Greetings Friends and Neighbors,
If you’ve read any of these Letters over the past year, you may have noticed that they do, indeed, take the form of a Letter. I’m writing to you, dear Friend and Neighbor. The problem is, of course, that in a time of Plague a digitally disseminated Letter doesn’t easily or logically grow into a conversation. You may also have noticed that I am fond of asking questions. For example – Have you ever blown on the mature seed head of a dandelion? What happens to a question after it floats out of view? Does it find fertile ground in which to set down a taproot? Or lodge in the radiator of an onrushing truck?
Here is another question: How does a Plea differ from an invitation, or a request?
There was a question tucked into the middle of last week’s Newsletter that was, upon further reflection, a Plea for Conversation. At the risk of disquieting your day, I offer it again here:
Why do I – or why do we – remain so steadfast in our unwillingness to change course even as we learn of the wretched violence that our current ways of living unleash upon the world?
I imagine that this question arrives in our midst like a wild animal released in the middle of a well-appointed dinner party. And today the possibility of dinner parties returns as the Virus is being brought to heel, tamed into submission. This is very tricky territory, and I am fully aware of the blowback that I will receive when I write something like this. My tone may reach you as an arrogant castigation rather than an utterly sorrowful and lonely Plea born from my thorough complicity in a moral crisis so confounding that it mostly leads to silence. And the silence is thick with suffering. There is not much I can do to steer you away from feeling criticized, defensive, angry, dismissive. But I have spent many hours walking alongside younger people, asking them what they see when they look out at the society they are being asked to take the reins of. And many of them are pleading, crying out for something that looks like sanity from those of us in the second half of our allotments, those of us who have benefitted so materially from the plunder of their World. That’s me, and that’s you. These young people are not nourished by the grudge-match of blame that permeates the news feed. They are asking for workers, for guidance. They are pleading to have the parched ground at their feet watered by our tears of honest grief for what we didn’t intend but has come to pass anyway. And so it is on their behalf that I offer this Plea to my community of loved ones over 40: Would you be willing to join for an experimental community conversation:
Is it a Time now for Feasting or for Fasting?
What is being asked of us as we take off our Masks?
Contemplating Elderhood in a time of Ecological Crisis
Saturday June 5th – 4pm
Community Conversation for folks over 40, followed by a Potluck Dinner
Please reach out with your RSVP’s or questions. Perhaps we can do something together that was not possible in isolation. May that we join hands and stumble together towards the courage that is being asked of us. May that we not abandon the young ones to do this work alone.
Here’s a list of News items:
- Gift Distribution Schedule
- Work Day Invitation – Sunday 1-4pm
- Riparian Buffer Tree Planting Invitation – Saturday 10am
- Budget Request update
- Scythe School is now Full.
- STORY: Weeping for the World as the Pandemic Wanes
We are thrilled to invite you to join us this Friday 5/14 from 4-6pm for Soup and Bread Gift Distribution. We will have two homemade soups – both full of spring greens – as well as loads of fresh bread. As a reminder, we are hosting Distribution EVERY OTHER WEEK in May, and so we encourage you to pick up plenty of Soup and Bread for two weeks, as they both store well in the freezer. We will be open again Friday 5/28.
We invite you to join us for our weekly Work Day this Sunday from 1-4pm. We will be building fence, gardening, making soup and more. For detailed information and to SIGN UP, click here: bit.ly/brushbrookworkdays
Riverbank Tree Planting Saturday @ 10am: We are excited to invite you to join our dear friend and Environmental Studies professor Trevien Stanger, who will be leading a crew to plant native trees along exposed sections of Brush Brook and the Huntington River near the Farm. Meet at 10am at the Gift Stand parking lot, or find the crews working nearby. Bring gloves and a shovel if you have them. Families with kids welcome.
We received $658 last week, bringing our remaining Budget Request to $2263.00. Would you be willing to make a gift to support our work? You can do so HERE.
STORY: Weeping for the World as the Pandemic Wanes
The night is warm and moist. It is still many hours before dawn. Owl calls from across the Valley as I walk cautiously in the dark, each footstep straining to remember the uneven ground of the well-trodden, narrow path. Piercing the thick dark I hear, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you?” This is the mnemonic, or memory trigger, commonly ascribed to the call of Barred Owl. Owl asks a question on this sleepless night – a memory trigger. There is something important to write down. The World is pleading, begging for audience, petitioning for listeners. In the morning I am scheduled to receive the Vaccine. There is something important to write down before that happens. The World is pleading, begging for audience, petitioning for listeners.
I have wrestled mightily with the question of how to proceed with integrity in regards to the Vaccine. I have made the mistake of saying this aloud and found myself on the receiving end of a litany of moral lessons and castigations. It appears that there is a general consensus that there are some who believe in Facts and some who don’t. It appears that we each have a moral obligation to set down our self-concern and do what is right to uphold the safety of the whole.
Over the past year I have come to understand that some view the Virus as having declared war on our way of life by forcing us to abandon – or at least postpone – all of our carefully curated Plans. We have to fight the Virus, from what I hear. And when we are at war, it isn’t long before you are either with us or against us.
