The community at Maya Creek consists of a few friends and the work exchangers and visitors that come to learn about sustainable living skills during the visitor season.
If you are looking for a place to live and put down roots, this is not that place. We are more than happy to share information with you, but we are NOT ACCEPTING NEW RESIDENTS. Our goal right now is to establish an educational center, a larger community may form around that one day, but that is at least several years away.
Posted by Tao on April 23, 2013
It was four years ago on April 15th that I landed at Maya Creek. I was asked recently about my personal state of being now after this much time pouring my everything into my work here. So this post will be a little different from my normal updates on projects, observations, and whatnot. I’ll post about more external affairs soon, but this is a personal audit of sorts.
I’ll start with the easiest aspect to describe, that of my physical condition. I lost 15-20 pounds that first summer on the land, but gained back about 10 over the winter. Since then the pattern has somewhat equalized so I gain 10-15 over winter and lose 10-15 over summer. I spend about 2-3 weeks every spring being pretty sore as my body gets back into shape.
I haven’t noticed any permanent wear and tear on my body apart from the injury I got in October of 2011 when I cut my wrist badly. My flexibility and strength has returned in the hand, but the nerve sensation is only slowly returning as is expected with that kind of injury. I’ll probably never recover the sensation fully, but it should continue to return indefinitely. It doesn’t hamper me for the vast majority of tasks.
All in all though, I eat better than I did, feel better, and at any given time I’m in some of the best shape of my life. As a side note, I’ve noticed that I have a much broader comfort range than I had before when it comes to things like temperature, pain, cleanliness, bug bites, etc.
The first couple of years on the land I only had a couple people helping me, if any at all. I was so eager to see my dreams come to fruition that I worked hard day in and day out. I started to wear down and so took in some friends and more volunteers to help out, but instead of keeping my goals small I expanded them and ultimately made more work for myself and felt less able to regulate my work schedule around my own personal energy levels. On top of the larger project scope there was significant amounts of energy going into managing volunteers and even just maintaining relationships of all kinds to the point that I began to seriously burn out.
This year I’m scaling my volunteer help back to what it was the first couple of years and am taking my time; working on things when I feel like it, and taking time to relax and recharge when I need it. As the zen story goes, “When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep.” I already feel like I have significantly more control over my life and I’m finding a pace that I can keep for the long haul.
It’s been VERY easy to bite of more than I can chew and then spend large amounts of time stressing about getting everything I’ve started to a satisfactory conclusion. It’s also been VERY easy to get overwhelmed when I start to break down the bigger picture into all of the steps. My vision for the future has changed so drastically that having more than a rough outline for the future is almost waste of time in it’s own right. Setting realistic goals in a general direction and focusing on taking things a step at a time is certainly the path to maintain sanity. It may sound obvious, but it’s been easier said than done thus far though I’m certainly taking it to heart now.
I’ve become better at recognizing when an emotion has arisen in me and examining it for what it is rather than letting it control my thoughts and actions. I still have a long way to go in this regard, and regularly say things or behave in ways that don’t reflect the person I want to be and who I know is still buried within me. Yet, that person comes closer to the surface as time goes on and any progress in that direction is welcome.
The word “spirituality” brings to mind new age ideas, which don’t appeal to me. Still, the more intimately I entwine my life with the natural world the closer I feel to something sacred. I often feel like a child while closely examining insects, reptiles, birds, mushrooms, plants, or watching the interactions between any number of participants in this natural web of life. It’s awe-inspiring and a large reason for slowing my construction pace down is so that I can spend more time connecting with it. It makes me feel more alive.
Altogether, I’m happy and optimistic. The enjoyment and satisfaction I get from completing even small tasks and projects keep me motivated and excited to continue my journey. There are certainly pitfalls to this lifestyle, and I’ve skirted dangerously close to their edges at times. I now have the sense that I’ve found stable footing and though there’s still some rough patches ahead I feel well-equipped to handle them while still appreciating the view.
