Hello from East Wind! I’ve finally made it into community, and have been here for two weeks. I can’t get enough.
I’ve only been here a short while but so far it is everything I was hoping for and more. I love that I spend a big part of my day outside. I love that I see the stars at night, way more than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. I love that I’m learning a ton of new skills. I love that I essentially answer only to myself – that for the first time in my life I feel free. Being here just feels so right.
So far the majority of my energy has gone towards settling in and finding my groove here. My biggest priority has been getting my labor situation set up. Labor quota is 35 hours a week, with any additional hours worked getting “banked” to be used later. Building a nice cushion of banked hours is one of my first goals and I’m off to a good start. I banked 14 hours my first week, aided by a lowered quota for MLK Jr. day. This week I’ll bank around five hours, depending on what I do after I post this.
I’m trying to make a really good impression here and feel a strong call to make as big an impact here as I can. To that end I’m trying to figure out where I can make the biggest difference. I’ve tried to spread my work out among many different activities to both get a better understanding of what makes East Wind run as well as figure out what I might best like to do here. One thing I’ve immediately found that I love is simply the freedom to have a diversity of labor throughout the week. I also really love that I am the only person that decides what I do and when I want to do it.
So far the biggest chunk of my labor has gone towards Forestry. We head out into our woods at 9am most mornings and fall dead standing trees. If the wood is in good shape and the tree straight we will cut it into long (10-16ft) sections and haul it to the sawmill to be made into lumber. The rest of the trees we cut into short sections (12-18in. “rounds”) and throw them in the back of a truck to be taken back to community to be chopped into firewood. I’d mostly just helped carry the rounds from a tree to the truck, but yesterday used a chainsaw for the first time. I was doing well until I poured chain oil into the gas tank by accident. It made the saw inoperable but otherwise didn’t hurt it, and I then learned how to take it apart and clean it’s engine – my first experience learning how engines work.
Last week I spent a good amount of time repairing an old greenhouse. I helped replace the main supports and reframe the end-walls. It’s almost finished, we’re just waiting for the plastic to come in so we can cover it.
I’ve also been helping out with a big project of reorganizing a big common space to make it more useful. It’s involved moving lots of file cabinets and such, organizing a massive vinyl library, moving said massive vinyl library and the shelves that hold it. Today I started breaking down a giant bench/counter that East Wind used to use to make their rope sandals.
I also helped instigate a work party to clean the community closet (“Commie Clothes”). It was overfull and really disorganized and would have been a very big and boring task for anyone person to do. So I bought a 30 pack of PBR to entice people to help. We got a ton accomplished and had a great time drinking beer, trying on weird clothes, and just being social in the beautiful weather. (Side note: the weather has been ridiculously nice this week. It’s been 60 and sunny for like the last 7 days. Simply gorgeous. I consider it a huge blessing that I can be out in it rather than stuck inside somewhere.)
I was asked to help plan a big party for Validation Day, which East Wind celebrates instead of Valentine’s Day. Everyone gets a blank card and people write nice things to each other and decorate each other’s cards. And then the party is apparently one of the bigger ones East Wind has, and I’m helping plan and organize it.
This past week I attended the weekly Nut Butters (East Wind’s main business) management meeting. While there I learned that they need people to do Sales and Marketing and so I started seeing if there was anything I could to help in that way. The reason I had been invited to the meeting is that I had expressed interest in exploring the possibility of selling our products on Amazon. We are not currently on Amazon and so I’m now spearheading seeing if that would be good for us.
I really like the people here and am starting to make friends. People have been friendly and welcoming, and there’s a cool social dynamic where there are a few “party spots” in community and on most nights there’s at least a low-key party going on in one of them. I also love the fact that at the end of the day when people are sitting around hanging out that the conversation will be a discussion of the best diet for the animals, or what’s being planned for the garden next year.
I want to give a special shout-out to the food situation here. I frickin’ love it. Twice a day (noon and 6pm) there’s a hot, delicious, and healthy meal served up for me. Big variety and always super tasty. There is always freshly baked bread sitting out with butter, jelly, and various nut butters. We have milk from our dairy cows on tap 24/7, which I take good advantage of. If I’m hungry later at night there’s always a yummy, easy meal to be made of leftovers. And the best part of it all is that a lot of that food is from our own land. We also get our water from our own well, and have a reverse osmosis filter, and it is the best water I’ve ever had. No fluorine nor chlorine, which I very much appreciate.
Other than friends and family, so far I don’t miss anything from mainstream life here. And I just love being here, it feels so right. I constantly find myself pausing at random points in my day and just appreciating life here. Somewhat relatedly, I find myself more present here and my mind clearer and quieter. This was an unforeseen but very welcome development. I feel I can be myself here more than I have anywhere else except for Burning Man.
That pretty much covers my experience so far. I’ll share more as I do more!
Originally published January 31, 2016