Thursday, January 15, 2015

Who is Who

Below we are sharing an email correspondence between Rod Newton (new "land owner" of the Winter Grounds) and Wylden Freeborne (Michael) that came in shorty after we were arrested for going home (see previous post). It may help fill out the story and bring more understanding of the roles being lived out, for real, now.

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called Rod today and told him that I and my family are part of the community of the Cascade-Siskiyous and that I wanted to let him know that his actions are shameful and cowardly. To call upon violent forces to do our bidding is to remove ourselves from relation. He asked for an email address so he could respond. He sent this within the hour:


I appreciate your concern for Tipi Village, and for handling disagreements in a civil and collaborative way. I also hold those values. This has been very painful for us and I’ll share why I think we did the only thing that we could have done under the circumstances. 

In Feb and September of this year, we purchased two parcels of the Mosby ranch for the purpose of establishing an organic farming and land regeneration research and education institute. During May and June, Ande and Kayla livedon the first parcel we purchased before moving up to their summer site, since they had to move off of the Mosby property. As we got to know them we appreciated their vision of wanting to live in harmony with the land, but even then there were many uncertainties about the practicality and legality of their return to the second parcel we were buying from the Mosby's. 

In order to explore all options, we volunteered a considerable amount of time, energy, and money in a thorough and lengthy research of Jackson county law relating to living in a Tipi. Jackson county law is clear in defining Tipi living as a form of camping, and camping on privately owned land is allowed for a maximum of 30 days in any 6 month period. Unfortunately, we were unable to find any way that Tipi living could be legal on this land for more than the 30 days in six months. This made it clear that we could not give them permission them to return to the land in violation of the law, since they had already stayed more than 30 days in the past six months.

We then told Ande and Kayla that we couldn’t legally give them permission to move back to the land, because we weren’t willing to violate the law. They disregarded our concerns, and appeared determined to return anyway, so we had to inform them that if they moved back without our permission in a way that violates Jackson county regulations, we would be required to call the authorities, because if we didn’t, we would be in violation of the law. We had a number of meetings with them, but of all of their options, they seemed determined to move back on the land. 

We hold a lot of values in common with Ande and Kayla, have grown quite personally fond of them, and support their mission of bringing back low impact living on the land. But the one area where we disagree is about the willingness to break the law. In the end their dispute is more with Jackson County law than it is with us, but we became stuck in the middle. Sadly, when they decided to move back to the land without our permission, and in violation of the law,we believe that they chose an option that is not only disruptive to everyone concerned, butdestructive for the future of low impact living on the land. We wish them well, but cannot be party to breaking the law. 

Of course you might feel differently about breaking the law, and you might have made another decision if you were in my situation, but I hope from this you can at least why we made the decisions we made. They were carefully considered, with input from our council and elders who were unanimous in the decisions, and based on exhaustive research into the situation. 

I’m happy to hear any thoughts and feelings you have after reading this. 



This is my response to him:

Hello Rod. Thank you for the note. I am very interested in sincere communication. I do hope we can find that one day. In the mean time, i will respond to your message. I do feel differently about breaking the law, specifically when to not do so comes at the cost of our integrity. It was once against the law to harbor runaway slaves. It was once against the law for Native people's to dance, sing or speak their language. Law is meant not to protect or serve the people, but to protect and serve the rulers of the people. If you think for a moment that laws of land ownership and county codes against living on the ground are at all different than laws supporting slavery, you should ask Ande and Kayla how their shackles felt differently. 

You provide your story in a way that I read as you claiming powerlessness. This is sad to me as we are all empowered to make the choices we make. This is the privilege you and I were born with. You were not powerless when you picked up a phone and called upon violent forces to do your bidding. The police function out of fear. The fear of their violence is the motivating factor to abide by unjust laws. Period. When one is subjected to the violence, or threat there of, one will feel a sense of powerlessness, even briefly. When one chooses to call upon those violent forces to work in their benefit or on their behalf, that person loses touch with the reality at hand. You have purchased land that is older than you and I. Land older than tipi village. Older than laws and deeds and organic farms or solar panels or fly by night new age health spas. The land does not need cops, or men with guns, but those willing to listen. Those who come humbly will be gifted. There is no ownership, Rod. Only violence or love. You ARE empowered to choose your path. You can claim self righteousness concerning law, but we both know that this is disingenuous. When we speak of love, we speak not according to laws of country, state, county or city, we speak of opposition to law. True love is fearless, and just and integral.Law requires fear, hence the guns, the shackles, the jails. Land is not parcels, it is not packages, it is not fences or property lines. Land is life. Living on the ground is not a mission. It is living on the ground. Ande and Kayla, Rowan, Isla, Sequoia and Tamarack, are part of that land. They are born there. Are you? Can you be? Or are you there to till soil and tear out trees, reroute streams and all in the name of regeneration research? Stop researching. Stop searching. Start seeing. Start hearing. You can remove them with a phone call, you can get unanimous consent from a board, you talk to your lawyers and your elders, and get permission to act in a way that they choose for you to act, or you can listen to the land.  You can talk to those who you will be the ancestor of and tell them you did what was right, not what was legal. You have chosen a side to fight for, and you can choose again. Each moment is a choice, a potential adventure or a bland retelling. It takes a simple reading of a children's story to see where we stand sometimes. It is not hard to see who is who in this story. Can you see?


