Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nada Brahman; The First Word:What is Community?

What is Community?

I am just coming off of a three day retreat with my ten person intentional community in the woods of West Marin, and have been pondering this question lately. "What is community?" A slippery question to which there is no absolute answer. In our current neo-tribal reality, 'community' is pervasive. Most loosely it is those who live in my neighborhood, to those who are in my circle of friends, to those whom i actually live with. The latter is how i would define community, but with a 'focused intent'. We live together not because we love each other, (that has come secondarily) but because we are choosing to live in the grand experiment of learning about ourselves and each other. In this case, "community"is a concept as well as a multi-dimentional entity.

Perhaps "community" is best defined through the process of deconstruction, or defining what it is not.

To me, 'community' is not waking up, going into the kitchen to find that your housemates have made you vegan/spelt waffles, gogi berry juice, and mate for breakfast.
Its waking up to a smattering of sleepy smiles, as they parade through the kitchen, vie for boiling water, run out the door, sit at the table, and struggle with what it means to be human another day on the planet. Small breakfast talk is optional, but dream sharing is encouraged.

'Community' is not harmonizing with every one at every moment, fully loving and understanding each other's needs and acting accordingly..
Its understanding that to be in relation with each other is an opportunity for growth. And whenever i am judging or defining someone, i am making someone else 'smaller' than what she/he is capable of, and in the process i am also narrowing my own perspective of what is possible for myself.

Community is not all parties, and birthdays, (although if you live with over ten people it gets to be almost a birthday per month to celebrate in addition to parties and holidays)
Its staying up late holding space for someone crying from a long hard nigh or a process session, when you have to wake up early the next day for work.

I choose to live this life in 'intentional community' because i think it is the greatest opportunity for conscious evolution that i know. The technology is there. We have all of the tools within us. To be open, with a group of people who are also loving and open to growth is a gift and a miracle in an age which does not value cohesive integrity.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The First Word: A Scattering of Seeds

According to the Species Alliance website, (; "If current trends continue, one half of all species of life on Earth will be extinct in 100 years. (E.O. Wilson, The Future of Life, p. 102)." The planet is losing more species than humans have ever seen before. When an organism's habitat is encroached upon, it has three options for survival. 1) Move, migrate to another suited place; 2) Adapt, change itself somehow either behaviorally or physically; 3) Die.

According to Wikipedia; "The term diaspora (Greek, "a scattering or sowing of seeds") is used (without capitalization) to refer to any people or ethnic population forced or induced to leave their traditional ethnic homelands; being dispersed throughout other parts of the world, and the ensuing developments in their dispersal and culture."

We are all temporarily indigenous somewhere. We are all searching for place. This week a community which i have come to know well, and have been fortunate enough to live has been given one month to diasporate to move, migrate, find another "place" to inhabit. Yes, at some time or another we all have been asked to leave a home which we have created. It is the nature of our current lifestyle. In my twelve years in California, i have moved over fourteen times. And i have had a house which i was renting sold out from under me as well. But this blog is not about that. It is about the extinction of a culture which can only exist in a climate which values community. I wonder if cities such as San Francisco as liberal as they are, can honestly claim that it values community with integrity. The home at 833 Fillmore has been an intentional space for artitsts, and extended community to gather for twenty three years. It was owned by Walter Junam the man who coined that he "Left his heart in San Francisco," and Walter had a wonderfully big heart. In light of the new recent owners request that we vacate, and the situation of the community who has resided in this historic building for two decades, we are now left to wonder if there is any "heart left in San Francisco?"

So these seven residents are forced the way of so many beings on this planet, forced to give up a culture of collectively living, and move on to the next place, home, forest, tree, or nest. Suitable habitat for artists and those who have already been marginalized is becoming more and more rare in a town of seven digit price tags. And yet, we will adapt, as humans are generally good at. What will become extinct is the culture of community living which has existed in this unique home so lovingly called the "Fillmore House" to thousands which have visited, lived, and celebrated for the past twenty-three years. Perhaps we will collectively sprout a ourselves in a similar niche, but in a current day climate of acceleration of culture shock, cutting down this community is akin to removing a mature forest with no concern of the impact it has for all the speicies which depend upon it for shelter, nourishment for survival.