November 19, 2017, Paulden, AZ-
I spent the better part of today at a small intentional community, in this mostly agricultural, unincorporated town, in northern Yavapai County. Paulden is due west of Sedona, and despite being sans Red Rocks, it has a good deal of its eastern neighbour’s vibes. These have drawn many people whose goal is to live as close to the land as possible.
Dharma Family Farm is made up of six adults and several children, living in conscious connection with the tall grass prairie that is found between the various small mountain ranges of western and southern Yavapai County and the Verde and Agua Fria Rivers to the east.
I met most of them last week, at Convergence, and had the pleasure of taking breakfast with them, last Sunday. This led to an invitation to visit their farm and join them at table. So, I took up that offer, this afternoon and evening.
Conversation with three of the farmers ranged on several matters, from not tilling the soil and understanding the nature of weeds, to the worth of intentional communities. The recognition that rent and mortgage derive from the European manorial system, and earlier, from imperial mindsets in places as far afield as China and Egypt, led to one person’s opinion that having a roof over one’s head should not require half, or more, of one’s income.
It’d be really nice if that were not my reality, or that of millions of others, around the world. The alternative, gift or trade economy as a means by which to live, is the basis for many intentional communities. At Dharma, everyone has a set of responsibilities, which they undertake, daily and heartily, in good faith, in exchange for simple but comfortable housing. Each adult accepts responsibility for the well-being of the children. There is a group meeting, in advance of any major event, and a planning board, with an interesting beehive motif, sits behind the common dining table.
If some of this sounds like the communes of the 1960’s and ’70’s, there are features of those entities, such as vegetarianism and natural healing. Fidelity between marriage partners is very definite at Dharma, however, and modesty in dress is practiced by all adults, and children of school age. Hygiene is excellent.
Here are a few scenes of Dharma Family Farm, bearing in mind that this is the time when preparations are being made for the winter months.
This is a bottle wall. Glass bottles help prevent cement from cracking.
Artwork is random and eclectic. I like the creativity of the residents in this secondary house.
Here’s the supply yard. EVERYTHING in this lot will be put to good use, especially during the winter and spring repair and planting seasons.
This is Holly, her youngest daughter, Lunaya, and two of their four dogs. Holly and her mate, Landen, were the first of the current group of residents to come to Dharma.
I came away with renewed respect for people in intentional communities. Their work ethic is as good as, if not better than, that of many wage and salaried workers, in the wider world. Their children are well-fed, feel emotionally secure and, from infancy, are not held back from doing tasks that their bodies and motor skills can handle. There is full equality between the genders, and nobody divides labour, of any kind, by stereotype. Home schooling is the preferred vehicle for education. This last would give me a skill to offer, if I pursue a period of itinerant service, following my retirement from my current work, three years hence, as I am sure that other intentional communities may have such needs. Indeed, I spent thirty minutes with a very meticulous two-year-old, assembling a tower from the plastic blocks I had brought as a gift to the children.
I will be back at Dharma, several times, over the next three years, at least. Life is good, where there is love and devotion.