Hello Dear Friends, Lovers & Allies,
There is so much to share, including great news about our newest investor, an invitation to upcoming events, and some big movements just beginning. So, here for your reading pleasure is our mid-winter update from your compadres at Aletheia Springs in beautiful Sonoma Valley, California...
2019 YEAR-END SUPPORT-RAISER CAMPAIGN UPDATE
First to say... thank you to everyone who came out to our Support-Raiser & Year-End events -wow! We are so very grateful to each of you, and we have been touched by getting to meet and begin to weave with some pretty cool, wise, heartfelt, talented and inspiring folk in these past few months. Thank you for your interest, your support, your solidarity in our process & visioning, and for key reflections & mirrors right when we most needed them. Thank you also for championing us with such heart through our challenges in this past year! Your support in all these ways is a primary regenerative wealth that we draw upon daily.
Next, I'm excited to share that towards the close of 2019 we welcomed in a new Aletheia Impact Investor! She is a wonderful local woman, a friend, and talented artist whose sizable new investment allowed us to pay in FULL a $200K balloon payment due at the end of the year for the primary loan we carry with the last owner at the Springs. Already the ship is sailing with more relaxation, steadiness and resiliency than we've yet felt -ahhhhhhhhhh! And chunking out this second-to-last payment signifies an absolutely ginormous step for us and for the project.
So where are we now- at least, financially speaking? Well, 2020 will be our fifth and final year (!) of paying out our original dyno-move-to-even-get-the-place loans of $1.2M, which we took on in 2016 (as an aside... what a bizarre and tragically inequitable culture we live in that this is what we humans must do now to simply ensure our right to cultivate deep relationship with place?? But... that is for another story). That means that sometime before the end of 2020, we must pay this lender his final $500K payment, which will mean that we are finally free from all liens as well as from all short-term, high-rate debt! It will also mean that all financial investment here will be held by either long-term Stewards and/or our mission-aligned Community Member Investor circle.
So we see this coming year marking the biggest phase shift we've yet seen for the ultimate financial security and baseline of future flourishing for the Aletheia Springs project. If we are successful in reaching this last payment goal we'll also no longer need to fundraise just for the project to financially survive. Instead, we can begin to use any new capital to invest in new capacities, to develop some of the more exciting and purpose-driven aspects of our mission & vision, and we see ourselves being able to offer so much more value to our growing local and global community. More on this prayer to come... as we do have some very hopeful things percolating right now! But, as they are not quite solid enough to announce just yet, do stay tuned!
And if you don't already know about our full financial journey, check out the Finances page on our Aletheia website here. It hasn't been updated yet with the latest 2019 info, alas (I have a 2-year old!), but it does give a superb overview of our economic journey thus far. It's our sincerest hope that this land-purchasing process we're in can serve as a learning bridge for others to follow in our footsteps in starting their own land-based regenerative projects, thereby helping to further ground the growing interconnected network of Earth-healing communities.
UPCOMING EVENTS at ALETHEIA SPRINGS :: YOU ARE INVITED!
As we move towards spring, we have several upcoming events that we would like to invite you to! We're resuming our Aletheia Community Potluck events once a month on Saturday afternoon/evenings. The first will be this month on February 22nd (see all the dates/details & how to RSVP below), and we'll have another in March, followed by one final one in April before beginning our busier public guest season in May.
Springtime is an incredible time here on the land where we're not yet open to the public and yet it's warm, lushly green and beautiful out with projects and activities abounding on the land. In other words, it's a magical opportunity to come for a visit to get to know us when we have more space and attention to offer, and to deepen in solidarity and connection with those new and old friends who circle 'round to tend these fires, drawn together by our common passion to create new and healing pathways for humanity's continued participation on this beautiful planet. This all means that our Aletheia community potlucks are just as much about enjoying some casual, simple space together as they are about continuing to build a stronger, vibrant, diverse, resilient and multi-layered community network. Come see what we've been up to and share with us your latest, too!
~ ALETHEIA COMMUNITY POTLUCK EVENINGS ~
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 22 :: SATURDAY MARCH 14 :: SATURDAY APRIL 18
All are @ 2~9 PM • See schedule flow below...
•• RSVP REQUIRED ••
⇨ TO RSVP: Please EMAIL or TEXT a Steward or Guest Steward
We'll send you directions/arrival instructions, especially if it's your first time coming!
