Living Close to The Land
Orren Whiddon

        For those of us who live at Four Quarters, simplicity has always been a way of life, either through necessity or foresight. In the early years we relied on gifts of food and clothing from Members simply to survive and make it through the hard winter into the next season. By the turn of the millennium times were easier, and we focused on maximizing the money available for the camp by minimizing our living costs. Five years ago we began a very conscious effort to put into practice the skills required for long-term adaptation to the emerging Age of Limits. It has been a process that began from simple need and has grown to be seen by us as an integral part of our Earth Spirituality.

         We have learned a lot over the past ten years, and we have quite a few “facts on the ground” to show for it. Energy efficient buildings, gardens, orchards, root cellars, tools and equipment. As important as the physical is the social, the mechanics of how a diverse group of people can come to share their everyday living needs and arrangements in an emotionally and financial productive way. And as we have learned on our local level we have expanded our understanding of the global predicament, the exponentially growing ecological load on our very finite planet. The Age of Limits.

         Ours is a rural strategy, obviously; but we believe there are urban strategies of “Power Down” that are just as valid. And we use the word strategy, because the challenge before us is that of evolving adaptations to address how we live and interact with the planet. It is not a set problem that is amenable to a set solution.

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Hard Times
Orren Whiddon

Let us pause in life’s pleasures and count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There’s a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh Hard times come again no more.

– Stephen Foster

No doubt about it, hard times have come again. And for many reasons these hard times are likely to be as long lasting and transforming as the recession of the eighties, perhaps more so. The signs have been plain for years now and many of us saw this one coming; in fact our Board of Directors made the decision to buy the camp way back in 2003, and bought it in 2005, based on an expectation of severe financial hardship by 2008. Since then Four Quarters has been putting every spare dollar into paying down the camp mortgage and installing the foundation of our much needed camp infrastructure, taking advantage of the good times while expecting those “Hard Times Come.”

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The Future and Four Quarters
Michael Jones

We live in a world with an uncertain and foreboding future where the long-standing paradigms of stability are becoming questionable. The US economic downtrend, the fall of the stock markets, the rapid increase in living costs, and the dilution of the purchasing power of money are some examples. Additionally, the resources to support modern society are being stretched thin. In the midst of these hard times is a place and a culture that can weather the storm - the Land and Community of Four Quarters. The vision and dedication of its Members to maintain a sanctuary for the seventh generation is its key to survival. Living close to the Land with reverence for Earth Spirit is its key to sustainability.

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A society that balances the environment, other life forms, and human interactions over an indefinite time period.

by Orren Whiddon

Personally, I was first introduced to these concepts by a wise high school teacher who assigned me to read the original “Limits to Growth” report of 1974. The conclusions drawn by that report, which I have essentially presented above, hit me like a thunderbolt, followed immediately by the first global oil crisis of 1973-74. In those times there was a lively public discussion around issues of industrial sustainability, renewable energy systems and “Back to the Land Self Sufficiency.” I determined on a technical education to focus on renewable energy systems, and spent four years helping to build what was then the largest array of photovoltaic panels in the world.

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Grow Your Own
by Cathy Rich

Canning_TomatoesSml     My husband and I are growing more Earth Aware these days; we recycle, compost, have an outside garden, greenhouse, and a growing herb garden inside. We’re not nature activists or environmentalists per se. But we are Earth Spiritualists who recognize the importance of giving back as we take. We consider ourselves stewards of the land and do what we can to take care of our little portion of Mother Earth. For example, each Yule for the past three years we have purchased a live dwarf evergreen tree to transplant after the holidays. More and more these days, we are hearing, “the economy is bad, save wherever you can.” Gas prices are higher. Grocery prices are going up, too. Cutting corners and tightening purse strings is not always that easy, but let me share with you a way that is quite easy, not terribly expensive and is enjoyable.

     A few years ago my thumb was any color but green. I had the seemingly black thumb of death; even plastic plants in my apartment could not survive. I didn’t know the difference  between basil and sage. That all changed after I met my husband and our Wiccan study group held a workshop on growing herbs. Herb gardening is a pretty inexpensive hobby and the more you do it, the more you learn. And I have found, helps to feed my spirit as I develop a deeper connection with the Earth.

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