Twenty Days



Almost twenty days, out in the forest. We had our first weekly meeting out here together to make decisions about how to guide our lives into enacting the values and dreams that led us to this beautiful place.

We’ve been using a tool called “Holistic Goal Setting” that comes out of the Permaculture world, initially via Alan Savory and then taught to me by Courtney Brooke, a Permaculture teacher at Earthaven. All this tool really does is give us a way to check whether or not our decisions are leading us closer to what we agree we’re working towards. We’re hopeful it will give us a way to be sure that the many really complicated choices we’ve been constantly having to make lead us towards what we want, and not away.

I’m not sure how I feel about this process yet. I’ve been through so many meetings that generate neat little diagrams on big white paper that lead nowhere. I’ve been responsible for a bunch of them. What makes me want to try a tool like this again is seeing how much we humans can be so bad at seeing past the short term, past our likes and dislikes, cravings and aversions; or, in seeing multidimensionally – looking not just at ecosystem health, for example, but also whether or not the choices will lead everyone to burn out and sell the land to a developer.

It’s nothing new: making skillful decisions and sharing power is complicated and often excruciating; yet, when the work is done, sometimes there is this little seed of peace that can be glimpsed. I think we’re meant to keep going with this. I think we all need to know how to live together and share complicated choices, even when it terrifies us.

Yesterday I had the gift of significant help from Pickle and a friend on the clearing of the big future garden to be. Then my Permaculture-wise friend helped me think through the experimental plan we’re starting with for our initial food growing in the forest. There is so much I don’t know. Mistakes seem so easy to make. I look for hints. In response to my idea about doing a no-tech charring of the cleared sweetgums, my friend wasn’t any more certain than I was that it would work, but she felt excited about it. Another friend talking about it the other day seemed to hear one of my hopes – that we could turn the process into a ritual that many could share in. Now, among all the potential mistakes I could make, there is this one that got these reactions from two people close to me. I think my reaction is the same. Sometimes we need complicated decision making tools, but sometimes we only need to ask: what makes me most come alive? In this case, I knew from the beginning that driving a skidsteer or bulldozer through the future garden would definitely not do that. Now, clarity emerges in each act and silence. I feel alive in this work.

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