Every year, sometime in spring, the day comes when the interns of the season arrive. We anticipate this day with curiosity, excitement and a bit of anxiety: how will the new members of the community fit with each other, with those of us who have been here a while and with the place and our organization and its peculiar ways.
Over the years we have created a process that we call “permaculturalization” – a way of bringing us all together as learning community. We spend between 3 and 5 days with activities focused on getting to know each other, connecting with place, building trust, playing games, and downloading information about O.U.R. Ecovillage. We create a vision for the season, talk about personal goals and make team agreements. Guest facilitators bring in pieces about conflict resolution, team building games, personality profiles or body awareness.
This past week was this year’s spring staff retreat. 25 of us spent many hours in the yurt, learning about the ecovillage structures both visible and invisible. We had workshops on successful meeting facilitation with Dawn Smith, Village elements with John Andreas, strategic planning with Rick Juliussen and conflict resolution with Brandon Tallman. Our teams (kitchen, office, building and food production) took turns cooking meals – an opportunity to find out how we work together.
Explaining to others how things work here I really bring to my own awareness all the small bits that have become pattern: how to use the composting toilet, where to put the recycling, who to ask for what, how the greenhouse shower works and so on. There are so many details and there’s a story that goes which each one. And so we all become story tellers- the longer we live here the more stories we hold.
Our team agreements are tools: each team lays out their intention on how we want to work together, communicate with each other, hold responsibility, give respect, deal with conflict and get our work done. Through the season we will revisit our agreement regularly and have a look at how we’re doing: are we following what we set out to do? Do we need to re-negotiate?
In summary I believe that as a result of this initial time together we will be safer and more open with each other, which enables us to better learning and working performance.
And when I look at my team this year I am stoked : anticipating fun and lots of action.

Change of topics: Yesterday was World Labyrinth Day and I will post here a few images of the recently finished labyrinth at O.U.R. Ecovillage

Witnessing the miracle of life right here: the sheep have been lambing!

Some weeks go by quietly without outstanding events. People go about doing their work, no big storm or other weather event happens and suddenly we find ourselves at the end of another seven days.
Maybe I wasn’t part of things so much this week.
You see I have my own design and consulting business here and at this time when the building season is coming close, I try to wrap up my design projects so that I can be free to go outside to build and teach at the end of May.
My office space is visually not connected to the commons- that helps me not to get too distracted by the general activities and comings and goings. It is located at the north side of the Art Studio and looks out onto the wetlands and to the West overlooks the new garden area. Working in a natural building surrounded by the sounds of nature is something I appreciate every day.
Add to that the fact that I don’t have any travel time to work and suddenly there’s space to give work time to the general operations of the ecovillage.

A contributing factor to the general quiet here was that a few of the men from our group went to a Warrior training of the Mankind Project this weekend. In community that means those who are left behind pick up the slack where necessary.
We’re happy when they return: nurtured by the work and deeper connection to each other. And with that I direct my attention to my partner who just arrived.

It’s just too tempting to pick up the weather topic again today. A big storm kept people a bit on edge for a few days now, causing widespread power outages all over Vancouver Island on Friday, and bringing rain and hail and heavy, gusty winds.
Not enough to scare the Easter bunny away though- this morning the children went on a scavenger hunt on the land and found baskets of treats.
And we’ve been eating little chocolate eggs all week in anticipation…do we really need an excuse to eat chocolate?

Talking about eggs: This morning I noticed a chicken squawking loudly in the storage shed right next to the Art Studio: sounded like it just laid an egg.
In the afternoon I investigated and sure enough: a dozen or so eggs were laid there behind some buckets.

While one program is finishing up (the permaculture landscaping that’s been happening all winter) it’s been high time for summer program applications this week: The Natural Building Skillbuilder attracts people from many backgrounds who want to get a broad basic training in our community setting. Now we’ll conduct interviews and meet people so everyone can be well prepared for the May start.

Those who have been working on the winter program are hoping for a “spring break” , a couple of weeks away perhaps, to recharge and turn towards summer.

Monday morning and I have an internal conflict about the Sunday blog I didn’t write yesterday. Now I never promised anyone that this would be an every Sunday blog, but I’m guilty to myself: I took on the challenge that it would be.
How am I facing my voices? Do I own up and deliver now? A day later? Is that better than next Sunday- nobody else will know after all.
Yes, but my commitment is to myself, and it’s me who’s doing the judging. And it’s my energy that’s getting pulled into it.

This situation illustrates something that I believe is an important part of life and especially important in intentional community: commitment and accountability, along with self-motivation. There’s no better learning environment than a long-term group situation, and while for many this is too big a challenge, others take it on and share the highs and lows of their paths.

So now let’s talk about the weather- seriously, that was my intention yesterday.
We were lucky last week with a sensitive pond sealing job and a ceremony to be held outdoors. The early part of the week was mostly sunny, with bits of rain at night. The garden pond was scheduled to be pumped out and sealed with bentonite clay and burlap. So for two days people were knee-deep in the water, applying the clay to the edge of the pond: a wet and probably cold endeavor.
When I asked on Wednesday night what was next the answer was: “Now we need rain and the whole thing is done”. Thursday it rained. Perfect.

Friday all attention was on cleaning things up, hanging new gates, collecting flowers and setting up space for the opening ceremony of our labyrinth on Saturday. I love how an event raises the energy level and we all take a look around and pick up, rake, sweep, and put away.

Saturday came with sunshine(!) and the labyrinth received a last check and some flowers. The celebration brought in new faces and old ones- an occasion like this marks time for this village and longtime friends, who may be less involved on a daily basis, show up. Everyone walked the labyrinth that day and there was song and drumming, blessings and food.

And Sunday when everything was quiet again I woke up to the sound of rain.

Now next Sunday is Easter…will I be writing ?