Jamie Anderson, the singer-songwriter who is doing a benefit house concert at Heathcote Community on May 22, has a fun video biography on youtube. Please take some time to get to know this artist if you’re not already a fan. Her work runs a wide continuum from comedic to sensual, employing many musical styles along the journey.

In the biography, she talks about how having a musician for a dad influenced her life’s path. I can totally relate. My dad was an insurance executive and I to this day have the compulsion to get paid for telling people that things could go very badly, we should all prepare for calamity.

My dad, Bill Dolen, was also a professional musician who played saxophone in the big band days. I felt deeply connected to him when I learned sax as a kid. Of course, I didn’t pick sax out of all the limitless instrument possibilities; I wanted to play flute. Nice, lightweight, girly. But my family had a saxophone in the house, so rather than renting a band instrument for me, we went with what we had. Of course, the frugality of that was slightly offset when my parents had to buy a luggage carrier with wheels because this petite eight year-old couldn’t lug her alto sax onto the city bus to go to school.

The weight of that sax in comparison to its new player was the ultimate killer of my musical career. Even with the wheels, I so hated the burden of dragging Dad’s alto sax to and from my downtown alternative school that I took to leaving it in the band closet with all the other instruments. I like to think it made friends, ala Toy Story or Brave Little Toaster. So that when someone broke into that band closet and stole the school’s wind instruments, my brass Bundy bravely went along, out of solidarity.

I felt crushed. I had lost my dad’s saxophone. This is when I learned that the one I’d been playing in the school band was not one he’d used in the big bands, but one that Mom had bought him as a gift. Uggh. Worse.

My parents got me a flute. I took private lessons. But that flute was not brave. It wasn’t Dad’s. I was never going to be the same pre-sax kid again. Hmm. Did Dad’s butch saxophone make me queer? Hmm…

What’s your musical biography? Post in comments here, or on our HCD facebook fan page!

See you all on Sunday, May 22 at 7pm at Heathcote Community for Jamie Anderson! RSVP at 410-458-2310. The event will include a fundraising dinner beforehand and a silent auction, details to come! And check out Jamie’s video biography below! I will be posting links to several of her songs in the weeks leading up to the concert.   —WT

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In my world, Permaculture education and comedic Lesbian folk music are a luscious combination, like chocolate and peanut butter. Remember those Reese’s commercials in which one person is walking down the street eating a chocolate bar and someone is walking towards them eating from a jar of peanut butter and they’re both so self absorbed that they don’t see the other, collide, and their food gets combined, thus delivering them to a higher level of Nirvana? Well, Jamie Anderson probably has a song about that.

I’ve been keeping it in the back of my mind that I’d like to get Jamie to Heathcote Community for our House Concert Series, and now that chocolaty muse has collided with Heathcote’s exciting new opportunity: An adjoining piece of land which we’ve always held dear is for sale, giving us a chance to greatly expand our organic farming and Permaculture education programs. Oooh! Peanut butter!

The Anacker Land

Open Classroom kids camp it up for the annual apple harvest in the Anackers' heirloom orchard.Heathcote Community was founded in 1965 when Bill and Margaret Anacker, members of the School of Living, sold  a 37 acre parcel of their land to SoL as a headquarters for the magazine Green Revolution and as a  homesteading demonstration site. As a 1960’s & 70’s style hippie commune sprouted and grew on the land, Bill and Margaret were very involved, mentoring young folks in homesteading and sustainability skills. The community overlapped onto other parts of the Anackers’ land and the community evolved into a wimmin’s land  through the 80’s and eventually a mixed queer & straight community of settled members. Over time, Heathcote acquired parcels we call the Farmhouse land and Cabin land, or, Back 70, both of which had previously been the Anackers’, and which helped us expand our membership and unify our little valley.

Now with Margaret passed on and Bill needing eldercare, the Anacker family is selling the 24 acre parcel on which Bill and Margaret homesteaded for so long. This land would give Heathcote our first substantial ridge top acreage, suitable for gardening/farming we haven’t been able to do down in our narrow valley and flood plain. This would allow us to expand our Permaculture education, internships and community membership, and provide crops for donation, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and/or market gardening, as well as allowing Heathcote to increase our food self-sufficiency.

