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.”

Four in the Hot Tub 2

Conjuring Together

“What else do we need?” asked Charley coming back to his  question of the evening.

“Hey! You guys want to share this place and this view more? How ‘bout you open it up for retreats or the seasonal holy days or some such? It sure was lovely hanging out here last Summer Solstice,” said Pia.

“You could have your classes here anyway,” added Raven. “It would fit in with the retreat business we keep talking about.”

“How’s that coming?” asked Charley.

“Things are starting to gel in my mind,” said Pia. “I’ve got some ideas of people to call to do workshops.”

“We’ve actually been talking about using this place a little more. Like the hot tub, it seems a bit much to keep it all to ourselves now that the kids are grown and we have the office and store in town. The Aerie we built for the teenagers isn’t getting much use these days. We’re happily private when we’re here, but I think there are ways we could structure things, both physically and timing-wise, to achieve a good balance.”

“Balance is a good thing to be taking into account during the Equinox window. Especially balance like yin yang, not our Western seesaw image,” said Pia.

“I’m hardly using my little hut either,” said Ursula. “What if I change it from my private space to being available for people who want to hide out for a bit? It’s pretty primitive, no electricity and only 10×10, but it sure saved my sanity back in the day.”

“That’s a big relinquishing of a haven that’s been very important to you,” Raven observed.

“It came to me last summer on one of those nights I couldn’t sleep. Full Moon of course. I was sitting here in the tub ‘til I got too pruney and then wandered out to the stone seat to watch the dawn. Looking down over the hut, I saw it as a shared nurturing womb place – and not just for women. Everyone should have a chance to retreat back into the Mother now and then. There’s so much richness and comfort to be gleaned – or challenge, if that’s what a person needed. I was feeling pretty good about the idea when suddenly an eagle swooped in over my head and out through the trees.”

“Wow!”

“Yes, BIG WOW. ‘Ok, ok. I’ll do it, Eagle.’”

“Here’s something I keep dreaming but I haven’t even told Ursula – what if we could manifest ownership of some of the houses here on the turnaround circle,” added Charley. “That one Crystal designed with the great view of the end of the mountain would make such a fabulous conferencing space. It kills me that it’s only used a few weeks a year. It’s all still dreams, of course. Nothing substantial yet.”

“It fits in with our on-going idea of this area for re-creation in some sweet ways,” said Pia.

They all were quiet for a few beats, imagining, feeling, conjuring the possibilities. “So mote it be!” said Pia. “We’re mages enough to get that one in motion.”

“Speaking of getting wrinkly, dear fellow hags, I’m cooked,” said Charley.

“Time for us to get going,” said Pia.

“Wait! One more idea.” Ursula’s creative juices were flowing and she couldn’t quite bear for the evening to be over. The other three groaned noisily to tease her.

“Here, have some water,” she said to stave off the inevitable. She handed them the bottle she kept by the step. “I’m really tired of thinking about what to charge for stuff. I have to do that in the store where the accounting is important. But for other things, I’ve been thinking of putting out a Begging Bowl. You know, like the monks in Asia do, when they go walkabout.”

“’Walkabout’ is Australia but I get the idea,” said her husband.

“It could be used for classes and dance sessions, even here in the retreat spaces. People can put in what they feel they can pay. Sometimes more than the going rate. Less when they’re feeling tight.”

“It would change the old money thing nicely,” observed Raven.

“Exactly! I just have a feeling that it’s time to have more trust that dollars will appear as we need them. Even for an expensive vision like getting those neighboring houses. We’ve done it before. Let’s envision. No. Let’s ASSUME. Plenty. Abundance.

“Abun – DANCE!” crowed Raven.

“It doesn’t do away with currency but it does put things on a different footing,” added Pia. “A nice kind of magic.“

“People could also put in chits for service trades and food and stuff,” said Charley. “I know just the bowl we could use.”

“Ok. I’m done. Let’s do dance on Wednesdays and I’ll teach my class on Thursdays after yoga. Does that work for ya’ll? Cuz I hope you each will come help now and then.”

“That Ursula!” said Raven.

“Fellow Queen Bee,” said Pia. “Now you’re stepping into your Leo Rising in a bigger way. Good for you!”