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Hold on to what is good.

Hold on to what is good,
Even if it's a handful of earth.

Hold on to what you believe,
Even if it's a tree that stands by itself.

Hold on to what you must do,
Even if it's a long way from here.

Hold on to your life,
Even if it's easier to let go.

Hold on to my hand,
Even if someday I'll be gone away from you.

— Pueblo Prayer

Sitting on the ground now, cool and damp January evening, the usual soft snores of the children, fire of oak, madrone and manzanita low flickering, starting to smoke a little and will need attention.

We've been displaced by a proposed eco-village by the name of Seven Generations farm. Arrested, cuffed and taken to jail for 'second degree trespass', relating to the place we have been calling the Winter Grounds for the past seven years. The Place we call home. The Place in the woods, oak savanna, whose deed title changed hands half a year ago along with 1600 other acres.

Last spring we spoke with the incoming title owners and they said they have more land than they know what to do with and they like how we live and as long as they don't know then they don't care. An advisor told them that they had liability issues with us but it was spring and we were moving, plus we were being evicted by the old title holders.

We met the incoming title owners and we sat in circle and cried and they said that the aim of their project, Seven Generations Farm, was that people would be living similarly to how we live in seven generations. We breathed and fell in love with a couple who had 'wanted to do an eco-village' since childhood. We felt an alliance and moved to the Summer Grounds only to find that it was in contract to the neighbouring conservationists, who also wanted us gone, the events of which are covered in previous posts. Our new ally told us to inform the then title holders that we could pay them more money and close the deal in seven days. The Summer Grounds became valuable to them when they discovered that the three measure 49 claims attached to that deed were transferable (meaning that they would be able to bypass county planning processes for building home sites). We filed a lawsuit for the right to buy the title for the Summer Grounds. We hired an attorney and paid him from the Land Liberation Fund. He advised us on absolute secrecy, even with our new ally and then in a later meeting told us that he couldn't represent us for fear of being associated with 'queering' a sale. Our new ally was advised by their attorney that they could be sued in turn for conspiring to disrupt a sale. So they pulled out. We found out after asking them as they were about to go on a hiking vacation in Utah for a couple of weeks.
We held off returning to the Winter Grounds as we continued communication with our new allies, all upstanding pillars of the Ashland new age community, and it became clear that they were indeed afraid that our way of life is a liability to their project.

They are working on saving the world so it's quite important.

Their lawyer told them that if anyone complains about our homes being in noncompliance with county regulations then it could slow and entangle the 'things' they wanted swiftly passed with the county. We maintained dialogue and gradually our protestations, input and ideas began to fall on deaf ears. They wanted us gone. Away.

Meanwhile we're late on the mountain and the Big Lodge is blown over and shredded to the winds and the last of the serviceberries have dried up, the geese are flying, shadows lengthening and the hot summer of many wildfires smells old. Via a hop and a step we're back on the Winter Grounds and our new allies are telling us that along with their meta-council, in spite of sociocratic and consensual ideals, they've made a difficult decision and they're calling the cops on us because we've returned home. They gave us 'fair warning' and even a 'heads up'.

Here's an account of that day written shortly after it happened. It's no 'poor me' and after the experience I have a newfound respect for brothers and sisters imprisoned for an imposed ideology:

I was sipping coffee, it was a late morning as I was late in the shop the previous night working on a lining for Dan over the hill. I had my phone out reading an email from Jules Pretty. He's the author of Edge of Extinction and he'd been talking about extinction and evolution on Start the Week. I was inspired hearing him speak about 'enduring people in vanishing lands' so I wrote to him. He said, "Those who are settled have always become suspicious of those who move, even if their touch on the land is light". There were footsteps outside (shaking the web) and I looked up to see three or four grave looking men in badged uniforms, with guns, cuffs, tasers, mace (etc.) walking up to the doorway and peering in. Very well presented, clean cut and clean smelling.

