Friday, January 20, 2012

Year End Report 2011

New and good: we’re back! I’ll be here in Europe just two weeks, Ellika will stay a month to visit family in Sweden. New and good to just rest and read and think and write, and hang out in Ellika’s sweet house in Christiania - no classes, workshops, camps to teach. I’m tired from the travel, but looking forward also to being with my boys in Berlin (it’s my grandson’s 8th birthday!) and seeing our circle family there too.

Important happenings: Cathrin and Stefan have a new son on Maui (we will visit them in March), Sonja and Tom are expecting in Berlin any day now, and dear Katrin and her Martin will bring a new circle member to the world in Sweden in March. Ah, babies! That’s what it’s all about! And mothers. And fathers. And family – all of us. A new seeker writes us, Susi, in Austria, mother of 10 year old son Io, reading about the circle and wanting to live that way, she’s ready to connect and be welcomed.

So my new book I’m writing is very timely – for them, for the world.

The working title is JOYOUS CHILD-CARING.

Or? maybe CHILD-CARING IN THE CIRCLE WAY. The material coalesced from a camp we did for our friend, the Montessori child psychologist Elena Balsamo. Her editor was there and suggested I do a book about what we were teaching.

Now I am into it I begin to realize this is the most important subject, work and book of my life. I guess one should hope that one’s latest work is the best. But I am now finding that this book I have embarked upon is taking me to my own Treasure Island. The map to this destination is being revealed to me piece by piece, day by day, as I ponder the wake behind me, the play of the dolphins and the waves around me, the journey of the stars above me, and the call of the horizon beyond.

It is not my dream alone, but that of humankind, which is being plotted and urged by these charts and daily log entries. Where we all must go, and how we must go. The voyage is not just the most important and central one of my life, its unfolding is the dream and destiny of this precious speck, the beloved tiny satellite we call home.

I hope to finish it by summer – if I can ruthlessly excise all distractions.

My health holds up. I play tennis three times a week (though I take more rests than I used to) work out with weights, do steam room, hot tub and sauna. My right eye is still full of blood and is scarred, gets shots in the eyeball every four weeks, but doubt is stirring whether it will ever be clear. I had a hearing test, qualify for a hearing aid, and hopefully also for financial assistance for it or else I won’t get one. You will just have to speak slower, louder, clearer! I am more tired and slower than I would like, but still have more energy than many younger men.

What else?

People ask, “How are you?” You say, “Fine.”

But sometimes they really want to know, and if you want to stay close sometimes you have to tell them all you are really thinking and feeling. So coming to the end of another year this is my report to those of you who really want to know.

New and good – waking this morning to see winter’s magic, a light coating of snow covering the earth and decorating every branch and twig on the trees. A white fairyland.

What is the situation for us here in New Hampshire? We returned from Europe to find our beloved Birch Cottage unlivable – mold in the bedroom walls, roof leaking, wiring rotten, our things all packed in boxes and stacked high in the other rooms. I don’t go out there except to find something, and then I must sit and weep again because we no longer have the community or money to restore our home.

So we have a nice room in the old main house – the room I lived in when we moved here thirty years ago. And I am concentrating on the only thing I can do by myself: writing my next book.

Our situation is that we have been trying to do this alone. When we had a crisis a few years ago many of you helped us with donations to save the place. I was so grateful, because for 30 years I have been able to keep my promise to be the caretaker of this beautiful land and keep it from falling into commercial hands. Our partner Donna did all the work to fight off the banks in the courts, as well as to reclaim four bedrooms, three bathrooms, the kitchen and living room of the main house, after the water damage of over $60,000.00 The rest of the house is unfinished still from the old fire in the nineties, and of course in these grave economic times that we are all facing (99%) it is far too much for us to restore by ourselves.

What could save it? People and money. Either one or both. With financial help we could restore the main house and our cottage. Then we could utilize the Great Hall for conferences and have about five more bedrooms plus a third floor dormitory. Then the place would be ready for the Nature School’s International Headquarters and Teacher Training Facility where we can teach, offer lectures and workshops as well.

It is amazing that we have held out this long, certainly with so much gratitude, it is due to all that have come to our aid in the past. Donna also operates “StressBusters” which is a small business working in the healing arts, and provides financial support to upkeep and maintain the place, and I add to that as a counselor for personal growth (Ellika and I each contribute what we have that supports us as long as we have a place to live) and we can continue of course to donate all our summer income to the Nature School and the prison programs that are based here. My new book Have You Lost Your Tribe? is out, available on,, and through bookstores, but I need to promote it, do readings, get reviews in papers and journals. If we can afford the publicity we might be able to garner enough interest in the public to save our dreams for this place. I can see it being a model of a Circle Way of life, of sustainable living, solar and wind energy, organic gardening (Donna has a quarter acre of organic garlic growing now) with nature trails through our woods for the public as well the Nature School, a model of a woodland Indian village, a museum and gift shop for tourists, and of course our conferences: Home Birth, Child Care, Home Schooling, Permaculture, Forest Management, Community Farm Sharing, Bio –Regional Cooperatives, Community Land Trusts, and Healing Arts.

It will be quite a while before we will be able to begin events to bring income in. Cynthia plans to seek grant money, which will also be quite a while in the future. For now we are set up as a non-profit corporation with the state so we can reach out for donations through Mettanokit, and every amount we receive will be welcome and well used to secure our dream here.

At the end of the year we have been hearing from so many of you how happy and thankful people are for our work both here and in Europe, and from many new circles and communities that have just begun together in our Circle Way. Halleluia!

I have a button on my cap that says “No one of us is as smart as all of us.” The corollary being that the more of us that think together the smarter we are.

There is a lot of stuff I know about. And I’m in pretty fair shape – with luck I can keep up writing and teaching for quite a number of years. I see how much my friend Pete Seeger, 10 years older than I, is staying close to home these days (he did go out to support Occupy Wall Street!), and I know I will start slowing down soon myself. But Ellika and I would still like to spend our winters in our woods with our wild animal friends and a fire in our wood stove and my thousands of books on the shelves around us (a big consideration for me if I ever have to move completely away!).

I want to keep traveling and helping folks get together in circles, to help each other build better lives, better relationships, make it better and better for our children, and I want to have a place still in America where I am close to my tribe, where ex-prisoners can come, where a small community could grow, where visitors could come and learn how to support each other and care for their children and add to the global network of those who are building a new world.

Our 2012 schedule so far is on I will update it now and then.

Happy New Year!

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