Uri and Ursula Tarot

“Do you have a tarot deck you prefer?” Ursula asked Uri as they settled next to each other on the purple futon in the back room at Bear Essentials. A red Japanese lantern light hung overhead and a Christmas cactus was getting ready to bloom on a little table next to them. A silk banner of the chakras and a poster of Bob Marley graced the two walls without windows. A massage table was folded in its traveling case in the corner.

“I don’t really know much about the Tarot,” admitted the young fey man who had come to connect with Ursula after many promptings from his spirit guides and new human friends.

“Then go ahead and choose a deck, either by looking at them or…. as you are doing,” Ursula chuckled watching Uri let his hand hover over the several decks she had in her basket. He settled on a green bag embroidered with flowers and handed it to her. “The Herbal Tarot,” said Ursula. “Done by respected herbalists, Candis Canton and Michael Tierra, based on the traditional Ryder Waite deck.” It seemed like a fitting choice for this young healer shaman before her.

“It had a glow about it and made my fingers tingle. All good signs that it is the one we should play with today.”

“I think we won’t do a full spread, but rather pull them one by one as our conversation progresses,” said Ursula shuffling the cards. “Do you have a specific question or….?”

“I just wanted us to get to know each other another degree and to see if you had some advice, either through the cards or via your own wisdom and experience, about settling myself into the community.”

Ursula blew on the cards and handed them to Uri. “Shuffle these a bit yourself and then pull one.” She watched as Uri grounded deeply inside himself and the cards seemed to whirr into place with the ‘important’ one on top. He carefully turned it face up.

“Ah, the Magician, numero uno of the Majors, who traditionally has all the elements at hand. See, he has tools for water, earth, air and fire, available to be picked up. A cup, a sword, a wand and a disc or coin with a pentacle, which are also the suit names for this deck. He is connected downward where he’s pointing and upward to the sky. ‘As above, so below,’ as Hermes Trismegistus and the astrologers are fond of saying.”

“What is evidenced in the heavens and what comes through our guidance appears always in earthly form as well,” mused Uri thoughtfully. He noted but did not speak of the crystal ball in the Magician’s upward hand that matched the one he had been gifted just before moving here.

“This version of the Magician certainly looks like an angelic being so it fits your name, Uriel. I would assert that, like you, he has healing hands. Astragalus, the herb the authors chosen for the Magician, increases energy for digestion, both assimilation of actual food and of what you know. As you learn how to use all the tools, you will have new stuff to teach us. It is also helpful for manifestation so I assert this is saying that you will find whatever you need to move forward. I suggest you get some astragalus root for putting into soups. It’s good for the immune system too.”

“That card gives me shivers, said Uri.

“Me too. It’s a powerful card… as are you. Take another one.” She liked the way his hand didn’t hesitate but went straight to one in the middle of the pile. “The King of Pentacles reversed. You need to learn and practice your earthly skills. Medicines, perhaps? Hang out with Owen? This deck, by the way, is a good one for a right-brained approach to learning herbs.”

“I was just thinking I should probably buy it for myself.”

“I have one around here somewhere I can give you that was damaged in shipping and I have a feeling it wants to be yours. Anyway, this King is the master of earth plane stuff. Since the card came up at all, the energy is present but hidden, occluded in some way. I suspect you already know a lot of stuff and have used it some but it hasn’t manifested to its full extent. And to some degree, you don’t know what you know. Plus,” she laughed, “the alfalfa assigned to this card is also about manifestation. Be careful what you wish for. You have some powerful energies lining up for getting what you want.”

Uri nodded with a twinkle in his eye. “I want to pull several cards now. Not sure why.”

“No need to know why. I trust your intuition. I hope you do too.” This last as he looked wryly at her. “Ha! I was wondering about the other  elements. You’ve got two wands for fire and a water card. As the Magician it seemed like you should have all the elements.”

“I wonder if I made that happen. To achieve the balance that I could see was missing and to get clues about my personal Magician’s tools.”

“Of course you did, that’s why I have you pull the cards. It’s your power that’s at work here not mine. I just set the stage and help with the interpretation.”

