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Friday, April 5, 2013

The Humbling Crowds

“So, let me get this right,” I said to the seemingly shy yet determined woman before me.  “You attended last Thursday’s talk at Midwest Mountaineering and tonight you listened to us all over again here at REI.”     

“No,” she said.  “I came now, after your talk, because I wanted to know if you really meant what you said."

“What did I say?” I gulped, hoping I had really meant it.

Perhaps reading my nervousness, she put me at ease with a smile.  “You said anyone could come visit your home.  We’d like to come.”

I can’t recall exactly what I felt at that moment.  Sometimes I suffer from delayed emotion syndrome.  I probably experienced all the typical post-talk feelings:  exhaustion, adrenaline-rush, crowd-management anxiety, and most especially, the bliss that comes from connecting with the energies of an entire room.  But later, as the Prius exited the freeway and followed the two-lane home, my shoulders slumped as I recalled the shy yet determined woman. 

I still couldn’t believe she returned to our second talk in a week just to ask if she could tour Home the Land Built.  Of course I’d said yes, yes, yes and gave her my contact info.   We’re all about that.  But now, as the fields of dirty snow rolled past, all I felt was humbled.  To receive someone’s---anyone’s---undivided attention is such a great gift.  I mean, that’s where the Connection lives, doesn't it?   I felt myself blinking back the emotional surge.  I was driving after all.  But how often does someone hear my story, relate to it, and go far out of their way just to dive deeper?  That very evening, as we sat before our ritual fire, Linda and I offered a toast.  Clink!  Can you hear that generous woman?  That’s for you.

And clink!  Here's another for all of you that listened to our story.  The hundred who crowded into the low-ceilinged basement of Midwest Mountaineering.  The next hundred who registered online to fill the spacious event room at REI.   And another clink of the glass for those who wanted to but couldn’t attend.   Who’d have thought the REI event would waitlist a week before the talk?  To all of you I want to repeat what I said to the generous woman.  “Yes.  We invite you to our home.  Come if you wish.  Our door is open.”  Home the Land Built rose to connect us to the Land and to you. 

And clink! to LocusArchitecture---Paul, Adam, Wynne---for spearheading these talks, assembling spiffy, twirling presentation graphics, and inviting us to share our story.    Clink! to Midwest Mountaineering and REI for granting your space and grabbing your customer’s attention.   Clink! to Minnesota Renewable Energy Society for your sponsorship.  Clink! to Tracy at Birchwood Café for sending those tasty treats for all our guests.  Whoa that coconut macaroon was just what I needed before the talk.   And whoa if we clink again I'll fall into the fire.

The most heartfelt thanks goes to all you of who came and offered us the gift of your attention.  And you, there in the humbling crowd---generous as the woman who dared ask to visit---feel free to follow her to Home the Land Built.  The least I can do is offer to hear your story.

By the way, since so many asked what happens to our house when we leave it, I can tell you what we returned to after a night away.    Though the masonry heater felt cool to the touch, the house was still 70F.  The batteries were 100% charged with electricity.  The 80 gallon solar-heated water tank was at 144F and being pumped into the floor.   The toilet bucket was no more full than when we left.  And I can only assume that the cistern still contains roughly 1500 gallons of water.  Maybe your trip down will inspire us to make the water system transparent. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mike,
    This is the shy yet determined woman who came back to see you at REI. Speaking of generosity - sharing your story and welcoming people to your home is quite generous!
    I will be making a day trip to La Crosse in July, and would love to stop by. Unfortunately, I lost the card you wrote your email on. If you're still willing to let me see your home and inundate you with questions, contact me: