OpHippie: the Situational situation

OpHippie: Mackenzie Beach Sunset

OpHippie: Mackenzie Beach Sunset

So maybe living off the grid with a bunch of unpredictable hippies in a cabin named after Jean Lafitte’s pirate hideout in the middle of nowhere at the End of the Road (literally, there is only one road in and no roads out except the same damn one, backwards) near a place known as Tuff City wasn’t the most stable of choices.


From the Department of Did Not See That Coming:

After a year and a half of my good friend Shahee making a (very!) modest living trying to get the Symbiosis Ecovillage going on the property known as Poole’s Land, the property owner has decided to pull the plug. The property itself has been for sale the entire time, and one gets the feeling he’d just as soon sell it to one guy who already has the money as wait around for a spontaneous group of moneyed hippies to somehow manifest and unite, Transformers-style, into a single twinkle-fingered ConsensusBot which somehow has three quarters of a million dollars.

Which is down from the two million price tag I’d heard about a couple of months ago.


The upshot is, we can all stay and carry on as usual except that working for Michael, the property owner, suddenly outranks working for Symbiosis in our daily Workshare regimen, because it is now not going to be Symbiosis. That, I’ll remind you all for lo, all of you except those in inherited houses are working far more to keep yourself housed, is two hours a day working at various tasks from keeping the common areas clean to shoveling the humanure composting bins out to spreading broken tiles in the potholes (with the result that our potholes have rainbow auroras and look like they were made by Dale Chihuly at a Greek wedding) and the like. So now, all the long term planning tasks are gone, replaced by “let’s get this place in shape for summer short term campers” tasks.

Which is not simply a change of labour, but also a significant change of direction and thinking.

All of this, combined with the fact that Shahee, the one who convinced me that moving here was a good idea, is probably leaving to find work, has brought things rather to a head. Into my head. Which is already pretty crowded and busy, if you ask me.

Yesterday P left. He’s a wacky, cheerful, tall, blond surfer with a part-time job at the gas station and a habit of materializing at the most improbable times simply to hang out in silence for an hour, then leave, calling the experience “peachy” and wishing me “a beautiful experience today,” accompanied by the prayer hands and little bow gesture that probably has a proper yoga name that I don’t know.

Today S was raging, or as close to raging as a man who is constitutionally incapable of rage can be, about how he came here and stayed here not because he wanted to camp in the swamp and be a hippie, but because he wanted to be living rough now and working to build something for his future, so that by the time he’s 26 or 27 he’ll have a place to live, and he’ll have built it with his own hands. And who’s to tell the man he does not have that right? But he can’t do it here; he’s now too busy weeding the kale fields and hauling lumber to clear the campsites, to say nothing of not, you know, actually owning the land.

So here I am, having received (at a guess, but I’m pretty goddam good at guessing) $500 worth of gifts and cash (returned $200 because YAY, had gotten a brief paying gig!) from a handful of generous souls who wish me well on this adventure and want to support it, and having spent a great deal of my own money to get to the place and equip it (rather glad I didn’t spring for my own axe, thank god), I am now wondering whether to chuck it all in.

This ecovillage is dead. Long live the ecovillage.

Symbiosis will carry on. It just won’t live here. And that’s actually okay, because here, objectively speaking, is 17 acres of swampy rainforest with a protected salmon stream and within the town limits, so subject to building codes, thus ruling out pretty much any structure you could really call an “earthship.” Which is what ecovillages are generally made of, not abandoned Chevy vans circled like musk oxen against predators.

Now, the question becomes do I tag along with Shahee, should he bolt, and land in some other ecovillage, or on the property of an obliging hippie type looking to ecovillage-ize? Even though I don’t actually have a bus or even a tent? Or do I close the Grand Experiment and truck all this sophisticated camping gear back to The Big Smoke, where I have nowhere to live and couldn’t afford it if I did? Or do I sit tight, work on my Secret Project (Oh, I didn’t tell you about the Secret Project? THAT’S BECAUSE IT’S A SECRET!), get my healthcare and paperwork and ID up to date, get a driver’s license, continue to talk to S2 about a work/trade for the bus she has for sale, convert the bus like Shahee‘s into an incredible mobile home, and save money until the passport comes in, as was the Whole Original Plan in the First Goddam Place?

Well, is it really a question?

Any situation, however chaotic, that I am already in is always my default choice as compared to any new situation unless the new situation comes with paid-up housing that includes deep bathtubs suitable for hours-long soaking, and that is simply a fact. I often say of myself that I’d put more effort into avoiding crises if I didn’t take such pride in my ability to cope with them, to which the friend who knows me best said, “That is the most self-aware thing you’ve ever said.”

This preference for stasis will no doubt come as a surprise to most of you who are familiar with my rather adventurous-seeming lifestyle, but then most of you didn’t see the mildew on the apartment that I’d hung on to for thirteen years. As long as I have a place to come home to I’m perfectly content to go to some crazy dangerous places on day trips, or even overnights, provided there’s wifi, I assure you.

So. Sunrise. Sunset. Sunrise? I’m still about 10% on the fence, but for now it looks like I’m staying.

But it definitely looks like I won’t be giving this blog URL to the landlord.

PS: for what it’s worth, the rainbows are still following me.  All the way from Port Alberni, in fact. I hope it’s a good sign.

OpHippie Rainbow means pot AND gold at the end? What if I don't like pot? Can I just get a nice Guatamalan poncho instead?

OpHippie Rainbow means pot AND gold at the end? What if I don’t like pot? Can I just get a nice Guatamalan poncho instead?

