I think since I was born, I was drawn to community. Even though I don’t remember my first 3 years of life In Lafayette, Indiana, where I was born, I know that this foundation of love and security has helped me throughout my life. My dad was in the Navy, but it just happened that he taught ROTC at Purdue, and thus was home most of the time during this very important and formative part of my life. My grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins lived in nearby Chicago where we visited frequently, and my parents were connected to their good friends from their church in Lafayette.
Reading my annual recently, I realized that I still have traits that I had since high school and maybe earlier. People said I was weird, a good listener, a great friend, and even some said I changed their life for the better. I was shy growing up, but in the eighth grade, a spat with the student body president guided me to realize that I needed to become a servant leader–not someone who bosses people around.
Through a series of totally miraculous events, I went from being a very little known, not all that popular girl to being a class officer for the next 4 years, voted “most active” in my senior class, and a member of many groups.
I was on the college track and thought I would just get a job like everyone else. But when I was in my first year of college, I was on a backpacking trip where I had the revelation from a God I didn’t believe in (I left the Methodist Church, disillusioned, at age 16) that I needed to travel.
One year later, I was on a plane headed to Europe, and I quickly realized that this western culture was not what was going to fulfill me. I was seeking meaning, seeking my “niche” as I called it then.
I headed overland to India, and for 13 months traveled in other countries as well–Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, and Sri Lanka. Oh, my goodness-what suffering I experienced–being so lonely at times, and also seeing the suffering around me.
Coming back on the plane I had another revelation: The only way I was going to be happy was to serve and do so using my talents joyfully. I was 20 years old. One year later, I was married and headed to Arkansas.
When I learned about intentional communities from the Federation of Intentional Communities directory, I was hooked. Ever since then, I have studied, visited, and sometimes lived in–intentional communities. this has been the main theme of my life for the past 42 years.
4 1/2 years ago I became vegan (after being an ethical vegetarian for 33 years) and then almost 2 years ago I realized that I needed to make animal rights activism my main focus. A friend who believes in me financially supported me so I was able to partially build the physical infrastructure of the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage and now I am seeking founding members and an assistant director to help me with this project.
Only 3 months ago I had a faith shift, and after 17 years of trying to belong to the Christian faith, I realized that Jesus is my guide and mentor, not lord and savior. I could no longer identify with a group that said that their way was the only way.
The hardships I have endured along this path are many, and yet each one of them has been a stepping stone so that I could be a more loving person with the mission of wanting to do only those things that help all of life thrive. I am friends with my two former husbands and cooperating with them, along with our two children and their spouses.
I feel so grateful because my life-long dream of living in an intentional community is so close to being fulfilled. I see now that if I had formed a community earlier, my passion for veganism, animal rights, and oneness rather than subscribing to a religion mindset–would not have been fulfilled.
The values that I list on the website reflect now who I am after 63 years of life. I continue to learn and grow building on the experiences that I have had. One of my deepest desire is to forgive and love those who I perceive have hurt or betrayed me and to love and forgive myself for those times when I have hurt or betrayed others.
If you want to learn more about my beautiful dream, the website is http://www.VeganUtopiaEcovillage.com