March 2014


The idea that people could
use the energy provided by their feet—
instead of burning fossil fuel—
to propel them up the street
proved to be a popular one
yesterday afternoon,
as hundreds of people
walked NW 23rd street,
enjoying sunshine,
community,
and all sorts of educational
and health-related
(health of people and planet)
activities.
Open Streets OKC
an alliance of several groups
working for a healthier community—
held the first annual
event to give people the opportunity
to enjoy city streets
blocked off from traffic.
A people-mover
powered by people pedaling
was great fun. On board,
as they pedaled,
there was community
sing-alongs
and not only enough energy
to move them up the street,
but also to make smoothies!

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Our friends with Transition OKC
helped gobs of people
make seed bombs,
to provide food and habitat
for bees and butterflies,
who provide necessary pollination
for people food.

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We set up the Cosmic Walk
right there on the street
and invited people to walk
the story of the creation of the universe.
It was a thrill to see parents
reading the story to the youngest ones,
older children making the walk through time
on their own
and so many people enjoying
this experiential way to learn
our expanding universe story.
It’s the kind of experience
that can lead to a change in perspective
and changes in the way we live
together on the planet.

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Seeing people happily
walk right down the middle of the wide street,
enjoying the beautiful day,
each other
and eagerly participating in new learning experiences
gives a friendly new meaning
to the phrase
“take to the streets!”
Thank you Oklahoma City.

 

We hear this often:
something like…”I recycle,
I changed all my light bulbs,
I do other things,
but it doesn’t seem to help.
The planet is warming;
there’s still one climate disaster
after another.”
And we can relate:
it’s easy to be overwhelmed
and paralyzed—
global warming seems
to be unstoppable
and our efforts seem
too little
too late.DSCN0778

At Work That Reconnects Retreat in New Mexico

Last August,
I attended a retreat in New Mexico
where I learned
The Work That Reconnects—
teachings and experiences
that help us come to know
deeply
our interdependence
with all life on the planet.
Coming to know
that that matters;
coming to know
that doing what we do
is how new emerges,
I have found the kind of hope
that sustains me
through the challenges
we humans and all life
experience now,
due to economic
and environmental destruction.
It is hope
founded in action.

I’ve learned better
how living systems work
and that everything we do—
because of that interdependence—
does matter.
In fact, living our values
is the most important thing we can do.
This is no time
to be overwhelmed and paralyzed.
New emerges
from the values we live.

Joanna Macy has been teaching
The Work That Reconnects
for 40 years. Using her work,
with input from Margaret Wheatley‘s
and Carolyn Baker‘s writings,
we offer a day away,
a retreat,
to begin to learn The Work
That Reconnects
and the steps to take
toward Active Hope.

Joining us that day
is another of Joanna’s students,
who has experienced many
Work That Reconnects trainings.
We met her at the retreat in New Mexico.
She is a native Oklahoman
returning for a visit,
and we are very glad
she will be with us
and are grateful for her sharing.
Join us
for a heartening day
together.
It’s Saturday, April 12.
To register,
go to our website’s calendar.

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Spring blew in last night.
After a little rain
(a few drops in the gauge)
and a blustery day yesterday,
temperature started rising
from 43 degrees about 6 p.m.
and by midnight,
it was up to 50.
The wind started to blow
and by 8 a.m.,
it was 60 degrees.
All the seed and grain
had blown out of the bird feeders,
which were still hanging,
sideways ,
in the great gusts.
I took them down.

The air was balmy.
I could smell rain.
But dark, early-morning clouds
changed to spring-like puffs.
The wind continues to blow strong,
with gusts up to 43 miles per hour.
We may still get one more
winter blast,
but spring is here.

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Pearl, the pgymy goat,
too tempted by the greener grass
on the other side,
has finally revealed
where she is escaping the pen.
She has found her way along
the alpaca pen
to the place in the fence
where there are only two layers
of fencing.
Now, we have to add
a stronger, third.
It will require
a major fence-mending effort—
another,
sure,
sign of spring.

It’s a gift
when the people who write
the books that are meaningful to you
come to share their wisdom
in person.
A group of friends
who read and discussed together
one of John Philip Newell’s books,
traveled to Tulsa this week
for a mini-retreat with him.
Traveling with a group of dear friends,
gathering with lots of other people
who appreciate Newell’s Celtic spirituality;
being in the presence of a wise,
gentle-humored soul
to share in meditations
and reflect on his thoughts
is life-giving.

These thoughts
I want to continue to hold:

The deeper we move into our being, the closer we come to one another, and all life.

How do we bring our Essence forth? By blessing; bringing blessing. It’s transformative. Speak blessing to the Essence of each other.

And speak ‘no’ to injustice—for Earth, others.

We are undergirded by constant return to blessing the heart of other…Bless wisdom, which is deeper than the ignorance of what we’ve done.

We will not be weaker by having secondary roots in other traditions. They don’t compete, but complete us.

Wholeness is bringing back into relationship what has been torn apart—everything that has being.

 

The youngest flock of chickens—
plus three young guineas—
have been living in an outside pen
that connects to the barn.
They’ve had access to the indoor coop
but not to the entire barn,
where the older flock lives.
This has protected the younger hens
and younger roosters
from more aggressive roosters.
Now they are all grown up—
and last week,
Ann and Frank butchered
the three most aggressive roosters.
That leaves two roosters—
a white-tailed one
and the big, beautiful Cochin.
The Cochin are shy souls.
I’ve seen the rooster back away
from hens, who fend him off
with a simple peck.
The big, beautiful gray Cochin hen,
who snuggles underneath him,
does not fend him off.
She is so shy,
her fertive forays into the bigger barn
end with her finding a corner to hide in,
and she always finds her way
back to the safety of her coop corner.
We wonder if she’ll ever have the courage
to venture outdoors,
once its safe for the birds to leave the barn.

