Highlights from our July Quarterly Board Meeting


Welcome to our School of Living electronic newsletter where you can catch up on what is happening in our land trust communities and SOL committee work.

    Once again, we gathered in Zoom space for a virtual quarterly board meeting. Special thanks to our Administrative team for their work in preparing for this meeting, our Administrative Assistant, Hannah Levasseur, for gathering, organizing, and distributing all the necessary documents; Jerome Liss for facilitating the Board meeting, Paul LeVasseur for taking notes, and all the wonderful SOL members who participated in the meeting. We had 12 people in attendance. Our next meeting is scheduled to be at StellaLou Farm. Please, watch for schedule changes that may be made in response to the ongoing pandemic. Here are the highlights of our 2020 Q3 quarterly board meeting.

    • Conflict of Interest Policy - The board determined that the policy was sufficient as written. The administrative committee had reached the same conclusion after review, as did the IRS at the time of SOL’s founding. Thank you to Will Pierson for volunteering to join the Ethical Finance Committee.

    • Social/Racial Justice

      • The board discussed how best to put SOL’s principle of Social/Racial Justice into practice and possible means of supporting the Praxis Committee's ongoing efforts.

      • The board determined that the most immediate and impactful way to practice our value of social/racial justice is to support the StellarRoots community. This support includes access to the Community Growth Fund and assistance with donor networking/grant opportunities.

    • Mediation Policy

      • Formalized the SOL conflict resolution/mediation policy to clarify that only disputes and grievances that are directly a part of the SOL’s Community Land Trust Program will be addressed by the Land Committee. Any School of Living Member can bring the request.

      • SOL will provide a list of mediation/conflict resolution resources for each SOL community, based on their location.

      • The current SOL President, Will Pierson, will be available as a resource to help SOL communities and their residents to help find the best source of mediation for their needs.

    • Community Report Form - The board decided to simplify the community report from the detailed, quantifiable form to a narrative with suggested topics.

    • The board decided to leave the Vice President position on the board extant but vacant for now.

    • 2020 Board Meeting Dates and Locations

      • Q4 2020: October 9-11 – StellaLou

      • Q1 2021: January 22 - 24 —Teleconference via Zoom

      • Q2 2021: April 16 -18 —Heathcote

      • Q3 2021: TBD

    Will SOL Join the Movement for Reparations?

    The most recent preamble to our SOL By-Laws is “Devotion to Social Justice.” The repercussions of slavery, destruction of black wealth and prosperity in the aftermath of slavery, and ongoing systemic racial discrimination can’t be denied. The persistent and significant racial wealth gap is clear. How can SOL as a community land trust be an active part of repairing these historic racial and social injustices?

    Step 1:

    The Praxis and Education committees request the participation of the SOL membership (members, board, and committees) in a working zoom meeting on August 5th at 7-8:30 pm. This will not be a presentation but a conversation to bring the minds and energy of our SOL community together toward a focused intention.

    Let’s do some homework before attending the meeting so that we all will have a sense of the who, the what and the why of reparations for BIPOC. Know the history. Come with questions. Without a doubt, you are encouraged to go much deeper in your studies but the essay by Douglass DeCandia, Reparations toward a more just and beautiful world, might be a good place to start.

    Some of the topics of our August conversation may include:

    • Who are we and What do we have to do with reparations?

    • Working through language and theory. See Will Pierson’s thoughts on this here.

    • What resources do we have?

    • How can we use our resources toward reparations?

    • Are we willing to put our minds and energy towards action?

    This August Zoom SOL membership discussion will provide SOL with a united foundation of understanding (who, what, why), before our discussion of vision (how) with Eric Jackson of Black Yield Institute in September. Join Zoom Meeting

    Here is a list of resources about reparations that will be helpful in self education. If you have further questions about the meeting, send an email to

    Step 2:

    On September 2nd, Eric Jackson of Black Yield Institute will be talking with us about cultivating self determination through Black land and food sovereignty. We will learn more about reparations, particularly in relation to land. We will talk about how community land trusts can help with retaining existing lands with Black ownership and transitioning more land into Black ownership and/or utilization. We will be discussing “How” land trusts can support and engage in obligatory reparations. This event will be open to the public. Come with your ideas and solutions and questions!

