What Are Friends For?

One thing I never liked about teaching was being the center of attention. I was told I’d get used to it, but in 20+ years, that never happened.

It’s not that I’m a shy wall-flower, far from it. It’s also not that I didn’t appreciate that stage-ease in other teachers when I was a student. In fact, I rather liked it.

Still, I always felt like, if I could design my own classes they would never be lectures, never large groups. Even though some of my large lecture experiences as a student were very positive.

But, that’s because getting lost in the crowd is so easy.

Far more challenging is small group, low structure. It’s a very unique dynamic and my personal preference. It’s not necessarily conducive to many teaching tasks, but it does work very well for other things. Especially if your goals are real community ties over speculative market drivers.

After all, when you consider what motivates most teachers, money rarely tops the list. Small group, low structure is the least beneficial monetarily speaking, for obvious reasons. That’s probably why it’s so rare.

Seven ladies in my tiny kitchen, oh my. BTW, that’s Kombucha we’re imbibing, not beer!

Many hands make light work. I think that means not just a lighter work load. It’s also ‘light work’ as in, bringing the joy of community into our work and into our homes. Incorporating the unique contribution of each individual toward a common goal. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s pretty much the opposite of what incorporation has come to mean in modern parlance—which is more like automatons performing tasks to perfection at the command of a central authority.

“Um, excuse me, but your Shankleesh balls are not uniform!”

We are witnessing in our ‘Institutional Affairs’ that not only are we being conditioned to not discuss religion or politics, but it is becoming a requirement for receiving public funding.

While personally I’m ambivalent to these policies, because on the one hand I appreciate a separation between Church and State. Still, on the other hand I perceive what’s actually happening is an enmeshment of Globalist agendas with local affairs. An infiltration which began long ago that lately has been picking up pace.

Perhaps it is unfair that Christian-affiliated groups are getting squeezed out of public affairs. I can certainly empathize with their predicament and growing resentment. And yet, far more important to me is that I have encountered first-hand and through others’ stories that part of the means to this end is being achieved by categorically excluding crucial topics from public dialogue.

The de-platform and shadow banning and cancel culture that’s being most hyped online often excludes what’s been happening locally in folks’ churches, State-run organizations like the Master Gardeners, and State and church-affiliated out-reach programs and charities, not to mention in the schools.

This in particular makes small gatherings an essential part of a healthy public and community life. Feeling threatened by group-think and ostracized for a differing opinion occurs far less often.

Particularly, when we are gathered around wholesome work, like learning skills together, getting necessary things done, or just sitting on the porch—shooting the shit, so to speak—group identity is replaced by an individual-level camaraderie, where the label is not the first thing on everyone’s radar and money takes the back seat to true care. Christian, Buddhist, Atheist, Republican, Anarchist, whatever—these are the social constructs as much as gender identity or which church or which school or which job one has, if any at all.

Differences can be appreciated in a friendly and comforting surrounding rather than creating strict and professional-level hierarchies. Sure, it’s still great to have like-minds around, but they don’t have to be like-minds set in stone or the whole edifice risks collapsing.

When the goal is a better life, actually living it, politics is naturally relegated to the background, not because it’s a forbidden or contentious topic, but because in the manner of human relations it belongs in the background.

Or, even better, six feet underground!

Lunch al fresco with lots of ferments to sample, yum!

And for these reasons, I feel charmed and grateful for the, so far, two ‘Fermenting Workshops’ I’ve hosted here on the wee homestead, with a lotta help from my friends.

Thanks and well done, Ladies! What lovely and wonderfully productive days—I look forward to many more!

All in a day’s work—West African Sweet Potato Ferment, Lemon-Dill Kraut and Shankleesh to take home for you and your family’s enjoyment !

A very special thanks to Nicole Faith, our supreme community organizer and A+ homesteading student, who also provided these photos, along with her exuberant enthusiasm and gracious courage. 😘

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