leave old job....leave old home...enter new home...engage new life...maintain what matters

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Open House Celebration!!!

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed and still nothing is as shining as it should be for you. – Bob reading Mary Oliver

This prairie song fills my heart.  – Doug performing his Prairie Song

 It’s called community reliance.  That’s why we did all this. – Mike’s greeting

May you build a ladder to the stars.  May you climb on every rung.  May you stay forever young.  – Randy and Brad performing Dylan

We’d go in and read poetry to Paul at Locus Architecture to describe what we wanted our house to be.  – Linda’s greeting

There’s no self-reliance going on out there.  There isn’t any.  It’s the community of the Land.   The birds need the raspberries and the raspberries need the birds.  Mike’s greeting

You bring those plants together and form a new bouquet, a diverse bouquet, that represents not only the diversity of the prairie and the beauty of that diversity but also the beauty of the diversity in our own lives and all the people we love and have become bonded to.  - Pam leading the flower ceremony
Thank you for this day of celebration, for the life at play in everything, for this grand experiment, this patch of earth, so lovingly tended and coaxed back into nature.  -Pam’s blessing

Eons from now the land is still there and as before it yearns to share. All it needs to have is someone to love. – Gary performing The Land

…and all that we can say is hallelujah!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Off-Grid Culture

As I took yet another soul-reviving off-grid step, I realized that not only is off-grid more journey than destination, but there are a lot of grids to get off.   “Too many,” said  a colleague as he shook his head in his apparent despair.   In addition to the quintessential electric grid, we’re weaning ourselves off the waste grid, the home-heating gas grid, and the water grid.   
But it was Michael Pollan-inspired Linda who led us away from our first grid:  food.  It was she who walked away from the grid-tied organic produce at Kowalski’s and Whole Food  Market.  It was she who bravely founded a neighborhood CSA with our grower neighbor’s the Dietz’s.  It was she who creaked open the bulk-room door, slipped inside and tapped our first---dare I say it---raw milk, oh no!. 
But this week I’m Sandor Katz-inspired and I took the food lead.  I couldn’t help myself.  He made me feel so invited to take the next natural off-grid step.  But you know what the very hardest thing is about all this (and every previous off-grid step)?    I don’t know how to explain why I’m doing this.  
In fact, if you want to get my blood boiling---and that’s not always easy---do what the 2012 Minnesota Solar Tour enrollment form did:  Ask me how long it will take before our off-grid electric pays off.  So I typed into the little box, “How long until your children pay for themselves?”  OK I didn’t.  But I wanted to.  I really really wanted to.  Do they think I’d leave my wonderful neighbors and co-workers and church community just to move down here and save a few pennies on electricity?  So I typed in their little box, “We didn't buy the system to save money.  We bought the system to enable us to live a life that is connected to the Land.  Since no standard grid-provided electricity can't do this, payback was immediate.”  And that didn’t begin to say why. 
Perhaps I’m stepping off-grid to restore my grid-depleted mind, body and spirit.    
But maybe there are too many too grids to get off.  The food grid.  The power grid. The money-enmeshed trade grid.  Education.  Transportation.  Communication.  My whole life was on a impossibly complex, corporate run, government regulated, quantity over quality, soul-sucking grid.  Well not quite actually.  The absolute best things in life were not:  Linda, my friends, neighbors and church community.  And the Land.  Who knows where my heart and soul would be without them, without my off-grid island of connection, love and support?  Now all I’m doing is adding to that off-grid community.  And the most recent addition came from the inviting work of Sandor Katz.
I started my first-ever batch of mead.  Just raw honey, rainwater and wild black raspberries.  That’s all.  I let nature add the yeast and whatever else makes those blue bubbles on top of the raspberry mass.  And in a few days, promises off-grid-minded Sandor Katz, I’ll take my first sip of slightly sweet, slightly alcoholic, raspberry brightened mead.  What engaging magic!  What an off-grid culture!  The grid exercises control to gain consistent availability for me, me, me.  Off-grid relies on wild collaboration (bees and flowers, honey yeast and me) and ruthless competition (yeast and me over mold and vinegar-producing bacteria) to gain…hmmm…what is it I’m gaining?
I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on those Solar Tour folks since even I struggle to well-answer their question.  At least an answer delivered in words.  Right now it’s more an energizing feeling, an uplifting song, blue bubbles rising in the mead.   I think I’m going to start another batch.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

3 Invitations to Home the Land Built

Sept 22                 Open House Celebration
Oct 6                      2012 MN SolarTour
Sept 9                   Dinner on the Farm
Open House Celebratory Bash  Saturday, Sept 22    Noon to 5 pm
You’re Invited to Home the Land Built!!!

Scrumptious food featuring farm to table, seasonal ingredients
(Including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free options)
Catered by Winona’s Blue Heron Coffeehouse
Schell’s beer, wine and nonalcoholic beverages
Music, off-grid home and prairie tours, fun
Ritual of blessing at 3 pm
You bring walking shoes, binoculars and good wishes
Experience our “off-grid, rainwater harvesting, masonry heated, composting toilet” home
Walk the mowed paths of our 62 acre prairie and pasture
Solar Home Tour              Saturday Oct 6   10AM to 4PM
“Sponsored by the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES), the self-guided, public Minnesota Solar Tour features 50+ exemplary homes, businesses, and institutions that have incorporated renewable energy into the design and operation of their buildings. From geothermal heat pumps using the earth as a huge thermal buffer to wind turbines elegantly spinning in the breeze and the many incarnations of solar energy between earth and sky, this event offers local residents an opportunity to find out how their neighbors are trimming their energy bills, increasing their energy independence, and taking steps to address global warming. This is an excellent opportunity for those interested in solar and other renewable energies to view installations and talk with building owners, builders, architects, and planners about their experiences.”
We’re proud to be on this free tour.  See SE07 Home the Land Built on the Solar Tour Site Map. If Home the Land Built is too far away, visit a few others.
Dinner on the Farm        Sunday Sept 9      2PM   Farm of Lonnie and Sandy Dietz
OK, so this isn’t exactly at Home the Land Built.  But it is a gathering at our wonderful veggie-providing neighbors, the Dietz’s.  Informal tours starting at noon, dinner to be served at 2pm. Food prepared by the Blue Heron Coffee House, Winona MN, sourced from Whitewater Gardens and other farms located within 50 miles. Music by the Dorothy Daydreamers. Proceeds this year going to Farm to School programs. Tickets only $50.
How to RSVP
To attend the solar tour, follow site instructions.  If you’re interested in attending the Open House or Dinner on the Farm, and have not already RSVP’d, please comment below.  Thanks and hope to see you soon!