Community life, deep ecology, transition

Positive Thinking in a Dark Age


Listening Tree Co-op cofounder Jim Tull has just published his book of essays, Positive Thinking in a Dark Age: Essays on the Global Transition.

Community life

Diversity is a verb

Phil's so white he has to bring shade. Just kidding! Though he is from Ireland where a sunny day is a rare thing, he was on medication for Lyme disease, so he had to stay out of the sun for a while.
Phil’s so white he has to wear shade. Just kidding, though he is from Ireland where a sunny day is a rare thing. But he was on medication for Lyme disease this summer, so he had to stay out of the sun for a while.

So far, the core group of founders of Listening Tree Coop is made of “white” people and with that comes a legacy of colonialism, which we discuss openly and challenge in ourselves and society. We hope to be inclusive and not oppressive, and welcome challenges to our privilege and assumptions.

We are feminists and egalitarians, and welcome queer and women’s leadership and participation (one of us identifies as queer). The men renounce the privilege of their gender and appreciate the freedom for other genders and themselves created by the egalitarian structure of our decision making and ownership. The two of us with materially privileged backgrounds recognize and seek dialogue to transform the ramifications of that privilege, which made the purchase of Listening Tree feasible, while rooted in systems of domination and oppression. We are actively anti-racist, internally and in the world.

The co-op is also kid-friendly and hopes to attract and will select for an intergenerational membership because we find the peer-group segregation in this culture (as in schools and day and senior care) to be one of the unspoken structural problems in the broader community.

We are mixed-income and mixed-class, and are working to make financing available to people who want to buy shares. The shared-house-plus-individual-outbuildings design makes the community more affordable than single family, cohousing, and even multifamily units. Utilities are virtually prepaid in the form of the solar array; heat will be by wood collected from the property; food will be grown by members for members, reducing living costs. Three of us have worked in affordable housing or energy and are deeply committed to innovating affordability methods.

In short, welcome, everyone!

deep ecology

Do Trees Listen?

IMG_3269Yes! That’s what scientists are now describing, as Suzanne Simard does in this Ted Talk. Trees converse “in the language of carbon…in the language of nitrogen,” and through mycellium intermediaries they send help to each other and their whole community.

“When mother trees are injured or dying, they also send messages–wisdom–onto the next generation of seedlings,” Simard says.

Tom Wessels summarizes the research: “Paper birch trees that were struggling in the forest received as much as 6 percent of their energy from carbohydrates produced by surrounding Douglas fir. The extra energy was fed to the struggling birch by the mycorrhizae [mutualistic fungi]…[T]he mycorrhizae benefited the entire forest ecosystem by maintaining or increasing photosynthetic rates, nutrient retention, and species richness.”

We are all so deeply interconnected! How much we have to learn if we just listen!

Here’s a poem about humans getting into the game.

Events @ Listening Tree

August potluck will start later

garden after weeding July 2016

Dear friends,

Welcome to the farm, as usual, the first Saturday of the month, this time August 6. What is unusual is we’ll start at 6 pm instead of the usual 4. There will still be plenty of light and time to tour the farms and housing coop.

It will be a midsummer potluck feast! We have sooooo many luscious veggies in the garden, and the young chicken flock is just starting to lay (tiny) eggs, so we can’t wait to share with you.

And frolic.

Yes, there will be frolicking.

(Remind us if we get too serious and forget.)


RSVP here.




Events @ Listening Tree

Gratitude, paying forward


Classic hippie buses full of new generations of classic hippies

Literally busloads of volunteers from the Grateful 4 Grace Revivalist Tour arrived at Listening Tree Coop last week to help shape up the farms and build out our coop infrastructure. It’s amazing how much got done in a week. They completed the composting privy, hoisted the roof deck for a new cabin, put up the rotational grazing fence for a new chicken run, (ate and) weeded weeds, chopped kindling, built a platform for a 750 gallon cistern, and trellised tomatoes. They made a new, wide gate in the homestead garden fence, and now truckloads of compost can get straight into the garden. Volunteers also helped start a hugelkultur mound in our future food forest area.

