Reflections on Broken Windows

– Forrest Inslee –

lao.tzu
I find that in times of setback, it is sometimes helpful to find lessons that can be learned in the midst of disappointment. In the case of the vandalism of our beautiful new classroom there is certainly wisdom to be gleaned from experience!

Vandalism is nothing new on the MSA land; it is a big, secluded section of woods that — of course — is simply going to invite bored kids looking for mischief. We’ve seen theft and damage there plenty of times before. I have to confess feeling a bit naïve in retrospect – to think that we could put up a building in such a place and expect a sudden cessation of trouble. (What were we thinking?)

window.shotThe recent smashing of our doors and windows definitely now causes me to think about establishing a classroom there in more clear-headed terms! I am convinced that, instead of the physical building being the first step, we need to establish the presence of people on the land. We need to plant the seeds of community.

I think that this is an exciting and very achievable prospect! It means that we need to make the final push to find the funds to finish the access road, and to bring power and water onto the land. Once that is done, so much becomes possible!


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I am convinced that there are many young people who would love to live on the land as MSA interns – helping to steward the land, to prepare for its many future uses, to farm some parts of it . . . and of course to care for the classroom come the day we finish it! As it happens, we are in the midst of a tiny house re-imagination and design process in MSA – one that will result in the construction of an innovative tiny home just looking to be lived in! This could easily be the first of perhaps several tiny houses we establish on the land – and the beginnings of the Mustard Seed Village dream that motivated Tom to purchase the land in the first place.

The establishment of a human presence on the land – and the necessary improvements that such a move would require – make myriad new uses possible. To push through to finishing the land improvements would in so many ways open the doors to new projects and endeavors:

  • The Celtic Retreat would be transformed if the utilities were installed and the classroom completed.
  • We would have a site for exploration, experimentation, and education in sustainable food production and forest stewardship.
  • Finished facilities on the land would create new opportunities for retreats and seminars in contemporary spiritual practices.
  • And this more useable site on Camano would be the perfect setting for re-imagination workshops like the tiny house design events we are creating now.

So sure, we lost some windows. But what we’ve gained I think is some new perspective and new motivation for a different – perhaps more realistic – approach to the realization of the dreams that the MSA Camano site represents.

Interested in finding out more? Drop us an email and let us know!