July 14, 2007

around the hawthorn house...

Last night, we sat outside with the Casper's sipping drinks, watching the kids run through the grass and eating vegetables and meat I had just grilled. Summer is fully upon us. I love it. Brooke and the kids will be camping at the beach this coming week with her parents. So, the house will be pretty quiet. Maybe I'll write a little more then.

A while back, Brooke and I had some very frank conversations about our life and the trajectory we've been on. We realized that there were some things in all aspects of our lives that just weren't going to work out long term. Our financial plan wasn't working, we needed to live healthier, we didn't have many nurturing relationships with someone wiser/older than us, we wanted to be more neighborhood-based in our day to day lives, we wanted more time for our family and our marriage than we had... we were depressed.

So, over the last few months we have chosen the word "sustainable" as our theme for this year. We continue to ask ourselves, "Is this sustainable?" in all aspects of life. The results has been that a lot of things have changed and/or started to change.

Most of anyone that reads this knows about these things already, but here's what's going on:

The Hawthorn House
We realized that the American Dream often becomes the American Nightmare for many when it comes to home-ownership. And it had done so for us. Now most people aren't buying an old house built in the 30's with a cottage and loft attached. But we were going upside down. The renter/owner thing wasn't working out as we had hoped it would. Primarily because at the end of the day Brooke and I were responsible, no one else. Josh and Lisa moved out because they needed more space and Tony and May are moving out to move to Laos in August. We had to reconsider things. So, we thought we would just sell the place and move somewhere else.

The thought of leaving brought a sense of relief and agony. This place is home. This neighborhood is where we feel we have 'fit' better than any other place we've lived or visited. So, we prayed and we talked, over and over again... and another idea arose: co-ownership.

We now are co-owners of the Hawthorn House with our friends, Matt and Brooke Gonzalez who moved in last month. We had a friend of ours, who is an attorney write up documents that would state why we are doing this and how all the details work out and made it official. Matt is drafting a covenant that we will all be agreeing to. Part of what we are now trying to work out is long and short term goals for simplicity and sustainability. We hope to move towards sharing as much as possible. Starting with lawnmowers and the mortgage and moving towards cars, etc.

We have known Matt and Brooke for a long time. We were both part of starting communities with Matthew's House back in the day. And they would drive into the city every Sunday when we first moved down here. They are very good people and we are excited to live life with them.

Paige finished art camp yesterday at the San Diego Art Department. It has been a great experience for her. She loves creating stuff and we really want to encourage this. Her class will have a show tonight during Ray at Night this evening. Come join us!

Awhile ago I wrote about our choice to stay engaged in the local public school system (here). We hope to be able to do what we can to encourage alternative education opportunities like art, music and gardening in our schools.

Which leads me to something else; Brooke is enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC. She starts in October and will be a certified nutritionist when finished. She will be flying back to New York once a month for ten months. She is hoping to help Paige's school start a garden as well as see other urban gardens started through the collaborative we helped jump start a year ago. Long term, she is hoping to do workshops and group consultations to supplement our income.

This also ties into our desire to get more community/neighborhood-based in our day-to-day lives. As well, with our own gardening the two households here hope to be able to cut our grocery bills down greatly by this time next year by growing as much of our own food as possible.

On the subject of school, I have applied to Fuller Seminary for the MA in Global Leadership program. Up until now, most of what Brooke and I have chosen to do spiritually and ecclesiologically has been based on personal study and intuition. I feel as though I am at a point now that I need something to challenge me to go deeper (and give me an excuse to keep my nose inside of books). This program, along with being a well recognized school is designed for 'bi-vocational' people. So, it will take longer but I can continue to be in this city, take care of my family and do what I do while go to school. If I am accepted I would start in January of 2008.

The Collective
Our little messy mixture of intentional community, faith community and whatever else moves on. Our friend, James, is moving upstairs after Tony and May move out. We are all looking at a covenant together, which Matt Gonzalez is drafting. We are meeting on Sunday nights still. We've really simplified our meetings to make it conducive to the different types of people we have in our group. We eat simple and vegetarian when we meet. We meet for two hours so that the kids aren't too spent and so that one of our older members can walk home not too late. This week we are choosing a book to read over the next few months together and discuss once-a-month.

When we were at the Mennonite convention (read blog posts 1, 2, 3 on the subject), we were asked to explain what/who/how/when about the Collective. We border between existence and non-existence. On paper, we really don't exist but a small bank account and a simple website. But almost monthly, we interface with a lot of people. Mostly challenging folks to think and live differently in light of Jesus and his Message. Last month, we had Scandrette and The Cobalt Season. The month before, we coordinated an urban experience for Blufton students. This month, we had Sunil here (which was amazing!). It looks like this fall we will have Kevin Bales from Free The Slaves speaking here. We're also scheduling more urban experiences with study groups and youth groups. We're limiting ourselves to one event a month, which is do-able for us.

You may have noticed the cute photos in the right-hand column of my blog of t-shirts, purses, etc. This is Brooke's other new endeavor. She is starting an apparel company called, Fire and Flowers. It started as a few shirts and a jacket for Paige for school. But other parents dug it and asked her to make stuff for them. Then she had a booth at a school carnival and the requests keep coming in. So, she has decided to shoot for self-employment after she is done with school between health consulting and Fire and Flowers. She will hopefully have a store on Etsy up sooner than later. Until then, I made a set here of some stuff she has made.

I'm still at Paradigm Construction Services. We brought on Kevyn Horton, one of the instigators with Matthew's House, which has been a huge help to me. It's just been good to be with someone every day at work that you trust and have history with.

So, that's us right now. The family is up and about now so I'll finish this here.


glenn said...

i just love tracking with you guys. so much conscientious creativity flowing from you that it truly inspires me/us over here in SWOhio. i am definitely interested in seeing how the co-ownership impacts and contributes to your sense of kingdom embodiment there. good stuff guys.


Jason Evans said...

you guys need to come out here and visit... seriously.


Erin said...

when the etsy store is up and running, shoot me an email.


Eliacin said...


I would be very interested in learning more about your intentional community/ co-housing experience.

I am part of the Mustard Seed House in Seattle - (www.mustardseedhouse.wordpress.com)


Jason Evans said...

email me at jasonevans[at]gmail[dot]com and we can talk... thanks for the link, i'd like to hear more about what you all are doing as well.

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