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.


Early blooming Ume Plum tree at StellaLou Farm


SOL Q2 Board Meeting & Annual Membership Meeting will be hosted by Heathcote Community in Freeland, MD

April 23 - 24, 2022

If you are interested in attending or have questions, contact

Looking forward to connecting with you!


April 7, 2022 6-8 pm

Heathcote Education Center, in collaboration with School of Living, will be screening the film, Cracking the Codes, and initiating important conversations "...about the causes and consequences of systemic inequity."

cracking the codes

Image from the

From the World Trust organization: "Designed for dialogue, the film works to disentangle internal beliefs, attitudes and pre-judgments within, and it builds skills to address the structural drivers of social and economic inequities.

Cracking the Codes supports institutions and communities to deepen and shift the framing of racial disparities. The current conversation is not only shallow, but actually harmful. We continue to primarily focus on individuals, when institutional and structural inequities are the bigger problem.

The film features moving stories from twenty-four racial justice leaders including Amer Ahmed, Michael Benitez, Barbie-Danielle DeCarlo, Joy DeGruy, Harley Eagle, Ericka Huggins, Yuko Kodama, Peggy McIntosh, Rinku Sen, Tillman Smith and Tim Wise."

The SOL education committee encourages School of Living members and members of SOL communities to participate in this work for social justice. The event will be relevant to individuals as well as organizations. Please, share the link with those who may be interested. While there is no fee for this event, donations are appreciated. All donations will go to Heathcote Education Center and to School of Living Education Committee.


by the Land Committee

The value of our money changes over time. We call this inflation and deflation. In recent years the value of money has dropped by an average of about 2% per year (2 % inflation). Last year, 2021, the value dropped by 7% (7% inflation).

When SOL enters into a lease, it sets a yearly lease payment amount, based on SOL’s cost of managing the legal aspects of the property and agreements and in some cases, the agricultural productive value of the land. If this value is not adjusted for the change in the value of the dollar, over a period of years, SOL would receive a yearly payment that is one-half, one-quarter or less than the original value agreed upon.

Most people are familiar with short term leases, for 1, 3 or 5 years. For these leases the change in the value of money over time is not too much of a factor. SOL usually writes leases that are perpetual so this change can have a large effect.

To accommodate this change in the value of our money, every lease that SOL creates for its lands contains a method of calculating the change in the value of dollars over time. Each year, around this time, the Land Committee works together to recalculate those lease fees and to communicate adjusted fees to the land trust communities.

The aim of the calculation is to ensure that SOL is paid the same value year over year as was originally agreed. The method that SOL uses is to use values prepared by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), called the Consumer Price Index, (CPI). This is encapsulated in documents published on their website every month and summarized yearly. SOL uses the CPI-U (Consumer Price Index all urban consumers), not seasonally adjusted values to calculate the change in the value of the lease. The CPI-U was chosen for our calculations because it is a more stable representation of the inflation rate. The yearly total factor is shown in the month of December in the BLS data. For example, a lease was created in January 1980 with a yearly lease payment of $500. 1979 is the base year and the CPI-U annual value is 76.7. The annual lease payment for 2022 will use the CPI-U value of 278.802 (December 2021) to capture the change up to the beginning of 2022. The new payment amount would be $500 x (278.802/76.7) = $1,817.48.

There are different models of calculation depending on the land trust community; however, all community leases utilize the CPI-U. In most cases, the lease fee factors the value of the land as well as SOL land management fees. In other cases, in which the community owns the equity of the land; the calculation factors only SOL land management fees. In some cases, the number of people living in the community is an additional factor in the calculation.

The land committee works to bring accuracy and fairness to lease negotiations and adjustments as well as in their communications. If you are interested in knowing more about your community’s SOL lease fees; please, contact the Land Committee.


by Michaelann Velicky


Image courtesy of StellaLou Farm

The Coop at StellaLou Farm hosted an informal controlled burn and art making event on March 5th. We were fortunate that our rain date gave us perfect conditions for burning the area around the pond and up to the new meadow area. Dry, just the right winds, and warm enough to enjoy the outdoors all day long with friends and community. We followed the flames, re-connected and made new connections, drew with char, ate, drank and played.

We are slowly transitioning some of the land from mowed grass and wild areas covered in multiflora, callery pear, vine, and ragweed to land that requires little intervention. We wish to build healthy habitats that support a more diverse range of wildlife and plant species. We are burning to reduce pressure of aggressive species so that native and more diverse flora can get a foothold through natural emergence or planting. The area pictured above was burned for the first time last year and planted with beach plum, honey locust, persimmon, and nut trees from Future Forest Plants. We doused the area around the young trees this year to protect them during the burn. Burning can help with nutrient cycling and may stimulate new plant growth. Burning can, also, reduce the pressure of disease and ticks.

This cultural and historical land management tradition of human societies is important. The U.S. has repressed the practice for over a century and its benefits are starting to become realized again. We are grateful to Zach Elfers who, first, showed us how to conduct safe and effective controlled burns several years ago.

This article from Penn State Extension was helpful in learning the benefits of controlled burns. Video from the burn event is published on the School of Living YouTube channel.

Note: This blog post was, originally, published on the new StellaLou Farm website.


Deborah Fisher from Julian Woods Community operates her flower business from home and uses the JWC living machine greenhouse for her growing location. Here is an article about Deb's Flower Farm!



We love visitors!

Image courtesy of StellaLou Farm

April 3, 2022 from 12:30 to 4 pm.

You're invited to Heathcote's (Maryland) monthly Visitor Day! Come see the community, share a vegetarian potluck meal, and socialize with community members. All are welcome.

Click here for more details.

Stellar Roots, (Virginia) a collective of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people rooted in healing and in service of land based community living, is open to visitors and inquiries. You can contact them here.

StellaLou Farm is a four generation homestead in Southeastern Pennsylvania. We welcome visitors and inquiries. You can contact them here.

Common Ground Community welcomes inquiries. Please, contact Ben with your interest and questions.

Julian Woods Community in Julian, PA welcomes visitors and inquiries. Please, contact Deb Fisher. A beautiful photo story about Julian Woods can be found here.


The Education Committee looks forward to building content on the channel. We invite members to submit their videos on such topics as community living, education, ecology, how-to's, and "self-sufficiency" skills. If you would like to have a video put on the channel or have any questions; please, contact Consider subscribing to the channel!


Singularity Botanicals is Pamela Boyce Simms' YouTube channel. You will find a series of Herbal Wellness Plant workshops as well as a range of topics including spirituality, the environment, and social transformation. Pamela is a practitioner, an educator, and a leader with a brilliant mind. Her website is here. Thank you, Yasmeen Stormborn, for your recommendation.

The Endgames of Bad Faith Communication is an article published by the Consilience Project. It shares practices and challenges of good faith communication. This presents important information in consideration of the work of "consensus" and "conflict resolution," valued concepts in SOL. From the article: "The goal in most cases is not agreement—that would be naive—the goal is simply to preserve the possibility of communication itself. More specifically, the goal is to act in ways that generate faith in the value of ongoing future communication. This is faith in a dynamic of communication that makes it possible to change positions, learn, and improve mutual understanding about essential shared realities." This recommendation comes from Michaelann Velicky.

Undoing Racism Community Organizing Workshop with People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond: Recommended by Karen Stupski


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.

The newsletter archive lives under the "Publications" tab in the primary menu of the School of Living website. From there, you will be able to access each newsletter and use its link for sharing. Contact if you need any assistance in retrieving these newsletters.

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