“Just!” said Uri.

“So there’s your fire – the Four of Wands – fairies playing in the fennel. They kinda look like you. The affirmation for this one,” she said looking at the book, “is ‘I feel greater self-confidence by quietly recognizing my many gifts and accomplishments.’”

“Confidence again, huh?”

“Yup. This one isn’t about a specific tool but more of an assurance that you do have them all at your fingertips. Perhaps not at your command yet,” she smiled, “but you have only to notice and practice – playfully and in a group. So now look at the Two of Wands. Because the young man is holding the globe and looking out over the landscape, I usually I think of this card as someone heading off on a journey. In this case, I’m thinking that he’s looking to see if he’s found home. Of course, I have to be careful with this interpretation because I’m all about recruiting everyone worthy to stay here and play with us…. But if it resonates with you…”

“You know it does.”

“He is a bit of a dandy like you and a fairy too.”

They both laughed and then were silent a moment taking in the gestalt of the cards. Uri spoke next, “The Magician is holding what feels like a celestial orb and this one has the Earth. I wasn’t sure if I should tell you with the first, but now seeing two globes reminds me of the crystal ball I was recently given. Do you know anything about gazing into other times and places?”

Scrying is another word for that. And, no, I’ve never really had any luck with that, nor has anyone else in the Medicine Circles that I know of. Mostly we’ve tried with bowls of water or obsidian. Occasionally fire. So that is something you’ll get to teach us when you’ve had success with it. Uriel is the prophesizing angel after all.”

Uriel looked at her startled. “Hmmm. Stay tuned, I guess I haven’t had the nerve to play with it yet. One more tool.”

“I’m also getting another hit on this card,” said Ursula, “Again don’t take it on if it doesn’t resonate, but he looks like he’s from another time, and that he’s looking at the earth to see where to land….”

“Funny you should mention that. I often have a feeling of being from somewhere else.… the stars…. and some-when else. Maybe even the future? Come to help the Earth’s people…. ourselves… transition to something different…..”

“I see…. Not quite of this world and with huge energy, power and magical gifts hidden just beneath the surface. Like you’ve brought them with you and now is the time to discover them. I am honored to be helping you with that process.”

He took a deep breath and a tear ran down his cheek. “Thank you for hearing me. I can’t say that to very many people.”

“I suspect more of us than we have any idea have landed here on Earth and in this particular spot like you have. All of us even? Coming from the future would mean that we have already experienced the changes and it’s up to us to see that they happen. Think of all those science fiction books about going back in time and changing something. It’s going to be velly intelesting as our sense of bringing the future into the present come to light more and more.”

“But why, oh why can’t we remember? Why do we have to dig so deeply to uncover it all??”

“It’s completely frustrating, isn’t it? Perhaps at first to protect us from the muggles of the world we are born into – my generation certainly. And also because we have to build it – not just wave our magic wands (though they help) but to build it ‘inch by inch, row by row…’” She sang the last part. “All of us…. Together…”

They looked at each other and leaned over to hug, both in tears now.

“Okay,” Ursula said briskly, fishing the Kleenex box from under the little table. “We haven’t looked yet at the water card. Knight of Cups. Another interesting looking young man. As we’ve already discerned, you have many guises, Uriel. A magician indeed. Here you have wings on your hat and an exotic an old-fashioned drink…. A potion? I’m not clear about this card. The watery element for you is a mystery for me. Let’s look in the book for this one…. Ah, ‘the airy aspect of water.’ That fits. ‘A messenger of the Gods….’ Check. ‘In pursuit of a dream…’ Check. ‘He is on a tireless search for identity in relation to another…. Sarsaparilla symbolizes purification of emotions…. ‘ How’s your relationship to Michael? If I may be so bold as to ask.”

“Challenging,” responded Uri. “We’re on very different planes about all this stuff. I certainly can’t talk to him about coming from other worlds and times, but I keep hoping that something will shift once he’s settled into this demanding new job and gets to know you all from your woo woo perspective. I’m so glad he’s working with Charley so some is bound to rub off on him – it won’t just be weirdness coming from me…. The good thing is that we both feel very HOME. He, of course, cause he grew up here, but me too. I feel like I’ve found my tribe.”

