Wednesday, April 28, 2010

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

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