It’s been close to a year since we collectively packed up our lives in town, and relocated ten miles into the country, or “county” as they say in the Shenandoah Valley.
We’ve seen what feel like innumerable friends, family, and lovers grace our renovation project, experienced untold vehicle problems, maintenance issues, hectically scheduled “family meetings,” pet-atstrophes, and adjustments.
Waxing poetical about the values, and nitty-gritties of intentional community is one of my favorite past times. Now however, as we approach the second spring of our life on “the project,” my thoughts turn more towards external, rather than internal growth.
My housemates have been growing in leadership, partnership, and responsibility with our local community. One is a student leader at her university, an activist for LGBTQIA rights, and a member of a task force dedicated to tackling academic freedom. Another has recently committed full-time to becoming a chef and restauranteer, working her way up the ladder of the food service industry, applying to culinary schools, bridging the gap between corporations and grass-roots food justice. Yet a third housemate is currently at a conference in DC to learn what kind of careers a Peace-Building and Development Major can pursue, educating himself on systems change and analysis. The fourth directs a meals on wheels style service at a restaurant/cafe that serves fresh, local, organic food, while pursuing a costume design class, and acting in this semester’s theater production. And that’s just the sexy stuff. We all work job(s), have hobbies ranging from DnD to pastry baking, and collectively keep eleven animals healthy.
It is easy for me to lose sight of the big picture, in the milieu of busy, family living. I decided to land in Hinton, with this small group of weirdies, in order to pursue a just lifestyle, and career as a responsible peace-builder. For me, this translates into building intentional community, practicing sustainable agriculture, and independence from corporate and industrial systems of production. Come late March, I’m starting an apprenticeship with an organic vegetable farm, 20 minutes from our house. I love what Daniel Zetah of New Story Farm in Minnesota writes, ” I hitchhiked a lot of places, ate a lot of discarded food and tried to minimize my consumption as much as I could. Then I finally got it. Even if theoretically we could get 100% of americans to give a shit about any particular issue, if they are still reliant on the produce of the industry primarily causing that issue, it means nothing. My favourite example is people rail against fracking but get the majority of their food from the supermarket (industrial ag), drive a car everyday, heat their home with propane, etc and like privilege, the irony is invisible to most folks. I recognize the irony of writing this on a computer right now. It’s like we’re schizophrenic or something. I believe that industrial agriculture is the most destructive issue we face right now and feel the best point of intervention is growing my own food in a regenerative fashion. I think it’s the most powerful political act I can do at this crazy point in history.”
Zetah articulates and iterates the dogma I’ve come to adopt as a personal directive. And as a naive impatient twenty-one year old, ten months into the fruition of “the dream,” it is important to rejoice in the small victories, celebrate the progress we’ve made thus far, and remember that it is lifelong quest to stay hungry, and keep dreaming.
Happy 2016, y’all. Here’s to many more years of struggle.