Membership in Groups

14

March 24, 2020-

I’ve historically had it tough, when being part of a group.  That hasn’t stopped me from trying.  I showed up every day, as a child, to take part the best way I could, in what ever game was being played.  In high school, I had friends with whom I could sit in the library and at lunch, and hang out on weekends.  Many are still connected-at least online.

I didn’t fare so well in the Army, or in college, but my purpose during those years was much different-and so, the work became most important.  The same was true of my first four years of teaching-never an insider, but connected with my students.  So it continued, over the next four decades, but family was my bedrock, and the kids were always the foundation.

I say this, in thinking about the groups with which I’ve been involved over the past nine years.  My Faith community is the strongest connection, followed by the mostly senior crowd at the American Legion, and my younger friends at Prescott College, both groups now in abeyance, until the virus runs its course.  Permaculture groups, like Slow Food and the Farmers Market have warmed to me, over the years.

I have personally committed to helping the Red Cross in the present crisis, only to find there is an “age-ism” rising.  The mentality seems to be that those of us over 65 are “at risk” and therefore ought to keep our distance, even beyond the current social distancing.  It may be that this is an attitude meant to keep us safe, but I find it patronizing-and more than a little cliquish.  I know my limits and would relegate myself to the background, if at all feeling ill.  I also am very tuned into the dynamics of small groups, and having seldom been an insider, can see when a situation is being manipulated to exclude all but the favoured few.

In the event there is a much larger calamity, I have become certified in FEMA’s Points of Distribution.  I am committed to helping my community, whether being welcomed by the elite, or not.  May it all just turn out to be unnecessary.

 

Sustainable

3

January 30, 2020-

I have long felt a connection with nature, in its deepest and purest forms.  This may be a matter of genetic memory.  The forest and the ocean have been places of comfort and affirmation, since I was a very young child.  That this connection should have been gradually extended to desert, prairie and alpine mountain is only a logical progression.

With such a tie to the natural world, connection with those who embrace an ethic of sustainable cultures, of various forms, also comes naturally.  I have been gradually moving away from “throwaway” living, since 1981. It has been a process fraught with fits and starts, but recycling-at least-has been ingrained in my life, for nearly that long.

This evening, I made good on a promise to myself and some members of the Baha’i community, and joined a small group at Prescott College:  The Sustainability Club.  I was the only person over 25, in that gathering-but found a genuine welcome. The group is finding its way, and plans a clean-up on Sunday, which I’ll join.  Other plans include improving the composting arrangement on the small campus, a clothing recycling effort and the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, in mid-April.

My plan is to join the Sustainability Club’s efforts as often as possible, and to help them network with like-minded groups in the area, particularly Slow Food-Prescott and other environmental organizations.  There is much I can share with the youths and much that they have to impart to me, as well.  This semester, and next, will be a fine time for building a solid sustainable community.

Honouring

7

February 3, 2019, Paulden, AZ-

Whilst many of my fellow humans were watching what started out as a Stupour Bowl, I chose a different route for a fine Sunday afternoon:  Revisiting friends at Dharma Farm, an unassuming, but loving little settlement, on the west side of this unincorporated community in northern Yavapai County.

The family’s older child decided I was a fun companion, so we built, and dismantled, several mud villages. This child is a true Shiva, great at building and destroying  items of wood and mud, alike.  When the digging got old, and child decided it was “cold”, we went inside and she regaled the lot of us with a very expressive series of dances, in her best party dress.  Then it was time for me to make a blanket fort, which she occupied very happily, for forty-five minutes. Finally, I became a blanket-covered creature, called Swaug-as the only sound it makes is a low, guttural “Swaug!”   This went on for another hour or so.

Such is the world of a bright, imaginative three-year-old.  The family lives, and the children are being raised on, a system of honouring: Honour each other’s space; each other’s work; each other’s presence; each other’s dignity and worth.  If time were taken, by anyone, to practice this code, how much higher would the state of peace be?

Life at Dharma is not letter perfect- The above-mentioned child has her life lessons to learn and there were fatigue-caused meltdowns, from both children.  The honour system will help address these concerns, as will the violence-free regimen of their parents.  The couple’s commitment to Permaculture, a work in progress, will also contribute greatly to the little farm’s thriving.

A review of an astrological concept:  The north node, its notion of “past lives” aside, did explain to me the basis for some difficulties and conflicts I’ve had in my actual past.  It is, in many ways, a spot-on psychological analysis.  It basically notes, in a largely accurate manner, that the Infinite, as the author refers to the Universe, will unfold life as it is intended to unfold, and that how one reacts to both challenges and triumphs alike, determines the degree of one’s happiness and feeling of satisfaction, or the lack thereof.  This gave rise to a discussion of just what the nature of successive lives might be.  I do not believe in continuous rebirths as human beings, and it turns out, neither do my friends.  We concur that there are different beings, or levels of being, which follow this one.

It was an interesting day, capped by roasted vegetables and a green/beet salad. I learned, soon enough, that the Super Bowl was a low-key affair, with a predictable ending.  On our lives go, as, for the most part, intended.

Lightness Is

7

January 12, 2019, Flagstaff-

I set out for this mountain community, which was my home in 1980-81, with a view towards determining the level of untended littering in one National Monument:  Sunset Crater, during the ever-longer government shutdown. As we’ll see, the amount was rather light.

The day started with my feeling weighted down, by what, I still have no idea.  My mood was lifted, though, by meeting a delightful little family from Dharma Farm, a place of which I’ve written in the past, whilst making my usual rounds  at Prescott Farmers Market.  I will re-visit Dharma more often, during the remainder of winter and into spring.  Their commitment to permaculture is something of which I want to learn more, prior to any post-retirement move I might make.  Permaculture will be described further, in subsequent posts, as well.

Back to Flagstaff, and Sunset Crater.  I found few other people visiting the park.  Three tourists did drive past the semi-porous barricades and further into the park.  As it happens, a Federal park ranger is on site and drove into the area, quickly sending the visitors back the way they came.  Only a Dineh man, with grandfathered visiting rights to any area of Sunset Crater and nearby Wupatki (some park lands were purchased, by eminent domain, from a handful of Dineh (Navajo) families), in the 1930’s), was allowed to drive his truck behind the barricades.

I  went on foot, for about a mile, into the park and found little trash along the road-and none on the trail I took.  There were some lovely views, though.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

After it was apparent that my mission did not warrant further exploration of the park, especially with the ranger working without pay, I headed back into town, and parked in a formerly free lot.  Flagstaff has taken a page from other tourist-dependent communities, and charges $1 per hour to park along downtown streets or in its off-street lots.  I find this reasonable, though some visitors grumbled that there are not “freshly-paved” streets that would “warrant” such a charge.  Go figure.

I found the usually congenial folks at Pizzicleta, an artisan thin-crust eatery, to be a bit grumpy and unusually reserved.  One of the servers mentioned how tired they were, though the place had barely been open for twenty minutes.  Maybe it is the preparation that is enervating.  The food was still great, though, which is what matters most.

Now, it’s time to head to Winslow, an hour to the east, and find a spot at my favourite motel there.  Tomorrow, I hope to head up to the Hopi Nation, to visit long-time friends.  The Bean Dance is coming.