“The Inca and many others in their prophecies talk about the fact that much of this age’s advances will be made in groups, that it cannot be done solo anymore. There may still be some hermits to help hold the space but mostly it’s now about communing and self-discovery with others. What’s more that it needs to be done as part of a lineage within a village. We have a rudimentary foundation for that both with folks like Owen’s and Michael’s families who have been here a long time, as well as the hints we’ve been getting about connecting with the Mountain and the native Old Ones. But mostly I’m thinking it’s about building the legacy for our descendants…..”

“Ursula, I am suddenly seeing you and I as Old Ones who have come to Earth other times. Not here, but to the Inca…. Stones. Huge stones. And those red woolen caps pulled down over forehead and ears….. Also as Pueblo Indians…. rattles and drums and mountains…. We know about this stuff…. We come here to create council fires…. So did others but I can’t see their faces. I hope Michael’s is among them…. I’m to help connect us to our missions here…..”

“Oh Uri, I’m so glad you’ve finally gotten here,” said Ursula. “Welcome home.”

“Me too.” They hugged again.

“I want to take a card from a different deck,” Uri said picking up the new Gaian Tarot from Joanna Powell Colbert. The figures in this deck were from real people, exquisitely painted. After a quick shuffle, Uri pulled the Seven of Air from the middle of the pack. “There’s the Air card I was missing. That’s me looking at the map, isn’t it? Trying to learn the territory. Michael has one map and it’s useful to me. You have one with other pertinent details for me, but I must still find my own way across the valley to the peak.”

“Yup, but how ‘bout this for starters. Would you like to use this room to begin your shamanic healing practice? It’s been the starting place for several of the healers in the area.”

“Really? Oh, Ursula. You read my mind. I was wondering how I was going to find a space. This would be effortless.”

“And would you like to meet with Raphael Turner, the MD up at the clinic who is interested in combining forces with alternative healers?”

“Would I?! That would be incredible. Kind of scary though.”

“Now don’t start that. There are others who want to get together with him as well. I think it’s time to follow up on that thread… One more card for all of us, for the Tribe…”

Uri pulled The Tree.

“Of course. Usually called the Hanged One, it’s about choosing to have ourselves hung upside down from the Tree of Life. Thus we are dangled into challenging situations in order to discover ourselves. Even with the forgetting and other struggles, we do our light work with diligence…on the good days….”

“Onward,” said Uri.

“Hey, that’s my line,” teased Ursula, “But you can use it as much as you want with my blessings….”

They bowed to each other with hands at their hearts in Namaste and began to talk logistics of Uri taking up a working residence at Bear Essentials.

Drumming 1

Ursula was curled up on the couch happily ensconced in the newest Diana Gabaldon time traveling novel, when Charley came into the living room at full speed. “Are we going to drumming tonight?”

“Shit. I forgot. What time is it now? I’ll need to make something for the potluck.”

“It’s almost 5. We’ve got some potatoes and rosemary. How ‘bout scalloped potatoes. I actually liked it when you made it with rice milk recently.”

“You know, that takes a while and we’ll be at the beach. Let’s just roast the potatoes in foil in the fire.”

“Good idea.”

 

“Looks like the weather is good enough for drumming outside tonight,” said Pia happily to Raven gathering things for the evening from their own cozy kitchen. “I’m glad we have Sitka House as a backup but I’m looking forward to one more beach night.”

“Have you been weather witching again, girl?”

“A little – I just put it out there as a low key request. Nothing urgent. Owen did too. There might not be a connection but it looks to be a good night. So yay.”

“It’s a delicate balance knowing when to ask and when to plead and when to let it go, isn’t it? I guess we’re all getting better at that sort of thing.”

“Anyway, I’ve marinated potatoes, mushrooms and zukes for shish-ka-bob. I think Carlos is bringing lamb for the carnivores. So we’ll need to take the grill for the fire. Did you put the drums and my flute in the car?”

