Last night I gave a talk at the Mustard Seed House in Seattle. It was a small gathering, with about a dozen people gathered in a living room of a small intentional community, a big house with a big garden and four apartments full of people living in ways based on the Bible’s teachings of shared resources. They are also part of Mustard Seed Associates, which is a sort of think tank that is learning and teaching about what God is up to in the world. They have been extremely supportive of my work, including Tom Sine’s contribution of a foreword to my own book. It was wonderful to kick off this big travel extravaganza on friendly turf.
This was the first stop out of more than 20, spread out over most of the United States and five weeks of time. I’ve never done anything like it. Many details are still falling into place, and I expect that the whole thing will include a strong theme of synchronicity, chaos, and grace. It will be a huge lesson in letting go and having faith. Indeed, I had to go with Plan B for my first sleeping arrangements, as my friend got stuck on the wrong side of the Cascades because most of the passes were closed due to avalanche threats. The forecast was for even yet still more snow on my arrival day, but instead we got mostly gorgeous cold sun; this was much better weather for hauling a big suitcase full of books around town.
It is strange being back in the Northwest. After Seattle, I took an old familiar bus down to Olympia, which was my home from 2000 to 2008. I’ll be spending a few days here, visiting my old co-op, my old church, my old favorite coffee shop. This town changes fast and I’m curious to see how well I reconnect with it. I’m especially curious to see how people receive my message. This is not exactly the most Christian-friendly place.
This is the first time I’ve felt so clearly that I’m visiting a foreign land since my first arrival here way back in the day when I first stopped here on my way back from Alaska. It’s subtle, but the music and clothes are different in ways that are familiar because they’ve been my normal for the last decade. I spent most of 2008 shuttling between Washington and California, and this visit comes after a three-month break in that action. It only took that long to get used to the nicer clothes and thinner jackets of California. It is also substantially less racially diverse than California, although Native Americans are much more visible.
On the one hand, it’s only 700 miles from Sacramento; on the other, for most of human existence that is farther than most people ever traveled in a lifetime. After Oly, I’ll stop in Tacoma to present on my way to the airport. Then I’ll fly to Madison, where I’ll meet my Italian co-presenters for a week of barnstorming our way to New York.
I look forward to visiting more of the nation’s distinctive regions. To some extent, chain stores and Hollywood movies have homogenized us, but we’re still a big and unruly place with different things going on all in each region. The West’s frontier history makes is a bit more individualistic, the upper Midwest more inclined toward Scandanavian mutual aid, and the South is more religiously oriented. The real estate bubble has been more intense in some places than others, and of course the rural/urban divide is huge.
It is important to keep in mind that any grassroots solutions have to be adapted to the local culture, but I still believe that our nation (and the world) has enough legal and economic similarities that we can learn a lot from what is going on elsewhere.
Over the next month, I’ll be giving updates from everywhere from Wisconsin to Massachusetts to Alabama to Colorado. In each stop, I’ll be reporting on how the message of Holy Cooperation! is received, and about any relevant projects that I discover, faith-based or otherwise. Please stay tuned.