We have some substantial pledges from large donors, starting us on our way. We’re partnering with Fusion of Baltimore as our fiscal sponsors. We’ve formed a fundraising committee and seek broad community support for bringing the Anacker land into the community.

Jamie Anderson

Award winning singer-songwriter/parking lot attendant Anderson plays tunes that go from sexy to silly, witty to whimsical.  She first hit my radar when Louisville DJ and Yer Girlfriend vocalist Laura Shine played her music at a time when we were first launching our Fairness Campaign there. She’s been on my playlist ever since!

She draws from many influences. As her website explains: She’s country without the big hair, bluegrass without the whiny tenor, blues without selling her soul and rock without the dirty t-shirt.

Besides songs that range from laugh out loud to tugging on your heartstrings, Jamie is adept at improving witty, thoughtful intros and stories. Her shows are great entertainment on many levels!

More nibblets from her site:

When Jamie isn’t touring, she’s taught songwriting, guitar and other classes at Duke University, arts centers, privately and at festivals all over the country. She has a chapter in Songwriting and the Guitar, a book that also includes Paul Simon, The Indigo Girls, Joni Mitchell and others. Jamie is a freelance writer whose articles and CD reviews have appeared in Acoustic Guitar, Curve, SingOut! and more.

Anderson’s awards include Finalist (USA Songwriting Competition, “Your Mama Scares Me,” 2008), the Jane Schliessman Award for Outstanding Contributions to Women’s Music (Women in the Arts, 2006), Best Folk Album (The Independent, A Promise of Light, 2005), Honorable Mention (Great American Song Contest, “Beautiful,” 2005), and others that only her mama cares about.

Save the date: May 22, 7pm. And stay tuned to Hippie Chick Diaries for more articles with links to Jamie’s songs and details about our silent auction and plant sales!

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Too Busy for The L-Word

Wren on February 8th, 2011

One thing that is the same at Heathcote, my Intentional Community, as in the wider world is our tendency to over-schedule and over-commit.

It’s a predictable comedy when we whip out our calendars at meetings and try to find a date for any outing, celebration or committee work. We’re certain to settle on some compromise date that leaves some people falling off the edges, “I can’t be there, but you all have it without me…”

Even as I shift my own projects, saying good bye to Open Classroom and selling off our fair trade retail venture Heathcote Earthings, my freed-up weekends have somehow gotten scheduled.

Nature abhors that vacuum; Wherever it appears, here comes stuff flying in!

Last summer, I kept the Communities Conference at Twin Oaks on my calendar for months. Finally I would get to go, represent Heathcote, market ZEGG Forum to Communities, network, play, eat, etc.

But wait! Along came Mother Earth Harvest Fair, holding an organizing meeting on the same weekend, conflicting with a great gathering at which I could have marketed…Mother Earth Harvest Fair.

Notice the subtle difference in saying, “This is when the meeting is,” versus, “When can you meet?” In either case, I expect you’ll have people dropped off the edges. But if I’m invited to find a date that works for me and that becomes difficult, I can opt to serve the higher good with my, “You all meet without me.” If I’m informed of a date and I have a conflict, I’m faced with breaking one commitment or the other. It’s a subtlety of inclusion and empowerment, I know.

So…I had low expectations when I opened my Netflix in the Heathcote kitchen and announced to the random Heathcoters within earshot, “Hey, I have season one of The L-Word! Who wants to watch?” Karen, my sister in queerness, zoomed up to answer me. “I’ve always wanted to watch that but I haven’t gotten around to it!”

That was the case with me, as well. Two over-scheduled gurrls, living in the woods who haven’t gotten around to checking out the now-canceled L-Word since it first aired in 2004…Ah…Sad.

“Can you watch it tonight?” I cringed, not daring to hope. I could see this collaboration log jamming my Netflix queue for the next month.

“Well, I have one thing I really have to do, but after that, maybe eight o’clock?”

What just happened? Did she say tonight?

She was clearly trying to calm the series of faces I was making, but I took the offer. And it only took until half way through dinner for Karen to warn me of her second thoughts. “I’m really feeling tired,” And, on schedule, half way through dinner cleanup she recanted, “I really want to see it but I know I’m not going to make it through. I’m just wiped out…”

You can put the tea in Ellie, my favorite mug. It has a band of runes that spell the four elements. I don't see that on The L-Word...

