Delicious… Our arrival to Full Bloom

New Community Resident’s Journal—Week 1                                                                   by Elena Zubulake

It’s hard to believe we’ve only been here less than a week… a week tomorrow to be exact. So much has happened, from our late-night-exhausted-after-21-hours-of-driving-with-two-kitties arrival, to today— my first day on a computer since arriving on the first day of Aquarius in our new mountain community home.

To put it quite honestly, “arriving” at Full Bloom Community, has been pretty much everything I could have wanted it to be and more, and the ancient part of my being so stomach-churning-hungry for village is already feeling deeply fed by being here only 6 short winter days.

I do realize in saying that the risk of “speaking too soon” or the natural tendency of NRE–new relationship energy–to predominate the field at the beginning of any new intimacy or love based relationship, be it a partner, a new job, or in this case, a new village. But I will take the risk, knowing that mountains crumble and ice melts, and even go out on a limb to say, “yes, indeed, I am falling in love”. After all, we are here to at least give falling in love with a village of human and non-human companions a good ol’ try-on-for-size.

“Being Fed” could be the most beautifully fitting metaphor for our time here thus far. Sitting here now, eating Victor’s left over birthday cake, inspired by the orange cake his grandmother used to make him when he was a kid. A cake created by my own hands and the enthusiastic hands of two tow headed girls and a boy in a kitchen full of the busy-ness of midday, a lunch of greens from the green house, bread from the bakery, an egg salad with lovage from the garden and eggs from the chickens out in the pasture. People winding in and out from brush burning up the hillside. All whilst, trying to keep the “secret” of the cake making from Victor’s sight.

I have been fed abundantly every day since arriving by food created in a kitchen full of story— the story of a community coming together, the daily comings and goings, the meetings and the partings, the baking of many loaves of bread, the kids getting taller, a place where visions have been made, where arguments have brewed, and ultimately where an older-kind-of-family-every-day-loving has found a little root from which to sprout. The abundance of a community begins right here.

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How do I know all this? Because the food and connection here feel delicious. The succulent lamb from up the road, the perfectly cooked salmon that Jacob caught this summer, the roasted potatoes with a little of this very earth still in their essence, the sweet chard from the green house….

….the perfectly cooked heart share circle that left my belly full and round, the delectable laughter seasoning our first breakfast here after awakening and finding our way to the kitchen, the spicy-ness of the impromptu “fashion show”, the bitterness of an interaction with a visitor followed by the sweetness of a curious inquiry into what happened, and the ongoing crossing of paths that just makes daily life more interesting, diverse, and delightful. And sacred.

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You pull together some quality ingredients, just a few, and a delicious stew of possibility is created. I feel that and look forward to more as Victor and I live into our own deliciousness and see how it can add a new flavor to this already well cooked stew.

I just heard Ryan call out from downstairs that they are making lamb meatballs for dinner. Yum!!!

Climbing the curve of Permaculture

I have several interesting and sometimes tiresome dialogues going on in my head about growing food. As I’m weeding bed after bed of vegetables sometimes in the hot sun questions roll through my mind like: “Is this really having any significant impact on the state of the world?”,  “Should I just leave organic vegetable growing to those that are actually really good at it?”, or “Is any form of annual based agriculture a net contribution to the eco-system with all its tilling, inputs, and deer fencing?”  Those questions can certainly take the wind out of my sail particularly on a hot day and when my back starts to ache bedding over the onion bed.  Yet I do want to attempt to answer those questions, I want to feel even more connected to the why of vegetable growing.  So I thought I would share my musings and my struggles with you so as to not feel as alone in the matter because I know I’m not alone.

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My dear friend and land mate Rosie helping me hoe the potato bed.

The questions I have pinballing around in my mind around seem to have their root in a deep intention of mine to do no harm and to be have a positive impact on my environment. That’s my intention and then there’s reality.  As mentioned above there’s several practices that are less than ideal in terms of truly doing no harm whether that harm is in the form of disturbing elk migration patterns or disturbing soil ecology through big tractors till blending up the earth.  People seem to have a lot of hope around organic agriculture and I do as well and yet I feel move to point out that there’s quite a ways to go on the learning curve (especially for me personally) to get the point that human food growing actually has a net positive impact on the ecology.  The hope for me lies in all the various incredible people I know or read about that are plugging away and steadily moving along that curve on differing fronts.  And with the world as it is the opportunities for cross fertilization and collaboration are immense.