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Cochin hen, hiding in a corner

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Cochin rooster, standing next to Cochin hen, hiding in the corner

Now,
Pearl, one of the pygmy goats,
escapes daily from the barnyard pen
that is her home.
We were surprised when she greeted
Ann one evening
as Ann walked up to the barn.
We were surprised when she escaped
again
after we had spent much of the morning
reinforcing the fence.
We were surprised
when she found her way out again.
We don’t know why she leaves the pen,
because we usually find her
just outside the gate,
waiting to be let back in.
We reinforced another patch of  fence,
secured a gate more tightly,
and she escaped again.
At this point,
we have no idea how she gets out.

Barnyard mysteries
are part of daily life here;
life we can’t
predict,
control.
They keep us open,
observant,
engaged,
amused.

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Northwest 23rd Street in Oklahoma City

While we hope—
eventually, over time—
to welcome “everyone”
to spend time with us
here on the Oklahoma prairie,
watching the sky, sun, stars;
walking the prairie, the creek;
making retreats;
taking sustainability workshops,
we know
that “everyone”
won’t come.
And, dedicated to the important work
of helping people connect, reconnect,
with the natural world
of which we are a part,
we are glad to take our work
sometimes
to the city.
So, on Sunday, March 30,
we will join Transitions OKC
(a program of Green Connections)
at Open Streets OKC.

For decades, cities across the globe have opened their streets to communities. Sure, it goes by different names – Open Streets, Ciclovia, Summer Streets, Circle the City, the list goes on and on – but they all have the same goal: promoting active transportation as part of a strong, active and healthy community.

Open Streets OKC is neither a block party nor a themed festival, neither a concert nor a parade, neither a race nor a party – although it’s a bit of all of them.

Open Streets OKC is an opportunity to experience a new use of public space: a temporary reclamation of our streets for non-motorized activity. Open Streets OKC will create a long enough stretch of safe road that kids and adults can (at least for a few hours) get a good workout by jogging or cycling, moving between nodes of activity along the way.

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We love this event—
people gathering together on foot and bikes
to enjoy the city—
and we love the way it’s come about:
groups who care
about healthy life on the planet
coming together,
forming a coalition
and creating a wonderful opportunity
for exploring and enjoying
city life.

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DSCN1276Cosmic Walk

Transition OKC
will be helping people
make pollinator-friendly
clay seed balls.
And we will help people
make the Cosmic Walk,
which is an experiential telling
of the wondrous, expanding
universe story.
There will be lots of other
activities as well—
from noon to 4 p.m.
The street that will be “open”—
that is, closed
except to walkers and bikers—
is Northwest 23rd Street
between Western and Robinson.
Transition OKC
and Turtle Rock Farm
will be two blocks east of Western,
on the corner of Francis Street.
Come,
see us,
enjoy time with community,
walk city streets!

That’s Open Streets OKC
Sunday, March 30,
noon to 4 p.m.
NW 23rd Street
between Western and Robinson.
TransitionOKC and Turtle Rock Farm
the corner of 23rd and Francis.

DSCN3172Red-tailed Hawk in flight

As Guineas stand against the fence
in the outdoor pen
that connects them to free-ranging
and keeps them protected in the safety of the barn
until we open the gate
that frees Guineas and chickens from their winter
confinement,
it takes everything we’ve got
to keep it closed.
They call out all day
on spring-like days.
Frequently, we talk about whether it’s safe yet.
And then,
we gasp
as a Red-tailed Hawk flies over us
with a bloody rabbit in its clutches.
Ok. Not yet.
We can’t set a date to let the chickens out
and we don’t know what will have to happen
before we can.
So we watch,
see how close the hawks come to the barn.
(One was at the edge of the alpaca pen
a few days ago.)
We hope that soon,
the hawks will find more food
and be less attentive
to what’s in the barn.
Then we can let the flock
out.

Though today is the spring Equinox,
the official “first day of Spring,”
springing has been advancing,
quietly,
in between polar blasts.
Green sprouts appear
among leaves that somehow
haven’t blown away.
After half-an-inch of rain last week,
the wheat fields are greening brightly.
We have seen several male Pheasants
on several country roads.
I’ve watched two male Cardinals
harassing each other
for days,
as if they are in some sort of contest.

I am in the city on this first
day of Spring.
It is sunny,
slightly cool
in the slight southern breeze.
The traffic from the highway
is aroar
as I sit in the sun
on the back stoop,
facing Deep Fork Creek,
for breakfast.
At first all I can hear is the roar,
but as I enjoy the sun’s warmth,
I hear another sound:
an incessant, loud “CHEER, CHEER, CHEER.”
It is a male Cardinal
in a tall tree next door,
just there, up from the creek.
I am thrilled:
I can hear birdsong
even amidst traffic’s roar!
Faintly,
I hear the call echoed
and soon a female Cardinal
lights in the same tree,
a few branches below.
Then a smallish Dove
flies to the tree
and, on a power line nearby,
facing the sun,
something with an orange breast.
Might be a Robin.DSCN3267

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After breakfast,
on the neighborhood-side of the house,
I see a flash in a tree in the front yard,
and hear a familiar sound.
I look out,
up,
and there is Mockingbird,
standing on a power line,
brightly singing all those songs
as if to broadcast spring
for everyone
to everyone.

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