Watching on my own, I found out this land dyke wasn’t missing anything. I bailed after three episodes; I just wasn’t hooked. I can’t relate to rich lipstick sisters and their suburban problems. I’m still hoping for some Princess Charming who doesn’t know she has motor oil behind her ear (so cute) to saunter over here and haul this goat chow up the hill, and then make me some ginger nettle tea and massage my aching joints…between her many committee meetings.

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Relationships, polyamorous or monogamous, are complicated enough. Imagine if all your friends had to reach consensus on whether you and your sweetie(s) could move in together. Well, actually, your friends might relish that power. Anyway, welcome to the alien terrain in which my partner and I find ourselves. I live at Heathcote Community and in order for my partner to share my home, he has to apply and be accepted as a member of the Community, a process that can take eight months or more to be finalized.

Even though Heathcote is a mixture of couples and singles, this is not an issue we’ve often faced, considering a membership application from an existing member’s lover. It’s a very different dynamic than welcoming a couple together or an individual. What happens if someone doesn’t like this new partner?

In our tried and true process, we invite an applicant to visit for 21 days, either consecutively or over time. We get acquainted and discuss the Community’s values, systems, etc. Either the applicant or a Heathcoter can decide at any time that things don’t seem to be a match. But if all seems cozy, we approve the applicant to move in and begin a seven month provisional membership period.

But what if there is an issue, and it’s a community member’s lover? The stakes get much higher. If the Community rejects this applicant, they stand a good chance of losing an existing member, too. Will people feel pressured, in that case, to ignore problems?

My partner, C.T., has unique worries. He’s a consensus trainer and writer. Will Community members feel self conscious practicing consensus around him, or will they be resistant to his thoughts on our process, assuming that he expects us to do things his way? How to tread lightly and lovingly when you’re something of a big wig in your field…

Mostly things are smooth sailing so far. But I know everyone’s aware of the new dynamic. We did dance here briefly before when a former partner of mine applied. That was quite a minefield, as that partner truly wasn’t a fit for Heathcote, despite being likable on many levels.

Now C.T. and I aren’t the only ones. Nick’s partner Rachel has applied for membership. Previously, I experienced that moving to a small, rural Community as a single person was a decision to remain single. It seemed very hard to make, maintain and grow connections.

Did something shift? Has the internet negated that isolation? I have had good luck with GreenSingles… Whatever the case, along with the singles and couples interested in Heathcote, we also have partners coming to roost!


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Wren makes friendsYes, this is a donkey checking out my dreadlocks. Animals are often drawn to me, but not usually in that nosy-stranger-at-the-bank kind of way. This one seems to be thinking, “Is it hay? Is it a bouquet of dead willows and petrified water snakes? What happened to the days when visitors used to bring me sugar cubes?”

These pictures are from a later visit. If my smile seems strained or forced, it’s because I know this donkey’s history. He and and two female donkeys lived at the very top of the mountain where my then partner Iuval had his bio diesel converted school bus parked, in glorious, nearly pristine Murray Valley, Arkansas.

Wren & Jackass...I mean IuvalAfter weeks of declaring that I would never live in Arkansas because, well, they keep it in Arkansas, I arrived and fell in love with the Ozarks. Iuval’s bus, Shadowslo, anchored a campsite on a shelf on the side of the mountain, six miles from the paved road. The owner had cultivated a large garden and orchard on the shelf for decades. It would have been the perfect site for the Intentional Community we wanted to start, but the owner wouldn’t sell.

Male donkeyBut back to the donkey with history. When Iuval and I were first together, he would have to go to heroic lengths to contact me. He had no cell phone or internet reception at the campsite. He could drive into Jasper, where he got reception if he stood in the middle of the town square and cocked his head just right, or he could ascend the peak.

On one of his first calls from the top, Iuval described that he was enjoying the company of three donkeys that were kept in a field there. “I bring them apples from the orchard to make friends with them. I’m giving an apple to one of the females now, and petting her.”

Wren and donkeyThat’s nice, dear.

