Peacock's Ponderings

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New Blog: Building Sustainable Communities

I've started a new blog on Wordpress, called Building Sustainable Communities. Find it here:

It's my online scratchbook and a venue for expressing ideas about sustainability, building community, collaborative tools, shared resources, and other topics du jour. My overall aim is to facilitate the successful building of sustainable communities at all scales, shapes, and sizes, and reinventing cultural thinking and values to shift away from competitive egocentrism and toward collaborative, egalitarian, interdependent relationships and community orientation. And I mean to do that in real-time, not just with a blog :) Please give a read and offer comments and interaction over there!!! This is not about “me,” it’s about “we.” Collaboration not competition. Community not MyMcMansion. Enjoy!
Fri, January 9, 2009 - 7:13 PM — permalink - 2 comments - add a comment

Opening Up 2009

** Opening Up 2009 **

I had fun this morning writing a letter to a dear friend in Italy. It's the first time in recent months I've written a summary of where things have been for me lately. It's also been forever and a day since I've posted anything here on Tribe. And oddly enough, people read this stuff! Yay for you! ;)

I'm currently consulting and not working full time, so I have some calm and ease in my life right now, despite the economic uncertainty and lack of steady income. I worked this year managing projects on sustainable business development and economic policy related to sustainability and environmental issues. While a good entree to Portland's sustainability community, it wasn't a good fit. But I'm really over working for other people in a hierarchical structure.The clue that does come through is to work either for myself or with peers in a process of co-creation.

I'm now gathering my thoughts and ideas about my next efforts. The summary version / elevator pitch is that I want to build sustainable communities and increase the capacity of various scales of community to achieve sustainability and ecological balance, as it were. What does that look like? Consulting? Managing physical development projects? More public policy advocacy? I'm not quite sure yet. Yes, I think some of all the above. I'm doing a lot of writing now to get ideas out of my head onto paper, having coffee dates and informational interviews, and just need to pour myself into that now that the fresh energy of a New Year is here.

Things at that job ended very quickly, within a week I was gone. My first impulse was to go to the Bay Area and reconnect with communities there. Bodywork, dance, the Radical Faeries, a men's group I worked and played with for several years, an old boyfriend. It was a really great visit. And I stayed a bit too long - a full month. Cleaned out my storage unit and shipped what was left home. USPS lost an important box of CDs, theft actually, and they won't do anything about it because I didn't have a tracking number. Oh well, purge and start over. Hopefully the thief really needed the money and got whatever they needed from the experience. So it was fraught with challenges, balanced by some beautiful moments.

December felt very stagnant. We had over two weeks of heavy snow and ice and Portland basically shut down. It was beautiful. Although most of us got cabin fever, one could still get out and walk around, even drive with chains, or like some idiots, drive without them, which wasn't pretty. Lots of stranded vehicles. It was an interesting testament to the Western psyche - the "I can't slow down - I'm busy!" phenomenon. And Mother Nature brought that to its knees. What can I say, I'm a radical at heart, I loved it. Of course it helped being able to work from home on a contract project, sip coffee and read the paper, and not have a "job" to get out in the mix of the travel chaos.

So things are up in the air, and feel simultaneously scary and elating.

I hope this finds you well and closing out 2008 with clarity and purpose, and opening up 2009 with grace and sweetness.
Wed, December 31, 2008 - 1:06 PM — permalink - 5 comments - add a comment

Jake Shimabukuro Blows My Mind (or, Aladdin's Magic Lamp - or was that ukelele?)

Notes from the Aladdin Theater, Portland, Oregon, 2/6/08

I'm always impressed when a theater fills on a night like this - windy, cold, pissing rain - I just heard thunder minutes ago. Yet the die-hard will not be deterred from gobbling up every last bit of something they love. Tonight it was the unbelievable array of sounds whirling off an unlikely instrument - the ukelele. Far from being relegated to a single category of Hawai'ian folk music, the ukelele comes madly and feverishly alive in the skilled hands of Jake Shimabukuro, Honolulu-born sensation and virtuoso of this instrument, which he began playing at age four. He told a story tonight of entering a competition at age seven with his younger brother Bruce, whom Jake claims (jokingly) to have named after his idol, Bruce Lee. He performed a Hawai'ian folk song called "Crazy G," and I have no doubt blew away the audience back then. His brother dressed in cowboy attire and performed "Elvira" - a Dallas Frazier song popularized by the Oak Ridge Boys and their deep bass character, I'm sure hard for a child to reproduce. However, Jake says that Bruce won the competition.