But more than all the work, the Grateful 4 Gracers’ loving energy uplifted everyone here. The trees, too, are grateful, from what we can tell!

The Grateful 4 Grace caravan travels around helping intentional communities build capacity as a way of paying forward the gratitude of their founders. We are certainly grateful for them and will pay forward to the world from the strength they lent us! Already we sent a big bag of fresh organic veggies along with them to bring to their next stop.

Thank you, thank you! To them and everyone who’s helped and touched our hearts here at Listening Tree.




Heron and Leah enjoy the view from the barn loft

Heron and Leah enjoyed the view out the herb loft window.


Community life, organic farm

Midsummer harvests

Hocus Pocus Week #1

Hocus Pocus members are getting shares of the farm’s bounty each week.

The three farms at Listening Tree Coop–The Lee family’s farm, Hocus Pocus CSA, and our homestead farm, are fecund-o-rama as we approach August. Roosters crow, bunnies burrow into the coolth of soil, and veggies pour into the kitchen for feast after feast.

The weeds call to us a little louder than the blog, but we just wanted to post a few pictures of the farms and feasts to keep you posted.


Community life, transition

Our first composting toilet installed!


Let me just say the yuck factor for me is the opposite of the cultural norm. To me, the most disgusting thing that can happen in an ordinary day is splash back of toilet water on my butt. Seriously, is there an amount of toilet paper you can put down first that ensures no splash back and doesn’t clog the toilet? I spent 57 years trying to find the right balance. But those days are officially over at Listening Tree Coop!

plunger saying goodbye
Plunger looking for a new home

I know, I also went to camp and got latrine duty more than once. So I get it why people think it’s a lifestyle change for the worse to recycle the nutrients in your pee and poop for the good of the soil, the water, and humanity.

However, a compost toilet is not, I repeat not, a smelly old outhouse. The Full Circle design Ben Goldberg and Conor Lally just put in at Listening Tree Coop is a gem of appropriate technology. Like most indoor composting toilets, it has a 4W fan that ensures a negative pressure in the toilet, and pulls the odors out through a special plumbing stack. The Full Circle also uses elegant engineering to make the most of the knowledge gained by decades of design and maintenance of various models since the first composting toilet came on the scene in 1973. It simplifies maintenance through modular and interchangeable collection and resting units.

Ben, Conor, and Tony.JPG
Ben Goldberg (center) explains the compost toilet installation to apprentice Conor Lally (left) and plumber Tony Hawkes (right).

And it’s a urine diverting system–which separates out the urine from the feces, etc.

But before I get too techie, which you can do at BuildingGreen, I want to outline why it’s so important to move away from flush toilets. They pollute water. No way out of that. It takes tons of energy, chemicals, and work to pump and purify water to be drinkable. Then to use most of our household clean water to flush our toilets is just ecologically insane. Sewage treatment plants spend tons more energy, chemicals, and work to clean water. As we slide down Hubbert’s curve off peak oil, we can’t afford to waste energy like that. And the effluent from sewage treatment is still not completely clean, so we rely on ecosystems to do the rest of the work, which they can’t always handle. Septic systems are worse: all leach and many fail, which pollutes ground water and water bodies.  With the global water crisis increasing, we can’t afford to defile any more water with insufficiently treated waste.

Which brings us to the most important piece. Flush toilets turn resources into waste. Poop and pee are actually resources, if handled the right way. We close the circle if we return them to soil as nutrients. Because urine is so high in nitrogen, peecyling avoids the need for natural gas-based fertilizers. To learn more about cutting edge research on peecycling for farming, check out the Rich Earth Institute. To see (and pee in) our compost toilet, come to our next potluck and/or farm workday, April 30. I promise, no splash backs.


you poop in it