Hey everyone! I feel really happy to be sharing with you again all the hopeful news that is happening around Vegan Utopia Ecovillage (VUE) and the learning center. Thanks for tuning in!

If you haven’t stayed up to date with all of our changes over the past almost 3 years, this might be a bit confusing. But hopefully you will get a sense of how we are doing!

Its Spring! Seeds are sprouting in the hugelkultur gardens at the VUE site. I planted them the last time I was at the site, about a month ago. I was afraid that I planted them too early because we have had many below freezing nights since that time. But they are coming up!

Legal updates: I decided to come up and visit the VUE site. I needed to have a visit with  Cliff and Robert, co-owners of the land. We are in the process of dividing the property so Cliff can have his share, and Robert is selling his share to the Ecovillage. It’s complicated, but the result will be 18 acres of land for the Ecovillage, and Cliff and Ecovillage folks will figure out how we will be cooperating. We had a fruitful meeting, and I am happy to say things are moving forward in a positive way. Cliff and Robert have both consulted with a lawyer and they are keeping me updated.

My connection to the land: I am staying in the basement apartment of the “Retreat Center’ land. It is so cold! I feel so grateful that I can be here in a cozy room working on my computer. The Retreat Center, as I call it, is owned by a friend, and my former husband Robert is the caretaker. I can stay here pretty much whenever I want to. I need to be in Fayetteville to work to make money and trade for my rent/food. But I am so glad to be here with access to internet. It is so beautiful and quiet. Plus, I can go to the VUE site to do work on garden and clean up.

Fostering Healthy Friendship: Our class is really coming into focus. We have made so. many changes since we decided to have a class, but each change was like a teacher. We are discovering what it means to create a class and how we want to deliver it. You can see the Facebook page here.

Upcoming Classes: Cliff and I are going to work together on a class relating to the topic he is passionate about most: Oneness of All Life. We are talking about perhaps focussing on the importance of forgiveness and how to do that. We’ll keep you posted.

Jaimie Prieto, certified NVC trainer and author of The Joy of Compassionate Connecting, is interested in offering a class through our learning center. I will be talking to him in a few weeks. I got to know Jaimie when I was living in Berkeley last summer, and I feel very hopeful about him being involved as an instructor. Learn more about him here. 

I also talked to Joanna Blad, who started the very inspiring Facebook page, Veganism Here There and Everywhere.  We are going to work together to create a class on the topic of manifesting your dreams.  I am really glad to be working on a project with this dear vegan friend who is so passionate about her work.

Fundraising: I will be finalizing the content of a $1500 GoFundMe project with the Mission Circle (which is similar to a board of directors without the hierarchy). I hope it will be out by this week.

Mission Circle Report: We are meeting every other week, which really motivates me to get things done in time for the meeting. I get such valuable input from the members, who officially signed during our last meeting on March 20, the first day of Spring.

We are going to try an experiment this Wednesday where during the first  hour of the meeting we use the Friendship Circle format which will help us deepen our connection, and the second hour will be about business.

I am working hard to send out proposals ahead of time on a google doc in order to get feedback so our meeting doesn’t have to take a lot of time. I’ll let you know how this turns out! I feel strongly that building a sense of community while we build community is important. We all live in different places, and so we connect by phone. It is amazing how long distance friendships, where we are working on a project we are passionate about, can grow so much.

If you want to see the kinds of decisions we are making, you can check out our meeting minutes here. 

Lest you think that all is roses and rainbows in our team, I want to let you know that conflicts do arise from time to time. But we are all committed to working things out, which is of utmost importance in community. We are doing our best to do things that prevent conflict, but when things to come up, and we talk things out in a loving way–we emerge closer and with increased trust.

Alma Gathering: I am excited to see that a spiritual gathering that  I helped get started when I was in Berkeley at the Animal Rights Center continues to happen. Maybe we will do something like this here! Check it out here.  I continue to feel grateful that I was able to live in Berkeley and be involved with Direct Action Everywhere organizing. I learned SO much about living in non-residential community that I can apply to VUE.

Our connection to the larger neighborhood:  Today I decided to attend the little church that meets in our neighborhood. It is because of the folks who started this church that we have this land. Buying land was something that we as very poor folk thought we could never do, but with owner financing, and sweat equity for the down payment, we were able to buy what will become the VUE.

Cliff has worked hard over the past 17 years that he has been part of the church and the neighborhood–to build trust and connection. People just love him, and respect him as well. And he doesn’t call himself a Christian! So we are happy that folks in the neighborhood are not attached to people being Christian.

I had a beautiful experience today where I gave my testimony about how I am listening to Jesus, and how I am welcoming people of all different spiritual paths to come to VUE. I said, “I just want to be light to people.” A person who used to be so disapproving of my uniqueness and openness, came up and actually acknowledged me for my authenticity and vulnerability! And he prayed for me. That felt like a major breakthrough. I think whoever joins the community, no matter what their faith walk is, is going to be welcomed here!

Well, that’s all for now! I love how we are moving forward. Every day there is progress. I am no longer saying, “I will be happy when I live in community.” I actually feel so satisfied living in a non-residential, long distance community which is evolving. I continue to grow my servant leadership skills. I feel more trusting that the timing of people actually coming and living on the land is going to be perfect. I don’t have to force it to happen. But all the things that we are doing–which I will report on in the next blog post–will lead to us finding wonderfully compatible people who will delight in finding us!

Your comments are always welcome!







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