Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dia de los Muertos 2017

Today is All Saints Day. It is also the Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, when the veil between the temporal and the spirit world is said to be thinnest. In Mexico this is a time to remember dear ones who have recently departed. Notably, it is treated there as a time of celebration. It is neither somber nor macabre. Gravestones are spruced up and altars are festooned in bright colors and momentos. Favorite foods are prepared. 

I am especially drawn to this holiday because it addresses a societal need. Overwhelmingly I experience our culture as ritual starved, and I think we have an unhealthy out-of-sight-out-of-mind attitude toward death. Having recently experienced a long walkabout near the edge of death myself (courtesy of multiple myeloma), I have particular zest for pausing, to note those who passed over the edge since this date a year ago. 

I started this tradition in 2013, and today I am remembering two souls: Kimchi Rylander and Chuck Marsh. Oddly enough, they were both long-term members of Earthaven, an ecovillage in Black Mountain NC that was founded in 1994, and which I've had occasion to visit from time to time. While it's hard whenever you lose an elder, this year they lost two and are doubly sheathed in black crepe.

While I was not especially close to either of them, they were both fellow travelers in my field of passion—the arcane world of community networking.

Kimchi Rylander  
She died Feb 16, at age 55, from breast cancer and complications from diabetes.

I knew Kimchi in two ways. First, as someone who, from time to time, represented her community at the annual Twin Oaks Communities Conference (which was a regular whistle stop on my event circuit for two decades). And second, as a point of light and a ray of hope at home. She was an organizer and a lubricant in a community that suffered more than its share of sticky dynamics and strong personalities. 

Earthaven has been a community that has drawn to itself a wealth of people with a burning desire to be a model of sustainability, but everyone's vision of how best to accomplish that was not always aligned and the community has frequently struggled to get all the horses pulling in the same direction. Whenever the neighing turned to naying, Kimchi would be one of the ones to hold the heart.

Blessed are they who pour oil on troubled waters.

Thank you, Kimchi.

Chuck Marsh 
He died Aug 27, at age 65 (or thereabouts), from pancreatic cancer.

Chuck was a pioneer in ecological landscape design and he consulted and educated on edible landscaping, biological economics, and Permaculture Design. Earthaven was a great fit for Chuck and he devoted the latter third of his life to making it a home base for his work in the world. 

I always think of him with a scarf tied rakishly around his neck and with a puckish grin on his face.

Chuck had over 35 years of experience working with the plants, soil, water, climate and people of North Carolina to design and install place appropriate, productive, and sustainable home and commercial landscapes. 

Can we ever have too many people dedicated to designing and creating beautiful, productive, resource conserving landscapes that celebrate and deepen our connection to the natural world?

Thank you, Chuck.

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