It is my hope that I will be able to reinstitute blogging as part of my daily practice. My experiences of the past several months have been instructive, and they have also seen me move away from technology, for good and for ill.
I have been exploring how people live in intentional communities. This journey sort of began last year, when I went to my first Rainbow Gathering in Tennessee. I came away from that experience hopeful and optimistic that there is a way for this unusual soul at this potent time in humanity’s adolescence.
Rainbow led me first to the Shawangunk Nature Preserve in Cold Brook, New York where I lived for four months, until it got too cold to live in the cottage I inhabited. I learned a lot—mostly about my bad habits. I attracted a mouse or two, and that is not good for country living.
I started a job as the Managing Editor of The Utica Phoenix, and while I was grateful for the work and for its varied aspects, I came to the painful conclusion that I’m just not meant for offices anymore. This is a stressful state of affairs as I am getting older, and usually it goes the other way: people who have worked outdoors all their lives realize it’s time to move toward the cushy desk job. Oh, if only it were like that.
In November, the need to relocate to a standard dwelling became apparent, and I found some cheap digs that were more than amenable for my cat and myself. I lived in a decent place for the next 4 months. Due to economic considerations at the company I worked for, I got laid off in February and started to collect unemployment. I decided to take the opportunity and continue my exploration of ways to transform myself out of being a mere consumer/resident of vEmpire shenanigans, and see how I can become the man I seek to be.
So I went first to Twin Oaks in Virginia for their Visitor Program, and then off to Short Mountain Sanctuary for a 2 month stay. Twin Oaks is quite structured. They have been around for over 40 years and have had a lot of time to iron out the kinks. It’s not a perfect place, but I can see myself staying there, perhaps for a long time even. The hard part is that it is a working collective, and one must meet quota. There is something to be said for this. There is something to be said against this too. It depends upon one’s relationship to the notion of work. A long-time member of the community observed that so many of the interactions at T.O. become about the mercenary need to meet quota. “Can I get work credits for this?” is a common question asked there.
It is what it is, and at the end of it all, I did apply for membership. They would like for me to visit again.
From there, I went to Short Mountain Sanctuary via Asheville, North Carolina. I have long wished to visit this city. Disappointingly, I must say that I was not favorably disposed to it on first impression. It feels like Whole Foods if it were expanded to city size—well-heeled “sustainable.” However, I have been informed that people can be poor in the town and get along with good fortune, so I shall keep an open mind. I traveled to Asheville in part to visit Earthaven in nearby Black Mountain.
While Earthaven is an interesting place, with a lot of natural beauty and some gorgeous structures, that model is decidedly not for me. One of the things I’ve discovered over time is that my body is quite hostile to the idea of rent. Really? One has to pay to have a place to live? One has to justify one’s existence beyond what Our Creator provided? Huh. Count me OUT.
Earthaven is based on the idea of a Homeowners’ Association, so rent is intertwined into its very fiber of being. Oh well. It sure is pretty. But, moving on—
I got to Short Mountain Sanctuary next, to help out with its Beltane Gathering. I do enjoy pitching in and helping out, and the nice thing about SMS is that one can pretty much set his or her own terms of working. It is a Sanctuary, which means it’s a place people go for healing, and since it is a Radical Faerie establishment, it’s primarily for gay men and women and other queers.
I will probably write more about this place at another time, but I can say that it did get under my skin in both positive and negative ways. I learned a lot about how IC’s can get into murky territory based upon the personalities of the residents there. It’s just a human tendency, and a community must be vigilant. There is a certain cultural element at SMS that will interfere with such awareness however, and one must accept it. As I learned what I could affect and what I could not, I have come to the conclusion that the place is not for me. It’s too bad though. There’s a lot about the place that is splendid indeed.
Keeping an open mind about the “gayborhood” surrounding SMS is also a part of my current mindset. However, this aromatic cultural element also extends outward to include the neighbors, and I have come to the conclusion that my sobriety and my abstinence are vulnerable to this particular circumstance.
I went to Rainbow again this year, and spent the majority of my time with the sober people. 2 Meetings a Day! Yea! Just what I needed.
Then I left the Gathering on July 6, and traveled to another part of Montana where I was to meet up with a friend from one of my fellowships. While there, I discovered that Unemployment had not been paying me. Evidently I missed a questionnaire, in part due to some of the structural difficulties with mail at Short Mountain. I made some goofy choices regarding the post, and it ended up costing me.
In short, I found myself with no money and having to acknowledge that I needed some help. It’s been a humbling stay in Montana. I’m still here, not that I’m complaining. It is a beautiful state.
Still, I am conscious that it is both “home” and “not home.” And I will most likely write about this in the future as well.
But I must now end this little episode, as I now have a cool job as a Psychic Chat Specialist with an internet media company. It’s time to start my day!
Frostwolf, aka Azimuth