By 1980, when I was born, the Calwood-Fairview farm community had dwindled down to my parents who had moved into the common house and added on a bedroom area, and another friend who lived in a cabin down the road. I was delivered at home by my father under the watchful eye of a couple of midwives. My sister, Maya, was born 2 years later. My first memories are from the land here, however before the nuclear plant went online in 1984 we packed up and moved to San Diego, California.
We lived there for a couple years, but continued to move every few years. We lived in several places in northern California, and even spent a year living in Australia before moving to Mississippi where my mother’s family lived. I lived there until I graduated from high school.
My father, Luke, started learning how to use computers while he was on the commune in order to print out mailing lists for activist causes, such as fighting the construction of the nuclear plant.
When we left the land he pursued a career in computers and before long I was using them as well. I wasn’t as interested in the hardware and repair aspects of them, but I learned how to do it and worked for my father’s computer business as well as for several other companies doing just that. My main interest was in their use, specifically web design and the Internet. I’m still awed at the potential power of the Internet to organize and spread ideas, tools, and other information and all it takes is a good idea and some web development skills.
I worked my way through college on computer and web jobs and graduated in ’05 from UT-Austin with a degree in TV & Film production. I never really planned to use the film skills for more than my own personal uses, but my interests were so broad that I figured documentary making would allow me to learn about whatever I was interested in.
I continue to spend nearly 20 hours per week on web design and programming for various clients to fund the construction and day-to-day life at Maya Creek. Despite being able to make an excellent hourly wage doing it, I don’t love it.
I hope to gradually reduce those hours as construction costs decrease and I find ways to produce local goods and services that I can sell or trade. I’d much rather be growing shiitake mushrooms, starting transplants from seed, making rustic wooden furniture, teaching workshops, hosting visitors, giving tours, etc.
Finding My Way
After college I signed up for the Peace Corps., and while I was waiting to be deployed in 2005 hurricane Katrina struck. I was in Texas at the time, but after hearing from my family and friends about how tense the situation was I loaded up my car with tanks of gas(it was very difficult to find then) and drove over to help out. I helped my dad set up and run an internet cafe for evacuees at the coliseum shelter in Jackson, MS, but there was a tangible fear that things would descend into chaos at any moment.
The realization of how fragile our infrastructure is, how a strong storm could so easily destroy our centralized distribution systems, has left an indelible impression on me. I now feel very strongly that local communities need to produce as much of their own necessities as possible while relying as little as possible on external inputs.
I spent nearly 2 years in El Salvador afterwards doing humanitarian work, which mostly consisted of teaching children how to use computers and making them aware of their environment, taking them on field trips, showing them how interconnected the web of life is, and introducing them to concepts like global warming. I was only associated with Peace Corps. for the first few months of training and went my separate ways with them. I still remain deeply disillusioned with them as an organization.
Push & Pull
I went through phases in both high school and college where I seriously considered moving back to the land in Missouri and learning how to live with nature and provide for myself. Thoreau’s Walden impacted me, and this quote still resonates with me deeply:
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
During my time in El Salvador I became enamored with the idea of living on a sailboat and traveling the world, sailing with Summer. I still wanted to move back to the land eventually, but I wanted to see the world first. Since I had no roots when I moved back from El Salvador I decided to find the best place I could to learn how to sail. That’s how I ended up in Baltimore.
However, when I got back to the United States I could feel the economy teetering. That feeling was the tipping point for me. It combined with the pushes Katrina, Peak Oil, and the scary page of environmental degradation I was aware of, and I began to feel that the smarter decision was to once again to move back to the land first.
I still entertain my dream of sailing one day, but developing a stable home to come back to has taken precedent. When the economy did crash in 2008 it only solidified my decision.
Making The Leap
I began reading everything I could find on natural building, solar/wind power, permaculture, gardening, humanure, greywater recycling, rainwater harvesting, etc. My initial plans had been to visit a lot of intentional communities and get some hands-on experience before making my way out to the land. However, my significant other at the time convinced me that we should just go for it and learn as we went.
If I had it do over I would have stuck to my original plan, but throwing myself into the fire has had it’s benefits. I have certainly reinvented the wheel at times and faced more failures than I would’ve liked, but I feel like I’ve become more innovative. I believe it’s made me stronger more creative and adaptable than I would have been given the alternative.
When I arrived in April 2009 I had only the belongings I could shove in my Honda Civic and on a small trailer I towed behind it. I set up a tent and got to work. The energy and excitement of finally realizing a long-held dream propelled me at a break-neck speed.
Hitting A Wall
My energy and excitement seemed like it had no bottom, but I finally hit a wall at the end of 2012. Financial and interpersonal stress along with just going so hard for so long finally caught up with me.
During 2013 I only took on 1 long term volunteer and drastically scaled back on my projects and goals. I now feel rejuvenated and ready to ramp up activities again, but I now think that I may take it slow every third year, do a little more traveling, and generally relax.
Although it’s not something that I would normally air so publicaly, I feel that a lot of people are drawn to Maya Creek because they assume I have similar beliefs or are deterred because they assume I have drastically different beliefs from their own. All visitors are welcome, no matter their beliefs, but here are my own.
I am an agnostic atheist (I don’t think we can know there is a god or gods, but I do not believe any exist). I do not presume to know that things such as energies, chakras, metaphysics, ghosts, etc don’t exist, but I don’t give them much credence. I believe any measurable effects from things like homeopathy, acupuncture, energy healing, crystals, etc are due mostly to the placebo effect. I consider myself to be a very grounded pragmatic person and tend to work within the realm I can directly experience.
Again, I have nothing against people with different views, but you should be aware that I will likely not have much to say on those topics.