Young African Leaders visit Cobb Hill

Around 30 Fellows from the President Obama Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) came to Cobb Hill for an afternoon and evening of tours, conversations, soccer, a barbecue, s'mores by the campfire and a bit of music.  There were close to 80 people in attendance, between Cobb Hill families, YALI Fellows and YALI administrators from Dartmouth.  It was fabulous to see our Cobb Hill kids in deep conversation with the Fellows, or watch the impromptu, multi-generational soccer game.  YALI Fellows got to taste Cobb Hill cheese and frozen yogurt.  It was a blast introducing them to maple syrup and explaining that it is made from the sap of trees.  YALI Fellows brought their own treats to share, including grasshoppers!  

Fellows shared their interests and heard about life a Cobb Hill.  There were great conversations about conflict resolution, governance, small-scale farming, green building and energy systems, and our small businesses.  

After dinner, we sat around the fire pit.  The kids taught the YALI Fellows how to roast a marshmallow and make a s'more.  People brought out instruments and shared a love of music.  

It was an extraordinary day.  

Mushroom Inoculation

An annual spring event at Cobb Hill has become the inoculation of a new batch of hardwood logs with shiitake spores. What could be a long and arduous job – they need to inoculate more than one hundred logs and each log has dozens of inoculation sites – is made more fun by inviting in neighbors from surrounding towns to help and learn about growing mushrooms. In return, each helper leaves the day with two inoculated logs, which they carry home and tend until they produce mushrooms next summer. 

Civil Disobediance

Cobb Hill Member Coleen O'Connell took part in the Democracy Awakening protests in Washington D.C. last month. Here are some of her reflections:

Coleen with Ben Cohen.png

I went to DC this past weekend to take part in the Democracy Awakening rallies including civil disobedience direct actions.  Democracy Arising was a coalition of many, many different organizations – from Sierra Club to the NAACP – all of whom are concerned about getting dark money out of politics, overturning Citizens United, passing a strong immigration bill, reinstating and updating the Voting Rights Act, ending gerrymandering etc.  A small group of 100 marchers walked from Philadelphia where the constitution was signed to the Capitol building the week prior to last’s weeks rallies.  Each day last week highlighted one of the issues and people marched and then did sit ins on the Capitol steps.  The culmination of the week was a big march around the Capitol on Sunday followed by a Monday morning sit-in; I was involved in both of these events.   I was arrested, but because I went willingly off the steps, I was not handcuffed or put in jail.  300 of us (Ben and Jerry included) were held on the Capitol lawn while they processed each one of us separately.  On Tuesday we had to report to the police station to be fingerprinted and pay a $50 fine.  Here I am waiting in line with Ben Cohen.  Over the years I have participated in many marches and nonviolent civil disobedience actions.  I have never chosen to be arrested.  As I turn 65 this year, I have determined that it is my time to step up for Democracy and the planet we all love.  I cannot sit quiet and allow all I love to go up in flames.  Expect more of this from me. 

Cobb Hill Frozen Yogurt Featured As Example of the "Slow Money" Movement

When she wanted to expand her business, Cobb Hill member Jeannine Killbride, founder of Cobb Hill Frozen Yogurt, turned to the local investing movement in Vermont for financing to help her obtain the equipment she needed to increase her production. Earlier this month, the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund interviewed Jeannine about the process and her advice to other small-scale, food-system entrepreneurs. You can read the article here.

The Easter Bunny Visits Cobb Hill

From gnome searching in the woods, to an easter egg hunt at the farm, to a knock-out potluck brunch, Easter was a lot of fun!  It was great to see such excitement all across the hill.  Afterwards, there was fun at a fort, maple syrup sap line cleaning in the woods, impromptu conversations all across the hill.  It was a fabulous day at Cobb Hill!

Donella Meadows’ Work and Ideas Live On

Our local paper, the Valley News, carried a remembrance about Dana Meadows this weekend, written by Cobb Hill member, Stephen Leslie. Here's an excerpt to give you a taste. You can read the whole article here.

While Dana was deeply concerned about the future, about the generations that would follow us, she was a natural optimist. She believed in our ability to rise up together, to care for one another, to reinvent the world. And she knew from her own life experience that hope and strength have a way of building on each other once we set our intentions and create systems to put them in motion. It is 15 years ago last month that we lost Dana, but her great spirit and the power of her ideas and her vision are not lost — they are all around us. 

 

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Operate From Love

Operate From Love

OPERATE FROM LOVE. One is not allowed to say that seriously any more. Anyone who calls upon the human capacity for love, generosity, wisdom, will be met with a hail of cynicism. “Of all scarce resources, love is the scarcest,” I have heard people say.

I just don’t believe that. Love is not a scarce resource, it is an untapped one. Our jazzed-up, hustling, quantitative culture does not know how to tap it, how to discuss it, or even what it means.

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Cobb Hill Prom

The second annual Cobb Hill Prom happened last weekend - timed perfectly to break up the winter season. Cobb Hill teens Nora, Gretta, and Jenna invented the idea last year and brought it back this year, with glittery confetti, blue and white streamers, dozens of balloons, and a chocolate fountain! I think it's fair to say it was the first prom for Caleb and Maeli who are getting a jump on prom-going before entering pre-school! It was fun to see just how fancy my Cobb Hill neighbors can look when they shed their farm clothes and winter gear - check out a few photographic highlights:

 

 Jenna, Nora, and Gretta (from left to right)  made the prom happen!

Jenna, Nora, and Gretta (from left to right)  made the prom happen!

 Sampling the chocolate fountain!

Sampling the chocolate fountain!

 Fancy treats!

Fancy treats!

 The prom was a family affair!

The prom was a family affair!

Small House on Wheels

Cobb Hill member Jenna Rice, one of the group of young adults who have grown up at Cobb Hill, is on a gap year between high school and college. She's using part of that time to build a small, energy efficient home on wheels. After spending the fall months designing the house and picking out the manufacturer of the high energy efficiency panels the house is made of, Jenna visited the factory to watch the assembly of her house and made a time-lapse video.

A week or so later the house arrived, in the midst of a snowstorm.

You can read more about the house and Jenna's other projects on her blog.

Winter Woods Work

Cobb Hill member and forester, Bill Stack, has been working in part of our woods this winter. His project is part of a Natural Resources Conservation Service grant that is helping defray some of the costs of forest stand improvement. Bill is thinning out some trees in order to 'release' others, especially those with potential for providing timber, enhancing aesthetics, increasing biodiversity, creating wildlife habitats, or producing fruits & seeds that nourish wildlife. Some of the trees felled will be used for firewood, others for growing shiitake mushrooms, and the rest will eventually decompose helping improve our water and soil resources in the forest.  The two photographs below shows views of one small section of the six acre project, before and after the selective thinning.

Tending the forest in a community asks the forester to be teacher, naturalist, consensus-builder and listener, as well as tree expert. These few sentences from an email Bill sent round before getting to work gives a good sense of the many things a true community forester needs to keep in mind:

"Heads up if you are out this way and hear the chainsaw.  If you have favorite trees that you want to keep in this area let me know.   Happy to visit with you if you are out in the woods as well."

 Before the thinning.

Before the thinning.

 After the thinning.

After the thinning.