Spending time with family for the holidays was nice, especially since I hadn’t seen then in over 5 months. But I was ready to get back to Lost Valley and continue my adventures away from the life I left behind in Dallas, TX.
When I returned, I got to work on clearing the Sun Garden at the center of Lost Valley. The Sun Garden was previously the permaculture garden of former resident, Rick Valley (no connection to the name of Lost Valley). Years ago, he grew varieties of medicinal plants and herbs, planted a few berry trees and housed a small collection of bamboo (which quickly outgrew their planters and took over a section of the garden). The Sun Garden now houses the chicken and duck pen, and the Harvest House containing the community tools and wheelbarrows. Sasha and her permaculture partner took on the Sun Garden as their PDC project and after she left, I decided to start and implement her project. The major tasks I started with were clearing the garden beds with Ashley and Avery, and pollard the tall willow trees that were blocking out the sun in the Sun Garden. (Many permaculture practitioners would preach leaving the willow alone as nature intended, or use hand tools to save on fossil fuels. I tried the hand saw method, but was quickly discouraged and then came across a new favorite tool, the chainsaw!)
Continuing the tradition of “Potluck Tuesdays,” I hosted ‘Hippie Hotdog Night’ at Lost Valley one night this month. So I got both gluten and gluten-free buns, meat and meat-less hotdog, and got the dragon cob oven fired up for the weenie roast. While it was a successful potluck night in my book, I personally didn’t enjoy being the host, which included buying the food, monitoring the fire in the oven, and leading the cleaning shift. Ashley noticed how stressed I was and talked to me about it afterwards, saying everyone could have taken care of themselves and I didn’t need to worry about them. I felt like she was sorta right, but also I felt like it was my duty as host to take care of the event I planned, right?
Ashley and I had drifted further apart since the holidays, as she moved out of the dorms into a cabin and spent more time with Rich until he left to Washington State early in the month. Once he left, she tried to reconnect with the other students, including myself. I felt rejected and replaced, and we talked about that, so I didn’t initially warm up to her trying to reach out.
Later that month, I started another community project and recruited some of the residents to help build an archery range in an abandoned yurt outcropping. This was a great community building activity and I finally had a place to use my handmade atlatls!
The design of the archery range had double archer’s platforms made from two on-site pallets on top of salvaged cardboard covered with woodchips made from limb cuttings from the previous year. I measured the range to be 50 feet and bought some hay bales from a local farmer to use as a backstop. I also salvaged excess pumpkins from the community farm stand to use as targets. Call it coincidence, or synchronicity, but one of the newer residents also invited his friend that teaches bow making classes, so he came with his handmade bows and let us shoot them and also taught us tips and techniques! It was a great day and went better than I expected, especially with construction help from other residents. I was also given one of the handmade bows as a gift!!
In an effort to build inner-community connections in Oregon, this month we hosted Brinton from Breitenbush Hot Springs, a community in Detroit, Oregon that runs its business based on its on-site hot springs and healing retreat center. We had a meeting to discuss how we could benefit each other and strengthen our working relationship, and came to the conclusion of a ‘resident swap’ concept. The proposal was for Breitenbush residents to come for an ecstatic dance weekend and see the Lost Valley community, and in exchange, Lost Valley residents would volunteer to clear some of the trails at Breitenbush and get to experience the hot springs!
A few days later, Colin, Bri and I went to the Lane County Home and Garden Show to check out some of the workshops and network for Lost Valley as part of my Outreach Coordinator responsibilities. I really enjoyed checking out the booths, and we just so happen to run into Bethany and her partner Mike working at one of the organic food booths too!
Sara Siegler presented her sustainable living workshop this month also, which was about business models and alternative incomes for ecovillages. This was in preparation for two ecovillage consultants, Laird and Terry, who were contracted for a series of visitations to help advise Lost Valley on how to improve some of its problem areas, increase its sources of income and grow the resident population. Sara’s session included a lot of examples from other ecovillages and a few highlights from articles written by Laird from Communities Magazine, a publication for intentional communities.
Avery also gave me her belated Christmas present, since I wasn’t around for the holidays. Which was a framed picture of the state of Texas and Oregon with an overlapping green heart. This was by far one of the best gifts I have ever gotten! For being only 6 years old, I never expected a gift like that, and was blown away yet again by how awesome she is!
Towards the end of the month, I had gotten a little stir-crazy not having left Lost Valley in several days, so I decided to explore the city of Springfield, OR, a smaller town that adjoins the city of Eugene. I spend the day doing a self-guided art walk around downtown Springfield looking at the large wall murals and street art that covered the town. They even had a mural of the Simpsons in classic Springfield fashion!
Days after Sara’s SLW presentation, Laird and Terry arrived for their first consultation visit. This was also their first consultation together using a model they developed and hoped Lost Valley would be a good subject for their trial run. Their initial visit was designed to meet with current and former residents in the area to better understand the areas of improvement, possible business opportunities that could work onsite, and get the ball rolling for other considerations for the consultation.
In addition to the other SLWs, Conrad hosted his pottery making workshop and had several people from Eugene attend, in addition to a few residents. They produced beautiful pieces of pottery from clay he collected from nearby creeks, and he had his samples on display in the Lodge.
The final highlight of the month was that Ashley got a work-trade opportunity at Dharmalaya, one of the fieldtrip stops before our program vacation and home of the PROUT Institute where Ravi also lives. It was bittersweet to see her leave Lost Valley, but it was a great opportunity for her and she made appearances at a few of the “Potluck Tuesdays” over the following months!