Green Acres Permaculture Village is a small, retrofit, intergenerational intentional community in Bloomington, Indiana that integrates self-knowledge and expression with a shared culture among humans and the living Earth to encourage abundance on every level.

About GAPV

Green Acres Permaculture Village is a small, retrofit intergenerational intentional community carved from within an existing suburban neighborhood in a college town that offers itself as a template for transformation of suburban life. We seek to express our values from the inside out: beginning with the individual (know thyself) to the human and animal commons (communication, sharing and compassion), to our sacred communion with the living Earth, we encourage the expression of Nature’s abundance on every level: food for thought, food for people, food for planet.

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Join Our Community

Are you looking for community and interested in living more sustainably? Do you want to eat produce, wild edibles, and chicken eggs from right outside your door? Do you want a home with close-knit, supportive friends? Do you long for an environment that fosters your creativity and individuality?

Green Acres is looking for a new resident with an interest in permaculture and helping us to build a more self-sustaining ecovillage. While Green Acres has been established for several years, we are rounding the corner into a more intentional community.

Email us at or talk to us at our community dinners!

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Community Dinners

Join us at Green Acres every Thursday evening at 7pm for dinner with friends and neighbors. The dinners are not potlucks, but giftings. However, you are welcome to bring food, drink or a donation, if that works for you. In any case, not necessary! Or maybe your guitar or banjo? In any case, come.

Plus, we have now introduced "offerings" after dinner on occasion. So far, these have included a Feldenkrais class, a talk about the astrology of Donald Trump and the U.S.A., a knife sharpening skills, and salsa dancing lessons.

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Balancing Spring: Equinox and GANG

I can’t let today pass without a quick blog about the garden. It is, after all, Spring Equinox. And spring is definitely in the air!

Last week, over IU’s spring break, we got pretty excited about the garden. The 80 degree weather helped encourage that excitement, and it led to some action.

First, we planted seeds and placed them in the greenhouse. We have tomatoes, eggplant, herbs, and arugula – which was also very excited for spring and peeped up after only 2 days! These little starter plants will be re-planted in a few months in a clean, mulched, frost-free garden.

A few days later, we got even more ambitious, and we started to weed. Shadow the dog helped us enormously (by digging his own hole to rest in the shade) and we made great progress. More remains to be done, but it was rewarding to see how in such a short time, all our work together made a difference.

We are planning some changes in the garden for this season – moving some of the beds so the plants get more light, a night-blooming garden with delicious-smelling flowers, and, of course, the city-required gate. More news on that to come soon!

New Life at GANG for 2012

There might be snow on the ground, but the sun is brilliant and reminds us of the life that hides beneath that frozen layer. Green Acres Neighborhood Garden is alive and enlivening for the 2012 growing season.

Last month, Stephanie Partridge assumed direction of the garden for the season, and found two interns to help organize, mobilize, and energize the garden. The first is Sarah Roberts, an undergraduate Environmental Management major at SPEA and the second is Alexandra Buck, a dual Masters student in Nonprofit Management at SPEA (MPA) and Latin American studies (MA).

We had our first meeting on a moonlit night and tromped about the garden to see the

3 new heads, 6 new hands: Sarah (left, in pink), Alexandra (middle, in red), Stephanie (right, in white)

different beds and start imagining how the garden would look, in the day and in the summer. We talked through plans for getting things moving – social networking, community outreach, seeds and donations, and volunteer activities.

So there is life at GANG. And with all of your help – yes, you! – we plan to make this growing season the most lively one yet!

To get involved with GANG – planning, planting, growing, donating, educating, laughing, playing or otherwise – feel free to contact Stephanie directly at

GANG Garden and Green Acres Ecovillage hit the news

Thanks to and Keith of, for the pointer. For more information, see also and And see the formal Green Acres Neighborhood Plan for the city of

Neighbor Garden Is A Vision For Larger Cooperative Movement

January 7, 2012


Green Acres is a neighborhood which some of its residents envision could be an ecovillage.

Green Acres

Photo: Gretchen Frazee/WFIU News

Green Acres Neighborhood Garden is an urban garden where people who tend to it also share the fruits of their labor.

This is the last in a series on cooperative living in Bloomington, Indiana.

