Blog Post: Managing Anxiety


It seems that we live in a world with a lot of anxiety. It is easy to be swept up in a sea of fear and anger as we watch the climate change, listen to divisive political discourse, feel the weight of injustice, worry that our news is fake, and hear that danger is all around us. We may feel a tightness in our chest, break into a cold sweat, retreat into ourselves, or any other coping mechanism that we deploy to feel some safety in the face of uncertainty.

But what is the nature of this “safety?” It seems empty. Somehow, anxiety finds a way to creep back in. In reality, our self-imposed isolation separates us from that which could actually help; seeking connection with ourselves, others, and the natural world.

When we seek connection, we engage in an act of trust. When we look inside ourselves, we trust that we are worthy of careful consideration of what we find. Perhaps we are harboring some deep hurt, or maybe our fear comes from unresolved questions. If we are to resolve our innermost anxieties, we must have the freedom and the patience to connect with ourselves without reprimand. We are who we are. Starting to discover this self-trust opens up a significant pathway to confidence and self-love. Both of these are remedies to the anxiety that may be imposed on us in these times.

But this inner connection alone is not enough. We need others who can bring out the best in us. These may be professional mentors, therapists, or councilors. Or, they may be trusted members of our community, family, or friends. This too takes trust. Again, it may seem like a scary option to be emotionally vulnerable to others. However, this fear comes from the fact that people just don’t share their emotions enough. Fortunately, there are simple steps to overcoming this fear. Start by simply saying hello. More often than not, people go through their usual routine without interacting with any of the people around them. Ask someone new how their day is going. Acclimate yourself to the emotions of others, and you will soon find that people have much more to share than you might think. This will create an environment in which you are safe to share your feelings, moods, and thoughts. Together, we can build trust and safety by reaching out to others. If we can move from seeing others as people we live alongside, to people that we live with, we will be making significant steps to alleviate our collective anxiety.

Finally, the importance of a connection with nature cannot be understated. Take a moment to yourself in these spring days to stop for a moment. Listen to the birds, enjoy the warm air, and marvel at the interwoven natural systems with their beautiful complexity. Recognizing that each of us is a part of a much greater network of living beings can be incredibly calming. We should love nature because while we might sometimes think that humans have moved beyond a dependency to nature, in reality, it cares for our needs and works to keep balance. Connectivity with nature gives us an important and calming perspective on the world. We can alleviate many of the factors causing climate change without drumming-up loads of anxiety. If we are in tune with the earth, we can recognize that we should reduce the amount that we waste, and care about protecting our rivers, lakes, forests, deserts, and all other environments for their own sake.

I admit this approach is open to a great deal of nervous skepticism. All I ask is that you give it a try this month. When anxiety flares up, see how you can connect instead of withdrawing. I think that doing so is not only a radical approach to self-understanding but also a catalyst of system-change. We should do this because each of us deserves to feel secure and part of something greater than ourselves.

I will end with an excerpt from my favorite poem Ulysses, by Alfred Lord Tennyson. I find something new in it each time, and it contains a message of trust, perseverance, and hope. I hope it can give you some inspiration as we take on anxiety this May;

“Though much is taken, much abides,
And though we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven,
That which we are, we are.
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Made weak by time and fate,
But strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find,
and not to yield.”

Be well,

Blog Post #3- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), the Evolutionary Leap: Is Society Lacking Focus or Understanding?

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti

Much of the western world has a very limited idea of what a successful life looks like. Go to school, create a lucrative career, marry, reproduce and repeat throughout the generations. The lives that deviate from this model at any point in the timeline are often shamed, punished, isolated and/or medicated.    

We often try to put labels on people who behave in ways that don’t fit into our current model of perfection: ADD, bipolar, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, autism, etc. It makes us more comfortable to explain a way of being according to an archetype because we often believe that if we understand the person’s behavior, then we can better predict how they may act in a given situation—it makes us feel safe. We do this with all mental “disorders” and often times the people that need the most support and true understanding get discounted and isolated because of this label. Our current society is not an inclusive or understanding one. We have lived in favor of ourselves over the collective for many generations and our people and planet are feeling the disconnection. I believe that the climate we have created around “mental illness” can be changed very easily—I believe that positive change lies not in “fixing” anyone, but in our perception of these people.

