I haven’t been writing my blog because I’m so busy here in Blue River, Oregon; there is always something necessary and fun to do in Carol’s extended family, multi-generational, intentional community. There are 13 of us living in the house and a nearby trailer. The house is the former Stage Coach Stop and was re-built in 1928. We are surrounded by low-lying mountains (1-2,000 feet) and spectacular scenery. It is so quiet here. Very little traffic, and even the rooster for the house’s lying hens doesn’t crow. I sleep in most days until it gets light, which is a treat.
Everything here is completely opposite of what I have been doing in my life since I left my Wisconsin farm in 2010. It was very warm in Austin, TX and San Miguel de Allende, MX. The weather here is unseasonably wet and chilly for April, which I wasn’t expecting. We went to St. Vinnie’s shop to buy some kitchen equipment, and I bought my first pair of jeans in 5 years. I also bought a red, handknit, Mongolian cashmere sweater ($3.19), which I will pass on to Carol when I leave (will also leave my jeans behind).
I do some of the communal cleaning for the house and have taken over much of the cooking and especially baking. I am more fulfilled with cooking for others and baking pies and cakes for the three parties we have had since I arrived. I have cooked for one person and eaten alone for a long time and vastly prefer my new situation.
I also enjoy the games we play almost every night after dinner. I lost at Scrabble the first time I played because of travel exhaustion, but have since won, which makes the game much more pleasurable.
I am delighted to do a bit of gardening, in the respites from the almost daily rain. I uncovered two rose bushes and have weeded and mulched them. I am eager to see these rose bushes in bloom, if not this year, next summer.
The public transportation of train and bus on the West Coast is reportedly much better than in the rest of the country. I personally experienced excellent bus service from Portland to Eugene and actually met some new friends, who took me out to lunch at the Farmers’ Market last Saturday. I also can go outside the house here in Blue River and flag down a bus, which comes by 3 times a day and takes me to Eugene, which is 50 minutes away. I, being a senior citizen, can even ride for free. Wouldn’t it be nice to have this all over the United States, so we wouldn’t all have to own cars!
I love the intimacy of living in a community. This is what I am seeking. It seems to be harder for Americans than for many other cultures to give up their “stuff” and be sharing, tribal members. This was how human beings lived for millennium. It is relatively new for us to live in separate houses, alone or in very small family groups, with the resulting harder, unshared work to maintain our life styles and the possible alienation and loneliness.
I have been in contact with 15 communities in this area, or have tried to be in spite of the lack of response to my emails. Spring is a busy time of year. Southern Oregon is full of wonderfully friendly folks, who seem to have a very strong communal spirit. One of Carol’s daughter-in-laws is from the Ashland, Oregon area, where I will visit on my next trip to Southern Oregon. I will see the intentional communities of the SW area of Oregon and also see the Coast, which is 1-2 hours away, depending whether you are in Blue River or Eugene.
Besides Carol’s community, with my busy schedule and everyone else’s, I have been able to interview two other communities. I am particularly interested in two urban communities in Eugene, who are difficult to contact by phone and don’t answer my emails. I am here only for another 3 days, before I return to the warm temperatures of Austin, TX, so don’t know if I will get to interview any other community representatives, but I will definitely be returning here next year, after my around-the-world trip, which starts on April 26, 2015..
Anahaha Village is a forming community of 10 Eugene healers and five others who live out of state. They are looking for funding to buy 22 acres to start a healing village for cancer patients and others with chronic diseases. Luna Eclipse is my contact and is a woman with wonderful intentions. I hope to visit this community upon my return to Oregon next year and find it thriving.
We visited Heart Culture Farm Community on Thursday and talked to Joanna, with whom I have previously been in contact by email because of her study of intentional communities. The farm is very conveniently located a short distance outside of Eugene. Joanna and her young son have been living here for a month. She is friends with Kara and her partner, who are two of the five owners of this farm. The owners each put in $70,000.00. All others are renters. There are 17 adults, 3 children, 3 houses and 32.5 acres.
The community is not organized as a tribe, pool no money and live and garden and cook and eat separately. They have weekly meetings to discuss common issues. They are possibly turning one of the houses into a B&B. There is much work to do done on this project to make the house acceptable to B&B clients. The people I met were very warm and welcoming.
This is the first Saturday in April, when the Farmers and Saturday markets in Eugene combine and offer arts and crafts, music, entertainment, along with produce. I’m off to flag down the bus….