In the summer, in a small garden in Green Acres, just east of Indiana University, is full of tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, basil, onions, radishes, corn, cabbage, strawberries… you get the picture. It us a lot of food.

Ann Kreilkamp owns the garden, but several people in the neighborhood and as well as students from IU’s Permaculture Department tend it, and, in return, share the harvest.

Kreilkamp envisions several similar gardens popping up around the neighborhood and eventually forming the Green Acres Ecovillage.

“What we’re trying to do here is trying to build an ecovillage from what’s already here,” she says. “It’s called a retrofit ecovillage where you use existing structures, and you can have renters and people who own them.”

In her vision, neighbors would help each other garden and share the fruits – and vegetables — of their labor with everyone involved. Basically, a large-scale version of what she’s already doing.

“Eventually I would like to see in 30 years, the whole neighborhood is an ecovillage, with zoning laws having changed so you can have small businesses inside it,” she says.

Kreilkamp is petitioning the Bloomington Zoning Commission to change its laws so she can operate her garden without being afraid of overstepping the law. The Bloomington Planning Department says it is taking all the zoning requests on a case by case basis.

Jim Ollis, a student from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is staying in Bloomington for a few weeks as a part of his permaculture studies. He says Bloomington is ripe for this type of community living because it has a lot of land that can be used for small-scale gardening.

“Communities like Bloomington have a much easier potential and much easier transition than places like Philadelphia in the city because the land is wide open, the land is readily available,” he says.

Kreilkamp says she hopes people like Ollis will take inspiration from her work, leave Bloomington and begin similar projects throughout the U.S.

“Because we are a university town you have people constantly moving through,” she says. “So the type of governing you have to do is really educational so they will learn how to do it and then they’ll move and do it somewhere else.”

Her dream, she says, would be to see her grandchildren living in a world that is sustainable and lives in sync with nature’s cycles. Krielkamp says, she thinks they will.

Here’s our report on last Sunday’s rainy Ceremony of Impermanence . . .

Local Action “True Grit”: How we and the GANG have begun to transform a seemingly destructive situation

Kim’s turn to whack the beloved cob oven, symbol of community.

Hold on to your horses. This is an epic post, divided into parts, each with lots of photos that you can scan through quickly just to give the flavor.


1. The cut in the wall

2. The Ceremony

3. The Blows

4. Potluck

5. Aftermath


First, here’s some “before” pictures of the SW corner of the garden, containing a cob oven and ferrocement wall, all of which was constructed by volunteers over hundreds of hours.

Cob oven from inside the garden, wall behind. Notice the “yield” sign to the left. In order to transform an inherently destructive situation I (my combative personality) had to learn how to yield . . .
The side view of the beautiful oven, designed and constructed by SPEA students in a Sustainability Course at IU. BTW: it worked great the one and only time we fired it up for pizza.
The “Berlin Wall” from the outside, admittedly kind of ugly and forbidding, though plants were beginning to grow up enough to soften the effect.

The situation had been brewing for five months. See this and this for details. For the first three months I had been locked in an internal battle, trying to not only make sense of what was going on, but to come to terms with it and find a way through. At some point, it occurred to me that this situation was the most challenging I had ever encountered, in the sense that I had to integrate more dimensions than ever before in order to discover a way to creatively respond. I had to integrate 1) the neighbor who opposed the educational — and, it appeared to me, the community — function of the GANG garden, 2) the city Planning Department who had responded to her call and was making certain demands, some of which I preceived as a threat to the multi-purpose of the garden, 3) the near and far Green Acres neighborhood, with whom I have been working to help seed an authentic village culture for the past seven years, 4) the new and still very tender and rawecovillage hub of which I am a cofounder, 5) the Council of Neighborhood Associations, to which I belong, Transition Bloomington, of which I am one of the original organizers — and on and on, in widening circles of influence.