“That’s strange. The male donkey has come up to us. He seems curious. Maybe he wants an apple but I don’t have any more. Whoa! Sweetie, this male donkey has the biggest hard-on I’ve ever seen! That’s some schlong! Hmm. I feel inadequate…”

Now, I grew up around farm animals. I know a thing or two. “Iuval, get out of there now! He’s jealous! Get away from his woman, I mean it!”

“What? No way. Why would he be jeal…”

What I heard next was

  • hoofbeats
  • Iuval running
  • air whooshing past the phone mic as his arms moved
  • Iuval screaming, “Omigod, omigod, omigod, omigod, omigod, omigod,  omigod, omigod, omigod, omigod, omigod, omigod, omigod, omigod, omigod,…”

Nan makes friendsNow in the seconds these sounds were in my ear, I was thinking, who do I call? How do I tell them where he is when I’ve never been there? Why do men never let me know something and listen to me when I do?

“I’m okay. I’m up a tree.”

“Is it an apple tree?”


“Okay, well, good luck with that. Call me next week.”

Apparently these donkeys were polygamous, not polyamorous.

cu, Iuval makes a call on top of the mountainThese shots are from a day Iuval and I hiked up to an overlook with our friends Nan and Dave. I had to laugh at all four of us–As soon as we got to the top of the mountain, in the donkey pasture, we all stopped conversing, whipped out our our cell phones and dialed the outside world!

Life isn’t going to be the same, is it?

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His initials spell WAR. A wonderful “online magazine in the reality-based community” called Pam’s House Blend posted about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s new Attorney General pick. Besides his other right wing credentials, he’s publicly used the words “immoral,” “perversion” and “degenerates” in reference to the queer community. Scary thing is, I’ll bet his mother really is proud. Unless she’s a dyke…

wren-constance-talmadgeAs a “degenerate” on so many different levels, I’m often dismayed at the gulf that seems to divide the left and the right. But it seems that different playbooks, different assumptions drive each. Cultural liberals want to let folks be, we’re comfortable with a range of behaviors, as long as our own personal choice is intact. We can allow that contradictory ideas can both be true and that the different ways our neighbors live are enriching for our children. Cultural conservatives like structure and having things defined in absolutes. I guess then you don’t have to wonder if you’re right or if ideas need updating. They’re absolute. The Bible is a favorite source for absolutes. Strangely, my liberal Christian friends have the same book with the same words in the same order. But their book says very different things…

rainbow-colors-very-appealing-use-one-its-okayOn facebook, fundamentalists and liberal activists play this out. After the Pope’s remarks that condom distribution only makes the AIDS epidemic in Africa worse, one woman wrote about handing out condoms on her campus. A “friend” shot back that, if everyone would just follow God’s law there would be no homosexuality. After a few exchanges it turns out that his logic was this: Homosexuality may or may not be hardwired for some people. But since “God’s law” is no sex before marriage, and gays can’t marry, well then no homosexuality…

Problem with his plan is, I follow “the goddess’ law.” Sex is sacred…and our gulf remains.

As long as we keep talking past each other over the gulf, every political battle just feels like another in a constant barrage of skirmishes, some lost, some won on a battlefield where the majority rules. I support that fight, but I feel empty that virtually everybody goes home with the same ideas they came with.

My mom, Peg FinnieMy mother, left (literally), is a political science major, a political animal. I have always been called to activism, but as a marcher, not a lobbyist or pundit. I am not a political animal, probably because I’m too emotional. Someone starts arguing me down and I just want to hug them or defect to a warmer climate. My vehicle for change has always been personal action, living by example, networking to transmit my ideas and culture, witnessing for justice and my beliefs as situations arise.

To me, not going shopping is a radical act of social justice.

So is there a way to bring the country closer together? (Note to the Invisible Forces of the Universe: I’m not asking for another 9/11 or Katrina here. I’m asking people what people can do. Butt out. We’ll handle this.)

A friend who’s a sex therapist brought SAR to my attention: Sexual Attitude Reassessment. I’m interested in this sort of thing on a grassroots or cultural level. But I’ll probably start by trying it within Intentional Communities, those wonderful laboratories of cultural change. Play, play, play!

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