I’ve been really feeling these days how much we need each other if to do the learning and work it takes to move beyond a high impact agriculture into a permaculture.  Growing our own vegetables is a start, planting a food forest hedgrerow is one too but its just a start.  I am grateful to be supported in the ways that I am on this challenging journey towards living in harmony with the land.

So maybe I should relish the fact that there’s still so much journeying to experience, eat some strawberries and just keep learning.

Thanks for reading,

Ryan

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My wife Eden (7 months pregnant) helping weed the community garden

The Community is Rallying around GMO legislation

All across our small Southern Oregon county ballots are arriving in mailboxes which hold  a proposed measure to ban the growing of GMO Crops within the county.   There has been a massive effort by a local group called Our Family Farms Coalition (http://www.ourfamilyfarmscoalition.org/) to educate voters regarding the importance protect the 100’s of farms in Jackson County that grow non-GMO seed from being cross pollinated with GMO seed, thereby making it unsellable and comprising their livihoods.   Its turned into quite a battle with the opposition now pouring over one million dollars into the campaign (much of which has come from chemical corporations such as Du Pont and Syngenta/Monsanto).

Today friends from our local farming community and the greater community of farmers in the Rogue Valley converged on downtown Medford with 17 tractors and dozens of impassioned supporters.  In the spirit of rural mutuality I drove our big Ford truck to pick up my friend Ben’s tractor, which we loaded onto our mutual friend Roarke’s trailer.

The brigade of tractors cruisin down the boulevard in downtown Medford being met with cheers and honks.

The brigade of tractors cruisin down the boulevard in downtown Medford being met with cheers and honks.

I love how creative and wholeheartedly dedicated to ecological justice our broader community is.  The corporations may have bottomless pockets of cash but they don’t got the grassroots like we do!

Till next time,

Ryan

Easter at Full Bloom

My wife Eden loves Easter.  I’ve never been a huge fan.  It conjures up to mind pastel colors, bad candy, and disturbing Easter bunnies trying to ride on the coat tails of Santa but failing miserably.   Coupled with a lot of commercialization and a general lack of “spiritedness”  or reverence for the sacred.   After sweet little Easter egg hunt on Sunday things are shifting around a bit in my world.  First off the egg dying was a great excuse to get together and make some fun art together.  We used these natural dyes that our friend Leah makes (check her out at http://bit.ly/1mvuq7T ) and made all sorts of truly gorgeous eggs. Disentangling all my less than favorable notions of Easter I found myself engaged in a process of turning this blank, yet profoundly shaped object, a chicken egg, into a piece of art.

Easter Morning after we had another epic waffle and whip cream community brunch, Eden and I went into the community garden and started to delicately and somewhat mischievously place these egg shaped art pieces in the shade of rocks, on top of sprinkler heads and in the coil of the garden hose.   Then the kids were unleashed and that was the biggest joy: to see them totally transfixed, carrying their baskets and joyously grabbing eggs from here and there.  In that moment I realized how simple and a profound of a ceremony we had created.  I didn’t think of it as such initially, but that’s truly what it is.  Its a sequence of events, of movements that bring the community of humans in closer contact with the mystery and the beauty of this life.   The realization also hit me that ceremonies can be fun and a chance to bring more art and a magic into our lives.

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Our community member Sky with her basket of eggs

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Kids from the neighborhood on the hunt in the community garden

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Easter is very important to me, it’s a second chance.

The Stories We Hold Inside

Human beings are wired to tell stories.  Whether we admit it or not we are constantly telling stories about others, ourselves and every situation we enter into.  “Nobody is doing as much work as I am”, “I’m not doing enough”, “They don’t like me”, “This room was poorly decorated” and on and on.  The funny thing is we often believe these stories, we buy into them lock, stock and barrel which affects how we relate to another, to a group, to “the world” as we perceive it.  We’re often quite unaware of the story we have operating at any given moment, but it sure has a profound impact on the quality of our relationships and interactions with others and “the world”.

I’ve come to believe that for a community (or family, or marriage, or friendship for that matter) to thrive we need to become aware of those stories and to bring them out of the shadows and to check them out in the sometimes harsh and exposing light of day.  There’s no denying, it can be a truly vulnerable act to share your internal world in that way, but it can also be incredibly liberating and it can create a much greater sense of connection and ease in the relationship after the initial wave of shame or awkwardness.  Sharing in this way can deeply feed, empower, and clear a relationship in unforeseen ways, making space for deeper and more authentic connection free of the static of assumptions and “story”.

