December 2010 News

Blessedly, December was a mostly stay at home month.  Elaine helped lead a Word and World women’s retreat in North Carolina, where she almost got snowed in!  And we took a brief but lovely visit to the Bay area (by train!) to see friends Neil, Denise and David Jacobson, David and Susan Fetcho, and Matt and Suzanna Prinz.  Frost brought the Fall garden to an end, and we’ve been making salsa, pasta sauce and lots of jalapeno jelly with the remnants.  Aside from onions and garlic (planted on All Saints Day), we are only growing lettuce, cilantro and kale, cover cropping the rest of our beds for winter.  

November 2010 News

Our month started off with a bang as former community mates John and Carol Hirt, their adult children Sydney and Jonathan and Jono Friston visited Oak View for several days.  It was a laugh riot, as usual…  Elaine preached at Pasadena Mennonite Church on 11/7, narrating for the first time highlights of her Ukraine pilgrimage.  Look for her report in our end-of-year appeal.  We continue to work at PMC (where we are members) to secure full inclusion of our LGBT sisters and brothers.

October 2010 News

Mennonite RefugeesAt the beginning of October Elaine departed for her long-awaited, two and a half week Mennonite Heritage Tour to southern Ukraine, traveling with her oldest sister Janet Regier.  After preparing exhaustively for this pilgrimage, she had an extraordinary and deeply moving time visiting the former Mennonite villages along the Dnepr River that were destroyed during the Russian Revolution, and from which her grandparents were refugees. (Above right: Freight train with about 750 Mennonite refugees from Chortiza at station in Alexandrovsk-Zaparoshie, 1923).  I am grateful Elaine returned safely; look for her report on the trip in next month’s E-News, as she works to understand this traumatic legacy through the lens of restorative justice.  

September 2010 News

September has been a quieter month here in Oak View, with no work travel and fewer visitors, providing some much needed catch up.  We’ve been updating our websites, so check them out.  We’ve also been on countless conference calls for the various organizing projects we are a part of, including the Center and Library for the Bible and Social Research, the 2011 Wild Goose Festival ( and the new Word and World Mentoring Program (  And on Sept 12th Elaine and I joined Pasadena Mennonite Church (  We’re bona fide now!

Spaghetti SauceWe’ve processed lots of tomatoes and chile, canning salsa and spaghetti sauce (left) and freezing pesto.  We’ve been getting ready for fall planting, and as usual, shucking beans.  Thanks to our spear-fisherman friend Eric Hodge we’ve also been eating and freezing white sea-bass and yellowtail.  Elaine and I also snuck in 4 days vacation—too short, but much appreciated.  

August 2010 News

Russet House FarmElaine and I enjoyed our time at Russet House Farm (right) northeast of Toronto August 5-8th.   These dudes are doing everything right: they tend a large organic garden from which they eat and give away, raise their own meat and do sustainable forestry, solar and wind power, composting toilets… and they promote good theology.  We hung out with friends Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmat, who are kindred spirits indeed.  The “Practicing Resurrection” conference drew more than 100 folks, mostly younger evangelicals and Anglicans, to reflect on the scriptures, the theology of Wendell Berry, and to learn practical skills like canning, seed-saving and urban foraging.  It was yet another indication that issues of food justice and environmental and economic sustainability are at the center of concern among the new generation of faith based activists.  Our political reading of “Jack and the Beanstalk” generated a lot of energy.  We recommend that you get to know these folks (! 

July 2010 News

Buried HummerElaine and I got back at the beginning of the month tired, but with the sense of good work done in the Midwest.  We were at the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, where more than 100 people daily attended a Sabbath Economics track that Word and World ran.  (Right, top to bottom: Buried Hummer at Heidelberg St. Arts Project; Detroit organizer Bill Wylie Kellermann with elders Grace Lee Boggs and Vincent Harding; opening march through Detroit.)  For more info:  

Bartimaeus Institute 2011

BI LogoThe Bartimaeus Institute 2011 will be held in Oak View, CA, January 14-17, 2011 (Martin Luther King Holiday weekend) and February 7-11, 2011.  Go to the Bartimaeus Institute page for topics and details.

June 2010 News

Here in Oak View we’ve got a few more raised bed boxes to build and some drip lines to install, and then we will have completed our garden infrastructure.  We had a good crop of onions and garlic from the winter, and the tomatoes, chile, melons, tomatillos, squash and five kinds of heirloom beans are all growing, and the fruit trees are almost ready to harvest.  We keep learning about soil, seed-saving, and watershed-wise methods of growing food.  Thanks to a trip to the Channel Islands with local friend Eric Hodge, we’ve been making lots of ceviche and fish tacos with the slabs of fresh white sea bass he caught spearfishing. 

US Social Forum

 Visitors this month included Maree Crabbe from Australia; John Jensen, his wife Raquel from Long Beach, and their Australian friend Chris; several of the Abundant Table Farm women; and the BCM board for a meeting.  Elaine and I were both interviewed by seminary students about “alternative ministry.”  We’ve been reading and discussing the history of the Russian Revolution in preparation for her trip to the Ukraine in October.   The last third of the month was taken up by U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, where we worked with Word and World colleagues to facilitate a Sabbath Economics track (for more info. see  We also participated in a Mennonite Church U.S. Interchurch Relations conference in Wichita.

May 2010 News

Elaine and I enjoyed a camping trip with Dennis Apel, Tensie Hernandez and their kids, Rosella and Thomas.  These are the dear friends with whom we did hospice for Ladon Sheats in the spring of 2002—eight long years ago!  We then pulled the last of our cilantro and lettuce and planted our bean starts as well as tomatoes and chile for the summer garden.  We are slowly building more raised beds that will eventually double our capacity—striving for a measure of food self-sufficiency.  When I then climbed on a plane to fly to Toronto, it was the first time I’ve traveled out of state in six months—the longest stretch in 20 years!  I’m deeply grateful for the time at home, and we are trying to move in this direction for the sake of our physical and emotional health.  But less travel and speaking means declining program revenue for BCM, so do keep that in mind as you think about your support of our work.  Meanwhile, you can follow BCM on Facebook now!

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