“Yep, we’re all set. Are we taking anybody?”

“Arlo said he’d hitch over and carpool with us. I suggested he invite Jay and Fern from here. Oh and their little one. I think we can fit them all in.”

“Here they come now.”

 

“I kinda wanna to the Full Moon drumming tonight,” Uri said to Michael who was working as usual on his laptop. The desk in the house they’d just moved into was already cluttered with papers.

“Mmmm,” responded Michael noncommitally.

“I know it’s not your thing, but I’m shy about going by myself. You know all those people and can help me connect in.”

“You don’t need me.”

“Yes, no, maybe, but I want to spend the evening with you and I’m getting that I need to do this. I’m feeling some important stirrings in the air this night. I’ve got my special vegetable curry rice all ready to go.”

“You and your stirrings. Okay. You know I’m skeptical of all that, but I know the music means a lot to you. Let me get to a stopping place with this report. There probably are some people there I ought to be talking to.”

 

“Golly, Miss Molly, I’m tired,” thought Molly eying the cold wood stove as she took off her work boots in her living room. “Should I really be going out to drum tonight? Yes. It will be good for me to move my body differently. I can pick up some chips at the store. I certainly don’t have the energy to fix anything.”

 

Owen carried an armload of kindling and newspapers down to the beach access just north of the fork in the road beyond Sitka house. The sky was gray but the rain was holding off. His and Pia’s conspiracy seemed to have worked. They were getting better at knowing when and how to judiciously use their weather juju. This had seemed like an important night to gather outside.

There were some burned bits of driftwood in a circle of rocks and he was soon able to scrounge up more. The pickings were slim this time of year after the summer hoards and before the winter storms brought more in. He started to worry whether others would bring some to add, but reminded himself firmly that he could go get more at the house if need be.

He knelt and built a teepee of kindling stuffed with newspaper, and with a prayer for just the right mix of harmony and edgy dissonance in the evening, set the match to it. He had to do a little blowing but it was soon burning merrily. He loved the act of building the fire to call others in.

As he sat by the growing blaze, he noticed an eagle cruising up the beach towards him. He watched it happily, and then his heart soared as it circled low over his head before heading up towards the Mountain.

“Thanks, Eagle, for the gift of your presence. Good happenings tonight, eh? Thank you, Mountain, for your continued…ummm…. sourcing of our process.” He didn’t know quite what he meant by the latter, but certainly the Mountain’s presence was a constant in their lives that brought the Medicine Circles good energy as well as challenges. Full Moon Drumming wasn’t necessarily a Medicine Circle function, but there was a definite overlap of folks who liked this kind of anarchistic hippie thunder drum music with those who were the healers and seekers of his soul tribe. Certainly the bonds forged at these gatherings, usually held at a different people’s homes, helped the community as a whole, both spiritually and with their sustainability “agenda.”

He turned from his musing as some folks he didn’t recognize came up behind him. Newcomers were often a little early, not sure of the protocol.

“Hi, I’m Owen Logan.” He held out his hand.

“We met at Bear Essentials recently,” said the woman. “We’re Jasmine and Gideon Terranova and this is our son, Finch. We don’t have any drums, but Ursula said….”

“There will be plenty,” Owen assured her.

As if in confirmation, Pia and Raven appeared over the dunes carrying a big conga and its stand, followed by Arlo with his djembe. Jay and Fern staggered in with a cooler of their beer between them. Little Anise followed lugging a bag of percussion instruments. Gabe brought two doumbeks and Alex another conga.

Soon there was a goodly crowd of all ages, glowing in the golden light of the magic hour. A table had been improvised on a relatively flat-topped log a little ways from the fire circle. A couple of people were already digging into Cali’s cookies. Pia added her veggie shish kabob sticks on a grill along side the ones Carlos had already laid down. Underneath were Charley’s potatoes pre-wrapped in foil with rosemary and a dollop of butter.

Ursula stood behind them, holding baby Menolly and cooing to the bright-eyed little one who was cooing right back. Pia stood up to admire her. “Such a sweet little Dragon Girl, isn’t she?”