At Full Bloom we have a commitment to “Clear Communication” in our Resident Agreements that everyone who lives here signs.  Its a commitment to speak directly to a person if their behavior has upset you and you feel estranged or “charged” as a result.  And if you need help to address the person you are requested to seek support from a neutral third party to facilitate the interaction.   Sometimes there isn’t much of a “charge” so to speak but there are those stories that are subtly at work in the relationship and that’s where I’m thinking we could use more work on here at Full Bloom.  We already have a structure for working with such dynamics (we meet twice a month in a “Matrix Circle” where in there is an opportunity to directly express to another community member anything that is present in your relationship within the presence of whole group witnessing).

I’m realizing how much I and, I believe many of us, skirt around direct expression of our stories about each other because we don’t want to “hurt” each other.  Yet it turns out it can be more hurtful to continue to carry an unchecked out story than to come clean.   In the end there’s no way around discomfort if you want to create and maintain a truly thriving, authentic, and intimate relationship with another.  And I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty much on the top of my list of wants for this lifetime.

Thanks for reading and I invite your feedback.

Ryan

Women’s Natural Building Workshop on the Horizon

If you’ve read many of my posts you’ve gathered that there is a strong emphasis here at Full Bloom on the importance of building structures in a way the reflects the deeper values of the emerging ecologically based culture.  These values include: using locally and sustainably sourced materials, staying connected to the rhthyms and patterns of the natural world, and creating a sense of belonging to a place and/or bio-region to name just a few.

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The inside of me and my wife Eden’s Strawbale home.

There’s another value that’s becoming a significant and perhaps understated value in the emergent natural building culture: gender equality.

For quite some time now the art and trade of building has been dominated my the male half or our species and we’re excited about being able to shift that imbalance and see what happens.   How would our structures look and feel like if more of them were designed and built by women?  For centuries we’ve missed out on the God’s knows how many cool ideas by not having women be an integral part of the our building culture.   All I know is that diversity is a good thing for any system/culture wanting to thrive.

So in the spirit of supporting more diversity and continuing to evolve this art form called “natural building”  Full Bloom will be hosting a 10 day women’s natural building workshop given by our friend, neighbor, and master builder Lydia Doleman.  The women will be building a load bearing strawbale structure that will most likely be used as a massage room and healing space.

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Lydia plastering one of the “cob” structures here at Full Bloom

Its all very gratifying to be a part of the unfolding of a building culture that actually reflects my deepest values of equality and natural beauty.  If you want to learn from about the workshop you can visit Lydia’s site: www.theflyinghammer.com.

“We must raise both the ceiling and the floor.”
― Sheryl SandbergLean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

 

Gardening as a Spiritual Practice

Every spring I can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt, preparing the garden beds for another season of growth: the rich array of colorful flowers, the crisp sugar snap peas, the deep greens of kale and chard.  I can see them all now in my minds eye even though the garden is mostly bare except for the few perenial herbs and flowers.   Now in my 7th year of heading up the community garden I see how every year is so unique and yet holds so many constants.

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The Full Bloom Community Greenhouse

The garden reflects my own growth; this year I am particularly noticing a greater sense of thoroughness and patience.  For instance I’m really making sure that every little plant start in the greenhouse has just the right amount of water and I’m looking closely at their growth every day, noticing any sign to insect damage or nutrient deficiency.  The thing about gardening is that you’re working with living breathing life forms and ultimately its way beyond your control.  Ultimately its a relationship, a relationship that deepens over time endlessly.  I will always be learning more about the plants, the soil, the elements that compose this magical nexus of relationship called “garden”.

When I first began gardening and farming here I was mostly focused on how to grow food for the sake of offsetting my environmental impact and supporting the sustainable/ecological agriculture movement.  Recently I’ve sunken into a richer experience of being in the garden that includes more intangibilities like developing a greater sense of curiosity, feeling a deeper sense of place, and stepping for fully into the unfathomable diversity and beauty of life.   Gardening has become one of my strongest spiritual practices for it offers an opportunity to discover the truth of my connection to life, to dispel a sense of separation and for my egoic tendencies of control and manipulation to be reflected and exposed as not serving me or the garden.   To me “spiritual practice” is the art of becoming more fully present to life and a garden is just one big invitation to do just that.   Thanks for reading and please share your own reflections and thoughts on the matter.   Till next time…….Ryan

 

Taking Care of Transitions in Community

As it goes people come in and out of living in community here at Full Bloom.  This morning monthly “Heart Circle” was devoted to expressing our gratitude to 3 departing members of the Full Bloom community Miceala, Caleb, and their son Atreya.   Well before we got into the sappy stuff we had an amazing potluck breakfast of waffles, whip cream, fresh fruit, bacon and sausages.  Oh and if that wasn’t enough we had some fresh baked croissants from our bakery Rise Up!.

