Choosing to get an SL major Part 2*

Part 2* of an earlier post.

I’m still go over the question, “what is the true value of a college degree these days?”

Even though I’m accruing student debt and even though there are 1 million and 1 other things I could be doing, I do think this is a great place to be at right now because I am learning a lot. But more importantly this major feels really valid, because I am shifting my paradigm and the way I look at the world. This degree is opening my awareness to understanding how I want my future to be and how it COULD be. And on the practical side, it is a fantastic way to network! I am linked up with all of these great Sustainable Living projects all over the US and world because of my link to the SL department at MUM.

click for wiki on Hero's Journey

I think that this degree is like a hero’s journey, a valuable journey to go through to get ready for the world, for the rest of my life. I have no doubt that one day the classes in the SL department will be the foundation of ALL classes in schools. (if indeed there are schools and classes, and I think it could go either way).


Once I come back to the deep knowledge of: “Where I am is where ‘it’ is at.” coupled with knowing that I always have a choice and I am presently choosing THIS, I feel calm about being here at MUM, because it’s a great place to be metamorphosizing my ideas about the world.

What color are your glasses?

To put this into metaphor: IF everyone has impaired vision before college, and college is where we go to buy our glasses, and the glasses give us the lens we’ll see all the world through until we choose to discard them and try on another pair, then the SL degree at MUM is where people go for the really cutting edge glasses. And these glasses aren’t just made by the manufacturer, the beauty of these is how many people help to make them: the whole community of people, animals, plants, elements, etc.

My feelings about the people here have stayed the same. MUM has, and continues to, attract the most amazing people to it. My relationships with the students here just keep getting better and better, in their levels of depth or in new-found friendships.

My feelings about the school itself vary. I initially thought MUM was going to be a perfect 3-4 year college experience, but with time and experience I have been thinking a lot about what my other options are. I will never belittle the importance of my time at MUM, because it is most definitely EXACTLY what I need right now to get clear on the next step/next phase of my life.

For example:

One huge opportunity MUM offers (at least for me) is to step out of the scholastic paradigm of “being told what to do.” Because we have a regular 4 hours of school a day,

Filibuster: The use of obstructionist tactics, especially prolonged speechmaking, for the purpose of delaying legislative action (moreover: to delay making big decisions.)

there is time to independently pursue things on your own, or with peers. In the end we are the only motivator in our lives. I have always loved receiving assignments from teachers; I like being pushed to explore new ideas and new levels of academia. However, I am reaching the point now where I realize that internalizing the creativity of my teachers’ and making it my own: being my own assigner and motivator is what is most valuable for me in the long run.

Also, I have been diving more into the Sustainable Living Department (SL), which is a huge passion of mine. Between taking a class in Horticulture and taking the Permaculture Design Course I was hooked.


Ultimately all the principles of Sustainability are pertinent: community reliance, following your passion, long term thinking, communication, speaking your truth, seeing all the cooperation in the world versus just competition, holistic thinking, and having a BIGGER awareness of the beautiful web we live in.

GO SUSTAINABILITY!!!! WOOHOO. We might as well get excited about the future, cause we are in it.



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Blog 2/9/10      Woodworking with Doug Adams.

EVERYONE'S work on the last day.

The block system goes two ways, sometimes it’s great to immerse yourself in a topic for 4 hours a day for 3.5 weeks (like it was in Woodwork), and sometimes it’s just too much to focus on one thing that much (like right now, in Math for Sustainability).

I took Woodworking in November of this last fall semester. It counts as an Art credit and a Sustainable Living credit. Besides what it counts for, it was a fantastic class because I learned so much, and had such a great chance to fully LIVE in the realm of woodworking*.

Anni's work

*the woodworking we did was much more about smaller pieces, than large furniture building.

We each read a book about woodworking. I chose “A Reverence for Wood” which deepened my appreciation for trees and all the fantastic things we can make from them.

Click for a Google-book preview (see WHOLE THING);





It might seem counterintuitive, but by working with wood we all felt even more connected with the plants they came from: trees. It’s amazing how much trees do. I’ve always loved trees, and after working with their ‘bodies’ in the wood shop I see their beauty and intelligence all the more.

Doug Adams was a great teacher:

  • very skillful
  • very safe
  • very calm and pleasant
  • very reasonable (it good at advising on projects)

Nelson's work.


He has a set list of projects for students to make. Which allows the students to gain progressive levels of skills that build upon one another:

  1. a mallet out of ‘green’ wood
  2. 2 spoons
  3. 1 hand-carved bowl
  4. 1 lathe carved bowl
  5. 1 cutting board
  6. 1 stool/small table

This is my collection of woodworking (except the piano bench/bedside table I made).



We also could make other things if we had extra time: chopsticks, small bowls, etc. Every Saturday, after the 2 hours of class we have scheduled, I would stay for another 1-2 hours to work on my projects, and just cause it was so FUN!

