July 22, 2016
“Ashevillage’s mission is to catalyze community-based, on-the-ground programs, projects and people that foster a vibrant, just, and resilient world. Our goal is to accelerate the design and implementation of regenerative, nature-based systems and culture. Our vision is of humanity living by the wisdom of nature in a way that honors and supports life in peaceful and thriving cohabitation.”
On a hot summer day in the rolling hills of the southern Appalachians… I was preparing to cycle my way through an urban jungle in order to reach an oasis. These hills are my teachers. Being able to propel myself through space and ride the waves of the land, to me, is very fulfilling.
I reached my destination after a exceptionally steep hill, and I even had to walk the last stretch with my jello legs. The only directions that I had were my cell phone’s gps result for a ecohostel. I definitely noticed two modern framed houses that were Earthen plastered. The landscape that surrounded the front of these two houses definitely occupied a more diverse Flora. I decided to give it a shot and walk up the driveway on the side to the backyard.
The first thing that I noticed was the stone work that made up the steps and flooring for the first steps to the patio in back. The material used for this stone work appeared to be repurposed bricks and rocks, arranged in a very elegant fashion. If you had no clue what Ashvillage was you would come to a very surprising scene in this backyard. Everything was shaped to the land. All of the raised beds, structures, groves, and earthworks were all arranged on Contour.
I intentionally arrived 30 minutes early, so that I could get a feel for this space. I begin to give myself a self-guided tour to interact more closely with this environment. I was able to identify many things, such as a small greenhouse, a handful of natural to dwellings with green roofs, an outdoor kitchen, tent spaces, hugelkulture, a pond, gathering spaces for ceremonies, and a vast array of life fitting into the niches of this urban permaculture sprawl.
I found myself meeting two of the inhabitants after I satisfied my curiosity for this design. These beautiful humans were very friendly. One was a bit older than the other; the younger one was around my age. One of them informed me that the founder of this place was in a meeting that would be extended for a bit more, and they would be able to meet with me shortly.
The whole reason for me coming to this oasis was so that I could not only physically experience what this space is like for myself, but i also was coming to interview the founder.
I have never interviewed anyone before. This was something that was quite new to my experience, but I have come to learn that this is going to play a critical role in my ambassadorship. I need to be able to ask the right questions. I need to be able to hold space for efficient information exchange, but it is also essential to hold space for connections to be made and for love to be shared.
The founder, Janell Kapoor had come to greet me a few moments later. I received a warm and embracing hug. Her energy was very kind. She informed me that it would only be a bit longer until she is ready to meet – she also suggested that I interview one of the inhabitants here. I thought that was a fantastic idea. She went about her business and I Focused my attention on this lovely young intern.
This intern was on the ball. She was running back and forth in the kitchen getting s*** done. I asked her if she felt comfortable signing my media release form and doing an audio interview with me. It took her off-guard at first which is highly reasonable. I definitely wouldn’t expect someone like me with the way I present myself to be holding interviews with people. The intern was squeezing honeycomb to extract the honey in a bowl. It looked like she was going to be there for a while so we both decided to carry out the interview during the honey extraction.
I began recording and started with giving her a introduction. Everything went very smoothly and I was able to ask some good questions that I had thought about beforehand. I believe we finish the interview in about 16 minutes. I felt very satisfied with my first official interview. I did recognize a few things to improve upon. If I keep this up, in no time I will have a smooth sophisticated interviewing process down. I’m excited to witness the growth of my skills and abilities in holding this space for people.
The founder was done with her meeting shortly after we finished. We regrouped and headed to a comfortable and quiet environment. We chatted for a bit before the interview. She really wanted a more elaborate description about Green Fire EcoMinistry and who I was. I gladly informed her and then we begin a lovely discussion about who she was and all that she has created and will create.
There were a few interruptions throughout our conversations. One of them was her friend that she had invited to visit. We all exchanged love and conversed. All these interruptions would have frustrated the structured and planned mind, but this was not the case for me. I always try and go into a situation expecting nothing but accepting everything.
These are words that I have learned to live by, they have served me well. I was giving effort to staying present and becoming very fluid in the moment. The founder wanted to take her friends and me on a personal tour of the property. We hiked about the fairly steep incline that makes up her land and observed many realities taking place. We drew our tour to a close and returned back to the house to sit down and enjoy each other’s company. We all mutually agreed that we could carry on and finish the interview that we had started before her arrival. I carried on the last questions before my audience and ended feeling very fulfilled with how everything played out.
We genuinely interacted with each other for quite some time, when the founder proposed a light walk in the woods close by. We all loved the idea and quickly prepared for our little journey. One of the two friends had two children with her. They seemed around 7 and 6. Striving for attention they were busy being kids.
We got into the woods and followed the path for half a mile, then turned around and came back. It was a delightful temperate rainforest existing right by the urban jungle. On our way back I saw a moment to grab the kid’s attention. I quickly started to interact with the two, and I was giving effort in treating them as my equals. The whole adult mindset, “I’m older than you, I know better than you” is a filter over your natural perspective. This filter serves no one. Removing this filter from your perception will help children develop in a much more holistic way.
We played many games and ended with a big race to Ashvillage, and we pretended we had fuel to power us… and when we ran out, we would have to touch a tree to recharge. The bigger the tree the faster the charge. A child’s laughter is food for the soul.
We returned and I quickly gathered my things to embark on my cycle route. It was getting dark and I wanted to be back before sun down. I said my heartfelt goodbyes and flew down the hill to ride the land’s waves once again. I can feel my purpose run through my veins today.
I know why I am here, and I keep learning why every day.
I challenge everyone to do the same.