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I drove through some "neighborhoods" here in the last few days and noticed some things. First of all lots of people live "off the paved road" as I like to call it.

They live on gravel driveways or streets sometimes miles from a road often many miles from a town.

A case in point, our neighbor H. She actually lives about 13 miles from here, but is one of the few "young people" in town (she's 28, single and educated, a rarity all around). She inherited some land out here and is trying to make a go of it.

The structure of her house is built, but the interior is barren. I don't mean it needs a couch, I mean it needs insolation and sheet rock before it can be painted. This last week they've been working on putting in a hearth. You have to have the wall and floor finished before you can do that, so my son and others have been over there moving and hauling, measuring and nailing.

But there are people from at least 3 households with tools and resources from more. There's no way she could have done this on her own. Aside from the physicality of lifting sheet rock, the bridge out to her property is made of half of a tree covered in boards, no sides or rails, so you have to have help getting things from the car over the creek and up to the house.

I've never seen anything like it.

In doing all the work I've been doing and looking at in community, our city communities are optional. I can go to meetings and help with rituals and events or not. They will happen without me. But here that's simply not true. We have to work together or H won't have a place to live when it rains and tens of thousands of dollars of work will be lost to the elements. In the city you (or I) would hire someone to do it.

This is a different form of poverty. In the city there are a huge amount of resources. It's different, you need names and numbers and pieces of papers to access them but they are available where I live. (Not everywhere, but there are many resources and most major cities in the US.) Out here they just don't exist.

When I was homeless in Orange County there was always a way to find a few dollars here or there and I'm finding here that that's really hard. The comparison of urban and rural poverty is immensely different. I've thought a lot about urban poverty over the years. I've written about my experiences and less as that's changed for me. I definitely have guilt some days about leaving behind places where I had so few resources.

But I think these experiences are and are creating bridges. I know that what I need to be in community is different from what's needed out here. I feel like this needs exploring of how the ideas that I'm studying are applicable (or not) across communities.
dryadgrl: (Default)
We ran out of water today.

I'm in Oregon, on land with a well for a few days. There's not enough water to sustain us today which is intense for me. As someone with resources we could go buy it or get it from the well in town, but it makes me conscious of the fact that our water comes from the earth and it's different in different seasons and different places. I know that somewhere in my head, but it's not something I usually think about day to day.

I didn't shower today which is rare for me as someone who comes from a city and who goes to a city for work most days - there's a standard that's expected, there are Things that need to be done to maintain social mores. There was no water from the tap for flushing toilets or showers or cooking. Those Things just happen living where I live that do not happen when you live on land where the well has run dry.

I wonder what would happen if we decided that we would only use local water? How would that change where we live, what we do and who we are?
dryadgrl: (Default)
Why poor people support tax breaks for the rich.

Interesting theory about not wanting to be at the bottom.
dryadgrl: (Default)
Running out of water means bathing in the creek

Yesterday was the third day of running out of water. I've showered once since I've been here and the dishes are pilling up because there's not enough water to wash them all.

There's not enough water to water the garden and it's looking quite sad and possibly unrecoverable. It might actually be most cost effective for folks here to buy tomatoes rather than spend the money on gas to and from town to get more water even though the land is brilliantly fertile and can grow a wide variety of stuff.

But whether there's water or not, there's stuff that needs doin' and people that need to get clean. So we set off to a neighbor's house because they need help putting up their hearth and getting their house done before the rains. Community here is interdependent because it needs to be. You literally can't live out here alone so people are constantly sharing tools, resources, ideas and manpower. There's a lot of negotiating space because most folks couldn't go anywhere else even if they wanted to.

We got there mid-afternoon and it was too hot to work. Her property has lots of water so we took out water jugs over and filled them and then we headed to the creek for both resting and cleaning.

I wish I'd take some photos of this spot. It has a bunch of signs that say, "no mining or panning" but the water is gorgeous. (Someone owns the mining/mineral rights to the land, but not the land itself.) It's a big swimming hole big enough to do laps in and full of life from little tiny fish to crayfish. (Those treatments with the fish eating the dead skin off your feet can be had for free up here.) There was plenty of soap to be had and we all shucked our clothes off and jumped in. There was much (bio-degrable river-safe) soap and each person who bathed went down stream with the soap so that it didn't contaminate the water we were swimming in.

I don't know that I feel really clean, but I felt a lot better and hanging out at the river is certainly a lot less stressful than standing under a shower wondering if it's going to cut off while you still have soap in your hair.


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