They told us that they were here to arrest us for trespass. Here at the Winter Spot. So we put our boots on, all of us, and they walked us out. There was a little of the usual banter that occurs at the intersection of two cultures, or paradigms. We came to the road and Kim pulled up with Jimmy to take the children to their place. The kids were valiant and stalwart.

I can only imagine what it must feel like to see my mum as dad being handcuffed and taken away. The bigger ones understood that we'd (according to the deputy) probably be released the same day, but still...y'know?

Then it's Kayla and I in the back seat of this sheriff's pickup truck with bars on the windows and clear vinyl covering the seats. Cuffs digging in still behind our backs and they buckle us in.

On the I-5 north to Medford and we start singing that old Seize the Day song:

'No-one's slave I am no-one's master
No-one's slave I am no-one's master
On my grave they will write this after I am gone
I will be gone
And when my breath has gone to the air it came from
Flesh has gone to the earth it lived on

I am through with the shame of my lying
Had my fill of the cruelty and crying
Earned my keep in the land where the dying deserts grow
And now I know
And now I'm looking out with a new perspective
Lifting up with a new directive

Going home to the land of our mothers
I will walk with my sisters and brothers
We will share what is good with each other in our love
It is our love
It is a love that brings you the invitation
Join me now with this incantation:

Mother Earth I was nearly the end of you
Please accept my desire to be friends with you
Now I know just how much I depend on you for life
You are my life
You are the life that grows in the flesh I'm weaving
Life that grows in the air I'm breathing

I am strong like a tree on a mountain
Full and fresh like a free flowing fountain
Bright and clear as the stars beyond counting in the night
I am their light
I am the light that shines in a thousand people
In my sight every life is equal

No-one's slave I am no-one's master
No-one's slave I am no-one's master
On my grave they will write this after I am gone
I will be gone.

We come to the jailhouse chain-link, razor-wire gate. The deputy hails the intercom,"This is Adams with one male, one female, cooperative.

Now, finally, they have us cooperative.

Gate closes behind. We pull into a large garage, door rolls down behind. Deputy gets out, opens the truck doors. We get out and wait in front of a glass and metal door leading to a chamber where someone before us is getting frisked. Kayla and I kiss, the deputy tells us not to. Kayla goes in first and I see them searching her, taking her outer clothes off, her headscarf, facing the wall. Now she's facing the woman searching her, talking, then she looks at me and shrugs with a resigned smile, holds up her hand and takes her ring off. They take her through the other door and now we'll only see each other briefly through the window on a cell door. We will hear each other and we sing the Song of the Diggers and this old favourite:

We are the power in everyone
We are the dance of the moon and the sun
We are the hope that will never hide
We are the turning of the tide

Then it's me, feet on the red lines on the floor, slightly too wide for my height, about a foot -18', facing a bloodstained cinder block wall. Three or four armed men behind me, going through the  pockets of my coat that I'd brought along but wasn't wearing.
"What are you here for?"
"I'm not in a tipi?"
Arresting officer Retzer, in comparison now kind and familiar steps in, "Trespass two"

Then my trousers, belt, pants starting to fall off, shirt unbuttoned, then cuffs off, wrists released. My ring wasn't coming off (but he got it later with some lotion).

Then ,"Follow the blue line!", clothes, socks jumbled up.To another room.

"Take the rest of your clothes off."

"Oh, are you gunna look up my bum?"


" What, like probe it?"

-" No. Turn around, bend forward, spread your cheeks and cough three times."

"Cough, cough, cough."

"Again, but harder."

"Cough, cough, cough!"

"Ya gotta do it harder"

"Cough, cough, cough."


"Cough, ahacouurgh cough, cough, chug, charrugh!"

"OK, put these on!"

White, well worn, many laundered boxer shorts, T-shirt, green overalls. Blanket, sheet, pillowcase containing rubber cup, spoon, four sheets of paper and a pencil, toothbrush, palm comb, booklet. Given to me in exchange for all that was just taken. Led to a cell. Man asleep on a bunk, head in the corner, raises his head, swollen eyes, growl, head down, stainless steel toilet/ sink unit to the right. Empty bunks to the left.

Door closed.

