|Through the Looking Glass 8||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: PattyMara (PattyMaraaol.com)|
|Date: Fri, 30 Jul 1999 22:42:24 -0600 (MDT)|
Dear Friends, Tomorrow my family will mark a one year anniversary--our mortgage for our Tierra Nueva home closed on July 31 last year. I began writing my looking glass journal about this time last year as well, so it feels timely to add a bit more tonight. My last entry was New Year's day, after a polar bear swim in the Pacific. Tonight is a balmy summer evening, with a rosie sunset lighting the dunes. It is utterly quiet here since so many families are off camping or vacationing. Common house meals are attended by most everyone, but numbers are relatively small, 15-30 diners, instead of the usual 35-50. I helped cook a meal for 33, a couple of evenings ago with my neighbor HariNam. We served fresh vegetable curry, with produce picked from our communal garden, the local farmer's market and our c.s.a. farm. Plus luscious sweet potato tempura, with a rice wine vinegar cucumber salsa, basmati rice, Thai ice coffee and watermelon. Corn dogs and corn on the cob for kid food. It was a deep pleasure to prep, cook, serve and eat. After dinner, eight women from Tierra Nueva and two guests from a neighboring community (Halcyon) gathered down at our garden campfire ring to build a fire and share a full moon ceremony. We were a diverse group of women, coming from many traditions, yet we were able to find connections as we remembered and prayed for our families and friends. A few months ago we decided as a community to reduce the number of business meetings from weekly to twice a month. What a luxury after 7 years of weekly meetings! The result has been much better attended meetings with tighter facilitation and more information being reported from all the working committees. In addition to these business meetings we have initiated a monthly "Community Life" gathering on the second Sunday of the month. We've had two of these gatherings with great success. The first had two fantastic exercises. One was called "Two Truths and a Lie" where each member told just that, and we all had to guess which was which...it was hilarious and we all learned something new about one another. The second exercise was a group dynamics/problem solving kind of thing. In less than an hour we discovered which of us were Visionaries, Structurers, Action-takers or Caregivers. Each of the groups identified themselves, spoke about which of the other groups were the most frustrating to work with, created a poster with key concepts and formed strategies about how to best work with the other groups to get things done. We learned that a healthy community needs contributions from each of the four groups to sustain itself. A succinct comment from Floyd, our process mentor, summed up the exercise. He said: "If we were to take a vacation trip together, the Visionaries would be the ones to decide where we would go. The Structurers would get the maps and create the itinerary. The Action-takers would find and drive the bus. And the Caregivers would make sure that everyone had a fantastic time." Our second gathering used the Open Space format to bring hot issues into the light. And we had several sizzling topics. One was about the integrating renters into our community, particularly, a single man who was spending a great deal of time with the children of the community without creating a friendship/trust level with the parents of the kids. Many fears were revealed about the safety of our kids, and the appropriate behavior expected of adults who enter a community like ours. It was a deeply helpful exchange for everyone. Other topics included: private business in our community workshop, neighborhood relations, community meal cooking/cleaning and using common land (or not) for overflow private stuff like barbeques and hammocks and toys. Our next gathering is going to attempt to bridge the gap between "old timers" and the "newbies" by creating 7 random subgroups, then giving each of them a year's worth of minutes from the past 7 years of business meetings. The subgroups will then figure out a creative way to communicate what happened during their appointed year, and begin working on a presentation like a skit or a song to be performed at a party which we'll be having soon to celebrate our year of living here. We hope that the end result will be a humorous dramatization of what we had to go through to build this place and all the ups and downs of designing and developing cohousing. One of the most delightful aspects of being here has been to watch our landscaping take root and grow. Our private yards are finding very individual expressions, ranging from low maintenance sand to lush wild gardens to traditional lawns and decks. The common landscaping is particularly stunning, since we have two ornamental horticulturists who led us through planting a gorgious variety of perennials and native plants. We have an extensive culinary and medicinal herb garden as well as an organic vegie garden complete with a scarlet runner bean tepee and two large corn spirals. It is amazing to watch the garden expand as more beds get tilled and planted by various members. Along the common walkways the sunflowers are towering over 8 feet tall. We've had two of our community's dogs die this summer. It was a tender gathering that met to mourn the passing of Nellie and comfort her owner. The Wierd Food Cafe presented "Like Water For Chocolate" night with exquisite food from the cookbook, stunning decorations and a contest to guess which wedding dress belonged to which woman. We had a dozen dresses hanging all around the Common House. The movie was shown as well, but most folks stayed downstairs in the candlelight to party together. Our Fourth of July Barbeque set a record for number of people attending. We fed 75 people fresh fish, ribs, campfire baked vegies and peach cobblers...then put on our annual fireworks show in the village green. As families return from vacations we are planning Monday night slide shows for trip highlights. One of our members, Kit, just returned from Africa, with many many rolls of film to share. Others visited the Grand Canyon, Wisconsin, Seattle, the Eastern Sierras and northern California Redwood parks. I'm looking forward to welcoming them all home and hearing the voices of children ringing through the site again. I'm also waiting to hear from Two Acre Wood-folk as they move into their new homes, as well as from Robyn in Australia, to hear about their transitions into community. I'm no longer feeling the surreal "through the looking glass" feeling that I did last year. Instead, I'm becoming familiar with the new patterns of proximity and privacy that are forming. The shine of the new is slowly being burnished to a comfortable lustre, and it feels just right. Warmly, Patty Mara Gourley Tierra Nueva Cohousing, Central CA Coast, San Luis Obispo County
Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.