But beyond and within all these concentric zones, was what I call zone zero zero, the center of the self, which dissolves into no-self, Presence. Zone zero zero as the infinity that opens and enfolds in the embrace of the the Love that fuels the universe. And, right next to this sacred center, right on the other side of it, or at its edge, was/is my persona, or personality, the evolving form I have been conditioned into for this lifetime. And this form or persona is fiery, combative, arrogant, righteous, determined, like a combination of bulldog and banty rooster — all qualities that I like to see in my “opponent,” the neighbor who has been “giving me so much trouble.” My perception of her persona was and is my perfect mirror, the projection of all that I dislike about myself. (So perfect, an “opponent” who actually shows up! How else am I going to learn about my own shadow  without an honorable opponent to illuminate it for me?) So, beyond any of these other zones of integration, I had to integrate this cocky persona into the higher self of detachment and compassion, that which sees the entire human drama as merely one more play of illusion within this three-dimension stage that we have all chosen to walk together.

So that’s the internal scene. In the external, the GANG garden is, and is viewed as, one  possible alternative private/public template for the future as we learn how to relocalize our lives and, in particular, grow our own food, in a downshifting culture that will more and more need to be fueled by cooperation and sharing rather than competition and greed.

For more of the details, see this and this, the two emails I sent out to announce the Ceremony of Impermanence that would precede the destruction of our lovingly constructed cob oven at the SW corner of the GANG garden.

 The Cut in the Wall

The city requires that we remove not only the cob oven, but the wall behind it, due to a law which outlaws “structures” 25 feet from any intersection (a law that is only enforced when brought to the city’s attention). So, we had to figure out how to remove that wall. Were we going to trash it? And if so, how? Or were we going to move it to another location, if so how and why, and where would a 20-foot long, right-angled, six foot high ferrocement wall fit? We thought about various places in the garden,  but nothing seemed appropriate. It was just too damn  big! Finally we decided to place it inside a copse of little trees in my back yard, clearing out a space to do so, turning the area in front of it into a hidden meditation spot.

Here we are, on the day of the Ceremony, traipsing to take a look at the newly cleared sanctuary for the wall.

Given the space available, we decided to cut about a five feet off one side of the wall to make it fit. My son Colin and Jim, the permaculture student that has been staying with me cleared the space. A few days before the Ceremony they made the cut, using a grinder purchased for the occasion. Here’s the process.

First, Colin measured the point in the wall where they would make the cut.

Next, Colin and Jim fastened and sretched string to indicate where the cut would go.

Next, Colin started the cut with the grinder (leaving a bit of the wall intact both at the top and the bottom, in case of wind. The final cuts to be made on the day the wall is actually removed).

Here’s what the cut looked like when done. Hardly visible. Very clean. I was amazed, thought it would be ragged and ugly.

The Ceremony of Impermanence

November 20, the long-awaited day for the Ceremony of Impermanence and destruction of wall and cob oven dawned warm, grey and rainy. Oops! Can’t use power tools in the rain. We’d have to postpone removing the wall, and concentrate on the Ceremony and cob oven. Okay. C’est la vie.

About 18 people straggled in throughout the morning and early afternoon, despite the rain. And we all agreed that the rain was perfect for the occasion. The sky was weeping, as these three drops on the pear tree attest.

We gathered beforehand in my house and I told them what would happen during the ceremony. First, I’d talk about the whole situation, and its history, why we had to remove the cob oven and wall, what they meant to us, and my own process of trying to come to terms with it, by utilizing ceremony to transform something terrible into the first step for renewal in the spring. Next, I would invite others to say whatever was in their hearts as well.

Then Anna Maria, another permaculture student who had been staying with me on weekends during the two month local permaculture weekend course, would read from the Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching (Fall River Press, 2002), an appropriate verse for this ceremony. She chose verse #22, “Celebrating Paradox:”

No-thing remains itself.
Each prepares the path to its opposite.

To be ready for wholeness, first be fragmented.
To be ready for rightness, first be wronged.
To be ready for fullness, first be empty.
To be ready for renewal, first fail.
To be ready for doubt, first be certain . . .

Verily, fragmentation prepares the path to wholeness,
the mother of all origins and realizations.

At this point, we would each take the little slips of paper on which we had written something from our lives that they were willing to give up and put it in the cob oven for one last tiny firing, as a symbol of the impermanence of all forms. So hard to give up what feels safe, secure, comfortable, what we love!

And so on.

We went out in the garden and stood in the rain in a semi-circle around the cob oven. I started to talk, at first coming close to tears, our mood somber, sodden.

