Tucson Community House Update

Helen St. House in Historic Blenman-Elm Neighborhood

In late October of 2016, Tom Greco and I went house hunting for us and Jock Millenson to set up a short term living community. Each of us had a purpose to accomplish during a six-month period. For me it was promoting a new book, for Jock setting up the next summer season of holistic living communities in Greece for which he continues to provide inspiration and guidance. Tom planned to work on the E.C. Riegel Institute and specific projects in alternative currencies.

Jock Millenson on Electric Bike on way to Tennis Court

Jock arrived December 1 and stayed through the end of February before taking off for Mexico for R&R. He then planned to return to Greece in the late spring to prepare for the Kalikalos Holistic Living programs in 2017. However, while in Mexico he became very ill and is currently recuperating in New York with friends and family near by. We wish him well and hope and pray he is able to return to Greece this summer.

Tom Greco with Linda Ellinor at Solar Dollar Meet and Greet

Tom and I wrote two grant applications to support the E.C. Riegel Institute and the Solar Dollar Project. Tom and Will Foster, a colleague, hosted a recent Meet and Greet about this project, there was a lot of interest and the event was well attended. We are hopeful that subsequent business meetings will result in a demonstration project here in Tucson, a town with a strong commitment to renewable energy and local exchange.

Launched!

My book, Threshold, is “out there” and making its way around Tucson. In June, Terrain.org — an online journal of the built and natural environment — will feature a Chapter excerpt and recording of me reading on their book review pages.  The book will also be reviewed on the Fellowship for Intentional Communities blog and newsletter this month. I am beginning to think about a sequel, but still not sure. Several readers believe a sequel is called for, and perhaps a miniseries or a play might evolve from the story. All these ideas are heartening for a new fiction writer. I am leaving Tucson feeling grateful to so many readers and supporters, my publisher Fireship Press, and so many friends who have helped in significant ways to help me read and present with a variety of organizations and reading groups. But by far, my most gratifying moment came when I learned the Pima County Library System selected Threshold for their collection.

So we have all accomplished goals, managed to live together and support each other, and now pack the car or fill up storage and take off in different directions: Tom to his granddaughter’s graduation and then Greece, Jock – hopefully to Greece by way of Woodstock, NY – and me to Nashville, TN to see about finding the next “House on Belmont Street”.

Mark Hainds at Milemarker 40, Sonoita, AZ

P.S. Mark Hainds returned to walk another 400 miles of his U.S. – Mexico Border walk. I dropped him off at Mile Marker 40 in Sonoita, AZ and about right now he should be somewhere close to Yuma, where he will catch the Red Eye Special home to Alabama!

Pensacola – Tucson Meet Up!

Mark Hainds at Milemarker 40, Sonoita, AZ
Mark Hainds at mile marker 40, Sonoita, AZ

Mark Hainds, whom many of you may know from the Downtown Market in Pensacola, completed the second leg of his journey to walk the entire U.S. – Mexico Border.

PBS Film La Frontera

Mark is writing a book about his experiences with migrants, people who live in communities along the borders; agencies and churches who are working to protect and support people crossing the border, and the landscape itself. Mark is a forester by profession so he notes watersheds, tree species, and the general condition of the lands that he walks.

My friend, Tom Greco, and I rendezvoused with Mark on Hwy 82 near Sonoita, AZ today as he completed this segment of his walk. Three hundred miles: El Paso to Sonoita.

See Mark’s Facebook Page for wonderful photos of the “wall” and the murals that various groups have created, and the big-hearted people who fed and housed him along the way.

Mark and Susan
Mark and Susan

 

Mark and Tom at Tucson International Airport - Homeward Bound!
Mark and Tom at Tucson International Airport – Homeward Bound!

Tucson is home to many strong border justice organizations. Check out these two:

Borderlinks

No More Deaths

Also, Tucson was the first Sanctuary City in the U.S. through the work of the Southside Presbyterian Church Sanctuary Program which is still instrumental in working for justice for people seeking asylum in the U.S.

Mark will return to Tucson in mid-April to complete the next segment of his border walk. We hope to support him again on the journey.

