Nail on the Head

This freaking people are going to Hawaii on Monday.

All this work we’ve done.

So we can help them prepare for their Hawaii vacation.

While we’re still working hard and sleeping in tents in Sacramento.

I wish we could help people who actually need it.

So for the first month and a half or so here, it was shit. I felt really insecure, I was surrounded by all of these organic, radical, hippie farmers I had been waiting my life to meet, but they were not interested in me.

I had come here stressed, due to various reasons, but when I got here I did not feel welcomed. I felt like the annoying kid in class that is trying to hang out with the popular kids.

And my team fell in love with our sponsors. And they were on their knees at their feet, drooling at their every whim. They did extra work for them, and put our whole team in danger with the lengths they would go to please these people.

And that’s not really the way I role, and I didn’t like the way they treated us like schoolchildren instead of the 50 hour farming work week employees we were.

It didn’t help that this tight knit community we lived in were the only people we ever spoke to. Thus, for my teammates who were sacrificing themselves for these people- the community became their everything. They were all they thought about, dreamt about, talked about.

And for those of us that don’t immediately warm up to people, and want to see who we’re interacting with before we let down our shields– our shields never came down.

Because no one ever bothered to try and give us reason to trust them.

Which I guess is to be expected when you move somewhere with a team of ten. Our sponsors didn’t want to take the time to get to know everyone, and since their personalities were loud and outgoing, they only gravitated around the majority of our team who are also that way.

And so it became habit, or really, we just began to expect the habit that had taken root from the first day.

I really did try. I asked lots of questions in the beginning to our sponsors, who were all about my age or a little older. I thought maybe we could have some good conversations. But they were all exactly what my parents call AT&T talkers– they just talk, talk, talk and don’t ever stop to ask a question. And when you do try to squeeze a few of your own sentences in here and there– they’re not making eye contact with you. They obviously couldn’t give less of a shit, and completely forgot that they were talking to you because you are so invisible to them.

But then everyone else on the team who never shuts up is going out with them after work on weeknights and getting hammered, coming home at 4 in the morning before our 8 am workday.

It just continues to spiral, on and on. And they get closer with our team, and it becomes awkward their coldness toward me.

I think it’s something I’m doing wrong. Maybe I was cold in the beginning because I was nervous to talk to all of them?

But then I look back to my first solo interaction with two of our sponsors from the farm school. I was out for a jog on the second day around the farm, taking pictures. There is a truck driving down the road, and then it pulls up beside me. It’s our sponsors. And they’re just starring at me. And I’m like, “Hello! How are you guys? Beautiful day!”

And they miss a beat, and continue staring at me. And then mumble something like, “Yeah.” And then continue to pause awkwardly, the truck stalling next to me.

“I’m taking pictures, is that cool?”

Stares.

“Definitely! Take all the pictures you want!’

So fake. So odd.

Then I have to painfully end the interaction. Do they have no social suave at all? The whole interaction I thought it was me, but looking back it was so indicative of our relationship to come. Just staring. Not really making eye contact with me, but staring past me.

So odd.

So I’ve stopped giving a fuck.

I had a falling out with one of the sponsors from the intentional community we’re helping with.

After that I told my team leader.

And Jess had a falling out and she told the team leader.

And then me and Jess talked about our experiences.

And we realized that they were the same.

And we were so shocked, because we thought it was just us.

This is one and a half months in. One and a half months of feeling like all this shit was on us, now we realize that it’s more something going on with our sponsors.

That’s when we first got the idea that possibly our sponsors were not the most accepting hippies in the world.

And we started to look at our surroundings. And we started to have conversations, or listen to conversations they were having with our teammates, since they wouldn’t fucking talk to us.

And we realized that there was a lot of judgement coming out of this ranch. And everyone here— we work with three organizations, see forty plus people a day— and we realized that every fucking one of those people are white. In a state which half the population is hispanic.

Basically we realized that our sponsors didn’t just happen upon a completely white community. That is what they are comfortable with. That is what they subconsciously or consciously created.