ADD or “attention deficit disorder” is considered to be a handicap and afflicted people are often subsequently medicated in order to function in society. In my opinion, however, I believe society is the one with the disorder—not the individual. Let us consider the possibility that a lack of focus on one subject (or ADD) is actually a leap in human evolution.  

The way in which we humans behave and interact with the world around us has changed dramatically since the digital age began. The collective consciousness of humanity is now available at the swipe of a finger thanks to smartphones and the internet. How amazing to think about! With this immediacy of information, we are often inundated with it. In any given day, the average smartphone user responds to personal and work/school emails, making and receiving a number of phone calls, interacting with 1-4 social media platforms which are filled with thousands of news stories, event details, how to’s and communications from friends, family and foes.

How many steps have I taken today? *click* Let’s take a cool photo for Insta-pin-tweet-book! *clickclickclick* Oooo, look at this cool waterfall pic! *click* I should research a trip to Venezuela. *click* I wonder how the social climate is doing there these days. *click* What about Zika? *click*…*click* *click*

Then life snaps into focus. What should I make for dinner? Will I have time to go shopping between getting off of work and picking up the kids from school? Don’t forget to clean the litter boxes tonight. “Alexa, set a reminder.”

Is it any wonder that we are unable to focus on a single task at hand? Our rapid advances in technology as well as our expectations for each individual to be all things to all people have been demanding that we become multitasking humans. We have been adapting to this way of life for the past couple of decades and for some reason, we are all surprised and upset that we actually became the multitasking human that we were working toward. The old “careers” of sitting down and performing the same, repetitive tasks are no longer acceptable to those who have adapted—is it any wonder why so many people are bored and unfulfilled at their jobs?  How can we possibly expect children to sit down and put all of their attention on one school subject when they are used to playing with smartphones and having schedules that would stress out a seasoned business professional?

Sticking to these antiquated ideals is an unreasonable demand and, in my perspective, a disservice to humanity. Being able to juggle many things at once is the only way to survive in this fast paced world these days. If we embrace this “scattered” way of thinking instead of medicating it out of existence, we open ourselves up to a much more integrated society. Much of today’s ills are a result of compartmentalization. We have always exalted the “expert” who studies one subject for their entire lives and while it has been useful in understanding the minute details of life—getting to know the microcosm—it has let us down in the understanding of the macrocosm. The era of the “expert” in one field must come to an end for us to fulfil our next stage of evolution. The success of our future relies on our ability to intimately understand all things—and most importantly, how all things are interconnected.

Styrofoam was created by a brilliant chemist, an expert in his field, who had no understanding of ecology and how living organisms, in conjunction with the elements, break down organic matter to recycle organic elements. The legislator who studied economics and signs a bill allowing for the development of a forested area doesn’t understand the physical, emotional and spiritual interconnectedness that the adjacent communities have with that land. The landscaper who chooses Kentucky Bluegrass for a lawn in Michigan doesn’t understand native plants and therefore doesn’t see the resulting negative impact this choice has on water and petroleum usage, carbon emissions, soil quality and biodiversity.

In order for our species to survive, we must embrace a more holistic way of educating ourselves. We need to understand many areas of life instead of placing all of our attention entirely on one subject. The world is large and we have much to learn and integrate into our societies, but it is something we must strive for.

In my case, I would–by every diagnostic measure–be considered ADD. However, I was allowed to find constructive outlets for this energy instead of stifling it—for me, that outlet was enterprise.  The scope of running a business is quite vast, so it was natural for someone with ADD to thrive in a role where the mind has to be in 50 different places at once. Running a business provides a playground for scattered energy to thrive and focus into a single goal. It is imperative that many areas of knowledge are given energy on any given day—from marketing, to accounting, to supply chain management and inventory, regulatory concerns, customer service, project management, etc. I can truly say that I never would have been able to get to where I am if I hadn’t embraced my “ADD” and come to a place of gratitude for it.

