrived at Dharmalaya here in BEAUTIFUL Eugene, OR, I had no idea what would be in store for me. I arrived; expecting it to be similar to my only previous WWOOFing experience, but what I found was that Dharmalaya is unlike anywhere I have been in nearly seven years of traveling the United States.

I was introduced to the idea of starting a Community Supported WWOOFing (CSW) program almost immediately after arriving. It didn’t take long to gain enough support from the community to officially kick off the program. The idea was that Ravi, Madhu and Asha would be our gracious hosts while the surrounding community would provide either direct food donations or monetary donations to be used for food and incidentals in exchange for work on their property. The WWOOFers would then be free to manage their own food supply and live in a small community within a community.

We commenced the CSW experiment with three exceptionally motivated individuals which provided the energy needed to jumpstart the program. In the first few weeks we found ourselves working with five different permaculture properties located within a mile of one another in the River Road neighborhood of northern Eugene, OR. It seemed that, through our variety of projects, everyone was having an opportunity to not only exhibit their strengths, but to pursue their own specific interests as well.

However, as WWOOFers come, WWOOFers go. I find myself watching this program develop and succeed as not only a means to help support a very intelligent, progressive community, but as an experiment in a sort of fluid intentional community where house/land mates are often changing. In, just six weeks I have found myself working and living alongside six other WWOOFers and countless members of the community on eight properties. Projects have included design, construction, gardening, irrigation, composting, nursing plants, and various others. The people in the community here are open to allowing you added responsibility if you show an aptitude for handling it.

As if that isn’t enough, I have also fallen into a period of deep spiritual development. Since I was a child I haven’t resonated with any form of spirituality. It was interesting to find myself drawn to meditation and yoga upon my arrival to Dharmalaya. I never felt forced or any sort of dogma being pushed upon me. Sunday group meditation was my first experience with the spiritual aspect of Dharmalaya. I was unsure what to expect, but what I found is that the whole gathering is devoted to making everyone feel happier through time tested techniques; from the opening singing to the toe tapping dance, the silent mediation and group discussion. And trust me—it works. Since then I have been developing my practice slowly, taking meditation lessons, and reading about the fundamentals of meditation. I find my ideals shifting slightly to make way for a more conscientious form of myself.

I expected Dharmalaya and Eugene to be just another temporary stop on my journey of self-discovery, although with all the incredible knowledge, people and experiences I can see materializing, I’m not sure when, if ever, I will leave.