“Good for all of us. Didn’t you say that our Rising Sign is the energy and skills we need to work on in this lifetime?”

“Yes, in Shamanic Astrology, the Sun sign provides the flavor of the work. With your Cancer sun everything you do will be motherly and nurturing. The Moon sign is what you already have a PhD in. If you do that too much it will become an addiction. You slipped a little into your Capricorn self tonight – organizing things again like you do so well and so easily. Obviously I recognize it in you and I’d appreciate you pointing it out to me when I go there in excess. The Ascendant is what you are here to learn. Your Leo rising means you can now show up big and playfully and not just be making it all happen. I love it that you are still present for everyone, but so much more for yourself now. Good job!”

“Let’s look at everyone’s rising signs and see how we can help each other move forward.”

“Not tonight,” groaned Raven. “This bird needs bed. And Yew Dog needs release.”

“Not tonight,” Ursula agreed. “But would you do another Medicine Group session on it, Pia? It could be an important tool for us each to grow into our true selves over the coming days and weeks and months. ‘Coming into True,’ as Owen says. That’s what we’ve been doing as we sit here under the full moon next to the Oregon Grape. Let’s walk over to The Rock while you’re here. I’m finding it a great place to power up these days. I use it when I am heading off to priestess in circle or communing with the land.”

Wordlessly and still naked, the four of them trooped the few yards to the huge flat piece of basalt that Charley had unearthed with Owen’s help some thirty years ago when they first owned the place. Fallen off the top of the Mountain in a cataclysm centuries before, it now stood like a low table on the promontory at the base of a large Sitka spruce. Ursula bowed to the tree remembering the evening last year when a psychic passing through told them the tree was thanking her and Charley for their reverent attention to the details on the land.

They all stepped up on the table ignoring the sticky spruce droppings. Their arms encircled, Raven began to tone and the others wove their voices around his deep one. With the moon high now in the sky, the power was huge coming to them from the cosmos, the stone at their feet and the Mountain that rose behind them, as well as from the ocean stretching forever in front of them, and the loving trust between them.

“Fire, Water, Earth and Air,” intoned Ursula.

“Spirit,” breathed Pia.

“HO!” They spoke as One, feeling the power deep within their very bones and blood fed by the elements and the spirits of their home territory.

 

“That was a little better,” said Spider to the Council Fire.

“Yes,” said Elderberry, “they seem to be finally learning about generations and manifesting layers of growth.”

“But they went off into organizing and DOING,” complained Snake, “When are they going to learn to just BE?”

“They just can’t resist, can they?” observed Sitka Spruce. “It’s those friggin’ thumbs. I’ve never understood the attraction.”

“You wouldn’t,” countered Spider, the hard worker. “I’ve been inspiring them to be creative….”

“You have been rather showing off this year,” said Sitka.

“I know, but the conditions are perfect and I’m so happy. Things are moving even if it seems too slow for you long lived types. Some of us have to keep time in mind,” said Spider a little huffily.

“Ursula’s class will light up some new ones,” said Hummingbird, another hard worker who liked to see the humans flitting about productively. “That should get some new energy flowing.”

“And you know the dancing is what some of us have been calling for,” said Grouse.

“That’s all probably important but part of me wishes that Ursula, at least, would just hibernate this winter for a change,” said Bear with a yawn.

“What a lot of different influences we are,” observed Beaver. “No wonder they get confused sometimes, poor dears.”

Four in the Hot Tub 1

“This lentil stew is really delish,” said Pia, rubbing her tummy. “I love that it has the kids’ vegetables in it and your own kale. Thanks for making it vegetarian, but I can’t eat another bite. What a treat to share it with us. And it’s so good to get caught up on the details of each others’ last few weeks.”

“Thanks. And don’t worry, I didn’t make any dessert.”

“What?! No more juicy bits about all the people we love to nurture?”

“I’ve been thinking,” Charley spoke up over their giggles, “about new things we could be doing to move things along magically in our community. Now that I’ve got my feet on the ground in the community organizing realm, I’m wondering how to mix a bit more in spirituality.”

“Bravo on the PSU coup, by the way. There were a lot of other communities vying for their adjunct program.”

“Don’t forget that consensus building is a spiritual practice.”