I also have no doubt that Jake's won many competitions since. His deft ability to cover multiple genres of music, solo on an acoustic instrument as small and seemingly delicate as a ukelele, is deserving of awe and has undoubtedly been painstakingly handcrafted over many years of practice and study. College educated Shimabukuro says he's taken voice classes, yet his concerts are purely instrumental. That's not to say he doesn't have vocal facility, as he's quite humorous on stage in the interludes between his jaw-dropping originals and renditions of the great musicians of our time - and especially of times before us. Take for example his heart-stopping interpretation of Schubert's "Ave Maria," which has become a signature piece for Jake, as much as has his emotional cover of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." (Harrison, incidentally, played the uke.) I could never bore hearing him play either of them, even if he played them in the same concert. They wouldn't possibly be identical.

One of the most touching musical stories of the evening was about Jake's encounters with Cindy Lauper on the Big Island of Hawai'i. He said a few years before he'd been in Japan at the same time Lauper was, coincidentally, in Japan on tour. He'd joke to his friends that he was in the country "with Cindy." When Lauper came to Hawai'i for a series of concerts, her manager somehow learned of Jake and contacted his booking agent. She invited him to open for her concert and then play a song with her on stage. Of course, he was dumbfounded. How can you say no to Cindy Lauper? So when it came time for him to come on stage, Cindy took up a dulcimer and they played a duet of "Time After Time." The story concluded with a solo ukelele rendition of the same song. I could refer to it as "brilliant" or "mellow" or "stirring," but that's like trying to describe to you how a scrumptuous, gourmet meal tastes. All words pale in comparison to the fine meal.

Jake steps into a realm beyond mere entertainment. Hypnotizing? Mesmerizing? Spellbinding? The raucous cheers from the audience indicated to me that we weren't just consumers of entertainment, but participants in a musical adventure that took us around the world and through time. Stories of Singapore and touring with Jimmy Buffett followed with childhood stories of Hawai'i and appreciation for musical greats like Jimmy Page (with a great "Going to California" from the Zeppelin repertoire). Our capable guide was rewarded with resounding applause and ovations, and quiet, contemplative appreciation of each lingering note.

Opening for Jake tonight was Marcus Eaton, a facile guitar genius from Idaho who's previously taken the stage with Jake. I somehow locked onto my description of him as "Keller William's foster brother." A loop and effects artist, Eaton's lyrics are thoughtful and paired with varied melodies and impressive combinations of synthesized instruments. He had the audience's full attention and elicited a rousing response, sometime difficult for an opener, especially for a virtuoso like Shimabukuro.

You can find Jake online at his website:
and you'll find Jake, his brother Bruce, and Marcus Eaton online at MySpace, with samples of their songs.

Go see live music!
Wed, February 6, 2008 - 11:37 PM — permalink - 3 comments - add a comment

So Long and Farewell, Dear City By the Bay

It has come time to bid adieu to the fair Bay Area, after nine years of lovely experiences. And frustrating ones. Up, down, stress, relax, this has been quite an enriching roller coaster ride. I'm sad in many ways, most importantly for the shift in friendships for the many I won't see regularly. And excitement for the life I'm moving into, the newness, the unknown, the freshness, clearing the head, clearing the heart, clearing the way for the universe to express herself fully through me.

I've been saying that I'm moving to Portland, yet what's most alive for me now is being in Portland as "home base" for launching off to explore communities around the Northwest, from Portland area to the Cascades to Seattle and surroundings to British Columbia. There's a growing communitarian, eco-focused, sustainable living vibe going on there, that gets overshadowed in the Bay Area by the expense, the busy-ness, the overwhelming energy of way too much to do and see and smell and experience at any hour of the day. I'm wanting to **. And really experience my life, rather than watching it go by like lightning.

Part of what takes me north is the urge to start my own business - or join others doing similar efforts - around supporting communities to grow and thrive, and achieve their goals of sustainability. I'm planning not only to consult with communities, cities, and counties, but also assemble a team to manage projects for those communities. I recently described the business to a friend in Portland as follows: "The goal of the business is to provide sustainable community development planning, services, and project management, for intentional communities seeking guidance, consulting, and project development in the areas of green building, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, permaculture design and application of principles, finance and investment planning, property acquisition, legal services, and more. Inherent in these efforts is actively interconnecting communities so that sharing of knowledge, resources, and skills brings them to interdependence on each other." It feels great to move into my passion and get my creative juices flowing again after prolonged burn out. Hallelujah. I'm on fire!!