“Always a miracle that she’s here,” Ursula whispered, knowing that Pia understood how much her granddaughter meant to her. Children and dogs raced around them in the sand, a few middle school aged teens wandered down the beach picking up trash, while groups of adults clustered in conversation.

“Pia, I hear from Charley that you’re cooling on the idea of doing the workshop and Re-Treat business,” said Ursula after she’d handed the baby back to Cali to nurse.

“I’m not cooling on the idea, but I realized after talking to you guys the other night that I just don’t have the right energy to do it. My body gives off unhappy vibes whenever I think of making the phone calls to get things rolling.”

“An important sign you need to listen to.” Ursula turned conversationally to the newcomers who were standing at her elbow.

“We’ve been wishing a long time for someone to set up what we’ve been calling a Re-Treat and Re-Creation program to do speaker gigs and workshops here. A form of eco-tourism we could live with. Yoga weekends or visiting shamans and healers who could teach us new stuff, or whatever.”

“It doesn’t even have to be outsiders,” added Pia. “Plenty of folks here might be coaxed into doing a workshop if details like regional PR were handled for them. My partner Raven and I were talking about organizing this effort but now don’t think we’re going to.”

“Where would the workshops be given and where would people stay?” asked Gideon. “There certainly aren’t any big lodges or conference centers here.”

“We think it would work to use places like the community centers in each of the towns and various meeting rooms here and there. The Art Center often has space, for instance, and so do some of the spas. Actually, the vacation rental agencies have the conference room facilities scoped out, but they don’t have time to book groups or handle logistics. Obviously places for people to stay are scattered about – rental houses plus B & B’s. There are several restaurants like Arachne’s Web who do side catering work.“

“Sounds intriguing to do it in a decentralized way,” said Jasmine. “I used to do retreats for a conference center back east. Where would we start if we were to do something like this?”

“Wow,” said Pia. “Not to jump all over you, but you might be the answer to our prayers. I’d be happy to fill you in on what we’ve been thinking. It’s perfect for an economic development grant since it can be pitched as taking advantage of our existing visitor population yet keeps us from filling with T-shirt shops.”

“I love it when you talk ‘dirty’ like this, Pia,” said Molly. “I can just hear those well-oiled wheels in your brain turning.”

“Takes one to know one,” laughed Pia. “I haven’t been able to think of any reason why it wouldn’t be viable…. besides my own lack of energy for it. My wheels aren’t rusty but they’re ready for a different kind of track….”

“Or something like that,” laughed Ursula.

“The Healers Guild will collaborate,” offered Charley who had come over to add his two cents. “That always appeals to funders.”

“Wouldn’t you need non-profit status?” asked Gideon.

“Maybe,” said Charley. “We just happen to have the Cedar ReSource Center’s 501c3 to sponsor projects that are….”

“….moving our River and Mountain community towards sustainability.” Molly and Ursula chanted this last bit in unison with Charley. “Don’t we sound like a grant proposal already?”

“We’re both on the Board,” Molly explained to the Terranovas. “Charley is staff.”

“I’ve been wondering what that was about,” Jasmine said. “It all sounds intriguing.”

“The Center helps pull pieces together for new projects. Dreaming. Conjuring. Networking. Manifesting. Even providing technical help sometimes like bookkeeping and grant writing. That’s how the Portland State Locus program landed here,” said Charley.

“Wow, I wonder if I could do this project and write too,” said Jasmine. “But maybe they would kind of feed each other. It would be cool to have the Harner people come to town. I’d really like to learn from such folks….”

“I worked with them training for Soul Retrieval work,” said Owen.

“We figured it could start with all the teachers each of us has had over the years,” said Molly.

“In fact, you could probably get a Locus intern right off the bat,” said Charley.

“It could be musicians too,” mused Finch who had been listening intently to all this.

“The ‘shishes are ready,” called Raven squatting by the fire. One of the young mothers, a two year old clutching her pant leg, began helping the bigger kids roast hot dogs on skewers.

“Let’s have tea together next week and I can give you names and contacts on the local end.”

