Notes from Windward: #70


Sam reflects on his arrival

     Entering into an intentional community can be incredibly intimidating. Before setting foot on my western-bound Airbus, there was the ever-present knowledge that the majority of the people I would be spending my summer with had already been a part of Windward for months… or years… or decades.

helping take the plastic cover off Vermadise


      Before I arrived I assumed that I would feel more like an exchange student of sorts: thrown into a family who saw me as a temporary fixture and perhaps treated me as one. I has prepared myself for such a scenario, ready to be a part of the background that simply strives not to break anything.

     It should be no surprise, then, that I was a little caught off guard when met with a hug at the airport. Opalyn picked me and my luggage up, starting up a conversation as if I was family returning from a trip. I was surprised again when greeted in the same way by an energetic and cheerful Karen at her house in Portland. We talked and laughed as we walked to one of her daughter's school to pick her up.

     Since being at the community itself, I have felt more at home than I ever thought that I would. My preparedness to be a background fixture vanished in the first few hours of working with the members, apprentices, and interns. Here, everyone's thoughts and opinions are asked for. Everyone's beliefs are shared without challenge. Everyone's ideas are taken into account. Everyone's talents are used.

playing tunes in the evening


      I think that before I arrived I was separating the words "sustainable" and "community" in my mind. Once here, I was reminded that they are deeply, deeply intertwined. The word sustain comes from the Latin sustinere, which means "to hold up" or "to support." What better example of this than a loving community? Just as the beams of a house hold one another up, the members of a community should likewise do the same. This seems to be the case here at Windward and although it doesn't always come easy, it is something that we continually strive for. Acceptance of others is the first big step.

     Let it be known, however, that being so readily accepted into an established community is not all fun and games. It takes work. A lot of work. There is learning to be done: learning in the gardens, with the animals, in the kitchen, learning the placement of tools and their owners, learning the land and directions, learning things that are both in and out of your field of expertise, learning how to maintain your own initiative and drive.

     Learning how to learn and relearn‒it's essential here. Once you are a part of this community, whether for twelve weeks or the rest of your life, the same things are expected of you as they are of everyone else. While it may not always be easy, it is the epitome of acceptance.

     And without acceptance there can be no community.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 70