Newsletter:20081018

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EcoReality Co-op Newsletter

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I Got Da Fever For (From?) Permaculture

The rising harvest moon over EcoReality.
What happened to September? And October is more than half over! How tempus does fugit when you're having fun.

Or when you're not having fun. Like lying in bed, shivering with a fever, all your joints screaming in pain, trying to hold your head perfectly plumb, facing the ceiling, so that your nose won't run down one side of your face or the other. That's where I was while some twenty members, prospective members, and friends from neighbouring communities were learning consensus decision-making from author, columnist, and trainer, Tree Bressen, which Susie Anne and Morris describe in more detail in this issue.

Patti Bauer orients students at the Blue Raven Farm Permaculture Design Course.
I had just finished teaching a three-week Permaculture course at Blue Raven Farm, with Brandon and Patti Bauer. A Permaculture Design Course (or "PDC" for short), is an intensive residency course in the very best sustainable practices available, with the goal of teaching people how to live permanently in harmony with the earth, without the constant boom and bust of civilization that has gone on as long as humans have recorded history — and which the recent turmoil in housing and financial markets presages our own impending downfall.

The class was a great group of people, coming from as far as Quebec and Arizona, but many of the students had been ill, and the toll of late night lesson planning, early orientation circles, and inspiring after-dinner activities (then coming home to a pile of EcoReality work), caught up with me.

But teaching two different PDCs this year was inspiring, and we're making plans to have such a course at EcoReality in June 2009, featuring multiple local instructors — some of the best practitioners of sustainable agriculture and human culture in the region — in addition to some "name" instructors of international renown. Hosting an intensive residency course will also force us to build the necessary infrastructure, such as composting toilets and an outdoor kitchen. Watch this space and our meetings page for more details!

Closer to the present, we're planning a winter retreat for members, prospective members, and interested others. Advance registration will be required; watch for details in the November newsletter.

Jan Steinman


Giving Times to What Takes Times
Learning about Consensus at EcoReality

Tree Bressen.gif
On September 27, EcoReality members and guests had the pleasure of working with consensus trainer Tree Bressen for a full day in the comfort of our own classroom. Tree was on a tour of the Gulf Islands and lower mainland, providing this valuable skill-building workshop to intentional communities that had requested the training.

Tree’s background in living and working in intentional communities, such as Acorn and Twin Oaks in Virginia, lead her down the path of investigation of what makes consensus work and what causes it to fail. The majority of her training has come from this hands-on experience in consensus-practicing settings.

In our workshop handouts, consensus is defined as “a group decision-making process in which all present must agree before action is taken.” It differs from the majority-rules systems often used in our western meeting formats in that it does not generally use a voting system in which the largest group with a shared opinion will steer which way a decision will go.

Consensus seeks to “synthesize the wisdom of the group,” recognizing that “everyone has a piece of the truth.” It is not so much about people coming to agreement on issues as it is about everyone involved having the opportunity to give input, share ideas and feelings and learn from each other. Consensus is not comprimise. The desired end results will be high-quality decisions, creative solutions and a sense of unity in the group.

In attendance at our training were EcoReality members and prospective members, and guests from Shawnigan Lake’s OUR Ecovillage with a wide variety of experience with consensus in our own lives. We were twenty in all.

Through the day we tried a variety of exercises, practiced consensus skills with small and large community issues and learned some of the history of consensus making.

We learned that consensus, in one form or another, has been used for thousands of years in nations around the world. It has been in practice in First Nations cultures and in European countries and has only stepped out of common use in the last two hundred years.

Why have we stopped using this system in our mainstream governing bodies? One reason may be that it appears to be less expedient than a majority-rules voting system.

Consensus takes time. It requires deep listening and patience. It requires a certain amount of trust and openness to others. It requires commitment and common purpose.

And yet, Tree assures us, and our personal experiences can affirm, that, giving the time required to the consensus-building process lends to choices that support the group as a whole. These agreements are then owned and acted upon much more expediently and effectively than decisions that were made quickly but haven’t really met the needs of all the people involved.