Posted by Tao on February 23, 2013
Despite getting 9″ of snow yesterday we’re already plowed out here at Maya Creek. Dan and Brian graciously liberated us today when they came over and cleared off our driveway.
I have a fascination with being snowed in out here in the woods with plenty of food, water, and warmth. I like the idea of putting this self-sufficient setup to the test. Not to mention just being snug and nestled away in my den peacefully waiting for Spring. Without the ability to leave, my world suddenly becomes much smaller and in some ways that simplification is comforting, assuming I don’t really want to leave in the first place.
However, the world seems to reach out and pull me back even faster than if I lived in the city. Instead of days or even weeks spent alone in the woods, neighbors I haven’t seen in months stop by to make sure I’m keeping warm and offer to plow the driveway. I gratefully accept their offer and I’m reminded of how important it is to be a part of a community at large.
The toughest part of living in a community is balancing the needs of independence with the need to feel connected to each other and share in something larger than ourselves. The balance that’s right for one person is often not the same for another, and so the boundaries become compromises. The larger the difference in preferred balances, the harder the compromises are to make. The compromises can certainly be made more likely to succeed with increased mindfulness, openness, and skill.
Anyone can attest to these challenges that has ever moved in with a friend only to find that even though you love them, that living so closely with them is not the best way for your friendship to work. So it’s with a heavy heart that I tell you that I’ve disbanded our burgeoning community of permanent residents here at Maya Creek. Jesse will be moving out within a few weeks, and John will follow suit later this year. We are not parting on bad terms, and our friendships I hope will be better for it in the long run.
As for the future of Maya Creek, I intend to continue pursuing a healthy, self-sufficient, and sustainably-minded lifestyle here, but rather than building a permanent community on the immediate property I would like to see it become a temporary retreat for those needing to take a break from mainstream society’s onslaught of consumer-driven wage slavery and gain some perspective by connecting more directly with their real needs and the natural world. I would very much like to see this place become a venue for workshops, skillshares, potlucks, meditation and organizational retreats, and other events that are in-line with the goals of improving ourselves, connecting with each other, and integrating with the natural world.
The main difference now is that I’ve recognized my need to have a certain level of control over my home, as I’m sure both Jesse and John can relate to. Visitors are still invited to come stay and participate in life and projects here at Maya Creek, but any visit will have a beginning and an end.
I still want to be a part of a community, but I’ve recognized that I need a level of separation between myself and the community that’s physically impossible here right now. I believe my ideal community is relatively autonomous with people sharing meals a couple times a week, coordinating on issues that affect everyone involved, lifting each other up in times of need, and sharing certain tools and resources that make sense for large groups of people but not individuals.
In some ways the local community that already exists here in the surrounding area could meet many of those needs for me and I hope to connect more deeply with it in the future. The influx of visitors and helpers drawn to Maya Creek will certainly have its own transient communal culture and will help connect me as well as the local community to the larger global community. I also hope that Maya Creek can act as a beacon for people seeking a similar situation and perhaps draws in some new like-minded neighbors as well.
So that’s the latest update. There’s been some hard lessons and big changes here, but I’m optimistic about the future and in many ways relieved at how events have unfolded.
Posted by Tao on December 20, 2012
Posted by Tao on November 16, 2012
It’s been said that the reason for the “success” of the human species is our ability to adapt to almost any environment. We make clothes and housing to mitigate temperature changes, cook inedible foods to make them edible, etc… However, in modern American culture and much of the industrialized world our environment is becoming increasingly homogenized. You can walk into any Taco Bell, Wal-Mart, gas station, you name it and know exactly what to expect. The seasons only moderately affect our daily routines as we go from an air-conditioned/heated home, to an air-conditioned/heated car, to an air-conditioned/heated office, etc. Henry Ford’s assembly line ideology has been applied to our lives, it accelerates our interactions and reduces stress caused by negotiating unexpected situations.
