By: Nicole Bauman
Note: This is the first in what will be a series of articles from members of the Red Oak Community House. Red Oak is part of the Prairie Wolf Collective Housing Co-op and is an urban permaculture and community space in Elkhart, Indiana. Red Oak welcomes visitors to their monthly potluck and currently has a couple of rooms open for folks interested in living and actively participating in the community.
On a Wednesday afternoon in mid-winter, the sun is already going down long before friends and neighbors start to arrive for our monthly community meal potluck. As we bustle around the house, tidying, adding extra logs to the fire, stirring a giant pot of soup simmering on the wood stove, and welcoming in the early-comers, we also begin to light a few candles. Days are short in this season of winter solstice. The long, dark evenings -- and their need for candles -- start early!
More folks bundle in from out of the cold, balancing babies and crock pots and conversations as the fire draws them in close. Night has truly fallen now, and the spacious downstairs of Red Oak Community House is full of friends new and old, bathed in the soothing glow of our latest batch of beeswax candles. We gather to introduce ourselves and the steaming dishes laid before us, entering into an evening of shared food and shared community.
When we first began the visioning process around what our commitments and experiments would be at Red Oak Community House, using only candles for light was primarily an ecological decision. Doing so grew out of our desire to reduce our use of and dependency on non-renewable energy.
By: Dominique Chew
Lift ev’ry voice and sing,
till earth and heaven ring,
ring with the harmonies of liberty.
Let our rejoicing rise
high as the list’ning skies,
let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
We’re too intimate with brutality,” said Gina Athena Ulysse, author, feminist anthropology professor, ethnographer, member of the Haitian diaspora and performance artist, at a recent lecture I attended during the Brooklyn Book Festival.
As she said these words, slow with firm intent, “We’re too intimate with brutality,” I thought of the time I was driving this summer, days after Sandra Bland’s death, and I noticed a cop car behind me and remembered that I didn’t have to be doing anything but looking like myself to get pulled over. I rehearsed what I would say to them to save my own life if they flashed their lights.
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