Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I have a problem I wrestle with everyday. My vision is complete and clear. I know how every one of us might be able to live the lives we all long for instead of making the best of a badly formed society. And I can see the steps we could be taking right now to get started quickly in that direction. All I have been doing for the past forty years has led the way. But now I am stuck. I can’t take the next needed steps alone.

What we need is the kind of organization that the gurus were able to build in the last century. Remember? The organizing power of Meher Baba, Sai Baba, Yogi Bhajan, Maharishi, even Sri Aurobindo, and especially Osho. The trouble is, I am an anti-guru! The only one who spoke to my heart and mind was that other anti-guru, Krishna Murti, who refused the role of spiritual leader that was offered him. No one has offered that to me, well, a few do try now and then, but I refuse anyway.

Krishnamurti was a teacher, of course, as was Gurdjieff?, as is Thich Nhat Hanh, and they all managed to inspire organizations to continue teaching. I guess we have achieved that in a small way, due to the many of you have been organizing workshops and camps for Ellika and me every summer for 25 years. I am so appreciative of all that each one of you have done. I love you and I love our life of learning circles with you. But, I want more. I want to change the way we live. I want to live together and show the world, to lead the world to a better life for our children and enhance human evolution in the direction of all our hearts.

There are a few who are ready right now, have been for a long time, ready to go anywhere as long as we are together to build community the way we build our camps. There are communities that have invited Ellika and me to join, and I love them, but I want to start from scratch, as we do at camp, and have us in clans, listening and dreaming and planning and working and playing together in the Circle Way.

I have been thinking I need more time, need to write a few more books to explain how and why it works, and to promote them widely. Everywhere I am asked to speak now, all the people are excited and enthused to hear what we are thinking and doing. If we had a place we would start gathering people.

But it’s hard for me to write and to take care of all the business here. I don’t have a secretary or assistant anymore. We need an organization. People to organize the travels, the publicity, the promotion, the office work: accounting, paying bills, filing. We have a lot of potential here: a beautiful big old house that has ten living spaces, a large great hall for events, and an attic space that was a dormitory or could be small rooms, a big kitchen and another large room – all in need of work. We have ten acres of woods, a big backfield, camping area, garden, and a sweat lodge.

I have dreams for the land. In the past, we had many conferences, workshops, and camps here. We could again. I want to build an old Indian village for the Nature School and as an attraction to tourists. I want a gift shop, bookshop, art gallery. A restaurant. I want to make a nature trail with plaques describing the flora and fauna of the area. A small community could live here again. Down the road the Nature School has nine plots of land for building ecological homes and places for the homeowners families to come together and be a circle way ecovillage.

How could we get unstuck? Hmmmm. Well, in Europe if we had land somewhere suitable for camps where a small group could begin to live and work together and there was room for others to come and build, a few could start living and working on this together organizing camps and expanding with people who decide to stay and help build. ZEGG was fortunate to find a place ready to accommodate many people at once, when East Germany opened to the West. Tamera was fortunate to find a large piece of land in Portugal where they have been energetically building for over a decade. The stories go on for all the grand ecovillages, The Farm, Auroville Damanhur, Sieben Linden and so on – but all of those had a committed group of people ready.

Another start could be if one person came here to live with us and take some of the burden that Ellika, Donna and I now struggle with alone, we could make room for more people to come and build organization and community from here.

Our Current Condition

First, Ellika worries that I have not thanked all of you individually who have so lovingly donated your own money in these hard economic times to help us escape the loss of our home at the end of last year. She is right – I am so embroiled in so much I haven’t been able to keep up with who have given what, so please know how grateful I am.

From my counseling I conclude that none of our parents ever talked to any of us about their financial situations and that confused most of us. Now you all feel like my family and I can understand. As a papa you don’t want to upset the kids. But, even though it is difficult, I think you deserve transparency from Ellika and me out of your concern for us.

Here is the situation. The crisis is ongoing and looms again now. Donna has sold everything she owns and given all she had, not just money but all her time and energy all day and staying up late to fight off the unethical practices of the creditors and the town taxation resulting from faulty appraisals. As you know Ellika and I take no pay for our work. All that we make goes to paying for the expenses and obligations of the prison program and the Nature School. The only benefit to us is being allowed to live in the little house I built on the land we care for. Ellika lives from her Danish pension, and I live on $390 a month from US Social Security, plus Medicare, and assistance in fuel and electric from the state. I gave all the savings I had years ago to keep the land for us and the Nature School. We are tapped out, so now Ellika has given what she was saving from her pension for the future just to pay the mortgage. Now it is April and another $1750- is due.

I think there are still a few donations in the accounts in Europe, and they should be sent now because it takes a while to translate them to dollars in our accounts. Then we need to know the possibilities of future donations, and hopefully to reach more people for small regular gifts. A lot of people giving only a very little every month would make us secure. Just to keep our home and land here now needs $1700- a month. At current rates that is about 1200 Euros. If we had 60 people donating 30 Euros a month, or 600 donating only 3 Euros a month, that would completely pay the mortgage until we got the place fixed and income from events here.

I would like to tell you all more about why we are putting all our efforts into holding the land and rebuilding the Main House (as we called it in our community here). Sometimes when it seems too hard we have wished we were rid of it. But several things prevent that. First, at current value, the property is worth far less than the mortgage, so we would lose even more by selling it. Second, the market is really terrible now and no one will want to buy such a place. Third, I don’t want to lose my house, and it would cost a lot to separate the properties. If we sold all the property I would not have enough money to get another home and my huge library and I would be homeless.