How to Live Your Life at Age 85

Jock Millenson on Electric Bike on way to Tennis Court
Jock Millenson on Electric Bike on way to Tennis Court

Today, in Tucson, it is a balmy 65 degrees, strong wind, and sunny. Jock is off to the tennis court. He reminds me of my tennis coach in California when I was just 14 years old. “Fred” resembled Jock in many ways, not only his age, but the fact that he swam, ran, and played tennis everyday of the week. Fred was an inspiring elder for me, and now Jock – who is about 15 years my senior – inspires me, too.  Jock reads books late into the night and is working on updating his business website. This is his “down time” before the summer programs he founded begin again in Greece.

Jock created and manages Kalikalos, a summer school like no other. Check it out. You may wish to schedule a summer break with Jock and his instructors, and the beauty of the location.

In another email, I will write about my other Roomy, who is an internationally known expert on alternative exchange economies.

 

More Together

One of my new roommates has a saying whenever we needed a piece of furniture: “It will show up.”

At first it was annoying when we sat on two chairs with a round of glass-top (scavenged from the side of the road) and several cardboard boxes.

Living Room
Living Room

Since then, our third roommate arrived and we have completely decked out the house with thrift store finds such as my $10 desk, a $48 couch, $6 – $8 chairs, etc. One of us managed to negotiate a gorgeous long dining table for $40.

Tom at the table he found.
Tom at the table he found.

We call ourselves a “senior activist community”. Our oldest member, at 85, runs circles around us with his Tai Chi, biking, tennis, and musical practice on his recorder.

What I am learning is profound. First, together we have more for less: each of us pays $400 rent plus ~ $40 in utilities.  And, second, I am amazed at the really great “stuff” we can find at Thrift stores if willing to “wait until it shows up.”

Susan's $10 desk and chair given by a friend.
Susan’s $10 desk and chair given by a friend.

We are each adults with careers – yes, we are still working – and our own grown kids and families. So we live independently, coming together to throw a party, discuss ideas, and help each other achieve our goals. Recently we hosted a house warming with friends of each of us. The house was packed and we all had a wonderful time.

Together does bring more – more of the right kind of things that make life easier and richer.

$8 chair and beautiful Thai Art from the community.
$8 chair and beautiful Thai Art from the community.

New Gig and New House

Blenman Elm Neighborhood Home
Blenman Elm Neighborhood Home

A lot has happened since the last post on this site. First, I published my first novel (Threshold), and second, I’ve relocated to Tucson to promote it. The story takes place in Tucson primarily but it is relevant to Southwestern cities and to anyone concerned about climate change–or not.

Adobe Style Home with desert landsacping
Adobe Style Home with desert landsacping

In Tucson I am trying another new form of living: cohabiting a shared home to reduce costs and enjoy companionship. While this arrangement specifically helps me with a short term stay (6 mos.) to market my book, it is also a little experiment to see how this arrangement might work for me on a more regular basis back home.

Colors blend with sky and earth.
Colors blend with sky and earth.

First, the house will be shared by me and two friends, one I know and the other friend is new to me. We found a 3-bdrm house in an historic neighborhood of Mid-Town Tucson in walkable distance to the university, shops, post office, and library.

The house was built in 1947 by the man for whom the neighborhood is named Harold Blenman and is in the Blenman-Elm Neighborhood. The home is a brick style ranch with a xeroscaped lawn including beautiful desert plants and trees and a gazebo with picnic table and large brick barbeque. The neighbors homes are a variety of styles, also xeroscaped and in pastel colors and brick or adobe.

The Renewal of Spring

Bubble FishI made the decision to stay on in Little House on Belmont. My landlord will be replacing old windows with new, better insulated windows, and putting another roll of insulation under the house. Its part of our deal.

My energy bills were very high last year, even with keeping the temperature high in summer and low in winter, which I admit was uncomfortable and made me doubt whether I would stay beyond my lease agreement.

But, I am enamored with Little House and believe I can eventually make it comfortable and accommodating for my guests.

Hummingbird and ParsleyI have begun planting a new garden but still have parsley, red and blue kale, and all my herbs made it through except the basil. We had a very mild winter, to say the least.

img_overlay-tempThis morning McGuire’s held the 39th running of their St. Paddy’s day Prediction 5K run, with 11,000 runners dressed in green tutus and wild hats, and green on green garb. Bag pipes, and big men with harry legs in colorful skirts were part of my morning’s mix as I gardened in 70 degree weather.

Bird Bath and Eggs