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Thursday Work Party ~ Community Dinner 03/28

Our Thursday morning work hour began with pod-mate, Solan sharing a personal and heartfelt message with us. Afterward, the feeling of friendship and teamwork seemed to expand as we worked on potting up a few plants and mixing new soil. Our work time ended in vibrant and thoughtful discussion.

Shadow puppy came to see us and enjoyed his people time with Dan

Potting up Hungarian hot peppers. I’ll be excited to welcome these future additions to my grandfather’s hot stew recipe!

Justin enjoying the soil mixing and ‘making it count’

L to R: Dan, Andreas, and Solan. The plan was to plant beets where the peas didn’t do well but the soil temp was too low. Maybe next week!

Great candid photo from Solan. L to R: Dan, Justin. Seated: Andreas, Alex and myself. Shadow in foreground.

With notable news about the growing law suits against Monsanto that morning, it started interesting and thoughtful conversations about the vital work we do at Green Acres. Each and every one of us is capable of doing this work — anywhere there is soil to heal and there are good hearts to plant seeds.

Unfortunately, the only two decent photos from Thursday dinner at Maple House are below. Next time I plan to bring out the big camera! It was a lovely evening with mild temperatures and a warm, inviting atmosphere. Fresh flowers were a nice touch from Daisy and neighbor Jenny brought us a wild flower from her yard called a Siberian Squill. Early conversations were about seasonings while looking at recipe books, talk of family traditions, baking, candied flowers — there seemed to be a dessert theme!

Jenny, Jelene, Wanda, Eva, and Sophia joined us early. Andreas arrived with Annie soon after and Aaron stopped in later with his sweet dog, Masha. Many lively discussions! The spread wasn’t big this night but the connection was nourishing.


Neighborhood Tree Planting Project 2019

Who wouldn’t love free native trees?

Last Wednesday, Green Acres took delivery of about half a dozen different kinds of trees and shrubs to disperse to our neighbors who participated in The Neighborhood Planting Project. We took orders over the course of two weeks via email, and in person at community dinners.

From the flyer: The Neighborhood Planting Project is a group of neighbors on Bloomington’s westside committed to supporting local growing, food autonomy, ecological restoration, and public beauty.

I came to the project a little late in the game but after reading about it, I was all in. Hugh did such a great job facilitating, it was a breeze. Admittedly, I was somewhat frantic the day before and day of, expecting small trees with sizable root balls and hoping for enough space in the second greenhouse. Turns out they were just whip starts. No trucks or extra folks needed to lift and carry! Free trees and plenty of smiles from the delivery crew!

L to R, standing: Thanks Mick & Kevin and the rest of the NPP team. Thanks also to Hugh!

Kevin grabs the gooseberry starts to show us how to plant one on site, complete with a soil amendment — included with each order

Dan and Kevin find a spot near the fence line of the main garden to plant the gooseberry


Hickory, Paw Paw, Hazelnut, White Pine [and a special request for Dogwood — to surprise my mom]

Thanks to @IUonStrike for the NPP nod and a Green Acres mention on Twitter. Here’s an archive to the local EcoReport on WFHB.

Learn more about this project and watch for Green Acres to participate again next year!

Green Acres Outreach Coordinator : An Introduction and Thanks

Spring Greetings, Green Acres patrons! Before I jump in with my first post here on GA’s blog, I’d like to start by introducing myself.

My name is Gabrielle. You might recognize my writing style if you’re on our mailing list for community dinners. I’m also the Outreach Coordinator [a.k.a. media maven] among other hats that fit me well at Green Acres. I arrived last September like a leaf on a whirlwind. My journey here has been challenging, satisfying and humbling. That’s a long story for another time, and on another blog.

I’m an Indiana native who came to permaculture through peak oil study and news analysis after the BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf. My late mentor, Mike Ruppert, lit a fire under my backside with his work. I dug in my heels to share information, search for communities, eventually traveling down the west coast during an Occupy media tour. Like a hawk, I was always looking for like-minded individuals and ‘some place’ that resonated with me.

As it turned out I didn’t have to look further than my own back yard. I discovered people online doing what needed to be done in Bloomington, Indiana.  It had a peak oil task force, a growing permaculture community, and climate mitigation strategies not only being discussed but put into action. It was just after the first Occupiers took Zuccotti Park that I read the name, Ann Kreilkamp.

There has been a learning curve for this rookie to intentional community but thankfully it hasn’t been steep thanks to the wisdom of not just one, but two brilliant women. I feel ‘home’ singing in my bones here. I’m in love with Ann’s vision and intention as the founder of Green Acres. I’m eternally grateful for her friendship and recognizing my value here before I saw it, frankly. I also found myself guided in grounded, loving and creative energy from its garden goddess, Rebecca Ellsworth.

I’ve since been given the title, “proto-crone” which is equally humorous and humbling as I approach 52!  Both of these women are straight shooting Sagittarius, but it was Ann who explained that Green Acres needed a ‘bridge’ in this inter-generational community; someone representing my age group. We both laughed. Hey, no pressure, right? But I understood on many levels what she meant.

As a Gemini, I understand communication is a bridge. It is tragic to see so many being easily burned over divisive politics. We must also work to communicate with our souls — through art, poetry, music, but also FOOD. When was the last time you saw people argue when someone announces that pie is served? With a mouthful of good food, people shut up long enough to notice the common threads that keep people and cultures healthy. This is what builds resilient spirits. And it all starts with healthy soil. That is permanent culture: permaculture.

I don’t feel pressure — I feel vital. I feel planted in the fertile soil that was the social permaculture of my ancestors. As a Taoist in practice, I asked myself, “Am I no longer the river but a bridge?” Ah ha, I’m both! Welcome to your paradigm shift, proto-crone. It’s time to get liminal — but it’s also time to get dirt under your nails again, and honor your grandmothers. Every. Single. Day.

It is my earnest intention to use my ‘gift of gab’ to sing the song of Green Acres on this blog and beyond. Today, I need to flow with the current of information, which is rapid. There’s much to share about Green Acres’ happenings from this past week, so to quote one of my favorite authors, Graham Hancock: “In writing, always strive for elegance and clarity. But if you must sacrifice one to save the other, sacrifice elegance.” Time to skip to the end!

L to R, Hugh, Annie, [me], Jim, and Dan. Hugh brings us first news of the tree planting project, community dinner night, January 24, 2019

In closing, I invite you to view my bio to learn more about me. I’ll be sharing posts from here to my blog and across networks to spread the word about my home and hamlet with my readers. I hope you all enjoy the changes for Green Acres’ web presence as much as I enjoy ‘growing community from the ground up’ with my new friends and neighbors. I am still occupying. This is my People’s Kitchen!

I always welcome comments and feedback. Thank you for reading!

Love and rocket stoves,




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.



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