- there is a new spirit of social justice and redemption and eastern wisdom here, even though the past is full of racist abuse and environmental pillaging. many hippies from the bay area have settled here.
- there is great community radio which features amy goodman's democracy now, local bluegrass musicians, a women's collective and world music.
- there's a real sense of community. just yesterday there was a farmer's market in the morning, a community picnic lunch in the park, and lots of people walking around in the evening enjoying the cool weather and music from the local restaurants which feature organic cuisine.
- people are friendly. today i was sitting eating my lunch in the wisdom cafe (all alone since i'm traveling solo) and the woman next to me struck up a conversation about her life's passion, using feminine energy to heal the world, the environment, the global to local economy. we ended up talking for an hour about our deepest spiritual longings, favorite books, about organizing for justice, and about sexual repression.
- people you meet are likely to be very evolved: i overheard my waitress talking about her trip to vietnam to study with thich natch hahn, one of my most influential spiritual mentors. she actually got to meet privately with him and ask deep spiritual questions. she did walking meditation with him and we bonded over our love of his and pema chodron's books. i asked her about sitting meditation groups in the area. she's new in town but she knew of one to attend. and another person sitting next to me overheard both of us and offered me another place to do meditation.
- the architecture is beautiful. i love small towns with charm and character. this place has both in spades! it's touristy but not tacky at all. it's verrrrrrrrry upscale and tasteful. eastern influence is everywhere. it's not often you see victorian and asian influences combined outside of california. but here they flow together beautifully. i've seen many victorian homes with fascinating details - curlicue woodwork, lattice panels, tri-color paint coats, widow's walks, - and then you go inside and they have buddha statues of every material - wood, glass, bronze, stone - everywhere, waving multi-colored prayer flags, small fountains, zen artwork, tinkling wind chimes with chinese characters, and walls painted the red and green and golden colors of tibetan buddhism.
- there is natural beauty everywhere. even on my brief drive to the pizza place last night, i could see the mountains towering above me, while the redwood trees and firs and pines shaded my path.
- the weather is fabulous; it gets hot enough to swim by day and cool enough to wear a sweater at night and leave the windows open all summer. it's incredible! even on the hottest days, a cool breeze comforts you if you sit in the shade.
- it's close to lake tahoe! one of the world's most beautiful bodies of water!
- there are wonderful charming places to eat. delicious california wines paired with gourmet meals of locally grown veggies, fruits, and organic meats. alice waters has greatly influenced the local cuisine. but they still offer cornish pasties, the old fashioned miner's meals!
- community theater is rich and diverse! i've seen tony award winning musicals with excellent acting and there's a theater or two in each small town!
- the music scene is awesome! i hate to miss the upcoming celtic festival but i'll be in argentina by then, i hope. utah phillips, legend and labor activist in the musical tradition of woody guthrie, is a celebrated local hero here. he just passed away but i'm happy i got to meet him at the unitarian church.
- and there are wonderful film festivals year round! the wild and scenic film festival features environmental films, the nevada city fest features local filmmakers.
- they care about the homeless, there's a very active habitat for humanity; i just donated to them this morning, a small amount, but at least it's something. their volunteers are building 5 homes near the unitarian church and the unis go over and take the workers lunch. what a community spirit!
- the awesome women's group! they are reading the new earth by eckhart tolle, and we had a wonderful time discussing it last thursday night.
- the local sustainable economy movement is very vibrant! and one of the cohousers told me of founding a post oil economy group which is studying bellingham, washington's sustainable economy movement based on "patriotism." they are reclaiming the word (from radical fascist right wing christian warmongers) and using it to subvert the walmarting of america. they are asking folks to be patriotic by supporting the local merchants. isn't that cool!?
- there are farms everywhere! i love the grass valley farmer's market on thursday nights. after buying organic pluots (plums crossed with apricots), i met an interesting seamstress with her own clothing line. it's made of simple muslin cotton and makes you feel relaxed; soooo california!
Sunday, August 24, 2008
why i love the sierrra nevada mountains of california
i love the "gold country."