Anna Maria read verse 22 . . . Here are a few more lines from that beautiful translation:

Because the wise observe the world
through the Great Integrity,
they know they are not knowledgeable.
Because they do not perceive
only through their perceptions,
they do not judge this right and that wrong. . .

Then, we fired ‘er up one last time, letting go of our personal attachments.

Jim lights the match.

At this point something very funny happened. Anna Maria’s piece of paper had trouble burning. She started laughing. She was asking herself to finally let go of her mother, who  died sixteen years ago! Our mood began to lighten as we watched that damn little piece of paper finally catch fire.

By the time we came to the finale of the ceremony, echoing the wonders of Celebrating Paradox with the song “We Shall Overcome” we had changed the lyrics to —

We are right and wrong. We are right and wrong. Right and wrong make us strong!
Oh deep in our hearts, we do realize
That right and wrong make us strong. . .

— and were in a trance of hilarity, ready for anything, even destruction.

The blows

As the “leader,” I had the dubious honor of taking the first whack, which I did sort of gingerly . . .

We all expected the wall to break up into fragments. Instead it disintegrated into the “true grit” of sand, clay and straw of which it was composed.

Rhonda’s turn to whack.

So we each took a tiny piece of this for our own gardens as a symbol of neighborhood renewal. Here’s Sandy, going to get hers.

We decided to create a wheel barrel brigade, and shovel the gritty remains of the cob oven onto the garden beds. It felt good to return the oven to the earth of which it was made.

The firebricks were the bottom two layers. Danny made sure we saved them for the new smokeless rocket stove we will design and construct in the spring in the dining area by the pond.

Okay, done! Time to eat. The process took longer than expected. We were kind of glad the rain had stopped us from doing the wall on the same day. Colin plans to round up a bunch of strapping male undergraduate students who live nearby after Thanksgiving vacation to manhandle the wall into its new location. He figures it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.

The potluck

Vera, at the kitchen table, grabbing a cracker.

Here we are, in my house, hanging out with quiche, fruit, bread, and other sundries.

Bre, another out-of-town permie who stayed with me during the course, and who took most of the photos here (thanks, Bre!) with Adam, who hails from Missouri and had asked to attend our “heartbreaking” ceremony. It’s true. It was heartbreaking. It was also — cerlebrating paradox! — heart-healing.
Rhonda, one of our permaculture teachers, with son Caden.
Rhonda’s daughter Maya, fixing strawberries for the fruit plate.

In one of my emails sent to announce the day’s events, I mentioned that for anyone who is interested, we would have a “metaphysical discussion” of the deeper meaning of the Ceremony of Impermanence after lunch. This we did, utilizing Anna Maria’s 20 years as a traditional Feng Shui practitioner . . .

Anna Maria’s wheel of finely calibrated directions, as used in traditional feng shui.

A bunch of us pored over the map of Green Acres, and the GANG garden’s location within it, to understand, through the symbolic language of Feng Shui, on an impersonal level, why this destruction/renewal process had been necessary.

After this, I told the group a story of what I had discovered upon awakening that very morning. . .

I had wondered why this whole five months process had felt so important, and so difficult, and all of a sudden it had occurred to me that it was a “replay,” though with new characters and plot, understanding and outcome, of a drama that I had been involved in nearly 40 years earlier, during which I had been scapegoated and fired from my job as a teacher at the experimental New College of California for “being too experimental.” It was only years later that I recognized the entire process had originated in my arrogance (that persona again!). Now this time, many decades later, I had attracted another opportunity to deal with a multidimensional situation that required great discernment in order to thread my way through and shift it from destruction to transformation.

And, I concluded, I checked it with the symbolic language of astrology and discovered this: the chief fuel that I am burning in this lifetime is a 90° frictional square between Venus (personal love, desire) and Neptune (impersonal love, compassion). When the New College fiasco happened, in 1974, the slow-moving planet Pluto, agent of death and rebirth, had conjuncted my Neptune. Now, during this time when my soul had constellated parallel situation as part of the lesson plan for this lifetime, Pluto had moved 90 degrees, to conjunct Venus!

Voila! Out of destruction, resurrection. Out of confusion, clarity. Out of pain, joy.


