Oakland, CRIChouse and RDI

We went to Oakland to visit a couple of Emily’s friends.  It almost seems like she has some friends everywhere.  Oakland was pretty cool as far as cities go.  It’s got some farmer’s markets, its got a cool natural preserve in the middle of the city that has lots of interesting water birds, its got some nice grocery stores that have local organic food, and the people that I met there seemed to be very nice.  We stayed with one of Emily’s friends and I can’t remember her name right now, but she was really busy while we were there so we didn’t hang out with her very much.  We actually spent more time with one of her roommates and she was really great to talk to so that was good.  We spent most of a day hanging out with another one of Emily’s friends and he showed us around the area and took us over to San Francisco and took us out to dinner, it was a good time.  When we were over in San Francisco we went to this Anarchist book fair, which was very interesting.  It was a big gathering of folks that dressed differently and looked differently than your average person, and I found out later that they definitely think differently than your average person.  The most interesting part of this experience was listening to this lady, Lierre Keith, speak about vegetarianism and veganism and the problems with the agricultural system.  I agreed with pretty much everything she had to say, she talked about how agriculture was a war against nature and that the staple grain crops that are grown on a huge scale around the world are destroying the soil.  She was saying that without the soil and the life that is in the soil, we’re basically screwed and that we better change the way we get food or we’re in for some really big problems like mass starvation and death.  She talked about how lots of vegetarians and vegans think they are doing something good with their food choices when in reality, the food they are eating (grains, beans, vegetables and other annual crops) is destroying the soil on which it is grown and causing huge pollution problems in other places as well.  When she got to the point where she was about to start talking about alternatives, three guys ran up from behind her and threw pies in her face.  Not just any pies, they were cream pies with cayenne pepper mixed in to burn her skin and eyes.  Sitting in the crowd, I first thought the pies in the face were part of her talk, but I quickly found out that they were not and that it was an attack on her.  Before I and the rest of the crowd realized this, the attackers had run off.  I was very interested in what she was saying, but the attackers had succeeded in silencing her because she had to go to the restroom to clean up and then she left.  I guess that the anarchist vegetarian/vegans were very unhappy that she was challenging their food choices and they obviously felt strong enough to use violence to fight back.  I wanted to hear the rest of what she had to say, so I bought her book, The Vegetarian Myth, and I’m in the middle of it right now and it is very good, you should check it out.  So, after that craziness, we hung out in Oakland for a little while longer and then it was off to CRIChouse.

CRIChouse is an anarchist intentional community just outside of Sebastopol, CA.  We found out about this place from a guy we met that was visiting the Morning Star Ranch at the same time that we were.  This place was very cool.  CRIC stands for Cultural Rehabilitation Internship Center.  CRIChouse is a small community of mostly young folks that is a part of a larger collective of communities called Green Valley Village, GVV.  GVV owns a good amount of land outside of Sebastopol and there are a couple of communities that work together on this property.  My experience at CRIChouse was very unique as I didn’t know much about anarchism and they had a lot of very interesting ways of doing things.  The people of CRIChouse saw a lot of things wrong in the world and were seeking to create alternatives.  They were implementing a lot of permaculture things on the property and they got most of their food for free from the surrounding area via dumpster diving, picking up the occasional fresh road kill, and arrangements with local businesses.  The food was surprisingly good and healthy and it continues to amaze me the things that people throw away.  Two grocery stores in this town threw away enough food to feed a community of about 20 people, wow.  The most interesting this about this place was the way that they went about doing things.  There really wasn’t anyone in charge and nobody was telling anyone what to do, there wasn’t any sort of hierarchy, and their wasn’t much of a schedule but they still ended up getting a lot of work done.  They relied on motivating each other in order to spur each other on to doing good things.  They really emphasized that if you see something that isn’t where its supposed to be or if something needs to be cleaned or if something needs to be done or if something could work better, then you should do something about it.  There was something very freeing about this way of doing things, because instead of relying on someone else to tell you what to do, you got the opportunity to take it upon yourself to help out and get it done.  This made so much sense because when people take responsibility for things, it becomes theirs and people seem to care a lot more about things when they have ownership.  I got to do some new things while I was at CRIChouse.  I got to help butcher, cook, and eat a road kill raccoon, I learned how to sharpen knives, I learned some more about welding, I learned more about how to do more with less, I learned more about tanning animal hides, and I was able to observe anarchy actually working.  The people were very much living sensual lives, not that everyone was having sex with everyone, but the way people interacted was very sensual and indulgent with lots of touching and sensual non-verbal and verbal communication.  I hadn’t been around a group of people like this in a while, so it was weird to be around that again.  I acted very much the same way in high school and early college, when my every motivation was to feel good.  The housing arrangements were also pretty interesting at this place.  Pretty much all of the housing for WWOOFers (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) were old vehicles.  There was an RV, a couple old hippie buses, a boat, and Emily and I stayed in an old VW Vanagon.  So, I learned a lot, worked really hard and had a lot of fun during my week stay at CRIChouse.

We went back south for a little bit after leaving CRIChouse to make it to an open house tour and the Regenerative Design Institute, or RDI.  I had considered doing an internship at this place before I went to Koinoinia, so it was nice to finally make it out to visit this place.  RDI is a permaculture demonstration site and educational institute.  They teach lots of different things on permaculture, nature awareness and nature skills, natural building, and lots more.  It was a very nice place and I learned some things on the tour so it was a good thing that we went there.

Next stop: the Redwoods.

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