Proposal Work

“So, Charley, what have we got going here? What are we manifesting with this thing?“

Molly and Charley were sitting next to each other on the couch in the Neadatagi House living room with papers spread out before them on the coffee table. They were about to merge various drafts and project ideas into some coherent form for a funding proposal to the Fed’s “Greening Rural Economies” program. The deadline for proposals was looming so they had the whole day blocked out for concentrated work.

For once it was quiet in the house. No PSU interns organizing their Fall Sustainability Festival. No Michael getting things set up for next term. Even Fe-Lion was curled up quietly a comfy chair.

“Let’s start with an easy one to add in – the Bagless Town. Ursula came up with this idea from a place a customer told her about in England. All the stores got on board and stopped giving out paper or plastic shopping bags and instead had canvas bags to sell or give. I figure we could use a sum to get a bunch printed up that say something to the effect that ‘Mahonia-Nekelew is a Bagless Community.’ Stores can use them as is or have their own name printed on a supply.”

“Or decorate theirs distinctively somehow.”

“They can either give them away as advertising or sell them to make back their investment.”

“So we’re not giving each business the bags?”

“What about going halvsies with them? It will look good on the proposal to have the matching buy in.”

“Good point. ReBound could also save the any bags (the printed ones or others) that come in for redistribution so we’d be demonstrating reuse as well.” Molly was adding these points on her laptop while she talked. “But don’t we also need some funds to pay someone to organize this? To talk it up among the shops, get people committed?”

“Yes and also funds for advertising both in local papers and beyond. The word needs to get out. Ads could have a line on them that says ‘Your community could do this too – ask the Neadatagi Center how.’”

“Good self promotion,” Molly laughed. “Are you imagining that some of Michael’s crew would do this or are we hiring someone else?”

“Either will work and I think we should fund it either way. Michael says he is going to need to bring in some money for his program and this kind of thing might help so I think we should have staffing as a line item. We can always shift it later if it gets done by a volunteer – either one of Michael’s interns or someone else in town. But the more funds we bring in to hire people the more we’re helping the people and jobs side of the equation.”

“Okay, I’ve got it on the list and we can do the budget numbers this afternoon. What else?”

“Parking in the lot next to the community center. Clearly it’s an economic development need for local businesses especially in the summer. Some group of us should have bought that lot years ago but I think there’s renewed interest now and the price has come way down for a variety of reasons. I have a private donor willing to do a challenge match for individual donations. The City is willing to chip in for a down payment as soon as we have the rest of the package together. I think if we add some through this proposal we’ll be well on our way.”

“I would still rather stop the traffic and make everyone park at the top of the hill where the highway comes past so we can be a carless town as well. But perhaps that needs to wait a little longer.”

“Yeah, I don’t think we’ve got critical mass on that one yet. We’ll get there. Step by step.”

“Let’s at least include a couple of RCar slots anyway. Or one of them could be from Portland’s company.

“I do think we can slip a little magic into it too. Ursula came up with an idea the other night for a doing labyrinth along with the parking. Ta da!” He whipped a drawing out of a folder. I got Crystal to rough it out. We can get as many cars in there with this plan as go in there helter skelter now and we’ll still have room for a pavement labyrinth.”

“Way cool. Do you think folks will go for it? It’s not too woo woo?”

“I’m trusting that this sort of thing is accepted enough now that it won’t raise too many eyebrows. They have one at the Episcopal Church, for heaven’s sake. I’d like to include it under the 2% for Art and Heart so we can pay Crystal for her design and have someone really craft it with beautiful tiles.”

“How ’bout including tiles done by local school kids. I’m sure Ariel could get into helping with that.”

“Even better. Community involvement with kids always sells. It’s high time we got that bit of manifesting underway.” There was a pause while they sipped their tea and eyed their notes.

“Here’s one on my list,” offered Molly.

“Go for it.”

”Putting a glass foundry on the land next to ReBound that we acquired with the last grant. You know I’ve been dreaming of this ever since the beginning of the Center. We’ve got all that bottle glass. We pay way too much to ship it to Portland for the little bit we get for it. There’s no reason we can’t create a way to melt it down here. We can even include window glass as long as it’s in separate batches. I’ve checked on the state of the art equipment from St Vincent dePaul’s in Eugene where they’ve been making sun-catchers and things for years. I keep waiting for someone to come along who wants to take charge of organizing our own version that might include architectural blocks and dishware. But I think we need to get the funds – realistically for the true cost – and advertise for someone even if it means hiring from outside the community.”

“Maybe someone will come along.” They grinned at each other knowing how often that was happening these days when the time was ripe.

“What else do you need over there on that land? Johan’s metal works is going well.”

“He’s booming as is the community food composting area supplemented by decentralized stations around the towns. I’m so glad we put money in last time to hire a coordinator advocate to work with restaurant owners and neighborhoods, but we need to re-up those funds. I don’t know that it will ever pay for itself.”

“Not ‘til composting is just a matter of course everywhere. Some things need to be subsidized. Most large cities subsidize garbage collection, why is this any different?”

“Then there’s Raven’s dream of a full time gallery out there. He’s frustrated at always having to move his stuff around or waiting til the once a year show at our Gala. I think we can make a good case for it.”

“Speaking of which is the Trash Art mini-golf course still on the wish list?”

“You bet! Here are Crystal’s drawings for it. Raven and others are hot to design and build holes so it will fund both the artists and ReBound. I am convinced it can be a moneymaker and an additional eco-tourist draw. Does RCar need refunding?”

“No, it is now paying for itself, just as we predicted and use continues to go up. I hear the equipment rental set up is paying for itself as well. We can include references to those successes in the proposal.”

“Ok, I’m feeling like it’s time for us each to settle in separately for a bit now to write up our pet projects to add to those already in the narrative section. Then after lunch we can add it to the background materials & success stories we’ve already gotten down.”

“Then to conjuring the final budget. We’re probably getting up there but I think we can squeak it all into the maximum allowable request. Michael said he’d be happy to look over our numbers tomorrow. He has a great eye for that side of things.”

“Good job, by the way, on getting the support letters already. We’ve got some weighty ones that speak well to our community’s progress.”

“Yup, the October 31 deadline is getting close but we’re in good shape.”

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.