It was on the last day of the International Music Festival, in Lafeyyette, when I was invited to a gathering at Gabrie’l and Dokoda’s place. We sat around in a circle that night, a half dozen or more of us, telling stories and laughing at almost everything. That’s where I met Wendy. The scene looked exactly like this…
Wendy connected me with Celino, an artist friend of hers who lives Gainesville. He made a generous offer to host Jo and I at his home two blocks east of downtown. I’m sitting in his favorite chair right now, looking at the walls, where some of the paintings he’s painted are hanging. Celino just left for work, spending some time at an art store he owns not far from here, telling me to make myself at home. And so I am. I’m drinking my second cup off coffee. Jo’s sleeping on the floor in the corner of the bathroom. Celino, he’s gifted, able to turn items that were intended for the landfill, into beautiful pieces of art. Like the ones on the kitchen wall, each one a lamp, lighting the room.
I’d like to tell you about a lightbulb that went off, a dream I had back in October of 2013. I believe it’s important to share dreams. More of the details seem to surface each time I tell its’ story, coming to me in pieces, over a period of time. There’s been times when I’ve thought I would throw myself into it, but something tells me I’m not ready yet.
I picture a piece of land, it might be 20 acres or more in size, I don’t know exactly, maybe somewhere in Central Oregon, maybe on the south side of Bend. I describe it as an echo, intentional, multi-generational, commerce community, built with and rooted in love. A mouth full, I know.
It’s a place that myself and others hope to build, a place that we think would be a good example. I call it the NORTHwest POLE, and everyone will be able to visit there. It’s a modern day North Pole. Imagine a community of about 150 people cohabiting together on the same land, living in tiny houses, operating small honest trade businesses, supporting the Operation Elf Box mission, to create a brighter Christmas for children, nationally.
I picture us walking along the paths that would connect to the restaurant, a coffee shop, a gift store, a library, a lounge, a garden, a cobbler, a luthier, a toy-maker, a seamstress, an herbalist, an acupuncturist, a beautician, a doctor, a counselor, and even an adventure tour company. And there’s an RV park for visitors and a few tiny houses available for out of towners who want to visit and volunteer. The list of ideas go on and on.
As a multi generational community, we would create housing for some of our elders, those who might be living in a senior center now, but would thrive living in a vibrant artistic community. Granny and Gramps would be able to participate, as they’re able to, getting their hands on one of the many different projects within the community. They could also relax in the warm room, do some knitting, read, having discussions, or come in to the venue to listen to the kids open mic night, story telling night, or take in the sound of a singer songwriter who’s passing by or perhaps lives there too.
There would be tiny homes for women and children, some of them starting over, diving into their passions. And we could have apprenticeships at all of the small trade businesses, jobs, teaching others a new trade.
Considering the teen-aged, those who are out there finding their way, how amazing would it be to host a group of them for six weeks or so. We could provide for our upcoming generation an example of a community that loves, and that cares for each other.
While the teens are living with us, we can introduce them to a variety of small trades, and recreational opportunities, like rafting and mountain biking and fly fishing and backpacking in the wildnerness. And expose them to art, and poetry, and music, and story telling and dreaming. All of these experiences, I believe, might help them find something inside themselves that inspires them and helps them to develop a passion for something; to bring them closer to their purpose.
Maybe you have some ideas you can share? Or join the dream team and help us work toward it. Or maybe you have other resources, like a piece of land to build it on!
I’m zeroing in on St Augustine, waking up in Perry. I calculated the distance and set out for my longest ride in a single day ever, 93 (s)miles, It was also the hottest day, Florida feeling like it does in August, reaching almost 100 degrees and humid.
Shoeless Jo took refuge in his shaded wagon. I put a few bottles of ice back there, rolling around with him, creating a swamp cooler. He also has an aqua vest from Ruffwear, soaked in water, it’s designed to keep him cool. But he was looking a little baked so we jumped in the Suwanee River and cooled off.
The sun set shortly after a thunderstorm dropped twenty minutes of rain on us. It felt incredibly invigorating, pedaling along, the wind coming out of the east, blowing toward me, cooling me off. And then it was dark and we still had another 17 miles to go. I clipped two little red lights to the back of my jersey and made the rest of the way by headlight.
The road narrowed and the shoulder disappeared for several miles forcing me to take up one of the two lanes, the cars going around us at night. Jo was hopping in and back out again, running the few hills that roll on the west side of town.
Celino was waiting for me when I arrived at his place at ten thirty at night, helping me cart the Land Sleigh and the Tail Wagon up to his second story, handing me a cold water and a warm welcome.
If you’re still reading, I’ll leave you with this quote.
A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality. ~ John Lennon