Sunflowervillager's Blog

Growing into community

A badly needed update June 15, 2010

Filed under: redetermination,school — Saera @ 7:11 am

It’s summer. so much comes with summer, for everyone I think. In my case, it means a lot of transition. This summer there have already been a lot of changes for me. There is always a strange void after classes end, and I struggle with self-discipline and focus, particularly at that time. But it really is no surprise – after all, during 3/4 of the year I spend most of my time doing what other people think I should be doing, on the time-line they think I should be doing it on. There is also a karmic aspect to this. Most of my summers, even when I had a job, were not particularly focused on particular kinds of productivity. These observations by no means that I shouldn’t ever relax or enjoy the summer, or that it’s any kind of absolute bad that I do the things required of me by school. But it is very tricky to break out of that and transition to self directed productivity. I take a lot of false starts, but eventually some of them get somewhere, and that is good. But I think if I am going to accomplish my goals, particularly the Sunflower Village Initiative, I need to learn to be more effective than that.

So I’m back to this blog and attempting to use it as a tool to keep myself moving, by reporting to myself and to whomever reads this. I hope you haven’t given up on me.

I moved recently, and discovered, among other things, piles and piles of notes and references that I have made or gathered that have plenty of potential. But first, I am working on some more organization. I decided, towards the end of the school year, that the Sunflower Village Initiative needs to become an official non-profit, and that I want this to happen by May of next year. One of the things that I started to do before I moved was to consolidate my contacts into one place so that I better reach out to interested people. What better way to begin organizing people? I anticipate that this will save me time and frustration. Once that project is complete, I will be following steps from a book about starting a non-profit. I am going to try to set myself a timeline to help my effectiveness. A few weeks ago I determined to spend at least three hours per day on the Sunflower Village Initiative. I am going to redetermine and say that it would be good if I could do one hour a day. For now, that can include updating this blog. It’s a good way to get my creative juices going, and to try to hold myself accountable.

Thank you for reading.


Broadening Horizons and Education Considerations January 11, 2010

Filed under: anthropology,geography,school,social investment,wage — Saera @ 2:08 am

Hello all, I apologize for my long absence from posting. The end of the semester was pretty busy for me, and then I was gone for a few weeks to visit my family. One of the things that I got to do before I left was to meet with some people who I have been discussing the possibility of some kind of land trust with. We still haven’t come to any conclusions about what form that might take, but we’re getting closer and coming to know each other better as we go along.

I have been considering the village from a broader perspective lately. Part of this is due to the Economic Geography class I had last semester. Another influence is my desire to study abroad, probably India, but perhaps Brazil. What I’m finding in my search for the right study abroad program is that my interests lie mostly in Sustainable Development and studies which connect Sustainability to surrounding cultures. Also, I have been considering my personal situation. I find that myself and many friends I know are uncomfortable with the options for developing what are often considered reliable or strong finances. This is because some of those options are based on the exploitation of other peoples and conformity to societal norms which discourage so much inspiration, self-fulfillment, and compassion. However, what happens is that a lot of these people, including me, find themselves at low level, low paying jobs, in little position to take the kind of action capable of shifting where things are going on the broad societal level. At first when I decided to focus on Anthropology and Geography and to continue to grad school, my primary consideration was to establish the knowledge and credentials to support the development of the village. But now my thoughts also include how to support myself, possibly earning more than I need to live to create savings towards the village. It now includes a stronger desire to be a vibrant force to contribute to the international intentional communities movement, and to the broader issues of Sustainable Development and the kind of work that Anthropology is capable of supporting.

Towards this, my goals for the next couple of years are looking something like this: Study Abroad in India (or perhaps Brazil), Graduate from Umass, and be accepted to SIT (School for International Training) for their one year’s Graduate program in Sustainable Development. I might also consider Goddard, which I think has a program in Sustainable Communities. After that, I’m not sure whether I’ll pursue more education or concentrate on finding a long term work position. I know that one of the things that has also occurred to me is getting my teaching certificate, and I am considering becoming a professor.


Taking Action October 13, 2009

As I mentioned before, Julie Graham started a Wiki for my Economic Geography class. I’ve just made a contribution to the section I’ll be studying for the rest of the semester. You can see it here: Diverse Economy activities of Intentional Communities in Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York.
Doing the research for that felt really productive. I love how absolutely relevant this class is. But it does make me wonder a bit about why I have such a hard time doing this kind of research and writing on my own. I do love it. I think maybe it has something to do with dreaming hard and feeling like there are possibilities but they’re so far away all the time. But not learning about them doesn’t bring them any closer. So I’m glad that this class is getting me moving.

I fantasize about living in space I have control over all the time. It’s something I’ll have to drop off and on as school keeps me on it’s schedule, but I’m going to start looking at architecture again. I am going to just listen to Goethe more: Whatever you can dream, begin it; for there is magic and power in it. It’s alright to have halting starts and half-finished things… they are all part of the building of dreams, of taking action. And action lets me get somewhere, let’s me see and others see that these are no mere pipe dreams or infantile wishes. A better world is possible. Some people are already making it better, and I am learning to be one of them.