Following is some of what I wrote in that cell. Read on with a strong centre because there is some swearing in it and I was really pissed off. It's not necessarily how I feel now:

Fuck your self-righteous and justified veneer of indifference and nauseatingly complete lack of empathy. Fuck your pseudo-sympathy. Fuck your desperate and spineless political posturing and your squirming from any personal responsibility for the manifestation in Our Shared Life. Fuck your manipulation and your fear-mongery. Fuck your nonviolent passive aggression. I went to jail because this time I defied your consistently poor judgement.
You punished my family and I, Brooks and Rod, and your character has been laid bare and open for all to see and now we can see your capacity for honest collaboration. Here we sit: caged, cooperative and cuffed and now you can say that you follow through with what you say. That you are people of integrity and strong boundaries. You might like to question the values contained within those boundaries.

Your proposed ecovillage is founded on the denial of my freedom. So fuck your ecovillage. Your deeper intention is being revealed through all of this which appears to be nothing more than the same bullying and domination of the past three millennia. Even more galling is the cynical lexicon of new age love behind which you hide your pernicious agenda for profit from the land.
I was sent to jail because I did not honour your 'request' to not return to the Winter Grounds, home. What kind of 'request' cannot be declined? And my children, remember, you called them 'little love bugs'? Fuck you for manipulatively using the threat of them being taken by child services for disobeying your commands. But mostly, fuck you for diminishing their opportunity to live a life of connected place.

They released us late the same night. There followed heavy rain and wind and we were homeless. St. Vincent de Paul helped us to pay for a week in the Ashland Commons.

We asked for consensus or at least to be left alone in the twenty foot circle in the woods we call home.

Where do the free people go in this Land of the Free? Yes Rod, as you said, you 'hooked the rebellion'. Meanwhile, emperor, we have to work out shelter and it's winter.

Today the deed owners rescinded the charges that they had dropped at our request under the mistaken belief that we had moved back to "their" land and we are to be in court on the 28th of January. I'd like to simply get along with my life in a good way and be done with this cold, hard contention.

"We sing of freedom
And speak of liberation
But such chances come
Once a generation
So I'll ignore what I am sure
Are the best of your intentions
You are judged by your actions
And not by your pretensions

There's drudgery in social change
And glory for the few
And if you don't tell me what not to say
I won't tell you what not to do."

-B. Bragg (I don't need this pressure, Ron).


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Surrender to Love

The children and I walked for a long time today. The first proper walk since our migratory return to the Winter Grounds as we have been focused and busy making our home. We have only been here for a handful of days yet if feels like forever.

We set out, with no clear plan or route in mind. Slowly we walked together and I found myself entering into a bit of an altered state. It was the swing that took me there. Or rather the sounds of laughter that came from that bit of rope tied to that old oak where the hillside is worn down from the countless little feet dragging as bodies thrust into the air. The echoes were familiar as they traveled through the small valley and were held by the trees.

We carried on, gathering around the still standing May Pole. I could hear the singing and feel the dancing that was woven into those faded colors of cloth wrapped around the towering pole. Village life was full in those days and I love dearly the people I have lived with on this hillside. 

I began to understand a quality and reason for this walk that I was unaware of when we first began. A quality of healing, of coming full circle, of honoring a process. Perhaps the beginning of a walking ceremony of completion, of death, of transformation. Perhaps it would help to release the dancing woven ribbons of the May Pole to the fire and to open all the hearths to the east. Release.

We continued on, making our way past the many mounds made with muscle, sweat, shovels, pick axes. Where lodges once stood and where people we love once dwelled. We were walking amidst the ruins of a once thriving tipi village. 

Gently, sadness flows through me and out my eyes back into this hillside.

The stories and feelings of this place, of this journey, grew, exponentially as the children shared their own as we walked, giving me a small glimpse into their wild and free relationship with their place. 

We ate rose hips as we searched along the dry creek bed for treasures of tumbled stone. It was the sound of muffled singing and drumming from a distant past that brought us to stand at the bones of an old sweat lodge. A place where together we entered the womb of the mother and prayed. I could feel its' warmth somehow although it was damp, the hearth overgrown with moss and my breath steaming as I exhaled. Outside of myself are the cold remains of tribal life. Inside are the stories of connection, life, love.

We gathered herbs to bring home for tea. Our quiet walking on the leafy path joined us with a buck who turned and came toward us with a relaxed confidence. For a brief moment I thought I was a deer, perhaps a doe, for we seemed so comfortable together. 

With chilled hands in our pockets we uncovered with our boots the old rock-tiled platform and hearth built for the horse trough bath tub. Such luxury to bath in the snow by the creek!

A dense, dry standing dead oak revealed itself. The kids and I wrestled with it for awhile. Now it brings warmth and light to our home. 

We continued on, following the faded network of paths formed overtime as hearts and hearths connected; traveling bodies moving through life in similar ways. Gathering wood. Fetching water. Having a poo, visiting a neighbor, having a bath, playing, joining, celebrating, arguing.

