Posts Tagged ‘Community’

Sharon Blackie ~ The Mythic Imagination: TEDx Stormont Salon

I love this TEDx talk by Dr. Sharon Blackie! I’m also deeply enjoying her year long Celtic Studies Course. From the YouTube description:

“How can myth and folk tales lead us to live more deeply and more authentically, and inspire us to fall in love with the world all over again? Dr. Sharon Blackie is an award-winning writer whose work sits at the interface of psychology, mythology and ecology. Her highly acclaimed books, articles, and workshops are focused on the development of the mythic imagination, and on the relevance of our native myths, fairy tales and folk traditions to the personal, social and environmental problems we face today. She is the author of the novel The Long Delirious Burning Blue, and two nonfiction books: If Women Rose Rooted, and The Enchanted Life. In 2017 she founded The Hedge School – both an online space and a physical location in Connemara, for teachings and explorations in building a new folk culture. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. ”

Blue House Update

Some readers, friends and clients knew that September marked the month of moving furniture from David’s parents’ house into the blue house next door, which I’ve taken on as a writing office, guesthouse, living room that provides larger classroom space and community kitchen for potlucks and other gatherings. This move synchronously allows David’s parents to keep some of their sentimental furnishings relatively close to the family now that they’ve moved into higher levels of care, in that I’m repurposing their furniture until one or the other of their children has room to take it on.

Originally, I thought I’d begin the lease September 1, but our landlord kept deciding to make more upgrades, so officially, my lease over there did not begin until September 15. We did, however, begin moving things in on the 8th, since we’d already arranged movers. With two Reiki classes scheduled this past Saturday and Sunday, the fluid time schedule, extra upgrades and some moving-snafu’s-turned-blessings made for quite the crazy past two weeks! People have been asking for updates, but I’ve just been too busy getting things ready for the classes and two student guests who arrived on Friday. Today, I’ve had a chance to catch up on both house and garden updates, which I’ll spread through two posts, so as not to overload anyone’s inbox with too many photos. 🙂

First of all, I love the house! Teaching there felt so natural, expansive, and easy, and all the students and guests just loved it, too. Here’s the dining room/entrance view as of Friday:

dining room

The picture will be hung, instead of propped on a side table, and I’ve got a giant sun with stars to hang to the left, which is actually a piece of metal garden art. Everyone asked if I did the painting. Well, sort of. I decided to have minimal art in the blue house, just letting the colors speak for themselves, but I wanted a few garden and nature inspired pieces. I had this painting in my head to paint but didn’t have any time to do so before the class. A week and a half ago, my friend Kimber took me to Hart City Resale to look at crystals, when lo and behold, I saw the painting in my head hanging on the wall there! “Oh, there you are!” I said, and promptly purchased it, saving me many hours of time and ensuring the painting in my head was present for the first guests and classes.

I particularly love the massive numbers of dining options for students and community gatherings. The dining table easily sat eight of us on Saturday, without even adding in any of its four leaves. The kitchen table provides another 4-8 seats, depending on how many leaves we add to it. We currently have no leaves in either table:


You can see my Vitamix, which I reclaimed from a friend I’d let borrow it for the past 2.5 years, so now guests can make green smoothies or soups without needing to lug along a blender. David loves kitchen gear and has enjoyed some strategic ebay auctions to get the blue house’s kitchen fully outfitted not just for guests but also for very large potlucks and gatherings. We’ve now got a 16-gallon soup pot, which should accommodate some of those enormous green striped cushaw squash still growing like crazy outside. (Photos of those in the garden update post.)

The living room/classroom space has two colors of blue. The lighter for three walls, and the darker blue on the wall with an archway that leads to the orange/red dining room:

blue room

That room will eventually get the blue futon from my previous home office I’m winding down upstairs in our own, live-in home, but due to an unexpected bed construction project, we didn’t have time to move that over. I filled in for the lack of furniture with extra dining chairs, rockers I brought out from my new writing office and temporarily from our house, and lots of strategically placed bouquets. When in doubt, add flowers!