Ursula and Pia gave each other high fives as the others turned toward the food. “Yesss!”

“I knew they were live ones!

Sustainability Talk

“Welcome to your classroom at Neadatagi House,” said Charley, favorite red teacup in hand as the newly arrived Portland State University Locus students settled on comfy frayed couches and floor cushions. “I’m Director of Cedar ReSources, the local sustainability organizing hub. Just so you know, ‘Neadatagi’ means ‘cedar,’ a tree that was a mainstay of the native peoples of the area. Caliente here is a living, breathing sustainability and permaculture pro…. And my daughter.” Cali took a bow. She sported her usual beret, a red one today that clashed delightfully with her reddish hair. She had left the baby with Carlos.

“What you’re looking at here in our two villages and outlying areas is a broad picture of how a community can learn to take care of itself, no matter what the outside economy is doing. Some of us actually settled here with this vision in mind. My wife and I, for instance, were inspired in part by Portland’s Rain Magazine and the posters they did in the ‘70’s of integrated neighborhoods and communities, both urban and rural.”

“Like the one we have on our wall,” pointed out Michael, his portly form contrasting with Charley’s lithe skinny one. He was practically jumping up and down with his enjoyment of this next stage of his own dream coming alive.

“Yes, that’s one of them,” Charlie grinned. “I love the feeling of slowly but surely making those pictures come true. The dream took a leap when the Logan family transformed their land into a sustainable forestry trust in the early 1980’s. Gordon and Owen and their father who has since died. Their children, Robin and her cousin Obie are now involved. I understand you are going to visit them soon so I won’t go into any detail.”

“So thirty-some years ago,” said Satish, a small, dark skinned young man from India.

“Then in the mid 90’s there were two serious floods – 100 year floods, so-called because they supposedly only happen every hundred years. We’ve had a third one since. At the time of the first our area was completely cut off for several days by landslides and flooded or caved in roads on each of the five ways out of here. Other times big windstorms knocked out power, phone and cell phones for almost a week.”

“I was a kid during those storms,” Michael remembered. “My family was glad we had a wood stove so we could still cook.”

“In many ways it wasn’t that dire that first flood. We all managed. Even the babies who were due waited another week.” Caliente and her dad exchanged glances recalling the family drama of her and her twin’s birth. “But it was a wake up call – and a big goose for putting more of our ideals into practice. What if it had been a major earthquake and its tsunami that affected the whole region? Not only would we be cut off, we would be a very low priority on anyone’s list for digging out if presumably the devastation included Portland and Seattle. What did we have in place if the situation lasted months? It’s one thing to think of the immediate emergency. It’s another to respond after the lives have been saved. And yet another to imagine being self-sufficient if lines of communication and supply (particularly of gas and food) are cut off indefinitely.”

“How did you proceed?” asked Michael.

“We did a number of things over the next few years. Molly Burns and my wife Ursula set up ReBound. We knew it was time to develop the deeper ethic of reuse. We only sort of got it at the time what a community-building mechanism ReBound would be and how it would create such an ethic of the exchange of material goods. I assume you’ll be visiting there soon.”

“Molly and Gabe are giving us an official tour tomorrow. Satish and Zydeco here start work there in the next few days.”

“We also began to get serious about growing our own food and herbal medicines. Community gardens. Farmers markets.” Charley took a sip from his tea. “After we started the Conservancy Trust on an old dairy farm, its barnyard and orchards became the Locavore Center to teach about gardening and research what can grow in the area and what we need to trade for and stock up on. Wheat, beans, coffee.”

“Corn.”

“Chocolate.”

“Almonds.”

“At Benden Farm we’re experimenting with various beans,” interjected Cali, “and olives because cooking and lamp oil is an issue. I wonder half seriously about setting up trade agreements with places in Eastern Oregon if things really broke down. Our crab for Mosier’s grain, for instance.”

“Could be an important link,” said her father. “We also began preserving agricultural lands. Some area growers, including Cali here, now lease land is owned by the Conservancy Trust.”

“The trust totally made it possible for Carlos and I to survive economically,” said Cali gratefully.