(NOTE to Facebook peeps: Marking 'going' on any of the FB events is not an RSVP!) ♥
• • SCHEDULE FLOW • •
Come to one or all • Kid-friendly • No pets • Limited overnight stays with advance request (request with RSVP) • Please leave plenty of time to arrive & park before dinner! • Please no late arrivals after 6:30PM without prior arrangement.
2 ~ 5:30 PM :: HOT SPRINGS SOAKIN' + EARLY DISH PREP TIME [Thermal Baths + Aletheia Barn] If you would like to experience a geothermal hot springs soak let us know when you RSVP! Limited big tub spots so first to RSVP is first-served; priority given to those not staying overnight. Remember BYO-towel! This afternoon time is also for those who would prefer to make their potluck dish onsite in our community kitchen. We have all the equipment you could need to come early and whip up your masterpiece with plenty of time before dinner. We circle promptly at 6PM to eat so please plan to have your dish complete and ready at or before ~5:30pm. : )
6 PM :: COMMUNITY POTLUCK [Aletheia Barn] Come solo or bring along a special someone new to cross-pollinate our growing community of communities. Your dish is your contribution (see guidelines below)
7:30 PM :: [Optional] FIRESIDE 'FREE SWIM' SPACE [Aletheia Barn] A time for rotating offerings and inspirations to casually pop up from the basic ground of emergent fireside lounging. Songs, poems, music, story shares, games, etc. Pre-nominations and inspired leaders welcome! And sometimes a few of us just sit, chill and get chatty by the fire. As it's optional to stay for this portion, that also means its totally okay to take off after dinner. : )
•• Yummy potluck dish(es): Bring 1-2 items/dish per person to share (or one that serves at least five+ people), either: hors d'oeuvres, salads & sides, entrees, non-alcoholic drinks, and/or desserts. Organic, veg, low/no-gluten, and low/no single-use plastic preferred; conscientious meat & vegan dishes both greatly enjoyed but neither are required. If you're feeling fancy, bring a little label to name your dish!
•• Warm clothes, cool layers and BYO towel if you're planning to hot soak! Mud boots if it's been raining
•• Fun things du jour: musical instruments, poems, songs, games or other offerings for optional after-dinner fireside 'free swim' space
•• Overnighters: If needed, overnight camping and/or sleeping gear (you must pre-arrange with us if you wish to stay overnight)
•• Families with kids: Your littles are valued and welcomed here, please bring them! We also have a high chair and kids' toys/books (ages 0-5ish) at the ready
Any other questions? Please ask. : )
BIG MOVEMENTS BEGINNING IN 2020!
If you've been tracking our Aletheia project from previous years, you may already know about the special history of this historically significant site, and how, twenty years ago, through some pretty egregious mis-management, this property came to be under what's called a "legal non-conforming use" clause with our local governance, the County of Sonoma. This clause is a legally binding and super specific limitation on what exactly we can and cannot do/build/have here -namely, not all that much, except for what was deemed valuable and financially feasible in the 1950's-70's.
Kind of terrible, right? Well, we do jokingly acknowledge our gratitude for this strange limitation, as this precise albatross-of-a-clause is one of the main reasons we were ever able to afford its purchase with current day prices in Sonoma County (read: insane speculative real estate market). And, without this tight use constriction to bind the property, or said a different way, if any owner were allowed an expanded and/or different use here (e.g. overnight retreat guests or year-round use, for example), the market value of the property would drastically change. So as you can imagine, there were a few owners in the last twenty years who attempted to change it, but as yet to no avail (and very luckily for us). Mostly the lack of success so far has been a combo of some pretty outsized ideas they attempted to shoehorn in here (e.g. a big fancy spa hotel or a waterpark with slides), but also because the very process of obtaining a commercial use change with the county is often a very expensive, nonlinear, multi-year, multistakeholder and highly politicized process. But what's not to love about that, right? ; )
Well you might be guessing where I'm about to go with this... 2020 marks a true beginning for us as we turn toward this precise inquiry. In January we began some preliminary explorations with the county in partnership with a key Aletheia ally, the Sonoma Ecology Center. We are now assembling our small but mighty cadre of professional support (septic & environmental engineers and a planning consultant) to begin this process in earnest. Together we're looking to permit a major creek restoration along a stretch of Sonoma Creek that runs through our property. The intention is that this restoration would then serve as a public demonstration site for an even bigger restoration project aimed at addressing the whole of the upper Sonoma Creek watershed as a system, from Sugarloaf Ridge State Park all the way down past the town of Glen Ellen several miles south of us.
