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.