    In Case You Were Wondering About Such Things

    by Will Pierson

    Image courtesy of Will Pierson

    Your amateur part time president’s day job is washing and now rinsing bottles. This prepares them for racking up five gallons of five year old double spice chai mead.

    The mead, dark, rich and unusually flavored as you might guess, is a bit too sweet for my taste. The sweetness, however, meets with the approval of ‘she who must be pleased’. It appears a success. Besides, I just finished the last growler of three year old jalapeno mead. It sipped wonderfully when served cold on a hot day.

    Ok, back to doing the president thing. But before doing that, perhaps I’ll graze a bit on fresh plucked chard and string beans as the squash and cucumbers don’t appear to be producing much yet.

    Summertime Greens

    Image courtesy of Deborah Fisher

    From Deborah Fisher of Julian Woods: I love growing and eating Collards and Kale! But over the past few years the cabbage worms and other caterpillars have decimated my crops. So, this year we built these netted tents using electrical conduit as frame and Tutu cloth for the covering. I got this idea from my friends, Gene and Tania, who are avid organic gardeners. They share a lot of their ideas on their website. This project was a bit of an investment, but well worth the money and time.

    Image courtesy of StellaLou Farm

    From Michaelann of StellaLou Farm: Knowing I tend to lose control of my kale and collards to the caterpillars in summer, I start up some red malabar spinach to climb a pole somewhere. The bug damage is minimal and they love the summer heat. The leaves can be put into smoothies or cooked up with some eggs. They leaf out and seed prolifically and are beautiful to look at!

    Apartment Rental at Julian Woods Community

    Image courtesy of Julian Woods Community

    In January of 2021, there will be an apartment available for rent in one of the residential buildings at Julian Woods Community. We are excited to welcome anyone interested in exploring a life in our intentional community, with the possibility of future membership. We have a long history of cooperative living, sharing of resources, and appreciation for the diversity of all lifestyles and identities, as well as the ecological health of the land we live on. We are especially interested in a young couple or small family to help us grow into our next decade.

    The apartment is on the ground floor with a small outdoor deck and garden area, and a view of Bald Eagle Valley. There are 2 bedrooms and full bath. The ‘great room’ has a full kitchen, dining area, and living room with sliding glass doors to the deck. $800/month rent includes heat, electricity, use of a shared laundry room, and convenient parking. The cost of Internet access and TV cable access can be shared with the other residents, if desired. Monthly dues to Julian Woods Community are $75/month/adult which covers maintenance on our private road and water systems, as well as use of our pond and 150+ acres with woodland trails.

    To view images of the apartment please Click Here.

    If you are interested, please contact Jack Neisworth ( or Ann Wilken (


    Flight from the City: A School of Living Documentary

    Matt Tennyson is collaborating with School of Living (SOL) to create a unique documentary to spread the word about communal living. This way of life can be a revolutionary way forward towards a more sustainable, harmonious, and peaceful world. With your donation, we can support Matt to complete the production, editing, and release of this important film.

    Stellar Roots

    Stellar Roots is a collective of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people rooted in healing and in service of land based community living. They have been operating as a partner of the School of Living Land Trust since 2018 and are working and living on the Itsodi land, a School of Living land trust property. Learn how you can support this project. Note that Stellar Roots is not a non-profit organization and your donation will not be tax deductible.

    SOL Recommends:

    • Join us on August 5, 2020 at 7-8:30 for conversation Will SOL join the Movement for Reparations? Attendance of SOL Board, committee members and SOL members is requested.

      Join Zoom Meeting

    • Save the date: Eric Jackson of Black Yield Institute will join us for our monthly Zoomcast on September 2, 2020 at 7-8:30. Watch for Zoom details.

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