We, as a couple, are in a state of appreciation for having the opportunity to learn and practice with Tree and with our own forming community at this workshop and to then participate in bringing our new skills in to practice in our meetings in the following days.

In coming newsletters: The seven steps of making a consensus decision (as given to us by Tree Bressen), working with blocks in consensus, and participating in a consensus heart circle.

Susie Anne Bartsch & Morris Lamrock


Island Recipes

Pumpkin Apple Soup.jpg
The vegetarian recipes you find here feature local seasonal ingredients. Organic ingredients are encouraged, they taste better! Wherever possible, local to Salt Spring sources will be listed, just to demonstrate the abundance on this little island! You will also find that many ingredients can be easily substituted with what you may already have in your pantry. These recipes are guidelines meant to encourage kitchen creativity. (Suggested substitutions in parentheses.)

Harvest Pumpkin Apple Soup with Blue Goat Cheese

serves 8

This pumpkin soup is refined and delicious, with a unique flavour, both sweet and zesty. Be sure to use the smaller sugar pumpkins, rather than the large carving pumpkins. The smaller pumpkins are sweeter and more tender. If you prefer a chunkier soup, you may wish to substitute the pumpkin with butternut squash as the pumpkin can be a bit stringy if it isn't puréed. Serve as a first course or with warm, whole grain bread and a green salad for a satisfying meal on a blustery day.


Ingredients

6-7 pounds pumpkin, halved, seeded and stringy bits removed (or butternut squash) -Stone Glen Farm

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (margarine)– Avalon Dairy on Vancouver Island

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped - EcoReality Co-op

1 teaspoon dried thyme (2 teaspoons fresh thyme) – EcoReality Co-op

1 celery rib, finely chopped - EcoReality Co-op

1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced - over 15 farms on Salt Spring with over 350 varieties!

3 cups apple cider – Isabella Farm

2 litres vegetable stock

1/2 pound blue cheese – Salt Spring Island Cheese's Blue Juliette goat cheese (omit to make vegan)

1/2 cup heavy cream (omit to make vegan) – Avalon Dairy on Vancouver Island

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil) - Avalon Dairy on Vancouver Island


Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place pumpkin cut side down on rimmed sheet pan or any baking dish you have. Add 2 cups water and roast until punpkin is very tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, drain off any remaining water, and let cool.

Remove pumpkin seeds from the stingy pulp and rinse as much pulp off as possible. Toss them with 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake in 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in large heavy pot over medium heat, melt butter, add olive oil. Add onions, garlic, celery, thyme, salt, and pepper and sauté until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add apples and sauté until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add apple cider and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until liquid is reduced by half.

When pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop out flesh and add to soup. Add stock and remaining tablespoon salt, raise heat to high, and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until all vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes.

In double boiler (or in a sauce pan over low heat) over medium heat, heat cheese and heavy cream (you can sub whole milk or unsweetened soy here, but you will need to add some corn starch to thicken the mixture. Combine about ½ tsp corn starch with a little water to make a paste, then add to cheese mixture), stirring occasionally, until melted, about 10 minutes. Keep warm.

Working in batches, purée soup in blender or food processor until very smooth, then return to pot or use your immersion blender if you have one. Set over moderate heat and return to simmer.

To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls, drizzle with blue cheese mixture, and sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds and cracked pepper. Serve immediately.

Osha Roller


Preservation of the Soul, Part II

Parts of Belen are submerged in water during the wet season.
My first journey outside of Iquitos took me to the town of Manacamiri about a 30 minute boat ride from the slum port of Belen on the outskirts of Iquitos. Dubbed the Venice of Peru, parts of Belen are submerged in water during the wet season. It is also known for it boisterous borracchos whom enjoy their drink a little too much and are none too fond of Americans. I was approached by a tall (by Peruvian standards) man who stumbled in front of me and yelled “Americano?” I yelled back “Canadiano!” and kept walking. It wasn't the hill that I wanted to die on and it was partially true. All manner of commerce is conducted in the market there and anything from Coca leaves to chuchuhuasi (an aphrodisiac drink made of tree bark) to turtle soup cooked in the shell of a giant turtle could be had for a price. I searched high and low for a delicacy made from giant palm tree maggots grilled on a spit in vain.

