Full Transcript from Video:
Behind me is Grandmother Cherry, the matriarch of this gorgeous landscape, this healing land – land that we have been stewarding and nurturing and in return has given us so much healing and nourishment in abundance. This land that we call Grandmother Cherry Sanctuary who has been calling people here for five years now.
Do you know what I vision for this beautiful sacred land I steward with Mitch? I envision people on this land making magic, getting our hands in the soil together, growing medicine, tending to the plants, loving the trees, singing songs to each other, to the trees, to the plants, to the land, making art, handcrafting, building fairy houses, maybe creating summer camps, and definitely co-creating a healing sanctuary that is a communal space for a heart-centered community. I see people being able to be our whole selves, healing our wounds, releasing our traumas to the earth and learning what it means to heal in community and ripple that healing to our families, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and people we do not yet know. I see people gathering to cultivate belonging who are building new ways of being in relationship with ourselves, new ways of being in relationships with each other, and new ways of being in relationship with the earth.
I am a 47 year old woman with very minimal family. I don’t have any children. My children have always been animals and plants. And I am an eternal child of the trees, always receiving wisdom from these magnificent beings, keepers of wells of knowledge that connect us from earth to sky.
My partner Mitch and I have been stewarding this land, tending glorious gardens, and caring for several families of trees for 10 years, living in some pretty intense isolation most of the time. We do not care for this land so that we can appreciate it by ourselves, <laugh>. We care for it so we can share the beauty and the abundance.
Here’s the honest truth. We can’t afford to live here with the economic struggle we’ve been navigating ever since I was diagnosed with cancer. While I do not have cancer now, the repercussions of a health crisis followed by the pandemic have done much damage.
And just living this rugged individual, self-sufficient lifestyle has never worked for us. When we were in our twenties, we had all these friends and everybody lived in apartments and we were all dreaming of when we could have our own land. The first few people that ventured out into the mountains – it was so exciting. We would have potlucks, and dance parties, make music and share space together. As we moved through our thirties, everybody headed off – one by one, two by two, to where people could afford to live, have babies and buy houses. Community seemed to vanish. Firewood stacking and tree planting were no longer parties, potlucks became memories or a chore because it was hard to find time to just take care of ourselves. What happened to the friendships? What happened to the community building? What happened to working together to care for the earth and to care for each other?
Before I knew it, I was diagnosed with cancer and had some really big challenges with finding support. Most of my 40’s has been navigating isolation and dreaming of ways to bring sustainability to being able to stay on this land and finding a community where I can feel like I belong. My body has grown old and tired and I am unable to physically care for the land the way it needs and I long for one floor living. Even if Mitch and I sold this property, we owe too much to the bank to make a profit that could afford us to downsize in this ghastly inequitable market. We don’t have family or community to move to and we don’t want to give up on our dreams of building community here. We also don’t want to give up this beautiful property where there’s fresh, amazing water, cleansing and generative airflow, lovely south facing sun, and rich nutrient dense soil. We have put so much love and care into the earth here that she is giving so much back, calling people to benefit from this healing land and to continue to care for her.
Collectively, we have so much to offer. And as much as I explore options to our dilemma, my heart and soul always circles back to my dream of being a space holder for more people to heal with this land, caring for and receiving the generous gifts she has to offer. While we don’t have the resources to build and create infrastructure, we do have the resources to share what we have started and to invite in community to co-create what can come next for mutual benefit. Currently we are completing a respite space studio, an equipped campsite in the woods, and access for other camping. There are beautiful herb gardens that we have been cultivating for several years. We have been building perennial medicinal plant stands, nutrient dense space for medicinal annuals and some food, berry bushes, and apple trees. We have been cultivating and caring for native medicinal plants and the forest is beautifully cared for and ready for its next stage of rebirth.
We want to scale back and invite in creative partnerships to explore how to expand and sustain the sanctuary in organic and ecologically just ways. And there is so much space for magic, medicine making, and ceremony – spaces that have been created and spaces that are calling in new people to co-create with the land. I vision people working in the gardens together, sharing harvests and making medicine; people sitting under the trees together, singing and sharing and caring for each other; children coming here and widening their eyes and hearts to magic and belonging, and people of all ages and identities finding belonging with each other and a place where we can heal with the land and build a culture with a different legacy than what which was left by many of our ancestors. And, in doing so, learning how to honor our ancestors and recover their recent or long forgotten animist traditions.
Grandmother Cherry Sanctuary calls for healing the harms and the wounds that white, Western European ancestry has laid upon this land. N’dakinna land in Vermont, the original home of Abenaki people, and a place where people from many different homelands now call home. I vision this land being a place where people of many backgrounds and identities who have been harmed by colonized ancestry can heal with the land and with each other in a diverse, multicultural, multiple identity community that can build with trust to empower transformation.
This spring, as the energies shift vastly once again, I am sparking the flame with some of this magnificent air and calling in a big boost to this dream and conjuring this vision alive. EmpowR Community is starting to grow and I am having more conversations with people about different kinds of intentional communities. I am opening up a dialogue for collectively discussing how relationship building can lead to shifts in privatized land ownership models to a communal healing sanctuary that can serve as a respite, retreat and event space where community can both receive and offer their gifts and their medicines. Perhaps some sort of coop or collective or shared ownership?
These are the dreams that I hold and I invite you to learn more and to get involved. There is a community membership that you can join where these conversations are starting to form. There are events and programs to tap into, with an Earth Day community care day coming right up. There are also several ways to work with me as a healing practitioner and facilitator of transformation, a really reciprocal way to enter into and deepen relationship.
I am offering a new herbalism entrepreneur apprenticeship as a really direct way to build relationship around emergence of a plant medicine farm and what kinds of partnerships want to be explored. There’s also an opportunity to receive the first small batch medicines and to help amplify the work we are doing here.
Everything about EmpowR Transformation and our land base of Grandmother Cherry Sanctuary is grassroots. We’ve struggled to find funding and have been moving through a longstanding economically challenging situation which is what brings me to this precipice naming this dream and calling in the community to manifest the sanctuary vision. We’re really looking at community supported fundraising and community supported awareness raising so that everybody who wants to be a part of belonging to this land and belonging to this community plays a part in helping to build and grow the vision so that we can all benefit from creating a community healing sanctuary where different kinds of gatherings and support can be offered – retreats, dinners, festivals, respite space, and possibly housing where more people can find belonging together.
These are not things I can or want to do by myself. I am done with the isolation. I want to hold space for building the communities and experiences we collectively dream of. The key to all of this is showing up and I am calling in engagement. Building community asks us for commitment to finding the courage to step out of the rhythms of the silo, the hamster wheel of self sufficiency, the insular wrap of nuclear family.
For those of you who do not have lots of friends and family around, I am speaking directly to you. And for those who want to expand the scope of what community can look like, I am speaking to you too. This is not about expanding a network of like minded people, it is about weaving a web of multicultural exploration, stretching the discomfort muscle, and finding conscious connection to build cultural conditions of belonging and collective liberation.
Come be a part of manifesting the future of Grandmother Cherry Sanctuary and in doing so, co-creating our future and the future of our children, animals beings, plants, and trees.
Learn more about the Sanctuary Vision and how to get involved and support the dream.