In Which the Author Describes Some of His Days at Bean Creek (and elsewhere)

Went to a party at the Trailer Park above Kresge College at UCSC the other night. Beautiful on the edge of the woods, old caravans painted surrounded by potted plants and plenty of people. Bands progressed through the cool evening, revelers howled at the full moon and most missed the eclipse. While petting a golden retriever named Jenny, I met a Literature Major who reads and writes Latin, has an oroboros tattoo and a retired train-hopping brother. Her name is Sophie, and we spent the evening talking and dancing before I eventually went home with her and her friends, sending my Bean Creek comrades back without me. The next day, I caught the 35A back up to the Community, reading a gifted copy of Tortilla Flat on the way.

It’s funny how when I go to an event with a group, even if we’ve only met recently, I have the feeling that they are already my tribe. Arrive together, leave together, keep track of each other, care for each other. Just a venue change away and we’ve switched from a number of isolated individuals into a collective whole. I experience this so much that I am starting to feel that it is a human truism of sorts, and could be put to use as a tool for tribe bonding. Perhaps field trips as a way of building solidarity amongst members of an intentional living community (such as Bean Creek).

Missed out on such an opportunity today due to my tired body — a bunch of folk rode down to Felton. Downhill all the way, though it is, yesterday was spent learning various martial arts techniques with my mini-mentor, Elijah, and my body is somewhat sore. Of the many things he taught me was how to correctly wield a quarter-staff, how to use a chain to disarm someone wielding a quarter-staff, and the locations of a number of nerve-bundles throughout the body.

When fighting a person without a staff, he recommended short, quick jabs to deter an assailant. If it becomes necessary to escalate from deterrence to disabling an opponent, striking at the wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles, aiming for the nerve-centers above each joint rather than the joints themselves will quickly put an aggressor out of commission, while reducing the risk of permanent damage. 

Elijah is also one of the instigators of positive action in this hippy-traveler paradise of a Community. He’s been here for 3 weeks and plans to stay for a while yet, working to affect positive changes here. He’s adopted me as something of an apprentice, dropping wisdom from his 20 years of traveling and living in communities and his 45 years of martial arts practice, amongst other random tid-bits.

One of the things he would like to try and change, and we’re on the same page about this one, is the amount of hanging out that occurs. By hanging out, I mean that ever popular activity of lounging, playing board games, talking, playing music, making art, sometimes smoking pot and other herbs, sometimes drinking beer or wine. While not entirely fruitless an endeavor, hanging out does not often produce productive labor for the good of all. Generally speaking, one does not make physical improvements to a space when one is hanging out, one does not undertake projects of a complex nature, and one does not often clean. Hanging out can be infectious to those who enter a space where the people are practicing it. People who are hanging out can get annoyed with people who are trying to be productive in the same space, as they do not typically appreciate being reminded of their idleness. This is also perhaps why alcohol or marijuana is consumed at the time: to distract oneself from the lack of action occurring. 

If I sound bitter, I appologize. I’m not bitter. Low-level frustration is more like it. This is not the first place that I have encountered this phenomenon. In fact, most communities that I have visited that are largely voluntary in nature — i.e. people pay rent but don’t hold other formal responsibilities to a larger whole — have a lot of hanging out going on. I’m hoping to see some examples of a community really working together, really making a go at mutual-sufficiency. I haven’t found it yet, but I’m spiralling out and perhaps will find it somewhere between here and there.

I still haven’t climbed the Redwood tree. Perhaps a nap and then a sunset sungaze from 50 feet up in the air.


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