“And so is sustainability consciousness…”

“And so is gossip,” added Ursula. “It has a bad rap but I’ve always maintained that the news we exchange about each other and our talk about the others’ problems are ways of checking out our information as well as our gut feelings and energy hits. I really needed confirmation of you-know-who’s subtle icky energy a while back and I welcomed reassurance from others that I was in my own drama about that new massage therapist that pissed me off. Right now, I’ve been noticing Sylvia’s depression. Do you think it’s a long term problem we need to pay attention to or is it a passing thing?”

“Good example – in fact, I am concerned about her too. That no-good boyfriend of hers finally took off but she doesn’t seem to be able to get her feet back on the ground. I’ve tried reaching out but she’s angry at the world.”

“I wonder if….”

“Now wait, you both jumped right over my sincere conversational gambit,” complained Charley.

“Sorry,” said Pia. “We did, and you’re right that it’s time to up the ante again on the magical and intentional content of our activities.”

“Hey – before we’re off and running on all that, let’s get in the hot tub,” interjected Ursula. “You guys have time? That little rain shower seems to be over and there’s a full moon arisin.’ A good time to take stock of what we’ve accomplished and get ready to move forward.”

“That would be lovely. We haven’t done that together in a long time.”

“Just leave the dishes. We’ll get them later,” Charley and Ursula said to Raven as he started to clear.

“Guess you must be sure since you said it in unison. Is it ok if I leave my clothes out here?”

“Sure, I will too,” agreed Charley. “That leaves room for you female types in the bathroom.” The guys stripped down quickly and headed out to the tub through the south facing sliding door, Charley stopping to pee over the railing on the way out.

“I’ll need a hair tie,” said Pia as she and Ursula headed the other direction.

Soon they were all in the hot tub knees not quite touching. They’d only had to apologize to a few autumnal spider webs on the path between house and tub. The moon was indeed just peeking between the trees to the East, having risen behind the Mountain a while ago.

“A-a-a –rooo!! Yip! Yip! Yip!” they all howled, Pia and Ursula adding a vocal belly dance flourish at the end, while Charley yodeled. “Awk. Awk,” called Raven.

“Yip Yip Yip,” echoed a real coyote from across the hollow on the mountainside. They were all silent for a moment taking in the beauty and power of the night.

Charley broke the silence, “I keep getting that we have this opportunity to create the world we want to see. What do we still need to do to move things along? That’s my visionary Aquarian moon talking and being the Virgo sun that I am, I want to stay on task.” He looked at Pia with a twinkle.

“Even in the hot tub,” Ursula chuckled.

“What better place? You’re such a water creature, I know you do some of your best creating here!” said Pia.

“We did a good job of calling in help a few years ago. Look at all that’s been happening,” said Raven. “Damn birds landing everywhere!”

Pia laughed. “We’re enjoying having Arlo around again. Even though he’s living upriver, I love bumping into that sweet son of mine at the Post Office and Natural Foods Store. It was fun to see your Salal and his lovely sweetie at the coffee shop this morning. How long are they here for?”

“We don’t really know. He’s pretty closed mouth with us. But we had a nice supper with them last night. They’re staying down at Cali and Carlos’s. Thank goodness those guys are attracting interesting younguns’ with their farm. And surely the baby is part of the arrivals.”

“You lucky grandparents, you.”

“Salal is one bird who hasn’t landed back here yet, and I’m pretty resigned to the idea that he might not,” said Charley. “Whether or not Marina will is still an open question.”

“On the good days we’re resigned,” laughed Ursula. “And we’re still not sure if Jay is really here to stay. His relationship with Fern is looking solid but you never know. But I’m feeling much better about it all since our Demeter and Persephone ritual.”

“Ariel Lyons is back,” said Charley, taking the heat off the thought of his longing for all his four kids to be around.

“Really? Ariel was one of the early Illahee School kids but her parents divorced and moved away when she was seven,” Pia explained to Raven since he was a relative newcomer, having flown in himself only about ten years ago. Pia had been a single mom during the early Illahee days.

“She’s staying at Sitka House while one of their housemates is in the Amazon and she’s been hired by the Arts Center to develop their teens program – both theater and visual arts. I guess she has an actual degree of some sort.”