The bathroom received the fewest upgrades, so I added the biggest and brightest bouquet there as a diversion. Mission accomplished! The bathroom won hands down as everyone’s favorite room of the house. Never underestimate flowers and faery magick. 😉

I will not include photos of my new office, because a) it’s my private space that will eventually have its own locked door and b) it’s completely unfinished as of yet! I do love the periwinkle color and the fact that it looks out on the current side garden and soon to be backyard garden of the blue house.

One of the biggest moving snafu’s was that due to a tight, turning staircase, we could not get the full sized box springs upstairs. Instead we needed to bust one apart, throw the other away, and then rebuild or build wooden bed platforms from scratch. Heading up that very tricky stairwell, I opted to hang a second hand quilt over the mini wall at the top:


I had our landlord paint the upstairs in a muted rose tone, which surprised people by just how different, subdued and restful it feels upstairs compared to the bright, open, expansive feel downstairs. Mission accomplished again. 🙂 Apparently, the bed platform construction project paid off. David overbuilt the platforms to support an elephant, possibly two at once, and we already had queen sized foam mattress toppers on the full sized mattresses back from days we used to visit his parents’ house. I switched their full sized sheets to new queen sized sheets and quilts I managed to manifest at very reasonable cost, so that the full sized beds sleep like super comfy almost-queen sized ones.

We added hassock fans and vintage oscilating fans to each room, and with the windows closed, both guests slept extremely well. The guest in the front bedroom slept so well the first night, she decided to turn off the fans and open the window the second night, which finally convinced her that yes, those train horns are freakin’ loud until we get the quiet zone officially registered with the federal government. With the windows closed and fans on, though, our guests could not believe how well they slept. Another mission accomplished.

Here are some photos of the bedrooms. Sorry for the blur, as the muted lighting in there makes things cozy but not so fab for photographing:

front bedroom

Same (front) bedroom, at night with one of the dressers:

front bedroom side

The back bedroom is smaller and only fit one dresser. The other will eventually go downstairs in my office closet:

back bedroom

back bedroom bed

Everyone, including our landlord, loves this back bedroom, because with the slanted ceiling, the quilt, vintage fans, angled bed, and 1950’s furniture, it became a cozy little haven that takes you way back in time. Both bedrooms will eventually get curtains, but again, the unexpected construction projects meant a few details did not happen before the guests arrived. Window blinds worked fine, though.

I’ll post more photos once everything gets completed, but that might be awhile. David, our landlord, and I are all wiped out from the big push to get things guest ready, so the remaining and less urgent details might take awhile to finish. I’ve got a Wheel of the Year Celebration scheduled for Saturday, and we might have family coming in the following weekend, so my office, the laundry room turned seed and indoor garden center and details like light switch plates and screens might take a back seat to some much needed relaxation.

Plus, I’ve got a whole ‘nother yard to get ready for Spring, hundreds of bulbs on the way this Fall, more fruit trees and giant piles of compost and mulch to move before season’s end. I have to say, I look forward to frost so I can finally get back to the two courses I purchased this summer before the blue house became a dramatic opportunity for expansion, a writing office/study, and community gathering space. All good things, but I really do look forward to hunkering down this winter to complete my exciting studies. Stay tuned for the garden update, coming up next and showing the side yard between our house and the blue house, as well as some very in process projects for the blue house yard.

Cheers and blessings!

Gaye Levy ~ Pros and Cons of Being a Suburban Prepper

I’m reposting this piece written by Gaye of Backdoor Survival, because she addresses many of the questions I hear in sessions from people disturbed by the direction of the world these days, particularly in the US. I like her practical approach, and she’s right: not everyone can (or wants to) move to the country, but that doesn’t preclude preparedness. Regular blog readers know I’m a huge fan of community. If you can’t find it, consider building it through shared projects, rituals, or activities you find through or local groups. It could be a hiking or camping group, a potluck group, or fellow humans at the dog park.

Not mentioned by Gaye, but a topic I find often with clients and friends, is also the idea of being strategically placed in a less than desirable location. With my line of work, I could easily live in the middle of nowhere, as long as I had phone and internet access; however, life circumstances (and six months of dreams back in 2009) have very deliberately placed me in a spot I would not have ever considered living on my own. It’s taken awhile to get used to things — especially the factory across the street, the flat land, and a fairly high percentage of generational poverty — but David and I also have a much larger community of incredibly creative, innovative, Earth-friendly, grounded, and caring people here than we’ve found anywhere else. Each time we go out, we’re struck by the paradox of where we live, and by just how many good people have been called here to bring forth unusual and amazing things.