A web of shared life shimmering with texture.

The sound of the first lodge to rise with the chopping of wood or the crying of a child. 

In the evenings, hunkering down for the long nights journey away from the sun and one by one the glowing lanterns of homes across the hillside fading out. 

The sounds of children being born; a father announcing the arrival with the blowing of the conch.

The bright colors of village children in costume for a beating-of-the-bounds parade or a Spring Equinox play. 

The long, long nights on vigil hill; bodies bundled from the wet and cold while waiting for the return of the sun. 

The sacred communing and mind melding of the talking stick, spiraling around and around, sometimes till morning.

The big lodge and all the diverse realities it accommodated.

It's only our one family lodge standing here now, glowing in the night.

There are so many reasons, known and unknown, for the dispersal of lives. It was the sheriffs arrival at the Summer Grounds in September, on the behalf of the land "owner", coming to remove us that broke the last of this shimmering web.

Spider shows us that webs are alive. They ebb and flow, break and mend at the whim of the elements. To be strong, they are continually re-made. Sometimes daily. 

We have returned to the Winter Grounds although the new land "owners" have asked us not to. For this struggle and lack of consensus between us I am sorry. I love them and see myself in them. Respectfully, our family answers to the earth. It is her with whom we give our authority. I pray that we all remember this power.

We needed to return here to be able to feel and to heal. A circle completing and never ending. 
It is a deep blessing.
May we continue to walk with gratitude for where we have been, where we are now and where we are going. I remember, yet again, that the process and journey through life is all we have. May we cherish it.

To all the lives who lived on this hillside, I love you. Deeply. You are in me. It was an honor to share life with you in this way and has made my life more whole. 

To the life before me now, this land, these trees, this water, thank you for opening. Thank you for receiving the lives from my womb made by the love of two bodies united under your moon. Thank you for weaving me and my family into you and you into us. And thank you to the previous land "owner", who preferred to call himself a steward, for being a part of the openness here. 

To the people who have recently arrived here as the new land "owners", please be good to her. Take care of her and listen to her. May you be taken in and held as we were by her fierce and gentle embrace. 

And to the unknown path ahead of us, may we walk it with open arms and curious minds. May the love that opened to us here in this place give us the strength and power to move forward on dancing feet. 


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dispatches from the Trenches

Stepping out for a pee into the night strong wind rain tall trees. Push the smoke flaps over come back in to smoky embers remedied by a hand full of dry manzanita and oak twigs. The rest of the family sleeps barely audible sighs over the rain caressing the cover. No lining or ozan yet; moving lightly in our lodge.
The Big Lodge blew down last new moon in some heavy wind on Soda Mountain. It didn't just blow down, it kind of exploded. It was really well staked around the cover and the tripod was buried 12-18 inches. We were staying in there and went to bed trepidatiously, poles flexing from the onslaught of the wind but standing strong and tight. Little sleep and then sometime around four the cover started tearing on the leeward side. It was a 27' tipi and liked to catch the wind. At this point we roused the children and got out, more tearing as the fabric gave way at the peg loops. Kayla and the kids headed away towards the van, trees crashing, I stayed rolling up bedrolls as the whole structure becomes more and more unstable, wind more and more intense and I find myself in the doorway as reality begins to lean and shift then white canvas passing my face, poles knocking, looking up to see a clear, moonless sky, Orion trailing his dog and away to the left shreds of canvas, still firmly staked, and a pile of articulated poles, fallen, discovered for the first time, ancient bones uncovered by the elements.This was Clear Guidance and we took refuge in town for a few days while we cleaned up the aftermath of the Big Lodge and pitched our family lodge...somewhere else.

The Big Lodge is no more, at least for now, and it's both saddening and a relief. The whole concept and reality of Tipi Village is an unanswered question and this is a time of radical restructuring on many levels. Most welcome. Right now we are one family in the woods and the rain is getting heavier. We get to rise to the circumstance of living and always give thanks.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Geese giggle overhead longing for winter grounds land slipping away below. We slip away together.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Skunk Medicine

Occasionally a skunk might come into our tipi, at night, when we're all in bed. He'll sniff around the food box, maybe rummage in the trash and generally have a good nose around. He'll have free reign around the lodge; an uncomfortable and formidable, (though dynamic and welcome) guest, even known as good pets. Any attempt to shoo or evict a skunk would be folly, even were one not in one's home. Left be, skunks are a rich part of the fauna of embedded place. A benefit to a diverse ecosystem with powerful medicine. When harassed or threatened, their defensive spray can be so intense as to cause temporary blindness and lasting discomfort.