At the end of the class we all went out to Doug Adam’s hand built home to share all of our work with one another.

The lovely breakfast nook in Doug Adam's handmade home. Very woodsy.





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Season Extension

Blog 2/9/12

In the fall I took Season Extension with Stacy Mauer. She teaches all the Agriculture classes here and I adored her Organic Agriculture class in June last year because she is so full of knowledge and all of the field trips we took were really inspiring.

Her classes are replete with relevant field trips. Our final project was to write an essay and pair it with pictures from our trips OR to make a video.

I made the following video on the drive back. I alternated having a sketch book and my laptop in my lap. {LINK}

This was my 2nd try at doing some stop motion animation, but this one isn’t as high quality as the other. Doing the drawings in the car was a little tricky.

Farmer John... has a website!

On our way to Growing Power in Milwaukee, we visited Angelic Organics. (This is the farm featured in “The Real Dirt on Farmer John.” We got to meet and get a private tour with John himself (because of our Fairfield connection). There was a moment, as we stood in his costume barn loft, when I think we were a, “Yea, sure,” away from having a costume party with him! 

All the plants, hanging out. There are fish nearby too!

Next we were in downtown Milwaukee getting a tour of Growing Power. It is this amazing urban compact farm in downtown Milwaukee. They use aquaculture and other super-stacked agricultural practices to produce a lot of food.

For more info on them visit:

And here’s a video of Will Allen – the founder:

After an afternoon of hard satisfying work out at some of their off-site greenhouses where we were shoveling for hours in the cold, but nevertheless happy to be helping, we returned to Growing Power. Right after taking off our muddy boots and lacing up our own shoes we were approached by Will Allen, the man himself! He walked right up and shook my hand!!!!!! What a thrill. I can’t believe I was so star-struck for that moment. I barely said anything except “THANKS!” :D What a thrill.

Being EPIC in our Growing Power, "The Good Food Movement is now a Revolution" sweatshirts

I think the reason I got so much value out of that class was because it gave me such a great experience of the wide variety of sustainable agriculture, from rural and biodynamic to urban and with red wriggler worms pumping out compost every minute!




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Autumn: the 6 top things I like to do in the Fall

The first day of winter this year is on December 22nd, or so the internet (the global mind) tells me, and I feel it appropriate to reflect on the fall and all it had to offer me. It is not a sad good bye, because Fall, like so many good things, will come around again.

1 – going to see plays, open mic, or other local forms of entertainment. Fairfield can be a rather artsy town and we have a lot of talent concentrated in this one place. I feel my duty in it all is to go out and appreciate!

not my picture... and not the trail I run on... but lovely, and the ESSENCE of fall. Right?

2- going for morning runs along the bicycle path just North of my house. I get to run through a tunnel of golden limbed trees. It’s a wonderful way to greet the day: running underneath the yellow autumn leaves. It’s like they are radiating out all the light they gather over Spring and Summer, and now they are giving it back before they fall to the ground.

3 – going for sunday morning bicycle rides along the Jefferson County Trails. Click here for trail map. The trail system in Fairfield is really impressive, it can take you all around the town of Fairfield. I like how I notice something new every time I bicycle on it.

4 – going to Saturday morning farmer’s markets where you can support local agriculture and craftspeople, smell delicious smells, try samples, buy fresh eggs, see friends, watch kids play on the swing sets and slides and generally feel good about life.

5 – going to Art Walks and seeing everyone you know, without even trying. (it’s the wonderful thing – or the terrible thing :D – about small towns). And meanwhile seeing beautiful art, testing out fascinating and ridiculously comfortable hanging beds, and listening and dancing to live music.

Making Tomato Sauce from the Sustainable Living Gardens is part of my work study. How neat is that?! - thank you SoAngela Hardt for the photo

6 – making food with my friends at my HOUSE: this year I live off campus and it is such a joy to make my own food and infuse it with love and appreciation. Our relationship with food is one of the most if not the most intimate relationship in our lives. Therefore, I am glad to have the space and time to treat it with due respect.

Now that winter is nearly upon us I’m looking forward to:

going sledding and getting totally covered in Snow(MUM totally rents out sleds!)

Cold and Fun. Oh yea.

Emanuel enjoying Wood Oven pizza made in the SL for EcoFair.

continuing to enjoy food with friends.



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A free two hour dance session every week??? Seriously?!

Oct 16th

There are chalkboards in this old class room and we get to doodle all over them when we aren't dancing.

It’s called: Dance Church (hosted by the St. Mary’s project)

This last Sunday I attended Dance Church. It is a two hour session of non-denominational, pure, jubilant dancing, where people of all ages came together to dance. The time and space is a blank canvas on which one can paint whatever they like.

