Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Movement for a Free Earth

Greetings from Tamera! I am a week into my time in Portugal, fully immersed in my work with this Peace Biotope. We are involved in the Youth camp, a group of engaged activists and peace workers from all over the world. I have been touched by stories from Columbia, Brazil, Israel, Palestine, and beyond.
The people here at Tamera live peace in a holistic way, following the belief that the outer revolution in the world has to go hand in hand with the inner revolution. I am very moved by the way the international youth enter into this field, both listening deeply to the philosophy and sharing their work and insights in an extremely open way.
We, the Beyond Boundaries group, have been given the honor of a challenging task: to design a 'cosmogram'. Tamera has created a stone circle, a spiritual site connected to other stone circles in Europe and around the world. We are dreaming up a cosmogram to carve on the 'American' rock. It is to represent the healing of the United States. Whew! What a question, what a prayer to dream up! Our group has been deep in process about this topic. We have not yet conceived our image, but the conversation has been rich. I think it is a great issue to dive into as a community at the very beginning of our time entering into international community. We also are learning and practicing our rock carving skills, which is a whole other challenge!
We have also been doing early morning service work at the Solar Village, a very exciting project of Tamera. They are building a model Solar community, a test field for technology developed by Jürgen Kleinwächter. The technology is based on ideas of sustainability and ease, the materials used are things easily and inexpensively available on any corner of the planet. It is complex, utilizing a multitude of innovative means, and yet very much realizable. We have been cleaning and beautifying the construction area in preparation for the Summer University. In this short time I have learned new skills including how to make low cost and beautiful shade structures.
The Summer University begins tomorrow, and people are arriving from all over! The gathering will last for 10 days, and include focus groups to cover various aspects of the peace movement.
I leave you now with many thoughts and feelings brewing in me. In this full experience I feel the 'field ' of Tamera working on me, new questions are arising in response to the philosophy and way of life.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Ojai is hot!  I am currently at The Ojai Foundation, home to 'the way of council'.  The practice is a way of communicating in a circle format, with the intention to speak and listen from the heart.  The Ojai Foundation has been around for about 30 years, and has been home to a lot of teachers and spiritual leaders.  This past weekend I participated in the Gathering of Council Leaders and was positively inspired!  A lot of people were from Southern California, doing the work in schools, prisons, corporations, and many other venues.  The weekend was jam packed with activities, networking and councils.  I finished the weekend with a sweat, it was long, healing, hot and powerful!
The past three days we have been doing a variety of service work, here on the land and with the Chumash people.  We worked on a piece of land recently given to a group of Chumash.  They have created a monument, and have big plans for future work on the land.  We hope to return in March and work again.
We leave on Sunday for Portugal, and I am super excited!  We will be working with Tamera for a month, doing service work and participating in the Summer University, a two week seminar described as "Global Grace Village - Creating Models for a Future without War".  The intention is to envision a healthy planet.  "With global crises overlapping, it is becoming evident that we are close to facing a paradigm shif; so let's get together for a think-tank and the vision of a future worth living!"
My sister Laurel arrives today for a last minute visit before the big send off.  I haven't seen her since October, she has been in India doing service work.  I am so glad to have the opportunity for some sister love before taking off.
Well, I am off to a council on diversity, a council we are living every day!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Last days in Big Pine!

We leave for Ojai on Friday!  I am busy with packing, logistics and excitement.

The last couple of days we have been working on the Big Pine Paiute Reservation, planting trees and flowers at the Education Center and the
new Fitness Center.  The Fitness Center is great, it has a lot of new equipment, programs in the work, and an emphasis on healthy diet and cooking.  A lot of the Paiute in this community have diabetes, and I feel encouraged to see the focus on health.  In addition to after school and summer programs, there is an emphasis on traditional dance, both from the Paiute and other tribes.  We also had the opportunity to play some hoops, so much fun!  I still have some moves. :)  

I connected with a couple of high school students and while volunteering, and was very interested in their goals and ideas about the future.  Both had plans to study outside of the community.  An elder chimed in that without jobs, there is not a lot of opportunity in the area.  This phenomenon is something I have witnessed in rural areas all over the world, the youth are pulled to participate in the economy of globalization, often leaving old ways behind.  Part of the long term dreamscape of the reservation is to work in the area of job development.  One concrete idea is to begin a large community garden behind the Fitness Center.  In addition to providing new jobs in the local economy the food will be sold locally and used in the teaching kitchen.

It looks like we are going to be able to continue to contribute to this community while we are away, by donating a sprinkler system and timer.  We will connect with them again in the Spring when we return to the area.  

Our group feels strong, we have so much to talk about and learn together!  We just completed a Non Violent Communication training, and are having fun playing with new communication techniques.  