It has been a little over a week since our second visit from the deputies. We had moved, since eviction, deeper into the woods, onto land within the same region but beyond the assumed imaginary boundaries of the Dominant Paradigm. It turned out, according to the real estate agent's GPS(who happened to show up shortly after the deputies' arrival), that we had pitched our lodges on the 'wrong' side of that imaginary line drawn over a map of the wilderness, by a couple of hundred feet.
The deputies recognised our blunder as a good faith attempt to comply and gave us until Monday to 'rectify the mistake'.

"Is that fair?" asked deputy Mc.Kay. In one sense, yes, of course, we've made a mistake, we're on the wrong side of that line on that map. My mouth however, which sometimes, with an emboldened doubt, like stretching fresh wings, said (something like),"No, that's not fair. This place we call home, our children are born and grow here. The folds of this place, we know intimately, as the folds of a lover. You men with guns and tasers walk all the way up the hill here, well out of your way, into the wilderness, to displace us, so that this land can be sold to conservation and exclude these representatives of a keystone species." (the reality of what actually came out was probably more clumsy).

"Well let me say it like this, on Monday I'm coming back and I'll arrest every adult still here and place your children with Child Services."

I have a lot of respect, on the whole, for the deputies. We've had some good dialogue over the past week. They are charged with executing a court order and they seem to understand the absurdity of the whole situation; families living wholesomely on vacant land in the middle of nowhere, not only doing no harm but bringing great benefit to the immediate ecology. They, in this instance, being agents for the powerless wealthy. An executor of an estate of thousands of acres, living in Montana and an LA business man connected with the Hearst Foundation.

During the intervening days the Big Lodge was moved to Public Land and the village was cleared all except for our family lodge, remaining on the 'wrong' side of that line. The children went to stay at their Nana's. Monday morning came and some people showed up in support. Kayla made herself comfortable in the crown of our lodge and the sheriff's deputies arrived, walking up the hill. They stayed for a while, appearing a little bemused and more perplexed, not expecting to see my glorious wife high in the crown, with a sign,"we belong to the earth", peacefully not only refusing to come down and be displaced, but giving the deputies some heartfelt conversation. Mostly I felt like crying during that time and I missed the children being witness to such living. The deputies left not needing to arrest anyone, Kayla came down and we took off for Medford seeking legal help. We heard that the deputies had come back again whilst we were gone. They have a fleet of four or six vehicles, two pulling trailers carrying ATVs. Combined there has probably been more spent on evicting my family from the wilderness than we earn in a year. We're talking tens of thousands of dollars. They came again the next day and we were gone again. The day after that the deputies and I met on the driveway. They told me they were coming to take our family lodge. I was amused to imagine them dragging the whole thing down the hill on their backs but it turned out they were coming only for the cover. They strongly asked me to accompany them but I declined as we were on our way to the courthouse to file a lawsuit. And anyway we have plenty of tipis and can make more. The lawsuit is so that we can have the right to 'buy' the place we call home. We came home, late, hungry and tired in the rain to find out the Big Lodge had blown over. Along with the deputies taking our home we had no shelter so we repitched the wet Big Lodge and made dinner and dried our bedding as best we could. Thankfully the deputies had helped and brought a couple of bags of our belongings to the Big Lodge. There was an idea to ask Bob and Suzi Given for shelter that night as it is their contingencies of purchase that are forcing Steve Mosby to evict us. They've stopped cmmunicating with us and refuse to consider our tenure, insisting that they will sell the land to the government. Many in the surrounding Greensprings community say that the Givens want to have Soda Mountain to themselves. I, personally, don't think they are so selfish. I think they have an old school idea of conservation which cannot accept humans as a part of the ecology. What is clear is that if we are to do anything about environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity then it is essential that we re-intergrate ourselves, our nature, as a part of a whole, Gaia.

So a couple of days ago we were heading to Central Point to collect our tipi cover and we met the other hostile neighbour, Jonathan Paul, outside of his house on Soda Mountain Road. There was some exchange of words and tensions grew along with aggression. He had a 'badass' gangsta-leaning little friend with him also heckling, telling us to leave and trying to intimidate. So we drove out to Central Point to the sherrifs, picked up our tipi and had more friendly interaction. Some hours and $20 in gas later we're home again and Jonathan Paul turns up again as we're collecting a set of poles from the 'wrong' side of that imaginary line (the sherrifs told us we could). More aggro posturing , whining and complaining (really- do you people have nothing better to do?) and Jonathan leaves telling us he's tattle telling the sheriff. So the next day we get a chance to engage on the front line of the Dominant Paradigm, again, and the deputies go and walk all the way up the hill, again, to discover that they had bad information.

