One of my goals, in this grand experiment of the ecoplex, is an exploration of community. There is the small community of people living in the building, and the ever-expanding layers of community spiraling off and away into the wider world around us. I’ve always seen this project as a way to help in those ever expanding worlds, from the inside out. I envision the process as a linear growth: get my own shit together, then work to build a functional, beneficial, merry ecoplex, and as the bigger projects there wind down and the system starts to be self-sustaining branch out into the neighborhood and beyond to effect change. Of course, the world is not so linear. I’ll probably die before I really get my shit together, but it’s an equisite process and I’m getting a little better at it, I hope. At least, I’m getting damn sick of thinking and talking about myself and don’t really give a hoot what is going on inside my own head right now, so it is time to reach outwards. But, as I overextend myself physically and mentally on construction projects, gardening, and community action I do find myself circling back into my own inner world again, pulling back into my shell to regroup for the next plunge.
In any case, it is an exciting time to live in Spenard. There are quite a few other cool cats who live here, I am finding out. There is a lot of the commercial world nearby, but nice palatable pieces of it – coffee shops like Middleway, restaurants like Yak and Yeti, movie-pubs like Bears Tooth (mostly I use them to fill my growlers with local beer) and music venue/bars like Taproot. The soft opening night of Taproot at its new location at the old Fly By Night club was quite an event! The Spenard Farmers’ Market has started this summer near my place, under the ‘Koots Windmill and it is great to have a market so close! The opening day of the market was also an enthusiastic, crowded event. Subsequent markets have been lighter, but as long as they can sustain at a level where I can walk over and grab local produce, maybe hear some music, drink a chai and meet my neighbors then I am happy. Some of us are pulling hard (many are pulling harder than I am) to try and get Spenard Road upgraded to a complete street (where travel is safe and efficient for all modes – car, ped, bike, transit, etc – check out the Spenard Complete Streets Coalition FB page).
Community is nebulous and vacillating though. It is a bit like those metallic bonds I mentioned a few posts ago. Get too fixated on the forward progress of any one piece and one is likely to get a bit burned out. Tenants roll through on their way to the next thing in their life, community friends drop in and out as they weave through their own lives, projects get hung up for years and years in a political morass, campaigns and businesses come and go. Sometimes it is one step back and two forward, sometimes the opposite, and sometimes things just get stuck in place for a while while the tide gathers energy to roll back in and push everything a bit further up on the beach. I am learning the patience of the clouds who can’t push the mountains anywhere, but by releasing their gentle drizzle eventually shape the whole range. Like the big willows, birches, and cottonwoods beyond my back fence, I am sending my roots down and out and I will do what I can to slowly make an ever expanding patch of ground more integrated and fertile and beautiful.
For July, though, I am going to have to pull a bit back and focus on my building – this week I’ll be coating my foundation insulation with the latex trowel on product I just received, soon I will be insulating and re-siding the rest of the building. yes, I am scared and overwhelmed – but it’ll be ok!