It is my firm belief that the inability to focus on one thing at a time is an evolutionary response to technology, access to information and rapid communication. This is simply the path of the new human being. This will not go away with drugs or shaming or anything other than understanding.  I believe we should learn to look at what seems to be “abnormal” with a new perspective and to consider these as “gifts” that just may be taking us in a beneficial direction. When society provides space for a person’s uniqueness, we will be healed of these “disorders.”


Blog Post #2: Imagine

Henry David Thoreau is quoted as saying, “The world is but a canvas to our imagination.”
Cultivating curiosity, wonder and imagination is what defines our ability to create and be the artists of our lives. What an empowering concept!
And so I invite you to dream with me…of all that a joyful, bustling, heart centered, regenerative community can be…

Imagine a world where relationship art, connection modeling and cooperative culture are esteemed community qualities.
Imagine a world where peacemaking and mentoring are embedded and supported in the culture for everyone.
Imagine a world where people come together for group projects to make our lives more light and beautiful.
Imagine a world where creativity is nurtured, where art and music are celebrated.
Imagine a world where the community glue is celebration, ceremony, deep play, deep nature connection.
Imagine a world where you live with other environmentalists who are passionate about preserving the biosphere for the next seven generations and take daily steps to ensure that.
Imagine a world where food is organic/biodynamic, where farmers are celebrated and the food is known as healing and nourishing for wellness.
Imagine a world where challenges are resolved by group-generated solutions, embracing the gain in maturity, conflicts resolved, role-modeling intact.
Imagine a world where Elders still want to contribute, mentor, read to children, share wisdom and skills with youth and families. Where you can grow old surrounded by friends who know, love and support you.
Imagine a world where parents with children can be surrounded with instant “aunties”, “uncles” and “grandparents”. Where parents are supported emotionally.
Imagine a world where children have a curiosity for exploration, learning from the natural world of patterns and connection, and encouraged to pursue passion. Where they are allowed to unfold in their timing.
Imagine a world where adolescents, searching for the personal expression of their unique gifts are mentored to find them, then assisted with seeing paths to give those gifts into the community.
Imagine a world where adolescents who are butting heads with parents and need to spread their wings, can live in a safe learning environment, where the parents can watch from a distance with confidence.
Imagine a world where young adults can work, train and gain expert skills in cooperative businesses, powerfully launching into independence with the life skills to be successful.
Imagine a world where workers own their businesses and with integrity, deliver extraordinary quality.
Imagine a world where mothers can give birth with confidence, surrounded by wise women, in a safe supportive environment.
Imagine a world where one can approach death with confidence, and die consciously with dignity, at peace, with caring loving support.
Imagine a world where we co-create the more beautiful world that we know is possible.

Consider going out into nature, sit, listen, look, hear, feel and imagine the world you will live in…in joy…enjoy. Consider imagining this world into being with us…

Gaylyn Kaufman

Blog Post #1: Welcome to the Michigan Ecovillage Blog

Greetings Ecovillage Supporters,

Welcome to the Michigan Ecovillage Blog! This will be a space for intentional creation that we hope to update monthly. The goal is for the Michigan Ecovillage blog to provide inspiration, thought-provoking ideas, and relevant information to the members of this community that we are building together.

Because an Ecovillage requires, “intention” as one of its focal elements (most ecovillages are also referred to as “Intentional Communities”), it seems like reflecting on what this really means makes a great first blog entry.

So what is intention? A simple definition might be that an intention is a kind of goal. If I set a goal to donate a further 5% of my income to charities in 2018, or to reduce my total weekly consumption of meat, this typically means that I intend to achieve the goal(s) that I have set. However, sometimes humans set goals that only carry intention behind them for a month or so. I’m thinking of the short-lived nature of many New Year’s Resolutions, that lead to hundreds of articles with titles promising some secret motivator or methodology that will allow me to achieve the goals I set on January 1st. The fact that so many people run into this problem with their goal setting seems to indicate that it can be possible for a goal and an intention to come apart.

