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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ahimsa Camp Day 6

Today was a day of abundance. We were blessed with a vast array of activities for our camp, time and resources for an educational outing, and delicious homemade foods.

Our theme today centered around abundance and we spent a good portion of the day discussing where our material possessions originate and what is involved in the process of making them. In regards to this, topics such child slavery, sustainable living, simple living, and reusing items were covered. The kids were provided the opportunity to contemplate what it means to live in the U.S. within a global context.

Yesterday, I went shopping a few items to make our veggie snacks and meals today. I noticed that groceries seem to be getting more expensive almost each time I go. Even in the midst of this economic turmoil and the stress this brings to our individual lives, it helps to note that we are surrounded with abundance on a daily basis. In the U.S. we are afforded far greater material security then most other nations on this Earth. The important part, and the part we tried to show the kids today, is learning how to not abuse this abundance and to live in sustainable and ethical ways.

This morning I made yummy peanut butter balls with coconut, raisins, almonds, pecans, and granola rolled in with a taste of homemade maple syrup. We ate these and bananas for morning snack.

The kids helped to make pizza dough today and we discussed how several cultures hold bread making as a sacred art. To celebrate the coming harvest cycle and harvest moon, we ground some of our own grain and made homemade sun tea with various types of mint. We all had fun getting our hands dirty.

For lunch I made 7 vegan pizzas, fresh fruit, and some veggies. The pizzas were veggie chilli/black bean with colorful peppers, sesame with caramelized onions, sweet potatoes with my special garlic sauce and veggies on top, a vegan white pizza, a special kid friendly pasta topped pizza, and a dessert (cinnamon sugar, peanut butter, banana) pizza. In addition, we made another one to take with us to donate during the outing.

Following lunch, the kiddos helped to clean up a bit and then went to the local food bank as an outing and donated a homemade pizza to the volunteers there. They had fun also looking around the second hand stores and learning about all sorts of things including economic inequality and sustainable lifestyles that include utilizing community thrift stores.

The kids came back pretty excited and gardened and did some arts and crafts. One of the crafts featured making hats out of old plastic grocery bags. For snack we ate some healthy watermelon and relaxed before the kids headed home.

I am grateful for our one volunteer today Brenda who is going to college this fall and very interested in permaculture and gardening. She was a wonderful presence.

Take Care,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ahimsa Camp Day 5

Dear cyberworld,
Tonight we are having a brilliant thunderstorm. I for one love summer thunderstorms. I spent the evening relaxing and watching the bats come out and play in the sunset. The air is electric at Ahimsa right now and everything is awakened by summer's embrace. Even at night, it is clear that all sentient beings are having difficulty sleeping instead of stargazing, watching firefly's, and enjoying the perfect warmth of summer nights in PA.

So, I am well rested after day 5 of camp and am ready to report all the happenings of the day. Our day started out (like all camp days) at 9am.
Today we were lucky to have two kids from NYC with us as part of the "Fresh Air" program. This program provides opportunity for kids to leave the city and explore nature. They focus on kids that would otherwise not be able to do so for various personal reasons. The kids we had with us are still here and will be here for a few days. They added quite a bit of personality to our group and our PA kiddos clearly responded well to them. It was refreshing to have their enthusiasm around and their delight in seeing a world so completely different from the concrete in NYC.

Unfortunately, we only 5 kids today instead of what has become our usual 7 or 8. However, this number was perfect for the morning yoga taught by a local mother, Jenn. We had just enough mats for the kids (not to mention room in the farm house) to do their yoga.
We began yoga following a morning snack and discussion of our hero's. Today Kelle made delicious homemade banana chocolate chip cookies for the AM snack. We split into pairs and had a interesting discussion of a individual hero of ours. I chose to speak about Grace Lee Boggs who currently lives in Detroit and is still "Living for Change." My partner talked about how her mom is her hero. The reasoning was quite interesting and through this discussion I came to realize that Janet (a Fresh Air kid) had a strong sense of self worth and positive self image. After working so long with teenage girls who hate their body, it was an inspiring morning for me. I found another hero in this little girl.

So, the kids came to the farm house from the morning yurt meeting and did their yoga. They gave a good effort. The boys who until that moment, were tentative about it because they did not want to be seen as "feminine," clearly enjoyed parts of it. They were even closing their eyes and attempting to be meditative during the process. Janet was clearly a pro at yoga and was able to do everything with ease. Some of the other kids giggled through it and simply enjoyed exploring a new way of being active and aware.

Following yoga, we gardened! I think the best part for everyone today was all the huge worms that were out following last nights rain. We weeded and planted a bit. During this, the kids were able to get to know each other better, get dirty, and joke around. They decided when they were done when they began to get restless and started their next activity using maps and compass.

Lunch Break: Lunch was absolutely delightful today. Kelle made 100% homemade organic vegan cheesy pasta, garlic bread, and fruit smoothies. Everyone ate and had some free time. They also participated in a required 10-15 minute clean up after wards that everyone has to take part of.

Finally, we headed up to the Zen-do for construction/art with Chuck. This was so much fun and the everyone (including the adults) learned a significant amount while having fun. Chuck began by explaining the process of making wooden candle holders and then explaining the tools we would use. We all made our own candle holders. I made one completely out of wood with it's bark intact instead of the stripped and sanded wood that Chuck provided. It fits in well with the yurt:). All of them were creative. One of the kids made a large skyscraper candle holder!

We walked back to Ahimsa and had the closing meeting in the yurt. The kids ate lots of fresh watermelon and waited for their parents to pick them up.

Wow, so much in one day. Stay tuned for next week's adventures.