“New systems and institutions are important, but community relationships are even more so. It is the connections among us that will keep us safe and secure when things are tough. Thus some activist growers joined the local Grange to cross boundaries with the older farming generation. Plus their building is a good community resource to keep available.”

“We started a Grower’s Guild,” added Caliente as her dad took a sip from his teacup, “so those of us doing permaculture can network and learn from each other. We’re all feeling our way. How does one grow in ways that enhance the earth and its creatures? So much knowledge and skills were lost in just a few generations. We’re learning about seaweed and local plants both for food and other uses. Nettles, for instance, can be used for cordage – rope. So could hemp if we were allowed to grow it legally.”

Everyone laughed.

“We’re proud of our young people taking up this challenge of dancing with adaptability. You folks included,” said Charley. “Maybe this was covered in your class work, but besides sustaining ourselves in the pressure of emergencies, we must also consider the long-term health of the community so we can surf economic cycles. Believe it or not, a high is as hard on us as a low – land prices skyrocket to make housing an even bigger issue for the working people. Luxury stores start to dominate. With our reuse and simple living ethic, we knew we didn’t want to be dependent on chi-chi boutiques. We enjoy the restaurant options of a resort community, but we want those to support local growers.

“Food marketing must have paid off,” said Zydeco, his dark dreads bobbing in his enthusiasm. “I’ve noticed restaurants advertise local produce and meat.”

“We’re proud of that. Have you noticed what else we did?”

“A lot of spas and massage therapists here?” offered Mariposa.

“Right. We figured we’d be better off selling services than importing geegaws. To be known as a re-creation, re-generation, re-storative place. Enter the Healing Arts Guild.”

“Also a shitload of reuse stores and places highlighting recycle art. Did ReBound have an effect on that?” Zydeco was looking forward to his stint at the community’s reuse hub.

“You betcha and our craft stores tend to buy locally or are at least fair trade from elsewhere. The Green Fund helps start-ups and our Local Investment Guild matches up people taking savings out of the stock market to put into local ventures.”

“We’ve all learned how shaky the ‘normal’ financial world can be in the last couple of years,” interjected Michael.

“Absolutely,” responded Charlie. “Why invest your money in faraway corporations with questionable values or even in so-called progressive mutual funds, if you can help forward movement in your own community?”

“Talk about relationship building.”

“Can you give us examples?”

“Buying the River Valley Phone Company when owner Nathan Green died and his family wanted to cash out. We put together three partners, two local and one weekend resident.”

“Quite a coup!”

“Co-op, actually,” Charley grinned. “And its profits go into the Green Fund. Other investment ventures include small elder care houses and affordable rental housing. A retiring carpenter got a loan to go into lawnmower repair at ReBound. Another loan got the Nekelew Hostel going where I hear a few of you are living this fall. Even some of the Conservancy Trust lands have been purchased through investment loans. If you are interested, we could do a whole session on how that all works. The head of the Credit Union would come, I’m sure, and the attorneys and CPA’s who do major share of the Investment Guild’s transactions and paperwork. Michael’s former classmate, Molly’s son, Ethan Burns, is part of that crew even though he lives in Portland.”

“I was thinking to wait for the business students joining us after the winter holidays,” responded Michael. “And let’s take a break right now.

 

Cali sat on the toilet breathing deeply as she thought back on the early days of what her dad was describing. She remembered the visioning murals that her mom and Pia had organized. People at community events one summer had been invited to paint their ideas for the future on aerial views rendered on large plywood panels by some of her artist friends. Little Otter Logan had done a sweetly crude drawing of a fairy house she wanted to build in the forest. Arlo had painted a jitney on the road. Her own depiction of a dream farm had actually come true though not in the place she imagined. How much had they influenced the manifestation of all this? How much had magic been a part of it? Oops, she’d better not dally. Someone else probably needed to pee.

 

“You make it all sound easy, which I’m sure on a day to day basis it hasn’t been. What opposition has there been?” asked an earnest looking young woman when they were all settled again. “Surely not everyone has been okay with what you guys have been up to.”