We could define a goal as the words framing an achievement that someone desires. Intention then, is the force that awakens a person by providing them the motivation to pursue some goal. But intention seems like it is more than just motivation. For example, one could be motivated to work towards establishing power for marginalized people, but also have no idea how to go about doing this. It is easy to see this motivation in the world around us. It is the energy that we feel at a protest or march, or when powerful speakers make an exceptional case that we should feel strongly about their cause. However, many organizers at events like these will tell you that oftentimes the motivation produced tends to dissipate too quickly for the objectives of the movement to be met.

We come to an incomplete definition of, “intention,” if we only look at what we mean by, “goals,” or, “motivation.” What is still missing? A plan of action. A plan of action is produced when a goal is defined, the motivation exists, and a person wants to channel their energies in the most effective way possible to manifest their vision in the world. Of course, it is possible to have a plan of action without the intention of carrying it out. A certain political outlook might even lead one to recognize this as a feature of many campaign promises. So intention must be a combination of a goal and a plan of action, coupled with the motivation to see the project through to fruition.

Intention requires persistent work to bring together these factors. It cannot be a passive act. An intentional community brings together a number of people with the same goal, to work together to produce the best plan of action, and inspire motivation within one another. Sharing the work of intentional creation is one of the most valuable products of an ecovillage.

Over the course of this month, think about the goals that you have for yourself, for your community, etc. Then evaluate whether these are intentional, and if they aren’t what aspect of intentionality might be absent. Finally, think about some ways that a supportive community might be able to take part in the intentional creation of a more beautiful world.

Thanks for taking the time to read this first blog post, we look forward to hearing from you in the comments section and/or at our general meetings.


Be well, live intentionally,

Sebastian, Michigan Ecovillage Director

The M.A.D.I Home

Another unfolding prefab structure has popped up on the tiny-mobile-home scene, and this one even comes flatpack. What’s more, it boasts an on-trend A-frame construction, is earthquake-resistant, and requires no foundational soil when used as a temporary structure.

Designed by Italian architect Renato Vidal, the versatile M.A.DI. house can be used for residential, hospitality, and disaster-relief purposes and is highly customizable. It comes in three main sizes, with the basic model measuring approximately 27 square meters (290 square feet), with double and triple modules clocking in at 56 and 84 square meters (603 and 904 square feet), respectively. Each house offers two floors of living space and includes a kitchen and bathroom

And when it’s time to move out, the structure can be disassembled and refolded and stored until the next time. Pricing begins at 28,000 euros, or approximately $33,000. If the popularity of the folding mobile structure by Ten Fold Engineering is any indication, M.A.DI. is sure to be a hit. Watch it unfold, below.

Please note that this article was borrowed from

What is Biochar?

Biochar Is a Valuable Soil Amendment

This 2,000 year-old practice converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security, and increase soil biodiversity, and discourage deforestation. The process creates a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal that helps soils retain nutrients and water.

Biochar is found in soils around the world as a result of vegetation fires and historic soil management practices. Intensive study of biochar-rich dark earths in the Amazon (terra preta), has led to a wider appreciation of biochar’s unique properties as a soil enhancer.

Biochar can be an important tool to increase food security and cropland diversity in areas with severely depleted soils, scarce organic resources, and inadequate water and chemical fertilizer supplies.

Biochar also improves water quality and quantity by increasing soil retention of nutrients and agrochemicals for plant and crop utilization. More nutrients stay in the soil instead of leaching into groundwater and causing pollution.

Biochar is a Powerfully Simple Tool to Combat Climate Change

The carbon in biochar resists degradation and can hold carbon in soils for hundreds to thousands of years. Biochar is produced through pyrolysis or gasification — processes that heat biomass in the absence (or under reduction) of oxygen.

In addition to creating a soil enhancer, sustainable biochar practices can produce oil and gas byproducts that can be used as fuel, providing clean, renewable energy. When the biochar is buried in the ground as a soil enhancer, the system can become “carbon negative.”

Biochar and bioenergy co-production can help combat global climate change by displacing fossil fuel use and by sequestering carbon in stable soil carbon pools. It may also reduce emissions of nitrous oxide.

We can use this simple, yet powerful, technology to reduce carbon emissions. Learn more at

This post was borrowed from the International Biochar Initiative