My last day in the area in Sunday June 3, coming up *very* quickly. I'm needing help this coming weekend (26th/27th) packing, sorting, boxing, and getting some things into storage, although I'm either selling or giving away a lot (esp. furniture) since I don't need it, don't need the storage expense, and all that stuff exists up there so hauling it north isn't worth the price.

I'm a bit bummed at how busy I am with the apartment and wrapping up my job, as I won't have time to visit with everyone before I leave. But I'll be back. This is a home to me, I have an affinity for this place and the people here. I'm hoping I can develop a client base down here as well, as the communitarian vibe is definitely present here, too, and we all need support to achieve a new way of life, a new society in fact, that focuses on collaboration, interdependence, and support, and much much less on consumerism, individuation, separation, and the stress of the job culture we've created in our present-day society. Reinventing the world is what I'm gearing up to do, basically, and while I won't see everything to fruition in this body in this lifetime, I hope I can make enough of a difference that someone, somewhere, carries it forward and the change continues.

There's so much more to write about... all the summer events and connections that await me... High Sierra Music Festival, Oregon Country Fair, Queeruption, dancing the Naraya, the men's gathering should that actually come together, visiting ecovillages, learning learning reading reading exposing myself to new people and organizations and ideas and insights. WOW!!!

Let's stay in touch and connect along the journey. With most benevolent blessings.
Thu, May 24, 2007 - 11:38 PM — permalink - 16 comments - add a comment

Hippies, the Dead, unraveling the fabric of youth culture, circa 1967

This quite funny clip comes to you courtesy of the prolific online warehouse of randomness; a CBS interview 1967 by Harry Reisner declaring the Grateful Dead and the hippies were degenerating youth culture with endless "grotesqueries" and philosophy based on hallucinations.

Sure looked like fun to me... and can never get enough young Bobby :)
Sun, January 28, 2007 - 8:45 PM — permalink - 8 comments - add a comment

Marijuana top US cash crop, analyst says

Marijuana top US cash crop, analyst says

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. growers produce nearly $35 billion worth of marijuana annually, making the illegal drug the country's largest cash crop, bigger than corn and wheat combined, an advocate of medical marijuana use said in a study released on Monday.
"...five U.S. states produce more than $1 billion worth of marijuana apiece: California, Tennessee, Kentucky, Hawaii and Washington. California's production alone was about $13.8 billion..." [Proud to be both a Kentuckian and Californian...]
Sat, December 23, 2006 - 12:04 AM — permalink - 3 comments - add a comment

Yemaya Ate My Cellphone

No, really, she did! She was hungry! So after a long day of being in my head at some meeting, I was *really* needing to be out in the sun, with my toes in warm sand, and to put my feet in the cold ocean at Baker Beach. Goodness, it’s been *forever* since I’ve gone there, not living in the city and not having a luxurious life where beach play is part of the regular course of things. So, being literally a few hundred feet from the ocean after this meeting, I toodle down on the beach in my work duds – a fine, button-up Italian shirt and pleated slacks – kick off the shiny Rockports and roll up the pants, and away we go! Damn, the phone’s ringing. I really don’t wanna talk to anyone. I’m here at the beach to nurture myself, rejuvenate, connect with spirit. I’m leaving the phone alone.

But some part of me wants to walk on the beach hand in hand with a boy. So I answer. It’s Jason, calling from… Greenland? Oh, yes, he really *is* a rocket scientist, doing research of some sort (maybe it’s climate change, or maybe he’s figuring out how to map the interior of Greenland using a handheld GPS unit, or both). Calling me over the Internet from Greenland. So how can I not? I’m strolling along the beach talking with him about life, the universe, jobs, dissatisfaction with jobs, creating community and rightful work. I’m describing the quality of sunlight hitting the water, and the flocks of pelicans flying overhead. The way the fog licks the top of the Golden Gate bridge towering nearby. The sound of the foghorns of ships coming in from sea. He’s right there on the beach with me, totally getting it. Couldn’t ask for more.