”That’s so cool. I wonder where her parents are.”

“I didn’t have the strength to ask about them and we had so much else to talk about. So how do we up the ante again?” Charley wasn’t going to let this one get away.

“We have manifested help for ourselves,” Pia responded. “And if the astrology stuff I follow is to be believed, and I do, then big changes are nigh upon us and we don’t have much calendar time. Now, magical time is another story, as Raven here would say.”

“Awk!”

“The end times predicted by the Mayans so long ago seem to overlap with the notion of the shifting of the ages from the Piscean to the Aquarian. It’s the completion of a 28,000 year cycle. Some say even a 104,000 year cycle. I can hardly grok what that means in time or in practicalities, but it’s of Galactic proportions. And the stuff I’m reading now on the Internet is saying that we’re already well within the window of that cosmic astrological event.”

“We’re hearing that too,” said Ursula. “So many of us are making big changes – doing the deep work – that the New Age is coming to fruition faster than anyone – even the spirits from afar – thought we’d be capable of.”

“Hurray for our side,” said Charley. “Even though sometimes it feels like things are inching one step back for every two steps forward and that the bad guys are still in control.”

“The layoffs and closures just keep happening, plus there’s Global Climate Change….” Ursula’s voice trailed off. “Makes me feel guilty about this luxurious hot tub and all the electricity we are using.”

“I figure as long as we share it and use it for most of our bathing, that we’re doing ok. We’re all still learning to wean ourselves….”

“I wanna dance!” shouted Raven.

“Right now? I mean it is the Full Moon and all but personally, I’m not feeling that jazzed,” said Charley.

“I mean let’s add Ecstatic Dance to our Medicine Group offerings.”

“Trance dance?”

“Yogic dance. Whatever. Pia and I have been using Gabriele Roth’s music most days for at least a little bit.”

“Do tell.” Ursula could feel her energy lift after the dip of the last few minutes.

“When I started doing yoga on my own beyond my usual two classes a week,” said Pia, “the movements kept turning into dance. Slow and stretchy but flowing and intuitive rather than the long held poses of the yoga of our teachers. I love that too. There’s nothing better after a long physical or mental pushing sort of day. But we’ve really been having fun with this extrapolation. When I heard Roth’s music and read up on her Five Rhythms I realized it was just what we needed to add more dimensions to the process. She’s been doing it for years. I can’t believe I never heard of her.”

“I think the young people have been dancing that way in the Barn,” said Ursula. “Sometimes even with live music. Maybe we could set up a regular time at the Community Center. What days would work for you?”

“That’s one of the things I love about you, Ursula,” said Raven. “You just hone right in there on the details to make it happen.”

“It’s her Capricorn moon. You’re so airy you need us administrative types around,” said Pia thinking of her forays into Shamanic Astrology. “I’ve got it too.”

“Don’t I know it,” rejoined Raven. “But I love you anyway. I’ll put together music for the dancing.”

“I’ll bring scarves and things so we can be like little girls…kids, I mean,” said Pia.

“It would definitely improve the playful element around here for us. I just know that’s an important piece of what the New Age is about,” said Raven.

“I agree,” said Charley. “And I predict it will spill over into the healing aspect of what we’re up to for ourselves, the land and the community.”

“Our soul tribe at least. Thank you, Raven, for the idea and for personifying that playful piece,” said Ursula. “You double Gemini you! Even if you make us uncomfortable at times, your teasing Heyoka energy is important to show us who we really are…. Now here’s another idea,” she continued. “It’s not as playful, though it could be. I’ve been getting that it’s time for me to do more active mentoring, starting with teaching a class. It’s about all the things we’ve been exploring together over the years in our Medicine Groups – basic stuff like calling sacred space, smudging, grounding, and moving on to dousing, pendulums, tarot….”

“Kinesiology, hands-on healing,” added Charley.

“Manifesting,” said Pia.

“Speaking of moving things along.”

“Exactly. Thanks to Charley taking over the bulk of the organization work from me and with some new help the store can now afford, I’ll have more time again. We need to be more formally sharing the skills we’ve developed over the years and not just one-on-one like I’ve been doing.”

“Bravo! I’ve been thinking that might be a good next step for you,” said Raven, perching on the side of the tub to cool down.