"Listen to all of these seemingly separate sounds and witness this symphony forms one tapestry, you are a weaver of this fabric that needs the harmony of we to be
You are profoundly blessed
To the silent prophecies they don’t want us to hear
We are the ones we have been waiting for
Wait no more
-Goddess Alchemy Project

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pictures from School of Living Retreat

School of Living Retreat July 09 Best Large Size
View over 100 pictures from the School of Living Retreat held on July 10-12, 2009 at Julian Woods Community, Julian, PA at

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ahimsa Camp day 4

Namaste everyone in cyber world,

Today we had an exciting fourth day of camp at Ahimsa Village. Today we worked on survival skills and it was an enlightening experience. The kiddos started off the day discussing a beautiful quote by Chief Seattle about being part of nature and then we sang a song that reminded us of our interdependence with the natural world. This song touched on all the elements and led into a discussion of what is needed to survive alone in the wilderness.
We covered water, food, shelter, and temperature.
First, we dug a hole and created a water sanitation system in this hole.
Second, we worked on building our own individual fires and the kids collected wood, etc.
Afterwards, the kiddos got an excellent lesson from Debbie, a herbalist in Julian Woods. She was kind enough to explore our natural surrondings with us and point out medicial and edible wild foods. We found plenty to of edible foods to prepare with our lunch (including burrdock root, which we had fun digging up).

Lunch was beautiful! We had tomato/basil salad, corn on the cob (roasted on the fire), fire roasted potatoes, fire roasted homemade bread, soup made from our collected wild foods and mushrooms, fresh snap peas from the garden, and rasberry juice.
The food was delicious and the kids were so grateful they even helped to clean up a bit:)

Later on, we took a hike in the woods and found a spot to build temporary emergency shelter. The kids collected fallen logs/sticks/leaves and we made a makeshift tipi of sorts.

We ended the long day with discussion and tasty watermelon.

Thank you everyone who came or was involved, it was quite a day!

I'll leave you with this beautiful quote by one of my favorite activitists, Grace Lee Boggs:

"Fighting on the side of Humanity against the Empire of Money, we need to go beyond Opposition, beyond Rebellion, beyond Resistance, beyond Civic Insurrection. We don't want to be like them. We don't want to become the "political class," to change presidents, switch governments. We want and need to create the Alternative world that is now both possible and necessary. We want and need to exercise power, not take it."

We are the change.
With love,

School of Living Retreat

We just finished the School of Living (SOL) Strategic Planning Retreat – Reaching In, Reaching Out - held at Julian Woods Community on July 10-12, 2009. It was a unique event in the history of the SOL. The SOL was founded in1934 by Dr. Ralph Borsodi in Suffren, NY to teach people how to live the "good life" in trying times. His vision was carried on and expanded by Mildred Loomis at Lane's End Farm in Ohio and later Heathcote Center in Maryland . The SOL was the leading organization for the "green revolution" and inspired such people as J.I. Rodale, Adele Davis, Paul Keane, the Nearing and many, many others. It pioneered many movements including organic agriculture, permaculture, alternative currency, alternative education, intentional community, “back to the land,” community land trust, etc. The recent history of the organization has focused on maintaining 6 community land trust communities and less so on “green education” (although each community is engaged in educational activities). What made this retreat so unique is that it is the first time in memory that the SOL has held a retreat with the specific purpose of reevaluating its mission, vision, and goals. The event marked a unique opportunity in the organization’s 75 year history to determine its future direction.

The retreat used the Future Search method of strategic planning and was skillfully facilitated by Grace Potts and Alice Leibowitz of Insight Unlimited, a nonprofit that helps organizations “be the best they can be.” Over 50 people attended the 3 day event that featured looking at the past, present, and future. We are living in extraordinary times and are on the cusp of a major paradigm shift culturally, physically, spiritually, and materially. We feel the SOL can play a critical role in this transition as it did in the past. Our thinking is that at this moment in human history that the time is right for the SOL to reinvent itself in the spirit of Borsodi and Loomis but with a focus on our times and world situation. A new SOL will seek to teach people not only practical living skills but also social, cultural, spiritual, and communication skills that are as important as practical skills for living in the new paradigm. We hope to have a report from the retreat soon. We will post a summary here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Updates by Dominique:)

Buenos Dias amigos y amigas!

It has been crazy, hectic, and fun around here lately.
The weather is beautiful, a soft New England summer. The netting is finally up covering the blueberries, the Straw House is coming along (looking beautiful), and the summer camp is up and growing.

The Camp, day 3:

Today was very exciting because all of us were able to take a field trip to Julian Woods in order to receive art instruction from a local healer and artist. The art class was amazing and the kids loved it. The kids all made multiple oil/watercolor paintings. We discussed the healing properties of color and the connection between art, living, eating, and healing. Somehow art is profound, silly, fun, and engaging all at once. We also took a quick trip to the local pond where we were able to play in the water and enjoy the sunlight.
Today we also began Byron Katie with the kids, which went surprisingly well! The kids were very open to new ways of dealing with emotions. We approached it through charades and play.

It is hard to explain to kids why nature is so cool and how much nature provides for us. It is much easier to show them. Today we finished making some organic herbal salve from the land and each kid got to take some home. In addition, we went berry picking and had a delicious homemade lunch. Lunch was organic vegan lentil burgers, homemade bread, pineapple carrot cake, and fresh fruit/veggies-YUM! Thanks Rosalind!!

Cave exploring, hiking, art, meditating, etc. Today was generous in it's gifts and I am thankful for every part of it.

One thing I learned, to treat poison ivy "Jewel Weed"is wonderful:)

The land is open and blooming and it is summer at Ahimsa, feel free to visit, volunteer, learn and and connect while the weather is nice.

Coming up this weekend....the School of Living Retreat! Education, mayhem, and fun!