With this spring equinox, Alternatives begins its second year publishing. Much has evolved, yet there remain certain constants; for instance, the all night production marathon just before printing. No complaints though, we’d rather work 20 hours a day for ourselves than 8 hours a day for someone else.
Once again, we have invited people from our region to write from their personal perspective about what they do and how they feel about it. We are vitally interested in stories told by those who are passionately and consciously engaged in life. Beyond “facts,” we seek to explore the heart of things.
This equinox, we look into the heart of community. Community is as ubiquitous to humans as water is to fish. We all live in community, yet we scarcely notice its presence—unless we really pay attention, or are somehow jolted from the familiar context it provides us.
Community is awesome. Creating community can be as artistically challenging as crafting a love letter, or as intellectually demanding as steering a corporation. Our community can provide endless entertainment and support, or it may be an existential ice house. While most of us passively take on the community culture we inherit, some actively seek to invent new social forms. People attempt to reinvent their community for reasons that range from power tripping to spiritual service. History has numerous examples of communities created by people who wanted to perfect the art of society. These have been variously called utopian, monastic, egalitarian, communistic, polyamourous . . . a long and fascinating list.
For our exploration, we have solicited the writings of a diverse group of people living in various NW Oregon communities. Remaining true to the archetype of the four seasons, we reached out to the four directions for these written pieces. From the east comes an essay by Tim McDevitt, member of Breitenbush Hot Springs, a well-known “intentional community” located in the Cascades near Mt. Jefferson. South, in Salem, Mike Swaim, the refreshingly progressive mayor who has taken public stands on behalf of Ancient Forest, urban growth management, planning as if it mattered, and other relevant issues, talks about his vision for creating a livable community. West takes us to the sea. Rebecca O’Day, a transplanted native who dwells in a small coastal community near Cannon Beach, talks about village life there. Melitta Marshall, another coastal dweller and founder of Oregon House, a retreat and consciousness center in Yachats, describes her odyssey to create spiritual community. And from the north (a neighborhood in NE Portland, to be exact) Ness Mountain delves honestly into the heart of the racial divide. Additionally, Joe Nagel explores the proper relationship between commerce and community, and finally, our regular columnist on the subject of voluntary simplicity, Carolyn Berry, describes how a profound human contact occurred when she slowed down to the speed of life.
Enjoy the reading and this emerging summer. May we all find the blessings of our true community. Peace.