Sparkroot’s six acres sits at the edge of 140 additional acres of land called “the Bend.”The Bend started out as what was jokingly referred to as an "Unintentional Community" - a happenstance convergence of like-minded folks joined in the shared work sustainability. Over a period of years these folks essentially bought up the neighborhood surrounding the core acreage owned by the original founders.
Every community has a heart-center. Often this is a tree that the people gather round. Through learning the lives and deaths of, we gathered in the wake of their lives and learned how our world failed them, and how we can do better. Our center is the memory of Chris Lucash and Zafer Estill.
Imagining a community - Asset Mapping and being additive
In our quest to understand how we could make a better world for our children, we began gathering ideas into action - we called it "deploying assets" - taking forgotten useful things out of the woods and barns, making repairs and putting them to use again. We discovered that this what we called "asset-mapping" is an actual thing, called Asset-Based Community- Development (ABCD). It's a bottom-up way of working that focuses on strengths and assets, rather than deficiencies.
If we ask people to look for deficits, they will usually find them, and their view of situations will be coloured by this. If we ask people to look for successes, they will usually find them, and their view of situations will be coloured by this (Kral, 1989).
Typical approaches to developing community begin with a needs analysis that focuses us on lack - the half empty glass. In creating a needs map the focus is on problems. Kretzmann (2010) suggests some potential consequences of focusing on deficiency: people may begin to internalise this in a vicious cycle of feeling incompetent. As a community internalizes toxicity and deficiency, members may stop turning to each other for support and can become scared of their own community, living in a mindset of scarcity. Relationships within the community also start to deteriorate.
Scarcity = Abundance - Trust
Asset's are not only what you can hold in your hand. Assets and asset-mapping extends to our human-relationships, and building relationships between assets (human and otherwise) within a community is a natural part of mapping all asset's within it. When we have an event at Sparkroot, the lead teacher may need a massage from Ben, a fresh bouquet at the air bnb from Hope, and a personally cheffed dinner supplied by the farm, and our farmer. We connect the dots wherever we can, bringing in the talents and skills of the folk right here, so we make deeper connections, discovering our strengths and resources while we grow stronger.
Exploring Human Culture
Human culture is the expression of a particular people, speaking a unique language, singing a hyperlocal ancestral song of Place. Deep culture isn't the national style of apple pie and baseball, it's tending to the Dead of a place, to the spirits of the land - it's having Learned all the many unwanted things that lead you on the way to go, the way to knowing how your people, and the beings and plants that inhabit that place sustain you and those who claim you, making your lives possible. Culture forges children into trustworthy adults who have learned how they matter to their local world and their people. Culture may certainly include food and the styling of stitches or beads, but all the many human cultures across this earth have a chance to flourish because Place claims people, and people obey Place. From there humans learn who they are allowed to become together, and in their gratitude and grief, they tell their stories, make ceremony and sing together. Culture does not have to be appropriated by people who have lost their own or who find themselves homeless in a strange land with forgotten ancestry. Culture can grow anew, out of the ground right where you find your feet, as every unique culture has done throughout the 200,000 years homo sapiens have lived upon this green planet.