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!