Here at Maya Creek our environment is constantly in flux. The weather and seasons have a much more direct impact on our lives and routines. Newcomers have to be shown such basic things as how to use the bathroom, how the sink works, how to take a shower, how to use a rocket stove, etc. In the future things like the sink and the shower may come to look and behave more as their common counterparts, but for the meantime the standardized environment doesn’t exist. In fact, the environment that exists right now didn’t exist a few weeks ago, and has been constantly changing and evolving over the last 4 years. We’re passing through customs on a regular basis.
Starting out here with nothing but wilderness and a tent forced me to start addressing immediate needs. There was no outhouse there was just a shovel and roll of toilet paper, then there was just a bucket with some sawdust, and now the outhouse. Every time we upgrade a system we have to learn new ways of interacting with it, and through that we develop new techniques. Some of those techniques get left behind, but some of them carry forward into the next incarnation and affect our future plans. In essence, we’re reacting to our environment and our needs, and the systems we’re developing are evolving from that. Sure, we have some long-term goals in mind, but huge portions of my initial plans have changed and continue to change.
Living in an ever-changing environment has its challenges. Every new visitor has to be trained on all the different aspects of life here, and even the people who live here full-time have to be trained once modifications have been done or someone figures out a better way to do something. Things often get broken, misplaced, and none of our systems are where we’d like them to ultimately be.
That said, I believe the pluses drastically outweigh the negatives. Because we’re constantly looking at our customs and how we do things with a critical eye we’re developing great problem-solving skills that extend to all aspects of our lives. There’s a sense of self-confidence that develops when you figure out a better way to sift clay or empty dish water, and that too spreads to other facets of our lives. When unexpected challenges arise, which they inevitably do even in the highly controlled mainstream world, we’re better equipped to address those challenges.
At some point I expect our evolving culture here to slow down, and while I won’t miss cold bucket baths for example, I know that the experience has made me a more adaptable and resilient person. Passing through customs at Maya Creek may not require a passport, but you will certainly have an eye-opening foreign experience that may leave you a better person for it. I know that’s been my experience thus far.
Posted by Jesse on May 31, 2012
What a wonderful Memorial weekend it was. While the typical American was camping, boating, floating, and/or backyard BBQing, We decided to sneak into the mainstream for a day of icy cold drinks, running water, air conditioning and television. A friend of ours was out of town for the weekend, so we “camped” at his place for Memorial Day.
The weatherman said it would rain that day, but the clouds parted especially for our retreat. The sun shined so bright that I’m still feeling it! The day began early in the morning setting up the outdoor kitchen, Frisbee golf baskets, and determining the Ultimate Frisbee zones and hazards. There were random games of Frisbee Golf and Ultimate separated by good food and meditation. Some went inside the to absorb the air conditioning and Lord Of the Rings, some sat to relax by the lake.
Memorial Day 2012 Tony and the bounty.
Janice, Tony, and I went fishing. It started a little slow at first, until Tony brought out some magical plastic worms that the fish seemed to crave. We only kept a fraction of the fish we caught, but it was just enough for dinner. Janice caught the biggest bass of the day and Bobbie cooked them all to perfection. The mood was playful and relaxed. Our bellies were full. Some of us were even napping. What a great day.
Zones and Hazards...not the best place for Ultimate
Paul suggested we have another Ultimate Frisbee game. The competitive spirit began flowing again…I could feel it. The sun was down, everyone cooled off and rested. This was going to be an epic game, I imagined. The game was indeed epic, a shutout even. The rematch was turning out to be more of the same merciless torture. Suddenly I smashed my thigh into a tree stump hazard. I wanted to ugly cry, it hurt so bad. I was out for the game and the rest of the week as it turned out. Our team was now outnumbered, and minutes later we had another injury. Tao twisted his knee keeping him out for the game as well. We were riddled with bad karma. It wasn’t looking good for Paul either. He was our last man standing facing a determined team of three. Luckily, Janice mercifully volunteered to change teams. She certainly picked up the slack from Tao and I. It was another epic win!