I’m getting too far out in the water, so the rip currents going back out to sea from the shore are tugging hard at my legs. I comment that I’m nearing the north end of Baker Beach, the “nude beach,” sometimes the “gay beach” – today a combination of both. I giggle and splash in the waves and make some comment about coming up on the gay stretch of beach – “Ooh I’m so *excited*!!” Jason? Jason, are you there? I put my hand on my shirt pocket where my phone once was. Oh no. I turn around and look down, several feet away from me, where my phone tumbles amongst pebbles through the clear water, its velocity increasing as the receding waves tug it gently to sea. SHIT!!! I jump through the water and reach down for it, my hand unable to grasp it in time. And just as my hand plunges into the water next to the phone, a giant wave topples over it, drenching me in my fine Italian threads, murking the water, dragging the phone into oblivion! So very close was I to grabbing it, not that it would have survived that submersion. I fumble in the water, getting even more drenched, waiting to see if the settling waters will reveal some sign of my phone. None. I step back from the crashing waves. Shit. And all I can come up with is, Yemaya must’ve been hungry. She wanted some offering. Why are you talking on some plastic thing when mama’s right here to carry away your woes? Are you present, are you paying attention? *smack* She is powerful and vast, compassionate and ruthless.

Undaunted by my loss, I stroll down to where a throng of men are standing and sitting around, watching me as the newcomer. I sit on a rock, continuing to get splashed by water, but at this point, what’s a little more? I’m taking in the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands, which are slowly being enveloped in a thick blanket of fog racing in to cover up parts of the bay. I’m gazing into the golden light bathing the waves. I’m trying to figure out if the naked man with an erection is coming up on the rock to accost me. I’m watching the pelicans. I’m observing the Hispanic fishermen, casting out but catching nothing. I’m aware of the stares. I hop off the rock into the cold, wet sand and trod back to the spot where my beloved digital apparatus was eaten by Mercury the mercurial trickster. And someone emerges to remind me that He’s in retrograde!

It’s my friend Wow, who spotted me coming and came to the water’s edge to greet me. How lovely! I tell him the story of my offering to Yemaya, which led to more jokes and raucous laughter about the sea and gobbling up and sacrifice and sex and Greenland and goodness knows what else. What we really want to know is what happened for Jason on the other end of that call! Did he hear my voice fade into the distance? A splash? My voice modulated through a gurgling sound? The sound of a jellyfish? (What sound would a jellyfish make, I wonder?) A very sweet exchange with Wow, watching the sun slowly set, removing my wet clothes to air them out while being wrapped in warm blankets and kisses. A *real* man on the beach! To comfort me and care for me! Once again, couldn’t ask for more!

I pull a blue bedsheet over me and feel as though I’m living art, performing art, moving art… I run blindfolded toward the sun, whose rays are refracted through the threads of the sheet into rainbows that glisten on my naked skin. I give offering to the sun. I give offering to the ocean. I run around in circles, laughing at the utter absurdity of what I am doing, of losing my cellphone this way, of being alive. I laugh and laugh until I fall down breathless in the sand. It warms my skin and I am happy. Cuddle and kiss and we are on our way.

At the car, Wow gives me warm clothes to wear. He says an Asian soup would be lovely. I couldn’t agree more! We simultaneously say Clement Street, and what comes to me is the cross street at 5th. He couldn’t agree more, saying that five is a special number for him. Let’s just meet there – you can’t call me to coordinate, I don’t have a phone!! (more laughter) So there you are. And off we are. Parking is always difficult in that neighborhood, but the exact moment I put my intention out for parking *now*, a space showed itself. We meet on the corner. And right above us is a sign for a Thai noodle house. Oh my. It’s warm inside, just the right respite from the onsetting fog and wind. I pick out #12, which is about the only soup that doesn’t have “beef balls” or “cooked pork blood.” Yech! Wow reads the description of #12, and laughs hysterically. What, I ask? I look, and realize that every ingredient is… seafood!! The sea eats my phone, and I eat the sea! (more hysterical laughter) This couldn’t be more perfect. Delightful, deep, and insightful conversation. I’m enjoying Wow’s company immensely.

So who cares about cellphones? If an offering to the Goddess of the Sea yields blessings returned in abundance as they were, I think it was an offering well placed, even if it was, on some level, an accident. Yemaya ate my cellphone. I hope she’s as satisfied as I am right now.
Thu, July 20, 2006 - 11:46 PM — permalink - 4 comments - add a comment
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