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MWA April newsletter: A thousand true fans

7 Apr

Mountains and Waters Alliance newsletter: April 7, 2018

The newsletter will include an essay, upcoming events, and major future events. I’d like to highlight two events: April 27-29 weekend in Columbus, and Land care retreat May 25-28.

Please see new thoughts at “Journal”, which includes ramblings, responses to things in the news, links, and miscellaneous – unedited.

Study Group” will offer thoughts and support for living the conscious, engaged life as part of the family of life.

Neither will have notifications at this time. At the moment there are new writings in Journal.

A Thousand True Fans

This is an ask for money. It’s hard for me to do, but if I don’t ask you will never know.

The article was written for artists, who are famous for not having enough money. It proposed that rather than trying to make it big, an artist could survive with 1000 true fans – people who went to every concert or bought everything you produced. The idea was that such fans spend about one day’s income per year on your work. If that amount is $100, you have an excellent income.

My adaptation of it is like this: Instead of chasing foundation grants, which takes a lot of time and produces usually nothing, I’ve chosen to earn a living – which takes a lot of time and produces enough to live but not enough to move forward with the Alliance.

I’m inviting you to offer support to the Alliance, at whatever level would feel good to you. You can donate yearly, monthly, even daily. You can donate $5, $10, $100, $1000, any amount. Fees are small. There are over 200 subscribers to this blog; I don’t know many of you or even why you’re here. But if 20 people chose to donate one day’s income per year, and you averaged $36,500 income, I would have $2000, which would cover Internet fees, brochure printing, the accountant, and some more. If 200 people donated $20 per year, I would have $4000 and could actually move forward slowly. 200x$50 and I can go back to full time Alliance work – or we can pay our debts or something.

There are lots of other kinds of support (ask me, especially if you are good at internet stuff) but this is for people are short on time – perhaps for all those of you who send something every time I ask – would you consider making a commitment? Go here for more information or to make that donation. Here are some ways we would like to spend it:

  • Internet access, phone use, travel for meetings/teaching/study, printing brochures.

  • Growing food sustainably, restoring the land

  • Turning the farm into a gathering place; making it a place for residential practice

  • Repaying loans, beginning with the solar panel loan, then the loans from people, last loans from me.

So that’s it. I’m asking you for financial help if it works for you. The energy is growing, and I’m doing my best to give it what space I can.

Meanwhile at the farm – we have maple syrup and box elder syrup (this is less time-extravagant if we cook it inside on the propane stove; we are making vinegar from apples, pears, strawberries, pineapples, and pretty much anything that comes by, and drinking it for health and taste. “We” means me and T.R., a friend who is staying for several months. A different “we” is me and Perry, doing nursery plant stuff because he knows how to grow and also to sell. We’ll have more plants and hopefully some income. I’m trying to save my time for the deeper spiritual work, but the land tempts. We’re below freezing and snow-covered at the moment. Like lots of places. Climate change!

I hope you are all well.




  • April 15 MWA potluck day including work 2-4, ritual 5-6, potluck supper and gathering

  • April 21 FARM 12-3 grafting workshop with Sarah Claasen, registration required, fee, two spots left.

  • April 21 FARM all day work day (might go to Earth Day celebrations late afternoon, might keep grafting until dark)

  • April 18 ZEN 6:10 Intro to Zen “What’s it good for?” – Northfield Buddhist Meditation Center.

  • 27-29 ZEN and MWA – Shodo is teaching in Columbus, OH. Friday evening workshop, Saturday morning sitting and discussion, Sunday all-day sitting with 2 pm talk. For more information contact Don Brewer.


  • May 2 ZEN no gathering

  • May 1-5: studying with my teacher in Bloomington, Indiana.

  • May 16 ZEN 6:10 Intro to Zen – “Spiritual community” – Northfield Buddhist Meditation Center.

  • May 18 FARM all day work day

  • May 19 MWA potluck day including work 2-4, ritual 5-6, potluck supper and gathering

  • May 25-28 MWA Land Care Retreat includes meditation, work as practice, dharma talks and discussions, community building.


Silent retreats are held almost monthly. If you would like to come to one of these, please contact Shodo directly. An Intro to Zen retreat will be arranged when there are a few requests.

  • Midsummer: I will be traveling to Colorado and could arrange to be available in Colorado, northern New Mexico, and points along the way from Minnesota.

  • Late September: I will be in upstate New York and could arrange to be available.

  • October 26-28: Land care retreat – same as May

  • For Zen and farm events, see here.