Dance Church was started by two beautiful friends of mine, Jake and Alexandrine (aka Alex). They hold dance church in a room of the school house of the recently acquired St.

Where it all happens... on the dance floor.

Mary’s project. Because it’s held on the grounds of an old church and takes place on Sunday, and is free of substances, and full of happy-holy-vibrations it is called Dance ‘Church’. The two hours, from 10-12, went by really quickly and before I knew it I was back outside to enjoy the rest of a sunny fall Sunday in Fairfield.


The quote Josef Biechler, who just so happens to live in the same house as me, makes food with me, and in general is an amazing boyfriend, “I think I danced all my worries away.” And that’s totally true. I think I literally DANCED my worries away. Maybe it’s harder to be worried when your body is tired. However, I know that my mind can run races at anytime, with or without my body’s support. So there must have been some kind of magic and cosmic holiness – or whatever name you would give it – in that space of free safe and happy dancing.

Glowing like a Nasturtium when you're worry free! :D (this photo is from my trip to Sedona AZ over the Summer)

I look forward to many more Sundays dancing myself into that calm and happy state. Dance Church feels like something Fairfield and the MUM community needed, and now that we have it I love to see people (myself included) taking advantage of it! The St. Mary’s project is a Bonell Project with the intention of providing a space for the community to learn and share and co-create with each other, and Dance Church is a great example of the manifestation of those intentions.

Dance Church is one of the many things I am filling my life here in Fairfield with to make it the life of my dreams. Free, happy, safe and loving dancing is definitely one of my dreams!


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Choosing to stay at MUM, and get an SL degree part 1*

October 7th 2011: I’m back in the blogging world.

*Rather dry title, I know… part 2 is on it’s way.

Orientation for my readers… and myself:


  • Dancing Rabbit's "Aubergine" Maybe this will be in my future!

    This is my 2nd year (3rd semester) at MUM

  • I am in the first week of a Sustainable Living class in Season Extension.
  • I live off campus with 2 people I love.
  • My main ‘work study’ job is working in the SL (sustainable living) gardens.
  • Blogging, as of this last week, gets to be my other job!
  • Today is the first Friday of October = Oktoberfest themed Art Walk!
  • I have officially decided to be a Sustainable Living student.

My graduation destination is for May of 2013 (after being at MUM for 3 years).

The road to this decision and to the decision to stay here in Fairfield Iowa, was a bit winding. I was very quick and straight forward in getting here. I only applied to one school, MUM, and came here right after graduating high school. After all that clarity and efficient choice making I guess I had to balance it out with some intense deliberating.

This semester, I’ve gone thousands of miles round the country. In my mind, that is.

  • A few weeks I was off exploring Germany, Austria and Switzerland WWOOF-ing to quench my thirst for dirt and plants and nature, deepening my understanding of Biodynamic farming, and brushing up on my high school German all the while.
  • A few days were spent up on Orcas Island, one of the San Juan Islands at Doug Bullock’s Permaculture farm.
  • A few more days were spent at Kripalu (in MA) volunteering in the kitchen for 6-7 hours a day, taking yoga classes and attending talks in my free time.
  • A few moments were spent in Asheville NC getting a yoga teacher training and working at a super-happy-healthy-holy restaurant in town.

Oh the power of the mind. I went so many places without burning any fossil fuels, except perhaps the coal used to charge my computer batteries as I fueled my creative traveling fire with the ideas and images of the internet.

However far I may have gone I have come to content conclusion to stay here, finish my degree and then journey off into the wild world I’ve already mapped out in my mind. I want to make the most of where I am, rather than have this idealized life always be somewhere other than where I am. There is so much good here in Fairfield and at MUM so I’m off to fill my life with it!


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Somewhere is in the middle of Nowhere. (and that’s where I’m at!)

The end of the school year is looming closer and closer. I need some more time for that fact to digest. Just this last week I had to say goodbye to a dear friend and accross the hall neighbor, Michelle Craft, who is going on a marvelous adventure this summer and on into the future.

Here she is! :D

I said it once and I’ll say it again. I LOVE the people here. Fairfield may seem like it’s in the middle of nowhere but it seems to attract a whole lot of SOMEWHERE to it. I guess that’s one thing so many people love about it here. It’s a mecca for cool, creative, forward thinkers of which the majority are very compassionate at their core, which shows up in their actions.

Michelle is a marvelous musician whose door I frequently – and declaratively creepily – stood by to listen to the beautiful music she was making. She is generous with herself and her time. A total mother and lover. She is going on tour this summer with Theo Shier (who was born and raised in Fairfield) and Heather Mae Ford all across the US. See if their coming to your town!

After their crazy awesome tour, in which I’ll get to see them play in Austin TEXAS, Michelle is off to AMDA in Los Angeles. The future is bright in one way or another.