22 thoughts on “OpHippie: the Situational situation

  1. The idyllic lifestyle that isn’t? Maybe you should try eating lotuses in the Greek Islands? We clean our block for a couple of weeks and unblock the drains when the shit overflows (ok he does that bit). But we do get paid for it. Seeing as I run the block.

  2. Sounds great! The sticky bit is the passport, which for complex reasons is taking several months longer than normal. That’s what I get for being born abroad and losing my ID in a mugging.

  3. We lost ours too. It was remarkably easy to re-obtain. ID and passport and bank cards. Really must get the new health cards though (this was four years ago I might add).

    Spain let us out saying we couldn’t go back in with ID (stolen in Spain) and Gib let us in. After pulling us to one side, presumably so they could check the vehicle number plate and check on the computer that we were right-on bona fide people. Which, of course, we are :)

  4. Not sure about that. But we are middle-aged, British, have a Land Rover and can on occasion speak with an impeccable accent. We own our own hovel (aka a one bed flat that is extremely scruffy but it’s somewhere to cook and to crash). We have ID because my partner can always find work, unlike vastly more educated me.

    Sadly societal expectations and appearances will always count.

  5. Well, I look perfectly respectable. I treated myself to a meal in a real restaurant, with a proper Martini, and the waitress said, “I can’t believe YOU live THERE!”

    Alas, Harper is addicted to bureaucracy. Every step of the way to replace my ID costs me money, usually $100. Getting BC ID is $36 I think. Then getting a learner’s permit for driving is the same. Then getting a real license is something like a hundred. Then getting the Certificate of Foreign Birth or whatever they’re calling it now is $110. Then getting the passport is another $100 or so. And you have to do it in order, with weeks between each one. Once I have them all, I can finally go visit my friends in Portland and LA and Mexico and Bangkok and Seville. Things abroad are, typically, much more inviting than sticking around here at the moment, but at the moment I have no choice. But thanks for the offer!

  6. Normally I do not look respectable. Comes of endless dogwalking apart from anything else, oh, bone idleness comes into it, and an unwillingness to conform.

    Last time, ID was a fiver (ie £5), I think the passport was fortyish unless you wanted a British one rather than a Gib British one (que difference?)

    Can’t remember what the licence thingy is, around a tenner to transfer or something like that, but a pain in the arse to do though.

    Sevilla is nice. One of my faves. Bangkok is good too.

    I meant it was just a place to crash for us, but still, if you manage to get to Gib from Sevilla why not? The youth hostel would be more civilised, but if you want to fight with the big furry dog for the sofa (little dog and us are on the floor in the bedroom) or the spot under the table, you are welcome. I’ll try and wash off the mould on the bathroom tiles though so pls give me notification.

  7. Ha, no worries. I just meant the general, “Well, why not try the Med?” invitation. I’ve got friends on all coasts there. I could probably couch surf for a couple of months.

    If I head your way, please don’t wash the mold off the bathroom tiles. It’ll remind me of the Wet Coast I live on now.

  8. Oh my. Things are getting even more complicated. Apparently the partner of the owner doesn’t want me working late in the kitchen, and if I can’t work late, I can’t work period. Dubstep and hippies in and out all day are not conducive to work, and my normal peak hours are between 7pm and 2am.

  9. What can you tell me about poole’s land today? We want to go spring 2017 is there an Eco village? Is it a camping place? Can u just show up… camping prepared? I appreciate any info. Thanks.

  10. You can just show up. The ecovillage fell through when he refused to sell at the original price. Bring your own food and toilet paper, as well as tent. There are no RV-friendly spaces in Poole’s Land.

  11. That actually sounds just like we wanted and hoped for. RVing is not exactly camping or eco friendly for that matter. We don’t plan on showing up unprepared with just suitcases in hand. We’re a bit more experienced in the outdoors than that down to a water straw and flints. Appreciate the information.

  12. The Eco village may have fell thru but it seems they have taken another direction for 2017. A productive leap forward for the place. Not every idea takes; unfortunately when u were there u experienced that. Could have been the leadership, the people, whiners or just bad timing. Either way the point is moving forward and maybe this time it will take.
    All issues including wet wood can be dealt with if you have the know how. Small issues Hun. When ur in an unpredictable nature you learn to expect the unexpected and roll with the punches.

  13. Well, the issue of the owner being fundamentally unwilling to sell is a problem that remains until a) he changes his mind or b) there is a different owner. There’s lots of land. Have a good trip. I still miss that place every day.

  14. I’m not sure I’m understanding.. why do you think selling or a new owner is what it needs. Why do you feel the present owner is detremental to the land being productive in some aspect?
    Sorry about all the questions I’m just not understanding.
    I guess I’m trying to understand how the venture failed due to owner not selling. Could it not continue even with him owning the property? Please elaborate more. Thank you

  15. That’s correct, the ecovillage as planned could not proceed with him owning the property. It was meant to be a collective. And he participated in the planning process from the beginning, but then changed his mind. Without the land to create the co-op, that ecovillage could not exist.

    If he wanted to create an ecovillage that he owned as landlord, well, he has had decades to do that.

  16. I just don’t understand why he would even consider selling at all. Leasing for projects I can see. Would the project not worked under a lease? Or was coop ownership of the land the goal?
    Was it non profit? If so how was your organization going to pay for the buy of the land and what was the owner getting from the sale?

  17. It was to be a co-op. In the end, ultimately, he didn’t want to sell. That’s why the price varied from $800,000 to $3.5 million in the course of two years.

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