“We have longstanding adversaries for sure,” said Charley. “They disagree fundamentally with our vision for this place. They think fancy housing helps the community more than conservancy land, not realizing how much the latter raises adjacent property values. But the depth and passion of their opposition goes deeper than that and can get ugly. We represent a threat to the status quo of money valued for itself as a measure of success. In its most crass form it’s about greed and competition. They can’t stand our values of cooperation and sharing. Is it guilt that makes them go after us so fiercely? In denial that anyone could be so foolish as to take seriously values like consensus building and lack of hierarchy. Or, worse, that it could work. That we’re happy.”

“Can you give us examples?”

“I try not to think about them too much cuz I don’t want to give them energy…. The developer who slips in and buys land we have our eye on. Our battle over the Elk Ridge neighborhood. Some city officials were hostile and, at times, downright adversarial. They had trouble groking the need for affordable housing, preferring this to be a place for the rich to vacation and retire in. They stirred up a lot of NIMBY reactions.”

“Nimby?”

“Not In My Back Yard. Visions of meth addicts danced in their heads. They forget that working folks who make the wheels go round can’t afford to be here when land values are high – police, teachers, nurses, carpenters, not to mention waiters and cleaning people. Sometimes out-of-town hirees turn down good jobs at the clinic, schools or the city because they can’t find housing they can afford anywhere up and down the coast.”

“Finding places for students to stay is a challenge,” said Michael.

“Not surprised,” said Charley.

“Some go after us almost on principle,” said Cali. “If we’re for it, they’d better be against it.”

“Of course, in a way they’re right,” said Michael. “You do things differently. Goats and chickens in the middle of town. I’ll bet you drum outside sometimes.” Everybody laughed ruefully.

“’Times are a changin.’ They better get used to it,” said a young man in blonde dreads and raggedy overalls.

“Easy to say but this is a small town and we’ve worked hard to stay connected with all our neighbors. Even the most skeptical and cantankerous are pleased to share a jam recipe or appreciate help with a tree down across the driveway,” said Charley.

“Have people run for public office? Seems like a way to assert power locally.”

“A few, though not enough yet to attain critical mass. Much can be accomplished that way. Personally, I’m better at working outside the system without official support or the constraints that go along with that. But I admire folks who can deal with the bureaucratic sides of things – planning commissions, city councils, county budget committees.”

“The Watershed Council is an awesome cross section,” offered Cali. “Funded by the state, they’re mandated to include the timber industry, local governments and environmentalists. Of course, they’re often hampered by disagreements so there are certain issues they just don’t touch. Still, over the long haul they’ve created useful partnerships that serve all sides. They’ve become real people to each other.”

“We’ve talked about the value of humanizing one’s demons,” said Michael.

“Good,” responded Charley. “You see, we have to work with local governments, et al. because we’re looking to be more than a wholesome tribe underneath the dominant culture. We could’ve gone up into the hills and established a commune. Instead, we’re working for structural change from within. We want to become the power structure from the bottom up. One committee, one group, one idea, one project and event at a time. We bring others of our ilk into the organizations and slowly they come under new values. In a small town there are always vacancies and a need for people to serve. I’m particularly trying to encourage more young people to get involved. It’s great when retirees from the city pitch in but they have a tendency move back when their health becomes compromised or they miss their grandkids or whatever. It’s especially heartening to us when people sign on who have a real stake in the long term here.”

“It’s time for lunch. Thanks, Charley and Cali. This has been inspirational.” Michael made the first move towards winding up the discussion.

“We are so glad you guys are here,” said Cali. “Many hands make light work, as my mom always says. Obviously we’re secretly hoping you fall in love with the place and stay!”

“Even if you move on,” said Charley, “we’re happy to have you spreading the word and starting things up elsewhere. You can reverse our adage and begin to ‘think locally and act globally.’ Ripples on a pond. Don’t forget to check out Lindsey’s and Crystal’s energy efficient buildings and their retrofit of the old school that is the community center in Nekelew. They’ve even hooked up the fitness machines to generators and help heat the pool that way.”

“Bravo!” Everyone clapped.