That evening, I was lying on the couch when Zilia (Vera’s daughter) called. Said she was standing in front of the IU auditorium, and there was a guy there who was selling his $85 ticket for $65. Would I like to get it for the sold-out Paul Simon concert. Yes. I would!

The evening began with an old favorite, “Days and Miracle and Wonders,” truly a harbinger of these days when we are learning to Occupy our hearts and celebrate paradox. And near the end of the concert, his song “Love is Eternal Sacred Light,” its refrain:

Love is eternal sacred light
Free from the shackles of time
Evil is darkness, sight without sight
A demon that feeds all the mind
Love is eternal sacred light
Love is eternal sacred light
Love is eternal sacred light

Here’s my view, from the back of the orchestra.

OCCUPY the GANG garden, next Sunday, November 20, 9:45 am – 1:45 pm, for ceremony and celebration

Dear neighbors and friends of the GANG,

We are nearing the Ceremony of Impermanence on November 20th (rain date December 3rd), when we will once again transform the GANG. We, the community supporting GANG, will remove the structure in the SW corner of the garden in order to come into compliance with a city ordinance that requires structures to be more than 25 feet from an intersection. This structure includes a ferrocement wall, a cob oven, the table on which the oven sits and the roof over it.

I have received a number of emails and phone calls and visits from neighbors and others about this action that we are required to take. They all voice dismay and sadness, even incredulity; and they also support our decision to absorb and integrate this difficult situation in order to creatively transform it. Borne of conflict, the action is an opportunity for the individuals, the neighborhood, and the city to become more aware, more conscious about projects such as GANG that can bring us into greater health. Rhonda Baird explored the tension and the potential between individual and community in this blog post:

During the week a number of us have been talking about various ways to repurpose the ferrocement wall, and the final decision is to move it to the northeast corner of my back yard, where it will serve as the background for a community meditation area to be created in the spring. (How about that for fostering health!). My son Colin and my permaculture house guest Jim have already prepared the ground for the wall, leveling it and removing a number of small trees and bushes.

We have also talked about what we might do to replace the cob oven, so that we can still have the capacity to cook food, truly a foundational aspect of a magnetic neighborhood commons. We are looking into the idea of a rocket stove (see, for, a nearly-smokeless structure which we would build during a workshop near the picnic table and pond.

Plans for the formal gate to replace the wall and cob oven are also starting to jell. A beautiful and more functional gate is planned which will welcome people and serve as a landmark within the neighborhood. We are currently envisioning an archway made of the stone for the gate. This would provide a feeling of weight and stability and serve as a dramatic and clear invitation to spend time in the garden.

Friend and permaculture teacher Rhonda Baird and I met Friday over lunch to finalize the plans for the Ceremony. We talked about the juxtaposition of creating places of “permanent culture” and the need to do the Ceremony of Impermanance. Here’s the plan we came up with:



Meet in the garden at 9:45 AM.

Please bring with you something for the potluck, goggles, gloves if you have them, and a piece of paper on which you have written something about your own life that you thought was necessary, but turned out not to be a source of difficulty, and which you are now willing to sacrifice to the altar of impermanence.
We will begin with opening remarks, the story of the garden, fence and cob oven, why it must be removed, and welcome comments from each person present. Then we will do a few other brief ceremonial things, not yet decided, prior to the actual process of “destruction.”
We shall destroy the cob oven first, and dismantle the structures that support it. Each person shall be invited to take a piece of the cob oven to bury in their own garden, as a symbol of rekindling the living fire of community in all Bloomington neighborhoods.



And finally, we shall string up a temporary fence in the gap that we make, and anchor it with some kind of small item that symbolizes the rebirth of the transformed entrance to the garden in the spring of 2012.

Then, we’ll retire to my house for our potluck.

One final consideration: for those who are interested, after the potluck we will hold a discussion of the possible metaphysical, esoteric, “exopermacultural” meaning of both this garden and the process of transforming its SW corner.

So, if possible, plan on being here with us from 9:45 a.m. through about 1:45 p.m. — or any part thereof! The more people who participate in this wrenching process, the more we can transform loss into the living ground of creativity in spring 2012.

Thanks so much!

And blessings,