Gifts

During the spring, Margy was talking about wanting to plant sunflowers this year. But as it happened, she was busy with too many other garden projects to actually do it.  So imagine our delight when the garden planted its own sunflowers! They came up under the bird feeder, now sitting empty for the summer, but where sunflower seeds were the food we offered to the birds (and squirrels) all winter.

Gift sunflowers

Lately, the garden plants have felt mostly like children who need our care and attention. With the dry hot weather, they’ve needed a lot of watering. Yesterday, I did another foliar spray for the fruit trees, to help them ward off Japanese beetles, which I also have been picking off every day and dropping in soapy water. And there have also been lovely raspberries to harvest each day, and snap peas (almost gone now) and kale and basil to gather and preserve.

So this gift of flowers emerging without any effort on our part–perhaps the land is reminding us that she loves us as we love her?

It has been one year since my retirement began. One of its themes has been to find connection with this small portion of the Mother Earth, this land we are so lucky to call our home. As non-Indigenous people, we are trying to heal a long wounded history of our people’s disconnection from land.  Our ancestors left their home places generations ago.  If our society had an understanding of earth connection, it could not destroy earth life as it destroys, with such thoughtlessness–pollution, clearcutting of forests, poisoning of soil with pesticides, trash dumping, mining, fracking… the long list of ecological destructions that are endangering us all.

So in our small corner of the world, we are trying to reweave those threads of interconnection, reawaken the truth–long dormant in our bodies–that we are not separate from the earth–we are the earth.  As we tend the land, as we care for the plants, as we pay attention each day, we hope that a shifting occurs–that we move from domination patterns to partnership patterns in our relationship to Earth. We know how small we are–yet hope that if we can shift our own patterns, it might in some way ripple out to the larger patterns. Because we are interconnected. Because that is the magic.

The gift sunflowers remind me that the land herself is eager to be in partnership with her human children. She loves us and wants wholeness for all.

sunflower with bees

Every sunflower has its bees.

 

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Paint

Painted shelves

Photo and Paint by Margy Dowzer–her caption: “paint drying, painter tired”

Margy took this photo–can you see her in the window?  She painted the inside of the shelves.  Even with zero VOC paint, I have trouble with the fumes, but she does a little better, so she’s been tackling the insides of closets and cupboards as we try to finish getting the house ready for our move in one week. The day after this photo, she was utterly exhausted and had to crash for the day.  But we each are doing what we can to move this process forward.  I love our partnership!

Resilience Circles

There are many people who are already hard at work building connections based on partnership and sustainability. In the fall of 2010 I had the opportunity to participate in a facilitator training for “Resilience Circles.” Resilience Circles are groups of ten to twenty people who gather together in regular meetings to support each other through economic and ecological changes.

Resilience Circle Training/ Licensed by Creative Commons

Resilience Circle Training/ Licensed by Creative Commons

Our trainer Chuck Collins wrote:

The dominant messages in the U.S. economy are “you are on your own” and “some people are going to be left behind.” Countering this isn’t easy. For many, talking about their economic anxiety and asking for help is difficult and shaming. But to survive the coming period of uncertainty, we must regain use of our mutual-aid muscles, many of which have atrophied from lack of use.

The three main functions of Resilience Circles are to increase our understanding of the larger economic forces on our lives, to open up opportunities for mutual aid and support for local economic challenges, and finally, to engage in social action to create changes that can bring about a more secure and sustainable future.

We explored questions like: Why is the economy in distress? What is our vision for a healthy, sustainable economy? What are the sources of real security in our lives? What can we do together to increase our economic security at the local level? How can we help our neighbors facing foreclosure or economic insecurity? What public policies would make our communities more secure?

Social scientists say that the stronger our social networks, the more resilient we will be in a crisis. When I was working in direct support of homeless people, I noticed how often someone became homeless because of isolation—they did not have a strong social support system, and so a crisis became a catastrophe.

There are many ways that working together can enhance our economic well-being. The Resilience Circles begin with small mutual aid projects. For example, one idea was a weatherization round robin—a team of five people agree to help each other get ready for the winter. Each host buys materials such as caulk and plastic sheeting, and then the group spends a few weekends getting all their homes ready. Another idea was a babysitting coop, where parents take turns watching each other’s children, keeping track with tokens for hours of childcare. Tool sharing, job swapping, meal exchanges, bartering—the resources we have among us are many, and the options are only limited by our collective creativity.

The underlying principle of Resilience Circles is that our greatest source of security and wealth is in our connection to each other, and our shared stewardship of the earth.