The project's goals are multifold but include restoring critical habitat for endangered salmonid and other local keystone species, reversing bank erosion and incising, improving water quality, stabilizing streamflow volume and temperatures in both winter storm surges and in the dry season, restoring parts of the critical marsh system lost to vineyards in the past fifty years, and in general educating the public about the critical importance of watershed restoration and health. So awesome! We are very excited about it all. : )
The SEC has obtained a sizable planning grant for this project, and that, along with a very generous donation we received to our fiscally-sponsored nonprofit initiative, Restore The Springs, we're now able to jump on this incredible opportunity and hopefully become the demonstration site for this high-impact, long-arc project. (Read more about Restore the Springs project here and here.) And we truly couldn't have designed a better entrée to begin our general conversations with the county regarding Aletheia's long-term site use and development goals, with possible use changes, than to do so in the context of an already-funded multimillion dollar voluntary restoration project with one of the county's most well-reputed nonprofits. And this restoration project so naturally dovetails into so much that we hope to do on the land in the future anyway in terms of watershed restoration and stewardship.
So we're starting "the big conversation" with the county! Don't get me wrong, though, this is also SUPER intimidating, and there is no guarantee of success. We may spend a few years and a hefty chunk of change only to find out that we need to get even more comfortable working within much of our existing limitations for the time being. But the good news is that we've been given some very good reasons to be hopeful, and that big positive changes here at the Springs are, indeed, not only possible, but even very much wanted by most, if not all, of those critical stakeholders who may have previously opposed use changes here. We'll be reporting out on how this all unfolds as we go along, so stay tuned! And all prayers and well wishes are very welcomed!
I want to end by sharing a little bit about one key aspect of our ongoing Aletheia learning. And perhaps you can relate to this but this project has required us to become the most hardcore researchers and devotees of emergent strategy, meaning, we've been on a crash course these past four years to understand how to move and grow with this very complex thing that behaves much like a living being, really. It requires both the solid plan of a map with reliable and realistic steps while simultaneously requiring an incredible amount of patience, sensing and open-ended listening capacity to be able to hit cruise control into the unknown.
So even though our update emails might be a bit heavily weighted on the outward-moving strategy of the mind and for money... you know, that kind that's full of spreadsheets, stakeholders, permits and engineers... It's also about honing our ever-evolving, inward-moving strategy as well. And we feel that it must be so in order for there to be true meaning in our eventual and hopeful success.
What the heck does that even mean? Well, it means that we've also been spending a lot of time and energy in this past year, and especially in the past few months, on a very different sort of strategy -one that comes from our hearts and involves the intelligence of our bodies as we grow our awareness and learn to access healing pathways that can transmute the traumatic legacies we all carry from the dominant life-destroying culture.
And this takes so much time and attention, too, this work of building trustworthy, diverse, resilient and multiperspectival relationships -within ourselves, with each other and our leadership team, and with all the critically needed voices not often brought into conversations or processes like these. Those voices and legacies of the first nation peoples, the ancestors of this land we now occupy, for one example, as well as that of our own ancestral lineages. The voices of the more-than-human world that we depend on and share our lives with here- that of the creek and the Springs, that of the oaks and the living soil. And the voices of this valley community, especially from those who've been historically marginalized and yet who's health and wellbeing the very life of this place intrinsically depends.
And what we're coming to see, over and over again as we deepen into this place and this vision here, is that to tend and build connections with these aspects, these beings, and these relations... that work may well have far greater reaching positive impacts in the end on any hopeful fulfillment of a vision for Aletheia than anything else does.
Thank you for reading thus far, dear friend. We feel you with us. And we hope we'll get to see you up here at the Springs in the coming months!
Blessings & gratitude for you,
The Aletheia Stewards
1651 Warm Springs Road, Glen Ellen, CA 95442
c. (510) 366-5067 | f. (707) 833-1532 | zoom. zoom.us/j/7774261991
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