Diverse Economy October 10, 2009

Filed under: economy,geography,school — Saera @ 4:10 am

I’ve been wanting to sit down and write a thorough blog post this week, but I’ve been a bit distracted with my personal struggles. Now I’m back on track and school and heroes like Jenny are feeding me all sorts of sources for things to write about. Most useful, unsurprisingly, is my Economic Geography class. Julie has collected all kinds of great resources for us to better understand the diverse economy. Additionally, she and Leo (our TA) have created a wiki for our class, so we’re basically creating a wiki on diverse economy for us all to work on and share with the world. You can see it here:

Due to the video she had us watch by Hans Rosling, I’m now super-excited about

Whoops, worktime.


Economic Epiphanies October 2, 2009

Filed under: economy,existing communities,geography,school — Saera @ 4:00 am

I had big realizations reading for Economic Geography last night and while listening to Julie talk in class today. Too drowsy to write about that in detail tonight, but plan to address it soon. Going to make my study topic “Intentional Communities and Alternative Currencies in Western Massachusetts/Vermont” and possibly New York.

Edit: FYI, here’s a link to what I’ve been reading: I will be making references to this later tonight when I can devote some good time to writing.

thoughts on time alone September 30, 2009

Filed under: interconnected,redetermination,school — Saera @ 10:07 pm

A few minutes to myself. Actually, I spent a lot of time alone today. I felt lonely, which I don’t usually. I’m fortunate to have many wonderful, deep friends that I have met across time and space. And it was good to chat online with [info]kittysunlover this afternoon. But it’s not the same as sitting around campus visiting or working on homework together. I get some of that with Daniel, but we’re rarely both at home studying it seems. I could have gone home today, but I would have had to come back in 3 hours and I didn’t feel like spending half that time riding the bus. I guess I want a wider social circle. Sadly, I seem to be pretty pinched for time to invest in that on campus. I feel like I have a sense of being connected to people in the world, but very few of them are actually physically present in my life, and most of those that are only can be in my life here and there for a couple of hours a week. And I wonder about how much to invest really in the undergrad population here. I mean, I guess I might be on this campus another 2-3 years, but there are so many people in so much transition. I spent part of the afternoon sitting in the Stonewall LGBT center. I know this has become really rambly, and I’m not necessarily looking for answers, just taking care of myself a little by getting some of my thoughts out. Today is also the first day that I haven’t felt like I’m running around every second figuring out how to do what when and in which order. That’s not to say that I’m not busy or don’t have a lot to work on, but suddenly I’m feeling like it’s a lot more manageable. I think it’s partly not being sick at all this week and not working today, but Saturday like I’m supposed to. Also, talking with my geography prof this afternoon made me realize that I’m a lot more capable at that class than I give myself credit for. That’s something I thought about last night after almost getting hit by that car, while I was appreciating the fact that I’m alive: I don’t give myself enough credit. I do a LOT, and every 3 months or so I guess, I realize that I’m REALLY hard on myself. I am doing well, better than might be expected, taking so many obstacles into account. I’m getting stronger, learning how to do more and meet bigger demands. There’s a lot on my plate, it’s true, there’s a lot I need to decide whether I’m gonna invest in or not, there are problems that I want to turn my creativity towards… and I AM DOING IT.


Metamorphisis. September 28, 2009

Filed under: Buddhism,school,SGI,social investment — Saera @ 12:00 am

I have a lot that I’ve been wanting to write about. Only a little I think tonight, I still have Quantitative Geography to work on.

I am shifting. I remain irrevocably committed to the intentions of this blog, my mission towards a series of village intentional communities. But I have been opening myself up to more possibilities. I realized recently, with some shock, that I have become a bit more conservative than I mean to be… not in terms of ideals or ideology…, but in terms of what I am willing to risk, try, do, give up, sacrifice. I’m not sure where all that started. I think that matters a bit… I could learn a few things by figuring out when that became a bigger trend and not just a minor thing with some things. I have noticed it because this summer, in trying to work toward a community of people with the shared goal of physical actualization of the village, I came to understand that I am too unilateral in this. Before anyone nay-says this, I am not bashing myself. I am looking and seeing where I can improve, how to move forward. And what I see is that there *are* other people in this movement, doing similar things. Even if I do not want to do things just as they do or see things differently, I can learn a great deal, and I can become part of the network of intentional communalists. These realizations also led me to a desire to be broader in my academic scope. Buddhism teaches me that I don’t have to limit myself. I am beginning to observe and live that teaching instead of just listening to it. So suddenly I am not just shifting how I think about the Sunflower Village Initiative, I am redefining what I think is possible for my life. This past week, I’ve frequently felt overwhelmed… I realized that I’m having a bit of an identity crisis. It’s a ultimately a good thing, it’s self induced, and I’m glad I’m having it. That doesn’t keep it from being kind of stressful and chaotic and me wanting lots of space, particularly for writing. Last week I really didn’t feel like I had timespace for writing. I think I’m going to have more of it this week. Suddenly I am incorporating all my desires and dreams, looking again to see how they work together, support each other, fuse together into this phenomena called my life.

I am very grateful to my friends right now. I appreciate your unwavering support and unconditional love. Thank you.

p.s. It’s *actually* fall in New England now, and it’s gorgeous