The long wooden boat had a thatched roof covering the middle of the boat to shade us from the harsh midday sun. I found my way to the front of the boat and straddled the bow as we veered from the main river into a narrow channel with tall shrubs hanging over the river. There are no river banks back in the channel to delineate between river and land. The river channel simply gave way to a thicket of shrubs and trees so dense that even a small animal would have to perform all manner of contortions to navigate the natural maze. Paradoxically this time of year was the dry season so I can only imagine that during the wet season the entire channel would be almost completely covered and the boat would have to navigate through a small channel of tree tops.

Upon arrival in Manacamiri we walked up the steep banks to the little village. There was a soccer field with two beautiful black horses grazing under a beautifully expansive sky streaked with long stratus clouds. The shaman we were to work with is Luis Lucho Culquitón. He was taught curandismo while still young by his grandmother and twenty years ago began to build Centro de Investigacion Kapitari in the jungle near his pueblo. He has dedicated his life to embracing the wisdom of the plant spirits for the benefit of his family, the people of the jungle, and all those who visit. Much of the inspiration for Kapitari which has been created to be self- sustaining, he says has come from Ayahuasca. It was the calling and instruction of Ayahuasca that inspired him to buy wood from the lumber yard down the river and begin the arduous task of bringing it the forty minute boat ride and hour long trek into the jungle to transform what had been a modest plot of sugar cane into the little paradise it is now. He soon realized that buying lumber or much of anything else in the city of nearby Iquitos to create Kapitari was unnecessary because, as he will tell you, everything you need to live is provided by the jungle.

The pavement in Manacamiri gave way to a wide dirt road and then to a narrow dirt road and then to a muddy narrow road into the jungle. We past by several areas still black and smoldering from recent slash and burn ostensibly to make room for agriculture. Somebody in our group commented that “It is really incredible how fast the forest grows back once it has been cut and burned”. Apparently an attempt to make light conversation about the prevalence of so much destruction of the forest. We finally arrived at Kapitari about after an hour of sweaty hiking. Walking through the fence onto the property brought an instant calm. The property was covered by several small lakes, a beautiful outdoor kitchen and tambos for each person on the journey to rest. I was immediately drawn to the outdoor kitchen and secretly wished I could teleport it to Ecoreality. There was even a charred caiman head hanging above the main cooking area, for good luck no doubt. There was a central circular Maloca or meeting house that was fashioned out of unevenly rough cut planks and a high pitched dome made of thatch. This was the area where Ayahuasca ceremonies were conducted but more on that later.

One of our guides offered us to jump in the lake and go swimming. It appeared to be a suicidal offer as I surmised that the lake had to be swarming in piranha and caiman just waiting for a piece of unsuspecting gringo meat. Trusting my guides and throwing caution to the wind I threw on my swimming trunks and jumped right into the mud brown water. It was surprisingly warm and refreshing. A flock of birds dissipated with the large splash I made. A few moments later a thunderstorm rolled in with loud rumbling. I found myself in the middle of the small lake surrounded by beautifully tall trees and the rain began to pour from the sky while I treaded water. It was a magical almost unbelievable moment. Here I was in the middle of South America, in the jungle, swimming in a small lake, with rain drops the size of small pebbles crashing all around me. I knew that the excitement and surreal moment was but a prelude to the adventures with the shaman that I would experience that evening and in the following weeks.... to be continued.

Justin Roller


Recent Happenings

Here are some highlights of recent meetings and events. Click any entry for details.

Monthly Members' Meeting 
agreed to bank September hours for James, James will write a page explaining that requests to bank hours are to be made in advance, budget talk, work-trade for interest payments, programs.
Weekly Residents' Meeting 
car sharing, work party, garlic, video production.
Bi-weekly Members' Teleconference 
add timekeeper role to meetings, provisional membership ideas, brainstorming.
Weekly Residents' Meeting 
WWOOFers, work party, Thanksgiving dinner plans.
Qi Gong Meeting 
request to change to hourly rental, insurance, formal lease.
Weekly Residents' Meeting 
work party, white board task tracking.
Bi-weekly Members' Teleconference 
bus advertising, holiday retreat, members' weekend agenda, renew WWOOF Canada, time sheets.