But there is still a good future for us here if we can hold on. When people are buying again Cynthia will have many lots on her property for sale for ecological homes that would make her able to start up the Nature School again and able to pay Donna and me for all that we have loaned and given to it.

Donna works every day on repairing all the damage (fire and flood) to the Main House. She is nearly ready to get an occupancy permit again and then we might rent at lest one room to help with the mortgage payments. She has plans and the equipment to make a vegetarian kitchen for a restaurant and maybe a bed-and-breakfast. We have four rooms upstairs in good shape and six more can be rehabilitated in the wing for rent, community, or for weekend conferences. The old Great Hall can be re-opened for events with only a bit more investment of work. The labor for all this is being provided by Donna’s nephews under her direction very cheaply, with occasional help from friends and unavoidable paid work of licensed plumbers and electricians.

So in a pretty short time we might be able to have working conference center again, and perhaps also a revival of the spiritual community as we had once For the property outside the building of course we need to maintain the sacred sweat area for the ex-prisoners and supporters. I also have long held a vision of creating a model of a woodland Indian village in our woods for the school and as an attraction to tourists and visitors. Another old vision I have is to make a spiritual trail in our woods with small shrines along it from all the major religious traditions that would bring out-of-state tourists. We could also offer a restaurant, café, and gift shop, possibly an art gallery and museum, as well as inter-active workshops, concerts and lectures in the Great Hall.

Donna is a dynamo working on all that, plus trying to keep up the legal and financial battles and keep them from threatening me and my home personally. I’m so grateful to her, she has devoted all her time and energy and assets, her whole life to the preservation of our home, our woods, and the Nature School dream. All the things she does I am not good at, what I am good at is writing and speaking, storytelling and counseling, and I need to stay focused on that, on turning out the books and promoting them and our dreams far and wide.

Meanwhile Donna will try to refinance the mortgage in her name at a lower rate (she is a veteran with a disability from her military service and should be entitled to that).

Meanwhile I plan to get to work to finish the book on creating community that I have worked on for many years and start working on the many other projects waiting for me in my notes. The financial crisis and the operations (one for cataracts in each eye, one for a carcinoma on my nose, and a heavy one on my right hand to remove DePuytens Contraction) have all kept me from writing this winter, but now it’s spring and a new year and I’m ready to get back to work.

Our circle here has helped cleaning up the land from the devastation of the 2008 ice storm, and some new people have offered to help with organizing the book business, publicity, and fund-raising, and also creating new events. What I really want is a global organization with offices here and in every country. (Much as our friend Serge Kahili King has – see his website: The Nature School also intends for our place to be its international headquarters for training teachers when we can open again. We need volunteer help here with using the Internet, making videos and recordings, and just office organization.

I’m also planning my second book of poetry Birch Cottage and 36 Views of Mt. Monadnock, so here’s a sample. Happy Spring!


The children are waiting
Elders are listening
Your ancestors are calling you

Can you hear them?
I hear them every hour
When winter stretches

Loosens his heavy coat
And lets it fall drop by drop
From my eaves as now

When dirty drifts recede
Puddles become dark pools
Saplings rise from the mud

Grope for sky and sun
Ascending its gift of days
That will bring us forth

To seeds and tender sprouts
And buds dream and blossom
Come lie upon the back

Of Earth and steer her way
Round and round again
Through eons of stars and tales

Of ancestors singing softly
Leave your confusing cares
Come out and breathe the spring

Your ancestors are calling you
The elders are waiting
The children are listening

2009 Highlights

It seems from many folks I have heard from that the year 2009 was a strong one for most people. It certainly was a strong one for Ellika and me. At the very end of 2008 we had an ice storm which felled almost all the beloved birch trees around our house, and I promptly got felled with a fever lasting into the beginning of last year. In January I journeyed alone to New Mexico meeting many old friends: Damacio Lopez, that solitary warrior-hero against depleted uranium, who drove me to meet old colleague and writer Steven McFadden, author of Profiles in Wisdom, with his partner Dawn in Santa Fe, and up to beloved Jaya Bear who arranged a circle for me at her house in Taos, then to one of my oldest friends, Garrick Beck, whom I have known (as the son of Julian Beck and Judith Molina of the Living Theater) since he was four in the 1950s in New York, and who later was a founder and inspiration for the Rainbow Gatherings which I joined at their beginning in 1972. Garrick joined us for a large and wonderful circle that Steven had arranged for me in Santa Fe. There I met more old friends and made many new ones while reading from my new book of poem, Grandfather Speaks.

In February Ellika and I flew to Hawaii, where we made circles in Maui for a week plus a panel of elders that included Alex Grey and his wife and a delightful native auntie and which was moderated by old Rainbow friend and musician Fantuzzi. (Ram Dass was supposed to be with us, ut I missed re-connecting with him because he was ill.) Then we made a camp for a week on the Hilo coast of the big island, with many Swedes (organized by our Swedish friends Camilla and Kalle) four Germans and a handful of Americans. Beautiful Hawaii – I long to return….aloha!

It was a year of transition marking my 80th birthday, which I celebrated with many old friends at the Rainbow Gathering in New Mexico, again with my tribe on our reservation also with members of our prison circles, and in my home town of Salem, Massachusetts courtesy of the Universalist Church, which had a couple of members living in the house I was born in – I got to have tea in the very room where I first saw the light of day! The big celebration was on my actual birthday at the Mundekulla camp in Sweden with 150 people from all over Europe. After that we had a conference on sustainable living where I got to meet old and new friends from some of my favorite eco-villages: The Farm in Tennessee where my son Tokeem was born, Findhorn in Scotland, Sieben Linden and ZEGG in Germany, Solborg in Norway, Tamera in Portugal, and Damanhur in Italy.