A Personal Recollection

This was written by Rachel Adair Dawson, who helped out with and attended the 2011 gathering. She really captures the flavor of that gathering.

On a beautiful weekend in May, we gathered together in the Cazadero hills at a Buddhist retreat center far above the Pacific Ocean on the Northern California coastline. The entire site was embraced by redwoods, cedars and pines. The sun warmed our bodies and the moon cleansed our spirits as we bonded through the weekend. Women gathered from all along the West Coast, including Seattle, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and the stretch of California.

The weekend included opening and closing rituals with Starhawk where we stirred the brew that composted our fears into dreams to become the seeds of our future, strengthening and feeding our roots. There was the powerful panel of nine discussing urban and social permaculture,leadership and inspiration. There was Open Space, a seed swap and a place to drop in and deepen in partnership.

During one of the two powerful workshop sessions, Jenny Pell inspired a group with progress on Portland’s Permaculture Folkschool and community, and Joan Stevens buzzed about the laughter and love of bees while Rachel Kaplan guided a group of us in an Earth Art meditation. The meditation walk took us down to the meadow where the fire pit lay awaiting the night’s songs and blessings. We were guided to stay in silence as we looked upon the earth around us for inspiration. Sunlight flitted over the flowers as if faeries danced in the shadows. One woman created a circlet, another a fairy ring, one a story and another, a song with a bridge to the soul. We left the space with a peace offering and a bit more knowledge of the edible medicinals that lay beneath our feet.

Our groups morphed and exchanged as we moved into our next round of workshops. Jude Hobbs talked about permaculture on a national level and Carla Maria Perez went in-depth with economic systems and social injustices. One in particular that pulled my core was Deborah Eden Tull’s discussion on radical self care, a subject we can all afford to study in this day and age. It was a glimpse inside to recognize that small mind embodied in each of us that criticizes and judges our own self worth. I realized that if I am to be truly in my integrity, then I need to care for Self as much as I care for this earth.

“Learning the power of standing in my own truth and not being phased by copping to something I don’t know,” reflected Nina Simons during her talk with us about her journey to Bioneers. “Know how valuable your gifts are, value what you bring.” These are but a few of the many inspiring words from an inspiring woman who heard the call in the midst of a myriad of a million tomatoes and followed the path that led her to co-create a conference that weaves a web to connect us all. She sat before us in her power, humbly offering us her light.

We laughed with the children, danced with the mothers, cried with our sisters and listened with our hearts. The weekend was a space out of time, more of an experience to be remembered than an event to be reported. Connections were made, new friendships were forged and, from my perspective, we all left feeling like a part of the whole. Each being an integral piece of this amazing journey we call permaculture.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
— Maya Angelou