For whatever reason, we’ve all felt called here, and I know this is true of others in “ugly” or impoverished areas. Sometimes you’re there, because that’s your Dharma, in which case, it’s safer and more abundant and fulfilling for you to be there than anywhere else. We live in some wild times, but the potential of these times also exceeds expectations. As Daisy Luther says, “Bloom where you’re planted.” Get to know what seeds — on all levels, including metaphorical — will grow where you live, and scatter some more. It’s also kind of like that song, “If you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with.” You may even find — as David and I have — that, gosh(en) darn it, you do love where you’re planted, odd and imperfect though it is.

Here’s Gaye:

Pros and Cons of Being a Suburban Prepper

“Everyone who lives in the city is going to die when the SHTF.”

Have you ever been on a preparedness website and read that? It makes my blood boil, and not just because it’s a negative and discouraging thing to say. I am also not convinced that it’s correct.  Wherever you live, there are pros and cons, and your job as a prepper is to maximize the positive aspects of your location while taking steps to minimize the negative aspects.

This is especially true when it comes to the suburban prepper.

The Pros and Cons of Being a Suburban Prepper | Backdoor Survival

Although the mindset of those living in a rural community is, by necessity, more oriented toward self-reliance, living in the cities or suburbs is a fact of life for many.  Those sites or commenters which blithely tell people to pack up and head for the country are completely unrealistic.

There are many reasons that relocating is impractical for lots of folks who live in urban areas. Here are a few:

  • Elderly family members they care for who won’t relocate
  • Kids in school
  • Health concerns/medical care
  • Jobs – in this economy it is a bold move to let go of a sure thing
  • Owing more on a mortgage than you can sell your house for
  • Custody orders for minor children
  • The expense of a major relocation

So while the internet may act as though “moving” is an easy solution, there’s a lot more to it.

Because you don’t know the circumstances of others, it’s never a good idea to disparage where they live. While you may be very happy with your current location, that doesn’t actually mean it’s better than other locations. Each setting has its own benefits, and often you don’t realize what they are unless you’ve lived there. Comprehensive preparedness planning can make a home in the suburbs or city safe and well-stocked.

So, whether you live in a place with authoritarian laws, high population density, not enough space for self-reliance activities, or unfortunate weather conditions, the fact remains: you need to make the best of where you are. Every place on the planet has pros and cons.

In her recent article, “Bloom Where You’re Planted: Prepping to Survive Where You Are Right Now,” my friend Daisy Luther wrote:

While your current situation may be less than ideal, you have to remember that very few locations are actually perfect for prepping. Nearly anywhere you live will be subject to some type of extreme weather, be it crippling cold, blazing heat, drought, tornadoes, or hurricanes. Chemical spills can taint water supplies anywhere. Riots and civil unrest can occur outside of the big city.

The point is, to borrow an old saying, you just have to bloom where you’re planted.

There are many things you can do to create a viable preparedness plan wherever you happen to live.  Apartment dwellers at the top of a city high rise, folks in the middle of the desert, those in a beachfront condo, and people in HOA-ruled suburban lots all have to examine their situations, figure out their pros and cons, and work towards resolving what they can.  With some pre-planning, there is a lot you can overcome if you have the right mindset.  I suspect there are just as many (and probably far more) preppers living in the ‘burbs than there are living in perfect rural locations, with a lake, 10 acres of cultivated farmland, and an off-grid house.

Stop waiting until you move to the perfect location. Make preparations for the situation you have, not the situation you want.

The Pros of Living in an Urban Location

Urban locations are not without their benefits.  Here are a few pros for areas with higher populations.

1. There is ease of availability for supplies.

If you live out in the middle of Timbuktu, a stock-up trip takes a lot of planning.  I live on an island that requires a ferry ride to get to the mainland for shopping. If we needed to purchase last minute supplies, it would be a lot more difficult than just making a quick dash to the store.