You're probably reading this, JP and I'm probably going to hear about it from you. I'm communicating the story, from my perspective as it unfolds and you are woven in to it. I still don't know why we're opposed or why you're so much involved other than you've taken your friends Bob and Suzi's story. I can tell you that attempts at bullying and intimidation, even if you're acting at Bob and Suzi's request, will only serve to make us more resolute.

The last time Bob and Suzi Given's names were mentioned in this blog I was threatened, by Bob, with a defamation lawsuit (hey, that's how rich people communicate in the US of A!). It got Bob to speak from his Ivory Tower and I heard his and Suzi's discomfort at feeling dragged in front of their community against their will. With compassion (I have no assets to lose in a lawsuit) their names were removed from the open letter I wrote to them. Bob and Suzi Given,you can continue to pull strings to send men with guns and uniforms, men without guns claiming to be 'security', have big, ugly yellow gates installed and locked, and generally harrass, intimidate and try to get your own way by whatever means you deem appropriate, but understand that the world will know. Your actions lack any morality and even the most basic human decency, not to mention neighbourlyness. I have only ever been friendly and amicable with you and, even still, I enjoy our interactions, though sparse. I have the power of communication and I will continue to use it. Even when you come around and we get to a point of consensus; I will communicate that. If only you knew how much I long for some resolution with you! And before you freak out about the horror of your names being public, now, consider that I'm not dragging you from your home into the rain, telling you to leave and giving you and your children nowhere to go.
My children have a right to be able to live and grow where they are born. There is no right to buy and sell the earth for private gain. We belong to the earth!
Stop all of this waste and expense, circle with us and find a mutually amicable way forward together.


An Open Letter to Jonathan Paul, another involved distant neighbor

More sharing of the process here.....

Dear JonathanPaul,

I appreciate the decency (although minimal) you have to come to us directly for communication, however, it's ironic that I feel safer perched in the crown of my tipi over six men with guns, tazers, mace and handcuffs than I do talking on level ground with you. I continue to be baffled as to what your issue might be with my family and Tipi Village being on this mountain and I get a sense that you may not even know. Can you spell it out for me very clearly so that things can begin to be properly addressed (sans yelling)? I am not interested in aggressive threats towards my family from you or your friends anymore. Enough.

It was Friday (a few days ago) when you came to "check" on us while we were loading the last of our things (with the sheriffs permission none-the-less) from the land we have been evicted from. You smugly took a picture and informed us that you'd be telling the authorities. Well the sheriffs paid our family yet another visit the following day. In retrospect, it probably helped our cause having them see that we are honest and that there are neighbors attempting to sabotage. They said the complaint that was filed was a 'bad call'. So I guess I can say thanks for that. 

Although recent encounters between us have been on the nasty side, I have gotten glimpses of our commonality. I can imagine a day when we have a good, robust and respectful argument with the many valid perspectives all around. 

I heard you say that I should find another cause to sit in the crown of my lodge for, another way to spend my time. What other cause would that be? Animal rights? No GMO's? Climate Change? Yes, these are worthwhile causes and are also all symptoms of the dominant paradigm; the one that is currently pushing my family and community around. There is a pattern repeating itself here, one that is rooted in white-settler land-ownership consciousness. How did you get to 'own' your 'property' in the first place? Consider what it is embedded in. You shout for us to leave the mountain. How have we offended you so? The only time we enter your space is when driving by your house and cameras on our weekly trip to town. The less savory parts of myself are tempted to speed on by, ignoring the 'slow down' signs and your wish for no dust, but I resist. I'll stretch myself for the sake of neighborly respect, giving what I wish to receive. If I may be so arrogant as to advise you on something, how about finding something else to do with your time besides passive aggressively pushing and threatening families who are living a quiet, simple and direct life in the woods? 

The mainstream paradigm has no regard for future generations. It is completely absorbed in itself. I will not feed my children to it! I will instead lead a way that I believe to be wholesome. A way that regards all our relations, including unborn ones. A new old culture is emerging through people all around the world. What a time to be alive! If peacefully resisting eviction by living in the top of my lodge can help this movement in any way, although small, it's a worthwhile cause. While seated up there, a sheriff asked me what kind of example I thought I was being for my children in not obeying the authorities. I felt a gentle smile emerge and then reminded him (and myself) that the highest authority is Mother Earth. She's in charge and continues beneath our feet. We belong to her, not the other way around. The most power we can have is in our ability to adapt to her and dance with her seasons. Anything else is an attempt to control the outside world, which is futile. 

