Sunday, May 9, 2010

Noah, Nervin & Mark — Coleen O'Connell


A few weeks ago two work horses, Nervin and Mark, arrived at the farm where Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage has its development phase headquarters. Sanna McKim, our Project Manager, and fellow cohouser, Mitch Henrion bought the Halflinger horses as their first shared step in our sustainable agriculture mission. The newly constructed fence and barn with two beautiful horses is attracting neighborhood stir as they give definition to the farm.

As people arrived for yet another meeting, little Noah, son of Abby and Geoff Gilchrist, asked in his 3 ½ year old voice, “Coleen, can you take me out to see the horses? ” “Of course” I happily responded as I motioned to his father that we were departing. Nervin and Mark were happy to see us. We hauled armfuls of hay as I answered endless questions Noah posed about the life and purpose of these horses. His fear of their size was as large as his curiosity for who they were and what they were doing in this field.

A week later, while helping his parents unpack from a move, Noah was assisting me in placing books and magazines on shelves. He noticed a magazine with a pair of draft horses on the cover. He stopped, took the magazine and set it aside. Later he asked if I would read it to him so he could find out more about Nervin and Mark. Though Nervin and Mark were not in that magazine, there were other teams of horses that stimulated Noah’s questions once again. His fascination with these new members of our community was large as life. We looked at that magazine many times over the course of two days. What I love is that these animals have names, they have needs, and they are fast becoming a part of our community. Noah talks of them as if they have just paid an equity membership and signed up to buy a house. In a rural, sustainable intentional community, I am imagining that over the years the sheep, goats, chickens, pigs and who knows what else will join our community and their membership will be as important to our children as the people who join. Certainly as I field the curiosity of Noah I am aware of the role that animals play in the lives of our children and their growing experience of community. That is how it should be and that is what we intend. All animals – human or other – will all have a place in the ecosystem we are building. The ecological balance will be struck as we experiment with what works and what doesn’t. It will be an organic adventure both literally and figuratively.

Noah will grow up surrounded by a rich array of community members. Aunties like myself from the Auntie brigade will delight in the interactions with other people’s children. For Nervin and Mark, they will continue to have star status as long as there are three year olds around to marvel at them. This is all as it should be.

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