Friday, September 10, 2010

Liberty, TN

We headed north after Little Rock up through Nashville to Liberty, TN to an amazing mountainside intentional community called Short Mountain Sanctuary. I mentioned in an earlier post that we were reading The Revolution will not be Microwaved by fermentation guru Sandor Elix Katz, who is also one of the permanent residents of SMS, and one of the ways I had heard of the sanctuary.

SMS is a queer faerie community, and Short Mountain as a whole houses a network of queer households. I've been thinking about what it means to build community, to create safe spaces for marginalized people and the difference between marginalized people creating their own safe spaces or engaging in spaces that have already been created. One thing that obvious in this particular community was the amount of care, love and trust people had for each other.

We arrived, as per the entire trip, late at night and a little lost. Driving the backroads of Liberty, Tennessee, confused and a little nervous in the dark, we pulled in to what we thought was SMS, wandered up to the nearest house and were greeted with offers of drinks and welcomed inside. It turned out we were in completely the wrong place, but the beautiful hospitality (and our second hand drawn map of the trip) we received got us back on track and headed in the right direction.

When we finally made it to SMS, we shuffled down hill to catch the last few minutes of folks wandering off to bed after the pot luck that happened earlier in the evening, and were given a quick and dirty flashlight tour to find our way to the yurt yard and pitch our tent. We had a little hang out time with another long-time visitor of the sanctuary, got some more insight into the history of the community, listened to the cicadas, and then crashed to get some rest and explore the following morning.

In the morning we went on a short hike through the woods and picked up a few wild paw paws along the way (I LOVE paw paws), met some more residents in their amazing communal kitchen, and made our way down to the chickens and goats, and the two veggie gardens they keep. The veggie gardens at SMS are a little wild, and soft around the edges, which I like. They had a very home-garden feel to them, and like everything else at the sanctuary, had an air of quiet and modest care about them, you could tell that they were tended out of love more than out of obligation. As we saw most of the places we went, the beds were roughly in rows, what I refer to as 'farm-style', rectangles of amended and planted soil, spaced in between narrow pathways.

After picking some of the ridiculously abundant basil, we wandered on, checking out some of the other magical, handmade elements of the land: the bath house, the out houses (anyone who thinks the Free Farm composting toilet lacks privacy, should take a gander at these!), the mosaic cistern, the beautiful outdoor covered meeting area. I would love to know so much more about the development of the land, the bees, the solar panels, the water collection, the structural and personal building of a community, and each of the wonderful and welcoming people we met. But Ohio calls, so until we meet again, Short Mountain!

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