Author Archives: akcrone

Friday morning Work Party, March 22: Life in the Heartland! Gobs of photos

A number of podmates plus one friend (and possible future podmate) Camden, met in the morning and got a lot done in the greenhouse which, at least at this time of the year, functions as the heart and soul of community, as well as growing seedlings. We were repotting tiny plants, getting them ready for the great outside.

Meanwhile, Solan asked me to go to the hardware store and purchase organic soil and organic compost material. Both of us winced to realize that we still need inflows from outside to keep our operation going. Our compost bins are cooking fine, but none of our compost is quite ready.

So I did that. And our big strong beautiful young men picked the bags up off the driveway and hauled them inside.

Meanwhile, Solan (our director while Rebecca is gone glamping in the Nevada desert, now with podmate Andreas visiting for the week), asked Justin and Dan to mulch a few more paths, not sure where, but they did that. Here’s a posed shot:

Dustin and Camden, with Alex watching started to mix another batch of the Eliot Coleman soil blocks we use to start plants.

WOW! I noticed this shroom growing by the path between two of our houses. GREEN! What?

Solan came over and inspected. Aha! “Covered with algae” he said, and pointed to the faint green at the bottom of a nearby tree trunk. Good observation! Following the first principle of permaculture: “Observe and Interact.”

We’re interacting all the way now, baby, and spring has truly sprung. More photos from that glorious morning in the greenhouse, heartland of the Green Acres Permaculture Village.



Community Dinner with Spring Equinox ceremony

We were one day late, but heck, not too bad! Thursday is our regular Community Dinner day, and the Equinox itself fell on Wednesday, March 20, this year, late afternoon, only a couple of hours prior to the Full Moon! 

I had already said what we had planned to do during our ceremony , and podmate Gabrielle had sent out a notice to the dinner list to that effect. So .  .  . when the time came, just about everyone had thought about the challenge, and came internally prepared. But first: photos, of the larger than usual group, over two dozen, including three adults and two kids who joined podmate Solan — unfortunately, I did not get their photo, except for this phenomenal knitted coat! —

— neighbor Mariella and her mother, visiting from New Jersey,

— and as usual, our sweet three-generation line-up, Wanda, Eva and Sophia.

The meal itself was more elaborate and scrumptuous than usual (perhaps in response to the fairly skimpy offerings of last week’s meal! unusual, for us) —


some of the diners filling the den —


others the kitchen —

— and the atmosphere was so convivial that when the time came to do ceremony, it took a bit to quiet everyone down. But that DID happen, and when Gabrielle brought out the tiny pieces of paper upon which we were to write down something that we had been working on internally over the six months of darkness, and that we choose now to let go and bury, composting to regenerate new growth over the coming six months of light, we were ready. Everybody assiduously passed the clipboard and pen and wrote down their offering. We invited anyone to speak about their process over the winter, and a number of people did. I remember especially three people, who spoke of their need to get out of their own way and allow life to happen without trying to control or predict it — and I’m remembering now as I write this, the neighbor who did not attend, but who told me, when I mentioned what we were going to do to honor the Spring Equinox — indeed, she did not just tell me, she growled, “There’s so much I would like to bury . . .”

Given her very private nature, I doubt she would have spoken up, had she attended.

Afterwards, three of us trouped outside and buried all the tiny pieces of paper in a common hole, in the garden that holds the gigantic elephant ears, soon to be arising once again, out of the miraculous soil.


Mid-March: Community Dinner with special, unexpected guest!

Way back when I moved to Bloomington, and to this house, I wondered if the house was located in a neighborhood. I soon found out: Green Acres! I discovered that just as Georgia Schaich, a neighbor whom I hadn’t met, had decided to revitalize the Green Acres Neighborhood Association. So she and I teamed up, determined “To Create a Culture of Creativity Rather Than A Culture of Complaint.” For a number of years, the two of us, plus a rotating cast of four or five others (remember, this is primarily a student rental neighborhood, in close proximity to Indiana University), tried to get communiy spirit going, but the fact that Green Acres is huge (440 houses), and with 65% rentals, occupants flowing through year by year, made that a daunting proposition, and indeed, doomed to fail.

So instead, thanks to one young woman’s advice who lived with me at the time, we decided to begin here, at home, to build community spirit. The result now, our intergenerational Green Acres Permaculture Village, with three connected homes, permacultured grounds, and lots of social capital built up through weekly Community Dinners for neighbors and friends alike.

Meanwhile, Georgia, who had initiated a lot of projects during her four decades in Bloomington, had begun to suffer from Parkinson’s Disease. That was about eight years ago. And she has only been over here one or two times since. I visit her regularly; puppy Shadow knows the way to her house. But more and more, she is confined to a chair.

So, you can imagine my thrill when she arrived unexpectedly last Thursday night, with her patient and devoted retired physics professor husband Bill and her daughter Amy, here visiting from I  North Carolina. It wasn’t an easy job, getting dear Georgia up the steps, but once inside, she enjoyed herself, despite the fact that her body’s capacity has deteriorated to the point where it’s hard for her to say what she is thinking.

Very few of the people present at this gathering— which included six people whom we’ve never seen before, plus one, Jenny, who had returned from six months in California — had ever met Georgia. Nor did they know the backstory to what we are doing now. So I stood behind Georgia’s wheelchair for a few minutes, and told the tale of Green Acres Neighborhood Association and how it had spawned Green Acres Permaculture Village.

Here’s Bill helping Georgia. Luckily, someone found a straw so she could drink.

This dinner was particularly energized, and included, thanks to Annie’s request (she’s in the photo with Bill and Georgia, to the left) the song we’ve adopted for our own, with its lyrics:

How could anyone ever tell you

That you’re anything less than beautiful —

How could anyone ever tell you

You are less than whole?

How could anyone fail to notice

That your loving is a miracle,

How deeply you’re connected — to my soul.

We had only barely enough food, though the chocolate pie and lots of ice cream were over the top fabulous.

Here’s Andreas, Solan and Daisy, in line for the pie.

Amy, Georgia’s daughter, in pink shirt. Jenny’s daughter, a newcomer, to the right.

Wanda, Sam (also new), Gabrielle, Roberto, Jelene.

What’s this cell phone business? No idea. Me, Wanda, and Roberto.

An hour or so later, Andreas again approached the piano. He and Daisy, an IU trained opera singer, then proceeded to present an impromptu concert. Can’t remember the titles of the songs she sang, but they were truly beautiful.

If only Georgia had been able to stay for the concert!

Mid-March: Apple Cider Making

Dan and visitor (and ex-podmate) Duncan, and friends Brin and Eliot took over the Overhill house kitchen one afternoon recently, and made a massive amount of apple cider.

I asked Brin, where did that juicer come from? Downstairs, they all chimed in. Huh? It must have been left here by a former housemate. Terrific for us!

Afterwards, Brin and Duncan cleaned up well, but left no cider! Hopefully some of it will return when it’s ready to drink.



Mid-March: Work, mostly in greenhouse, with seedlings

Though it’s still spitting winter/spring/winter/spring, with the seedlings needing to be protected at night (fire in greenhouse, coverings for peas) they are growing anyhow, most of them. However, the poor peas . . . Not sure how many will make it. Here’s Justin, watering them cheerfully, while they only barely manage to breathe hello.

The other seedlings, however, are doing very well in the greenhouse.

We’ve held two work parties since last I posted, first with Dan and Solan —

— then with a larger crew, including Solan, Gabby, Dan, and Eliot, a visitor.Notice the grey skies. That’s been the situation. Amazing the seedlings still get (enough?) sunlight through the clouds.