Recently, the Arc has had to undergo a massive amount of scrutiny, not always of the most compassionate or well-intentioned variety. Now, the kind of attention we give to the world affects how it grows. What we try to practice and teach here is Appreciative Inquiry, where constructive solutions can be brought to where it’s needed, through genuine investigation and honest feedback.
Much of recent attention was due to a concerned neighbor alerting every Town Official and possible Department about a small ceremony we were holding (including various online materials). We went before the Town Board and Town members were able to voice their thoughts and support– it was truly heartening and we essentially got the green light to go ahead. We held a peaceful Summer Solstice event, some locals came and joined us as did several Town Officials who verified the state of affairs and also concluded that a peaceful gathering was underway and under control. Participants shared nature, sang and danced around a fire, gave workshops, planted a circular garden and gave those came up a rare taste of our beautiful little slice of reality.
Our approach is that of nonviolence and searching always for creative solutions, so we will find a good match for meeting our needs and those of the greater community. We have finally started to really bridge that divide from those who are drawn to participate in our projects here and those who see one moment or another as they drive by or just happen to hear something around town.
Please don’t believe the rumors! The only way to know reality is through direct experience. We have many amazing people who have brought their talents through this portal at the end of the train line, only to return to their world knowing there are good people who live according to shared principles and not strictly on the exchange of Federal Reserve Notes for goods and services. Or according to prescribed institutional standards and traditions. Building solutions and practices which reconnect us with real value, and the living reality behind the numbers and impressions is a big part of our mission– and we get to start by solving these for ourselves.
These barns have stood strong for many years, and they have only improved in the last few years since this community has gotten involved with the landowner to fulfill his dream for this place. I had an encouraging encounter with a young fellow the other day who grew up here in Wassaic and has spent his whole life here. I asked him about his impressions of us: “That place looks so much better than it used to.”
Anyone who has been following our saga, from whatever distance, might appreciate how it felt for me to hear that. So much support has reached our shores here at the Arc since our first Town Board meeting. From smiles, waves and friendly little honks to solid advice and serious collaboration— all of that really helps us keep up our morale for the work ahead!
With a few individuals quite concerned, the Town was essentially forced to respond. Good neighbors can come by and let you know what they feel or think, or they can register complaints. Eventually, both courses of action can lead to a truly mutual resolution. After some additional information became available, we have been able to separate baseless fears from legitimate considerations.
We have worked assiduously with the Code Enforcement Officer of Amenia to delineate all of the the valid claims and the means and timetable for each remedy that is needed. Improper use of electrical extension cords, water and sanitation questions were largely already dealt with before our meager conditions recently came to light.
Next steps will include certifying the structural integrity of the barn, determining the most flexible, accurate and compatible means of clarifying our agricultural and community endeavor. This will include working with regional and town officials, professionals and experts to really do this right, as one neighbor explained the need for us succinctly: “To get the whole package together.”
We are very dedicated and service-oriented people who have already volunteered and participated in the area, and once we are on more stable footing here, we aim to become a viable resource for any who want to offer their interest or teaching to the greater community.
We appreciate the patience of those struggling to comprehend this phenomena. For whatever reason, people love this place, and are willing to put up with quite a lot to make this work, to build a sustainable solution for the present situation as a resilient foundation for the challenges and transitions ahead, which face our country, our state and our region.
We truly welcome your suggestions, insights and feedback!