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There’s Micaela serving herself up some goodies.

We’re evolving a send off ceremony here where we give each community member an opportunity to share gratitude for the ways in which the departing friend has impacted their lives.  Its a means of honoring the relationship and emboldening that friend as they make their next step.  They can see themselves as somebody who positively impacts others and they can carry that way of being into the next community they go to live in.

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There’s half of the heart circle including some recent additions: Arlo and his owner Kurri.

Its natural human desire to honor life transitions with some sort of ritual or ceremony, that’s what birthdays, and graduations are all about: bringing one chapter to a close so a next one can begin in earnest.  I’m glad we found the time in our busy lives to honor this transition, to honor the relationships that make our community a community.

“One’s friends are that part of the human race with which one can be human.” ~George Santayana

 

Permaculture: the Love Story of the Land: Part 1

When we came to this land, bright eyed and tender handed, we came with a dream of farming, of raising our food and our families in a sustainable way, and we saw permaculture as part of that way. Unlike the buzzword ‘sustainability’ that has been co-opted by corporate media, permaculture offers a very clear set of principles to follow, including a code of ethics.  Why does this practice appeal to me and my friends, and to an emergent culture of these last few generations? What permaculture offers is a blueprint for how to relate not only to land, but to each other.

Permaculture encourages us to observe, explore, and interact with our natural environment- a practice that has been undervalued as more and more of our society had to leave the farm and take industrial jobs in the city. Observation, observation, observation you will often see in permaculture texts.  You must know the territory before expecting to know how to work with it.  And when you do interact, you receive valuable feedback, which helps you understand even more deeply.  Working with, rather than making something work for you; creating relationships that lead to greater health within the entire system, rather than just extracting or taking what you need and leaving the system to repair itself (or not) is a fundamental shift from the way industrial systems operate.

These very same principles are what we long for in our human relationships.  Just as we have rejected the archaic idea that children are just blank slates to be filled with our knowledge and ideas, it becomes unethical to just ‘do what ever you want’ to the land.  Our land has a deep history, stories to tell of the animals, humans, water, fire, and geology that has shaped it.

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That’s me, Eden, observing and interacting with our land here at Full Bloom

We long for true intimacy with our land and with each other.  We want to know another for who they are, not just our idea of who we think they are.  We are done with the fairy tale ideas of boy-meets-girl and happily-ever-after for we see they are bound to fail; they work only as longs as everyone involved does what they are supposed to, and we all know how well that turns out with humans.  True relationship that allows all humans involved to flourish, that leads to mutual benefits, is based on non-coercive interactions and deep honoring of what is true and present for each individual.  …part 2 to come…

“It is our collective responsibility to protect and nurture the global family, to support its weaker members and to preserve and tend to the environment in which we all live”
The Dalai Lama

Yoga at Full Bloom

Embodiment practices are a key piece of the Vision here at Full Bloom.  In order take good care of each other, the land and to thrive we need to take good care of our bodies.  I know few practices that are better at creating a noble and calmly energized sense of being in one’s body than Yoga.

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Full Bloom Yogis workin’ da Prana!

Personally yoga has been invaluable in my journey towards freeing myself from chronic pain and depression.  To me a big part of Yoga is to simply join with others in the vulnerable process of breathing into all those places in the body that are contracted, blocked and to bring compassionate presence to them, helping them release so that we can feel more whole, more full of life energy.   Its not always easy, that’s why its a blessing to do it with others.

I feel very grateful that our former land-mate Cassidy Geppert has offered to teach weekly classes in the Farm house on the land.   We clear the floor every Friday AM and practice together and it is and extremely nourishing way to begin the morning.  At some point in the near future we will have a somatic arts space for such classes, but until them we are using the space we have to explore and cultivate our sense of embodiment together.

 

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Cassidy after our Friday morning class in the farm house

“Yoga is not a religion. It is a science, science of well-being, science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind and soul.”
― Amit RayYoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Life Style