Upcoming Events

Here are some highlights. For details, please go to the meetings page on our website. All activities are at EcoReality, 2152 Fulford-Ganges Road, Salt Spring Island (map), unless otherwise noted.

Friday, 24 October, Work party 
Firewood, fruit harvest, garlic planting, electrical work, more! Free lunch if you work all day. Please try to arrive at 9:30 AM or 1 PM.
Saturday, 25 October, Monthly Members' Meeting 
Theme: Structure and facilitation. We are expecting a number of visitors and prospective members. Due to space restrictions, please let us know if you plan to attend.
Saturday, 25 October, Weekly Tour, Potluck, and Movie 
Tour at 5PM, potluck at 6PM, movie (or other fun activity) at dusk. Have a movie in mind? Please bring one!
Tuesday, 28 October, Weekly Residents' Meeting 
EcoReality site residents figure out what they're going to do in the next week. All meetings are open, but let us know you're coming — no drop-ins, please.
Friday, 31 October, Work party 
Firewood, food preserving, biodiesel, more! Free lunch if you work all day. Please try to arrive at 9:30 AM or 1 PM.
Saturday, 1 November, Weekly Tour, Potluck, and Movie 
Tour at 5PM, potluck at 6PM, movie (or other fun activity) at dusk. Have a movie in mind? Please bring one!
Tuesday, 4 November, Weekly Residents' Meeting 
EcoReality site residents figure out what they're going to do in the next week. All meetings are open, but let us know you're coming — no drop-ins, please.
Friday, 7 November, Work party 
Firewood, more! Free lunch if you work all day. Please try to arrive at 9:30 AM or 1 PM.
Saturday, 8 November, Weekly Tour, Potluck, and Movie 
Tour at 5PM, potluck at 6PM, movie (or other fun activity) at dusk. Have a movie in mind? Please bring one!
Tuesday, 11 November, Weekly Residents' Meeting 
EcoReality site residents figure out what they're going to do in the next week. All meetings are open, but let us know you're coming — no drop-ins, please.
Friday, 14 November, Work party 
Firewood, more! Free lunch if you work all day. Please try to arrive at 9:30 AM or 1 PM.
Saturday, 15 November, Weekly Tour, Potluck, and Movie 
Tour at 5PM, potluck at 6PM, movie (or other fun activity) at dusk. Have a movie in mind? Please bring one!
Tuesday, 18 November, Weekly Residents' Meeting 
EcoReality site residents figure out what they're going to do in the next week. All meetings are open, but let us know you're coming — no drop-ins, please.
Friday, 21 November, Work party 
Firewood, more! Free lunch if you work all day. Please try to arrive at 9:30 AM or 1 PM.
Saturday, 22 November, Weekly Tour, Potluck, and Movie 
Tour at 5PM, potluck at 6PM, movie (or other fun activity) at dusk. Have a movie in mind? Please bring one!
Tuesday, 25 November, Weekly Residents' Meeting 
EcoReality site residents figure out what they're going to do in the next week. All meetings are open, but let us know you're coming — no drop-ins, please.
Friday, 28 November, Work party 
Firewood, more! Free lunch if you work all day. Please try to arrive at 9:30 AM or 1 PM.
Saturday, 29 November, Monthly Members' Meeting 
Theme: Consensus decision making. We are expecting a number of visitors and prospective members. Due to space restrictions, please let us know if you plan to attend.
Saturday, 29 November, Weekly Tour, Potluck, and Movie 
Tour at 5PM, potluck at 6PM, movie (or other fun activity) at dusk. Have a movie in mind? Please bring one!


Thank you for supporting EcoReality with your interest, ideas, and good thoughts!

Want to write for this newsletter? Or want to see something written about? Contact the Communication Steward with your story ideas!

EcoReality Coop (directions)
2152 Fulford-Ganges Road
Salt Spring Island, BC V8K 1Z7, Canada
+1 250.653.2024
http://www.EcoReality.org
Info AT EcoReality DOT org

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