11/26 - Sunday night
Found Sirius ok. It’s about 10 miles from Amherst, MA. The place is pretty big - several buildings. Brice met me, showed me to my room and gave me a quick orientation. Then he invited me to have dinner with his family. He and his wife Deborah have three kids at the community and two in their twenties who have moved out, but still live nearby.
Sirius has much more of a focus on spirituality (but not religion) - centered around raising consciousness. The Community Center building where I’m staying also houses a large meeting room and the kitchen and dining areas. It is absolutely gorgeous. Hardwood everywhere - posts, doors, floors, you name it.
11/27 - Monday afternoon
Things have started out very slow here. Sunday and Monday are Sirius’ days off (they work Saturday instead of Monday), so everyone seems to be in chill-out-alone mode. I haven’t seen many people around today. There’s a community dinner tonight (as well as Tuesday, Thursday and Friday), so I should be able to meet more people then. There’s also a community meeting Thursday night which I’m hoping to attend. In the meantime, I’ve been reading.
11/28 - Tuesday before dinner
So there was no community dinner last night. The kitchen was still dark at 6:00, so I started poking around. I met Will outside, who was finishing work on a cob oven. I helped him put the chimney on top and he invited me to dinner with him in town. Amherst is a college town. With three colleges in the area, there are over 40,000 students. Will showed me around the main drag and then we had a burrito.
I met Bruce yesterday, who indicated that there might be some work for me to help with. I put in 4 hours this morning, then we had a delicious lunch, prepared by Bruce’s wife, Lynda (sp?). Squash-curry soup and tempeh (sandwiches). Put in another 3.5 hours after lunch, but it started getting dark around 4:30, so that’s when we wound down. In the morning we picked up some logs from nearby and brought them back to Sirius to mill, but unfortunately the saw mill was out of gas, so Ernesto and I started sawing logs (with a tractor-attached saw) for firewood. We continued that into the afternoon as well, and finally did some log splitting (axe-style) at the end of the day. A good day’s work. I hear we are actually supposed to have community dinner tonight, and I hear sounds coming from the kitchen, so it’s a good bet. Ernesto is working with several non-profits to increase justice in South America. He’s interested in setting up a wiki and invited me over tonight after dinner to talk about it.
After dinner -
Dinner was nice - lentil soup and salad - though not as good as lunch, and not as good as any meal at Twin Oaks. Man, I miss that food. I talked with some neighbors of the community - Dagan and Brian (who cooked - the cooking rota is open to anyone in the neighborhood, creating a sort of extended community. Mostly I talked about the communities I’ve been to. Everyone knows most of the ones I went to - the big ones. I’m starting to see connections in the tech scene in community as well. The guy from Sligo (DC) works on a side-project which is hosted by Gaiahost - run by Charles here at Sirius. Ernesto (Sirius member) is also working on a project hosted by them (ildes.org). He tells me they’re hiring. Must investigate. This makes three tech companies (Skyhouse consulting, Sligo, Gaiahost) that i know of in or related to community - and twin oaks software will be starting up soon too. I whipped up an interactive map of South America for Ernesto’s website. Now to read and sleep!
11/29 - Wednesday
Worked with Ernesto and Bruce again - milling logs this time. It was actually pretty fun, and I feel like I learned a new skill. After dinner (just leftovers I prepared myself), I went with Ernesto to his ILDES meeting - an activist group (about half students?) meeting at Hampshire college. It’s an organization based on encouraging and coordinating existing efforts around social justice, sustainable/ecological living, permaculture, grassroots empowerment, etc. - positive altertatives to all the BS that people are protesting against in Latin America. It was great to be back around that activist energy again. I realized that I’ve missed it a bit. At the same time, it reminded me a lot of the Ishmael group sitting around talking and talking and not actually doing anything. But then, that’s why I’m out here.
11/30 - Thursday
I worked in the garden in the morning - mulching beds for the coming winter, then did some more website work for ILDES in the afternoon. The community dinner tonight was veggie gumbo, salad and baked butternut squash. After dinner was the weekly community meeting. It was a special meeting because Ernesto is leaving, so after announcements and meditation he showed the film “The Secret.” It’s all about the power of attraction and how to manifest things in your life. I thought the dramatic parts were way-over-dramatized, and the speakers were corny and salesman-like. Content-wise, it was interesting, but I thought What the Bleep Do We Know presented similar information in a much more palatable format.
An example of the beautiful hardwood they have all over the Community Center