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mirroring Workshop

While the youth went out on their solo time on the mountain the 'interns' were given a special treat... a mirroring workshop with Joseph Lazenka and Meredith Little, heroes in the Wilderness Rite of Passage world.  The Beyond Boundaries crew was joined by members of the Ojai Foundation (where we will be going later this month).  The workshop was amaaazing, packed full of learning.  We had opportunities to go out on medicine walks each day, and in the evenings we shared our stories and practiced mirroring each other.  The idea, as I understand it, is to listen deeply to a 'story' and reflect it back in an empowering way with love and respect.I feel a real calling for this work, I feel the lack of meaningful rites of passage in our culture.  I see our youth struggling to assert their independence through drinking and other unconscious activity that is mostly unwitnessed by the elders of the community.  

I am so touched by the deep knowing of the youth, and their capacity to listen to the world, each other and themselves.  

Witnessing rites of passage; youth stepping into adulthood, adults stepping into elderhood, individuals confirming their relationships with their selves and the world, gives me real hope for the future of our world.  

Youth Fast

As part of our service work here in California we worked with the School of Lost Borders on the Youth Vision Fast.  Gigi, Win and Will served as the guides of the rite of passage, and the rest of us had the opportunity to apprentice.  I anticipated that the time would be challenging for me, the leadership style of the School is very different than my prior experiences.  I slipped right into it, finding my way, deeply appreciating the space held by the guides and the youths' ability to show up and participate fully with the ceremony.

I am inspired by the questions they youth faced, and how they are reflected by the questions of our world at this time.  How do we find the courage to do work that will support peaceful healing on this planet?

I am so blessed to be part of this community, exploring this question through partnership with organizations that are living their answers.  Together, YES WE CAN!

Life at Three Creeks

Our time at Three Creeks is busy!  We are rapidly progressing in preparation for the journey ahead, having many 'sessions' on our community agreements, the eco-villages and communities we will be working with, and logistics.  Every day we spend some time working on the land, I am working with the creeks and ponds.  I spend my time weeding the ponds, clearing the water ways and allowing the precious water to flow freely.

The mornings and evenings are relatively free, and I love them!  There is time to read and explore the beautiful dessert hills.  I am currently reading Grace: Pilgrimage for a Future without War by Sabine Lichtenfels one of the founders of Tamera, our first stop on our international itenerary in Southern Portugal. It is an international training and experimental site for the development of peace research villages and healing biotopes worldwide.

For a while I played the role of yoga teacher for Aaron and Sam on 'the island' in the pond, now we have all settled into our own morning practices.  There is an open invitation to meditation in 'club med' each morning.

Vision Fast in the Inyos Mountains

Soon after arriving in Big Pine we headed out to the Mountains together, to fast and confirm our intentions.  The time out was powerful for all, and afterwards we went directly to a Paiute ceremony in honor the opening of their new wellness center.  I was so inspired by their choice to close their casino and create a new offering for the community.  In the days that followed we shared stories and feasted together in celebration of our time, the land, and ceremony!

Beyond Boundaries has begun!

On June 7th, 2009 I arrived at Three Creeks in Big Pine California to begin my journey with Beyond Boundaries!  Located in the Owens Valley on the Eastern Sierras, my new 'home' is a dessert Oasis.  Gigi Coyle and Win Phelps, the elders of our community, are our hosts here.  They are caretakers of this beautiful land, and shepherd it well paying close attention to the water.  The 'three creeks' come from the Owen's River, and flow through the five acres providing water for the orchard, garden and a lovely pond.
The group is made up of eight individuals ranging from 19-66 years of age.  This is truly an inter-generational group!  Gigi dreamed up this crazy adventure, and together with her husband Win is leading this first stage of our work together.  Gigi is an amazing visionary who has done a variety of work, most recently in the realm of wilderness rights of passage and the way of council.  Win is also a wilderness rights of passage guide, and was once a hollywood director!  Will has been working in wilderness and leadership, both with The School of Lost Borders and his own organization.  Shay, my roomate in the yurt, has been working closely with the Bioneers Youth programs.  Aaron and Emilia come from Maine, where they both worked in the outdoor industry and the arts.  Emilia is an amazing songstress and photographer, and Aaron is rekindling his relationship with the paint brush.  Sam is our youngest member, with an amazing heart.  He comes to us from Hampshire college, and will be continuing his studies through participation in Beyond Boundaries.
We jumped right in, talking about our intentions and the work ahead.  So much excitement.  Our first council included many witnesses; friends, family, donors and members of the Biosphere Foundation.  I felt so good sitting there, knowing I was right where I was meant to be, full of gratitude for all the support I have received.