Still Alive: Minneapolis Again

I’ve had grand visions for the last month of how I would get to Minneapolis and have so much time to write about all the amazing things that have been happening. I’ve thought of so many things I want to write if only I had the time and the focus. Well.

I think I will have the opportunity to get this record up to date soon, but for now, here’s a summary.

First Misty and I spent five days at the Possibility Alliance, a community in Missouri that I have many thoughts about, all of them good. I’ve visited them once before, toward the end of my last hitchhiking trip, and I think that visit is one big reason that my visions of the future seem naively utopian to a lot of people. Since I visited them I have no problem imagining futures where we no longer use money, where we all grow our own food, where we’re all happy even without gadgets. Because they’re doing all that in the present. The people at the Possibility Alliance are people who grew up in the modern world and decided to forsake all its shallow comforts to live on a permaculture farm amid Amish neighbors, a farm that uses no petroleum or electricity, and has even managed, to an amazing extent, to stop using money. There have been anywhere from four to fifteen people living there, yet the annual budget of the place is around $10,000. They also don’t just farm and live there blocking out all the excesses and vice of the modern world. They ride out into it (on their bikes) and help people. They’ve gone to Flint to help people with water; they volunteer in town; they’ve been all over. They are part of the world and they give at every opportunity they have. As a result the world gives back to them. You’d think with no farmers’ market stall and no charge for the permaculture design course they offer, they’d have no way of raising what budget is required of them. But donations—of food, of money—pour in from everywhere, to match the donations of their own energy that they’ve been spreading for years.

Next we went to Feral Futures, which had its ninth year this summer. We got there a day early and when we got up to the alpine meadow it was held in, there was still a pocket of snow in a shaded spot. It melted over the week while a small group of us went from strangers almost straight through to old friends. It was a smaller group this year and we had fewer workshops and more time to just sit around and talk. In its beginnings Feral Futures, I’m told, was focused on being a place for people to teach each other hard skills. Since then it’s become clear that before we can make use of a lot of those hard skills, we need to get our minds and spirits in a place to do it. That means we still teach them to each other, but we also spend a lot of time just reveling in the simple knowledge that there are other people out there who think it’s necessary to do this, and talking with them about all the things we can’t talk to anyone else about over the rest of the year. At Feral, when I talk about the future I don’t have to start by explaining that, yes, this is an unusual viewpoint, but I believe that the global civilization we all benefit from is going to collapse and that that will actually be a good thing in many ways, even though it will also be crushing in others. That’s something we all share already, more or less and in many different details. So we can skip over that half-hour of arguing and get to talking about what comes after. That’s where so much of the value of Feral lies—these fertile discussions.

And then we split ways, and I took a slow, leisurely route up to meet my family at Crowduck Lake, where we had a pretty decent year, except that I apparently suck at poker more than I ever have before. I did catch a few fish.

Finally on the way back they got me to Minneapolis and here I am, passing through Sprout House once again, this time for barely a day, before heading off to meet Misty in Portland, and who knows what’s next from there.

One final note: since we’ve only been to a few homesteads but have discovered a lot of different ways to become wiser and more useful human beings, I’m changing the name of this trip from the “Homestead Tour” to the “Year of Transformation”.

File under: Still Alive, Feral, Year of Transformation · Places: Midwest, The West

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