Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lessons from Pennsylvania

Sorry about the long delay in posting.  (over a month, I know.) I'm back in the Boston area after many adventures. (Quite a few of them involving travel--my most recent was trying to return to Boston last Friday when the city and the public transit system were shut down.  If you've been following the news you know why.)

I just spent a month in Pennsylvania.  I learned a lot of things in my time there.  I worked on projects involving hugelkultur and sheet mulching.  One of the people there has a very different method of doing humanure (see my post on Humanure, 1/10/13) involving newspaper.  It was a bit tricky but it was useful to learn.  I took a field trip to Lancaster to learn about the Amish and Mennonites.  I didn't actually go to any Amish locations but I did have an interesting conversation with a Mennonite man who had some insights into why the plain clothes (this was what the common people wore when the Amish were starting out--as opposed to the dress of the aristocracy) and why the Anabaptists (the ancestors of the Amish and Mennonites) and early Quakers were persecuted (the imperialists are always interested in getting rid of those who threaten their way of life).

I also gave a few presentations--one on sprouting (see my post on Sprouts!, 2/26/10) and another (of course) on intentional community.

A bigger learning was from watching these folks and how they were trying to set up something. It turned out not to be what I wanted and I'm not sure that they're actually going to get what they want (I'm not even sure they know what they want) but it makes some of the things that get in the way of building community much more apparent to me.

Probably the most important learning I had was about the ways I don't communicate clearly.  There was a bit of misunderstanding that happened and I could see how I contributed to much of it.   I did try to leave there well but I'm very clear that I need to work on some of my stuff if I'm going to build community (feedback that I got from others as well).  As one of my friends puts it, "Wherever you go, there you are."

Quote of the Day: "The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving." - Oliver Wendell Holmes