Hello Terra Cultura Family!
We hope this finds you safe and well as we cautiously emerge from a very difficult period. Out of the grief, anxiety, and sometimes rage, we are heartened now to be finding reasons for celebration and hope. Mostly, this transitional time has been an opportunity to integrate what we’ve learned.
Part of the purpose of this Almanac is to share what we’re learning. Because we would love for Terra Cultura sister projects to spring up on every block. We want it to look fun, because a lot of the time it is. But, like so many things worth doing, it has its really hard parts. We hope for Terra Cultura to be a thread in a tapestry of social and environmental healing, and I get to see first-hand the positive impact of this organization. And, speaking personally as 1 of the 3 people on the land day to day, in some ways this dream broke us a bit. But, like a bone that needs to be reset to heal, I’ve come to believe that some old ways of being needed to break. But more on that later.
First, it’s been such a long time since we’ve given you an update, and a lot of new stuff has happened around here. I’ll let the land speak for itself in this 1-minute video of the exciting changes that have transpired here at Terra Cultura, with your help, since we first arrived in April 2018—I can hardly believe my eyes.
You’ve dirtied your hands and/or poured your heart into this project along with us, and the results are bountifully abundant—thank you, and well done. Let’s keep listening to the land and to each other so that we can all flourish. So ready for the quick update? Here are the highlights of projects we undertook during the pandemic period:
*Ramped up our virtual education, teaching 14 virtual classes a week to students at Aromas, San Juan Bautista, and Tres Pinos Schools.
* Focused on some construction projects including building a guest bathroom/shower facility, a 3rd yurt, a chicken coop, and a greenhouse.
*Adopted 5 baby chicks who are now grown laying hens, beloved by all.
*Installed an energy and resource efficient water system including a solar-powered water pump, 2 water holding tanks, and gravity-fed drip irrigation.
*Switched our monthly writers group to a virtual group, and it’s going strong.
*Helped to establish a new local Mutual Aid chapter to get supplies and necessities to those who need it.
*Established the Anti-Oppression Study Group that has been going strong for over a year.
*Helped to establish the first California chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition.
*Developed a new educational eco-arts curriculum for an on-site choose your own adventure scavenger hunt.
*Welcomed 3 interns who took the lead on projects such as designing a multicultural kitchen garden, a marketing plan, and educational signs.
*Travis made the 3rd yurt into a music recording studio—and it’s sooo cool!!
So that’s all exciting, and we’re proud of the progress. Thank you again for your help in making it all possible.
We also learned the hard way that the stress, anxiety, and overwhelm we’ve lived with for years was not sustainable. At some point over the past year or so the 3 of us each hit a crisis point physically or emotionally. (For me it was stress related digestive issues that eventually rendered me severely anemic, landing me in the hospital for blood transfusions and IV iron drips. Thankfully, after a surgery, 2 weeks in bed recovering, and lifestyle changes, I am completely healed and healthy.) Our bodies forced us to slow down. And slowing down made us confront the habits we needed to inspect and change. If we were to maintain and sustain this dream, we needed to unlearn some toxic behaviors that have been upheld by the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. (Toxic behaviors like perfectionism; sense of urgency; defensiveness; quantity over quality; paternalism; I’m the only one; fear of open conflict; either/or thinking; only one right way; progress is bigger, more; worship of the written word; and power hoarding, to name a few characteristics of white supremacy culture. And Jessica, Travis, and I would be happy to point to resources about those if you want to dig deeper.)
Unlearning harmful habits and cultivating new ones will be an ongoing process, and we’re holding ourselves and our organization accountable. Perhaps the start-up culture pressure to perpetually produce was necessary to get Terra Cultura off the ground. We had the energy, and the passion, and the generous support of all of you. But it came with consequences, so perhaps it is time to break the hustle culture cycle and swap it out for healthier models. Now that Terra Cultura is established and thriving, we look forward to continuing this labor of love with you in a more equitable, balanced, joyful, and sustainable way.
We know that the economic pressure to produce, exploit, and oppress the land and its inhabitants has led to environmental and social crises. If we seek to dismantle oppressive systems, rebuild better ones, and live authentic lives aligned with our values, we’re learning that we must be vigilantly inspecting our own internalized ways of being, and work for change on all levels, from the personal to the institutional and policy level. Terra Cultura is modeled on resilience and adaptability, and so we are a fluid community able to respond to changing needs and challenges. Surely there will be more changing and growing ahead. We’re in it for the long haul, and we’re glad you’re right here with us.
I’m sure this sounds familiar to you. It gives me hope that so many of us seem to be working towards similar goals personally, and in our communities and organizations. I deeply hope that this work (personally, communally, organizationally, societally) will be an important piece of building a more secure, abundant, and liberated future for all.
So what’s next? Over the next several months we’re planning to pivot to a hybrid virtual/in-person model to share with you an array of ecology & arts events and knowledge-sharing opportunities here at Terra Cultura, so keep an eye out for those. We’re also excited to announce that we have a part-time paid position opening up for someone interested in helping to steward the land and co-manage the growing areas along with us (we’ll post the job description soon!). It feels like we’re ushering in a new era of what I hope will mean healthier ways of being, in partnership with the land and the community. There’s heaps of work ahead, and I look forward to doing it joyfully alongside you.