Jonathan, it is your birthright to have a place on the earth, to build a nest as the bird does. There is no arguing that. Every human has that right. There is enough space on this mountain to share. Contrary to the mainstream 'conservationist' thought, humans are actually an integral part of the natural world. We are living in a time where we humans must find a way (by remembering the old ways) to live in harmony with the remaining wild places. A healthy bio-diversity is dependent on keystone species. Humans are just that!

The mainstream way is one of isolation and separation. We all know this. It does not live as tribes or bands any longer. It lacks an understanding that we are woven together and have a responsibility to each other and the future. I understand you do not have children of your own. But as folk who live within a few miles of each other out in the woods, you do. They live here with us. And they could use your help in assuring their future is imbued with a culture of regard, of empowerment through direct living, of songs and stories that are grounded in a place. You have a part in this story. Which role would you like to play? 

In love,

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Another Open Letter to Bob and Suzi Given, our distant neighbors

Here is one of the latest of many letters written a few days ago to our neighbors. They are in escrow to buy the land we have called home for seven summers now with the intention to pass it onto the government. This letter has gone unanswered along with the others. It is our hope that through sharing these letters and stories with a wider community (the public) the parties involved will be motivated to act with integrity and accountability. Please Bob and Suzi, talk to us. We are here on the mountain with you. Let us sit in a circle on the ground we all love and find some consensus. 

Dear Bob and Suzi,

Today the sheriffs confiscated our family's shelter. We returned home just before dark with hungry and tired children to find our clothes, rugs and beds in an open meadow wet with the rain that comes and goes as I write. I had the thought to drive to your place and ask you to accommodate us tonight, seeing as you have had a role in our displacement. We don't have a dryer. We have the sun, which is shining on the other side of the earth right now. 

I heard recently (from an attorney) that the law is designed to protect the interests of the rich; it isn't moral, fair or just. 
Carl Jung spoke about money representing non-feeling. I find that without much money, we are vulnerable, raw and trusting and thus comes the inspiration to dive deeply into the richness of life and its' many challenges. It benefits me to take good care of relationships, knowing that this is all I have at the end of the day. Excess money seems to confine and shelter one from the soul's tendency towards deep empathy. 

The amount of money that you and I have seems to be our main difference and I pray that this does not come between our heart's capacity to love and respect one another as well as our ability to communicate directly! 

Bob and Suzi, you both have said several times that you respect me. Today I am baffled by the contradiction of your words and your actions. Ande and I have extended ourselves to you many times only to be hung up on, ignored or avoided. Somehow you have absolved yourselves of any responsibility with the current plight of our family and small community. You are as culpable as Steve for sending men with guns to remove us as well as installing gates on the driveway to lock us out of our home. I have learned that both of these are your contingencies for the purchasing of this land. So it seems Steve is doing your dirty work. The only way to get direct communication from you is to literally follow you around at a festival begging for it, or write an open letter. Tell me, is this respect?

Standing in the meadow this evening was yet another opportunity to rise and meet life's call to empowerment. Dire and epic seem to go together these days. We continue to do what we can. Living intimately with the natural forces of our earth mother gives us a strength far greater than any attorney, court, bank account balance or land deed can ever give. 

We are still here. 

May we all find the strength and courage to continue an honest dialogue. I hope that together we can find a way forward that is good for everyone. 


Thursday, September 18, 2014

'Rural' Disobedience and The Song of the Diggers

It's a well known English traditional folk song, published here as it's pertinent to Tipi Village at the moment and we've been singing it for the past week or so.

There's been a lot going on what with sheriffs and all and we'll post an update when there's time. Mother Earth endures and we belong here!

Love from Ande

In sixteen forty nine
To St. George's hill
A gallant band they called The Diggers
Came to show the people's will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs.

"We come in peace" they said
"To dig and sew
We come to work the land in common
And to make the waste ground grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
That it may be a common treasury for all."

"The sin of property
We do disdain
No one has any right to buy or sell the earth
For private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Now everywhere the walls spring up at their command."

"They make the laws
They chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The gods they serve
The god of greed who feeds the rich
While poor folk starve".

"We work, we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to the masters
Nor pay rent to the lords
We are free, though we are poor
You diggers all stand up for glory, stand up now!"

From the men of property
The order came
They sent the hired man and the trooper
To wipe out the digger's claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed but still the vision lingers on.

You poor take courage!
You rich take care!
This earth was born a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
"We come in peace"
But the order came to cut them down

"We come in peace" they said
"To dig and sew
We come to work the land in common
And to make the waste ground grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
That it may be a common treasury for all".