Vairochana Farm Apprentice and Volunteer Schedule spring 2015

13 Feb

Hi everybody,

Here is a rough schedule of farm apprentice events for the spring, with extra opportunities interspersed (like this). But feel free to ask about another time. All spring we will have these things going on:

  • land care and later foraging
  • farming: first prep for orchards and gardens; later planting of same; later taking care of them
  • construction: more living spaces in the main house, because we have people coming to visit and/or live here

For all events:

  • Please register (email is best, shodo.spring@gmail.com) to get details and arrange carpooling.
  • Wear outdoor clothes suitable for weather.
  • If you’d like to come Friday night, contact Shodo (shodo dot spring at gmail dot com);
  • otherwise we’ll start Saturday morning 9 am, optional overnight, and continue Sunday to 5 or dark.
  • We can work around local church commitments. Optional zazen Sunday 6 am.

sketch of design - 2014

Saturday, March 14: Some of us will carpool to a workshop in Amery, WI: Building a Regenerative Farm. It’s a perfect way to start off a season of learning.

Extra: (March 15: tap trees for sugaring – maple, box elder, walnut)

March 21-22: Work weekend focusing on maple syrup making. Expect to take home a pint of syrup – probably box elder or walnut, that’s what most of our trees are. Wear old clothes, bring rubber boots.)

Extra: (April 11-12: Land care – buckthorn removal and replacement, and erosion restoration at the old land bridge – if weather permits)

April 25-26: Site preparation for planting the orchard in the field by the road. We’ll work together with the professionals to strip till, create micro berms and swales, and bring in materials.

Extra: (May 4-6: Professional team will plant trees in the east field. Volunteer help is more than welcome.)

Extra: (May 7-8: plant berries and flowers in area north of driveway)

May 9-10: planting trees, follow-up, and berries. We’ll follow the plan laid out to complete the orchard. Depending on time, there’s also a buffer strip to plant, and the whole berry section (with flowers for pollination). The berry section will be fenced.

Extra: (late May, TBD: follow-up care of orchards and berries. Likely also some foraging – nettles at least, maybe other wild foods. )

There are also these non-farming activities offered:2014-12-02 Rohatsu

Sesshin – just sitting, 6 am – 9 pm, with 2-3 hours each day of mindful work:

February 21-25, March 23-27 (Monday to Friday), April 20-24 (M-F), May 25-29 (M-F)

and these off-farm activities:

Mountains and Waters Zen group in Northfield, 1st and 3rd Wednesday evenings 6:30-8:30 at NBMC: Feb 18, March 4 & 18, April 1 & 15, May 6 & 20, etc. Come 15 minutes early for instruction; 313 1/2 Division St, easiest to enter from Washington Street.

I am speaking on April 12 at Northfield Unitarian Universalists. 10 am, 113 Linden St S. (Call me if you need accessibility information.) It’s possible to sit at NBMC and slip in a few minutes late to the service.

I hope to see you, here or somewhere.



POSTINGS: Farm manager, apprentice program, and chicken houses for rent

9 Feb

Dear Friends,

I’m putting this information here so it’s all in one place. If you are interested in any of these, please contact me at shodo.spring@gmail.com or 507-384-8541.

WEEKEND FARM APPRENTICE OPPORTUNITY – South of Northfield, one hour from Minneapolis

Spend one weekend per month working and learning. Projects may include planting an orchard, land conservation, maple sugaring, water management, and other tasks involved in establishing a diverse woody polyculture farm (aka permaculture or regenerative agriculture).

A year’s commitment is requested; the program will continue for multiple years. Overnight stays are optional. Carpooling will be supported. Expect a combination of exciting learning and plain old work.

This is a no-money project.


Vairochana Farm is looking for a farm manager:

The ideal candidate has these skills.

  • woody perennial polyculture, permaculture design, organic certification;
  • ability to supervise apprentices and volunteers, work cooperatively, initiate new projects, handle essential money & record-keeping;
  • plus grafting, maple sugaring, bees, animals, forest products, putting up food, and marketing.

You may live nearby in beautiful southern Minnesota, or consider joining the residential spiritual community living here in a house transitioning to passive solar. (We don’t have separate housing.)

Please call or send resume and your requirements. Compensation could include opportunity to start your own small farm businesses on our 17 acres.


South of Northfield, one hour from Minneapolis. Two chicken houses for humane organic chicken raising. Rent could include cash, eggs, and/or fix-up help. We could help with chicken care but not do it all.

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