For others who live remotely, “going to the store” can mean several hours in the car for the round trip, making it impractical to hit a good sale unless you have an outing planned during that time anyway. For those who are nearby, running across town to save some money is much more realistic.

2. A higher population means that you are less likely to have to go it alone.

Good neighbors can be a blessing. Do you have a friendly neighbor who would take responsibility for your kids if a disaster struck? In the event of civil unrest, your community can band together to combine skills and keep the neighborhood safe.

Ferfal, who wrote about surviving the Argentinian economic collapse, said that living in the country was absolutely not a guarantee of safety, because the isolation made families easier targets for home invasions.

3. In the event of an all-out disaster scenario, there are more resources for scavenging.

I’m not talking about a short-term incident of civil unrest with people looting televisions. But once you realize a situation has become long-term and that the way we lived before has ended, you may decide that it’s time to make a supply run to places which have been abandoned.

Scavenging is very different from looting! This will be easier, not to mention safer, if it’s closer to home.

4. Smaller spaces are easier to protect.

If it came down to just you and your family, do you feel like you could properly defend multiple acres from the unprepared? It takes a lot of manpower to cover fences and access points for that much land. However, a well-fenced suburban lot can be adequately guarded by only 1 or 2 people. With some creative planning,  you can be far more self-reliant than you would imagine in small spaces.

5. Urban areas are less likely to deal with specific scenarios.

Things like wildfires rarely threaten urban areas, but those living out in the secluded forest are far more at risk. As well, there are a number of predators the further you get from civilization. If you were to encounter a medical emergency, it takes someone in the country substantially longer to get help than it does someone in the city.

The Cons of an Urban Environment

Even with the benefits mentioned above, of course, there are also valid reasons that so many preppers strive to avoid living in the city. To be absolutely clear, while I don’t think everyone has to live in the boondocks, I do feel like the suburbs are somewhat safer than being right downtown.

Here are a few negative points to urban living:

1. When you live in the city, you’re more easily contained and controlled.

In the event of a martial law scenario, you will be far easier to corral if you are one of the people densely packed in an area that can be road blocked and guarded. Door-to-door searches for supplies or weapons can be much more efficiently undertaken in the city than they would be in a place where the homes are several miles apart.

2. Large population density means more competition for potentially limited resources.

While there are more resources to be had in an urban area, there are also more people looking for those resources. This means that if you are in competition for those resources, you either have to be early and get them before someone else does, or you must be more forceful than the other people going after those supplies.

3. The mob mentality can be very dangerous.

A mob mentality can be contagious. When swept up in an angry group, people will do things they’d never ordinarily do, and this can mean great peril. Think about the Black Friday shopping sprees where folks trample others just to get the deal on a bigger TV. Now imagine those people are hungry and they know you have food you aren’t sharing. You get the idea.

4. If you live in a high rise without direct access to the outdoors, it can be difficult to be self-reliant.

If you have a balcony, you can manage to grow some food for yourself. However, if you live in an apartment without any outdoor space at all, things get a lot trickier. That means you are unable to have micro livestock for protein, you probably have limited storage space for food and water, and growing vegetables will be difficult.  Without outdoor space, sanitation becomes more difficult as well.

5. City life is expensive.

Generally speaking, living in the city is a lot pricier than living in the country. Because of access to jobs, cultural activities, and educational facilities, places in town are in much higher demand. When you are spending double the amount on rent or mortgage, it can be harder to set aside money for prepping.

The Final Word

The fact is, we live where we live. There are many more people in our country living in suburban and urban areas, and lots of them are preppers. Disparaging the place where another chooses to live is short-sighted. Most of us weren’t born preppers, and we when we wake up and see the light, we can’t change our entire lives overnight. Besides that, there are numerous issues that can keep us in a location regardless of whether or not it’s ideal.

Before looking down on a person who lives in a place that you might consider undesirable, stop and think of all the reasons it may be necessary for them to remain there. And remember, country homesteads are not immune to disaster, either.

Wherever you live, take steps now to make the best of it. Find resources, build your stockpile, and prepare. No place is perfect and we can all improve our chances, regardless of where we live.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!