I have to admit that I was surprised and confused by the responses I heard to my uncertainty on how to proceed regarding the Vaccine. I was raised to understand that I live in a society of free individuals who largely refrain from offering each other moral correction, or direction. “It’s their life,” I often hear people say when describing the choices of someone whose behavior confuses them. But what happens when Life is capitalized and it is no longer a personal possession, but rather something that is gifted – or entrusted – to us, something that we have on loan, something that we give back when we die? What happens to the World when we demand More Life that the World has to give?
In my confusion, I wondered also about other Facts. Those who study such things have reported that, in just 50 years, rapidly-expanding affluence has denuded the World of nearly 2/3 of non-human vertebrate life and set in motion a Climate Catastrophe that now threatens the survival of every one of the planet’s remaining animals, plants and human beings.
Why do other Facts not lead us to abandon all of our carefully laid Plans?
I could ask this in the first person: Why am I unwilling to abandon my Plans in the presence of this dire and damning information?
Each time you or I decide to Take More from the World we make a conscious choice – in the presence of the Facts – to make conditions Less Safe and Less Healthy for others alive today as well as those yet to be born, both human and non-human. Every time I decide to indulge my desires, I proceed knowing full well that I do so at the expense of others.
Who knowingly causes undue harm in the name of self-gratification? This begins to sound like the description of an addict. Without hitting rock bottom, is it possible for addicts to change course? Now that we have the Facts, will we decide voluntarily to stop causing so much harm? Or will we wait until conditions become so dire that we are forced to stop using – as our supply dries up?
I need help. We need help. We need to talk about this together. There are programs for this sort of thing.
Do the young ones among us – the ones who will inherit the World we continue to plunder – not deserve to see us undertaking this work of reckoning with everything we’ve got left? Their children and grandchildren will surely ask of us in the past tense: “How did they proceed once they were aware of the Facts?”
Will they be able to be proud of who they came from?
I look up from the computer and notice that Sun has emerged after some days of cloud cover. The Apple Tree outside the back window has unfurled in sprays of dizzying white-pink blossoms. Bright Dandelion flowers stud the lawn. Robin carefully constructs a nest in the woodpile, just feet from the window. I pack my things, start the car, and turn toward the Vaccine appointment. As I drive, I wonder if anyone has looked into the ecological consequence of the research and production of the Vaccine, or to mention the binge of travel that its use will set in motion. And then all of the sudden there I am at the Hannaford’s Pharmacy, staring at the endless rows of brightly-colored shampoos and conditioners while I wait. I have the urge to run away. It is too damn painful. The Pharmacist calls my name and ushers me into the small space behind the screen. The Pharmacist instructs me to roll up my sleeve, asking,
“Do you have any Plans for the day?”
“I plan to work,” I reply.
“And what do you do for work?” this person asks.
“I bake bread and farm,” I say.
And then the needle is in. I feel the sting. One and done, as they say.
I am struck by the simple beauty of the kindness of a stranger at a moment of vulnerability. I am one of hundreds, maybe thousands, of people to sit in this very same chair while this Pharmacist performs this very same ritual, marking the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. I am still in shock as I walk from the store, Vaccination Card in hand. I open the car door to find it warmed by the Sun. And then the tears come, and I weep. Through my tears, I wonder how those thousands of unknown others have felt in this moment – what they wept for, who they loved, what they feared. I wonder if we will ever be able to gather in a circle to weep for the World as the Pandemic wanes.
Here is what you will find in this Letter:
- FINANCIAL GIFT REQUEST – Detailed May 2021 Budget
With Great Care,
Ava, Erika, Kristen, Erik, Collin, Evan and Adam – The Brush Brook Community Farm Team
BUDGET UPDATE: Thank you for considering the May Budget
Many heartfelt thanks to all who have responded to these invitations by sending in Financial Gifts. If you would like to support our work, you can mail checks made out to Brush Brook Community Farm to PO Box 202, Huntington, VT, 05462, bring gifts to the Gift Stand, or donate through the website. We are 100% financially supported by these personal financial gifts.
|BBCF - May 2021 Budget|
|As of May 12|
|Gifts Received in May – Thank you!||$2,747.00|
|Overage from April||$55.00|
|Tractor, Freezers and Milkroom Rents||$200.00|
|Bakery Overhead (firewood, insur., utilites)||$250.00|
|Website, Tech, and Office Supplies||$20.00|
|Bread Ingredients & Packaging||$937.50|
|Misc Ingredients (spices, etc)||$30.00|
|Hosting and Educational||$200.00|
|Vehicles (gas, maintn., insur. etc)||$150.00|
|Predicted Human Expenses|
|Collin McCarthy Rent & Utilities||$580.00|
|Adam Wilson Rent||$200.00|
|Erik Weil Rent||$500.00|
|Adam Wilson personal stipend||$448.08|
|Infrastructure Maintenance and Project Fund||$300.00|
|Total Estimated Expenses||$5,065.58|
|Total Remaining for May||$2,263.58|
Support the Farm & Bakery
The operations of Brush Brook Community Farm & Bakery are maintained by neighborly working hands and financial gifts. Your generous monetary support propels the gift of food forward to those open to receiving it.