Always Silly. I love you, Michelle.

So I guess even though Fairfield attracts SOMEWHERE to it, it also helps cultivate gems like Michelle to blast out into the SOMEWHERE beyond Fairfield Iowa. Thank God I found this little piece of somewhere in the middle of nowhere. It has given me gifts  beyond what I could wish for.


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It is spring time in Fairfield. The flowers  gave their initial show of color and rhapsodic aromas, now we are left with lush green grasses, and sunny days where all I want to do is be outside.

Thankfully I’m a Sustainable Living student, and therefore, I get to spend the majority of my class time OUTSIDE! what a concept! The past two days I have spent out at the SLC (recently renamed the SEED center) which is just a 10 minute bike ride from my dorm room.

Below is a rampage of enthusiasm I wrote yesterday after I got back to my room:

Forget about class reviews, forget about where I’m going, or where I’ve come from. This is IT!

MUD. That’s right. Revert back to your childhood days of playing in the mud and digging in the sandbox. This is our truth. We are Sustainable Living students. We play in the mud, we do good work and smile and laugh all throughout. There may even be a few mud fights. But the beauty of all this playing is that when it is structured with some information we actually get things done. The positive building of community is perfectly mirrored in the built structures we have been making the past 2 days out at the SLC aka SEED Center (adjacent to Abundance Ecovillage).

I’ve never felt more motivated. Today I woke up after a deep and restful 8 hours of sleep and woke up with an eagerness for the day I haven’t experienced in a long time.

Arwid: a perfect example of the DELIGHT I was feeling

There’s something about nature, and working with earth that makes me want to connect more with the WORLD, myself, and others. It also makes me want to take better care of myself: love myself.

I have always loved making things out of clay, be it play dough, clay that you fire, oil based clay, or bake-able clay, but I never thought of making moldable material to build BIG THINGS with.

Throughout talking with Brad, of Wise Natural Buildings, I had visions of all the people in the world having this opportunity. To build their own homes. Shelter is something we can take for granted when we have it, or it’s something we deeply long for and NEED, if we don’t have it.

I am left for now with the dream: buy an acre or so of land, first build a dog house, then a shed, then a garage and after two summers of natural building I’ll be ready to build a home for myself.

That’s what I call empowerment. Thank you thank you thank you for this knowledge and opportunity.

SoAngela, Brian and me!





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An art project in a Sustainable Living Class?

The last class I took was the Art and Science of Fruit Culture with a visiting professor for Oregon State University: Jeff Olsen.


one picture from my "Fruit-Dream" video

He wanted us to be creative, and to have fun making something creative to help integrate everything we were learning.

I decided to try out making a stop-motion animation video. I chose to tie it  into Fruit Culture with a bit in it about a rootstock being grafted to a one year shoot. Overall, I love patterns in nature that are sinuous, spiraled and organic, it was great to merge my artistic-doodle-tendencies with new knowledge of horticulture AND iMovie.

Click HERE to watch the video – it’s short, 1.5 minutes or so.

That’s all for now – the next class review will be: Songwriting! (but I might have to blog about my present class: Permaculture and this weekend’s big event: EcoFair!)


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Class Review: Drawing 1

Drawing 1:

This was a really soothing class and it accompanied the season change really well: allowing for time outside to draw the scenery around us when it was sunny and blissful and time inside to do figure drawing with a live model (nope, not nude) as it got colder out. With weekly critiques we really refined our way of looking at art, and of creating art. We aimed to find purpose and simplistic beauty in each stroke. Allowing for the viewer to interact with our art by not giving EVERY piece of visual information (detail) away, but rather, suggesting what was seen.

I have had a lot of art in my life, and always been drawing, so I was really hoping this class would offer something new, and it did. Our teachers (we had Jim Shrosbree as our main teacher, but he was aided by the old and oh-so-wise Geoffrey Baker who really established the Art Dept. here at MUM) gave very clear critiques and allowed maximum time to DO the WORK. Everyday we spent multiple hours drawing, there was a sprinkling of lectures, which were all very pertinent and readily applicable to what we were working on.

As our homework (in all art classes this is true) we keep a journal, this can include notes from class, reflections on the material being learned, creative ideas, sketches, independent research etc. We also worked on a master study of our choice: I chose a Rembrandt, which we did multiple drawings of and ultimately fit into a piece that was more of a combination of visuals.

This class culminated in a grand final critique where we gathered all of our work and sorted through it. The ten best (including at least two versions of our master study) we artfully pinned up on display. The rest of our work was placed in a pile below our wall-hanging pieces. The top 10-20 pieces were what we thought were the best among the rest of our work.

Post Note: Geoffrey Baker passed away on April 12th, he will be dearly missed and always dearly loved. His fundamental contributions towards the MUM art department will always be appreciated.  Peace – Makayla

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