This past weekend, we hosted the School of Living quarterly meeting and memorial event to celebrate Artie Yeatman’s life. It was nearly a year ago when Artie left this earth. He was a core member of School of Living and a true steward of this land, the land on which StellaLou Farm begins its life. He called his homestead, Birthright. He donated this land to the School of Living community land trust program and we, now, hold that land in trust with the School of Living. J and I, often, remark to each other how fortunate we are to have the support and friendship of the wonderful people in this organization.
During the quarterly gathering, there is time for committees and the board to meet, for old and new friends to talk, and for preparing and sharing food and ideas. The event and the meetings are open to all that wish to participate or would like to learn more about the organization. Personally, I enjoyed having the opportunity to talk with others about permaculture, seeds, nut and fruit trees, bees, gardening, and holistic management. I received insightful feedback and lots of new ideas that I will explore.
A couple of weeks before this event, members of the School of Living joined me to help prepare. We cleared out the barn and made plans for seating for the memorial. When the day came, there didn’t seem a whole lot to do: a little tidying and, with extra hands, we were able to move a couple of the heavier items out of the way. People started arriving, people who shared life with and loved Artie. The sound of voices greeting each other, telling stories, and catching up was rich and heartwarming. Some of us knew Artie little, or not at all, but were helped to feel connected through listening to expressions of love and memories. We came into the barn to sit on benches, chairs and haystacks…maybe some 30 or so of us. Ginny guided us in the service and, generously, shared her feelings and her experiences. Karen recognized the people who helped to care for this land and she shared a video of Artie and June, about their life in Russelville and about their gardens.
Here is the link to the interview with Artie and June.
After the video, people spoke as they were moved to speak. It was inspiring to hear how Artie touched the lives of so many, both young and old. Yes, he was a good gardener but there was something about his spirit and integrity that drew people to him and he touched their lives. We shook hands in the Quaker style and went out to plant a tree on the land in Artie’s memory, a healthy young fringe tree. We took advantage of the gorgeous fall day and strolled the gardens and pasture. We walked through the woods and to the pond. It was a lovely moment when a great blue heron graced us with its presence just after I had spoken about the lively beauty of the pond environment. We visited the bees and gathered for a delicious potluck meal.
The Saturday night event was a presentation by Mike Curtis. He teaches about the ideas and application of Henry George’s ideas upon which the School of Living community land trusts are based. I will let you follow the links instead of my trying to describe this to you. Though I am a participant in the land trust program, my grasp of the Henry George ideas is not strong. Mike’s talk and follow-up conversations (which continue) are strengthening that grasp. I have started to read “Progress and Poverty” by Henry George. Another useful resource with regard to Henry George and his work is www.henrygeorge.org.
Though the weekend is over, I’m excited for the connections that I’ve made and for new projects with School of Living that will begin.