And tonight, at the ceremony they gave us— which I dipped out of because I can’t stand these fuckers anymore— they didn’t give Dre a card. They gave everyone else on our team a handwritten card, except Dre. The one non-white person on our team. And it just kind of confirmed what we had been suspecting.

Lots of weird, weird things been going on here.

Really want to get out of here.

So Jess and I left tonight with Ricky and Dre. It’s our last night here– and our team is crying in the arms of these people here. When I talked about joining a cult out here, I might not have been joking. But, here’s the good news, I didn’t fall into it. I’m so much of an outsider that I can’t even be included into a cult.

Which I am very pleased of, in hindsight.

Because my team is making asses of themselves right now.

Two of my teammates might not leave. They are trying to stay here. They think they have found nirvana.

So anyway. Jess and I have decided that we are not going to talk about these people any longer, we are going to leave tomorrow and let it all go. The memories will float away easily, because I have been forgetting these people every chance I get.

But the ironic part is, we got assigned our parts for the presentation we have to give back on campus about our project. And Jess and I were chosen to talk about the sponsors, and their missions.

And I’m going to be honest.

Because I don’t think the government should spend any more of tax payers dollars on projects like this. For privileged people like this.

The interesting part about all of this, is that this ranch is made up of seemingly strong, independent, fuck society women. Moving out here, and doing their own thing.

But what I’ve realized is that it’s not that they want to leave society, it’s just that they don’t fit into society, so they are creating their own to belong to. And to exclude people from.

And Jess thinks they are scared of me and her. That’s why they can’t hold eye contact, that’s why they’ve put us down by ignoring us and acting like we don’t matter. To the point where we started to believe it ourselves.

Shake it off.

So maybe it’s just a case of typical jealous girl syndrome. Which is super frustrating for a set of self proclaimed feminists to do. They are self proclaimed open minded hippies too though, and they are pretty much racist.

So to each their own.

What I know is that these women here are not confident in their own identity, and that is sad to me.  But still, fuck them for making me and Jess feel bad about ourselves. And fuck them for being scared of Dre.

Jess and I have never needed to prove to anyone that we are taking an alternative route– we are just doing it. We have spent our time in the past living our lives for men and approval, but we are not about that life anymore. We are living fuck society where ever we are– we don’t need dusty cowboy boots and farmer’s leggings to prove anything.

With the younger women here– I definitely think that’s what’s going on. And my female teammates might have threatened these women as well, had they not been so willing to follow their every move. And because Jess and I walk our own path- they are uninterested in us.

Who knows what’s really going on with the people here– but I do know I am so happy to be leaving this place.

Twelve hours I’ll be on the road.

Fuck Society in the air I breathe, and I’m so happy to have met Jess. We balance one another out. We are both rebellious in similar and different ways, but back each other up because we recognize authenticity as the highest virtue.

And the people here just want some fake high school shit.

That’s how I really feel. I’m just done. It’s not the end of the world that I don’t get along with these people. I know I’m not going to get along with everyone. But in the real world, I can move on and never interact with those people I have bad vibes with again. Or it’s just a few people in my life with those vibes– not all the people around me.

So I have just been walking away now whenever it is “fun” time. Because my fun time is not with you, we’ve made that clear long ago. No use trying to hide it now.

We’re not all each other’s people.

And you are not my people.

And I have people, so don’t pity me, condescending fuckers.

And don’t fear me because I have my own mind, cowardly fuckers.

Because I carry a notebook around and go on jogs you’re going to be shitty to me, covering up jealousy? Because I’ve found my own way, didn’t give up everything at 18 to have kids, didn’t give up everything to follow someone else’s dream?

I graduated high school long ago.

And your time in my life has come to an end.

And I will check my communes and see what I’m getting into before diving into another one in the future.

One thing I am proud of, though. Is that my gut instinct is always there. I didn’t listen to it for the first month, but it helped so much when I realized I wasn’t the only one having those feelings. So I can work on giving myself that validity right away. No reasons needed- feel that gut feeling, and peace out.

Which is pretty much what I’ve done the whole three months.

But I could have saved myself a lot of uncomfortable feelings if I realized that they weren’t created by me. They were created by the collision of people in a commune together. And the weird vibes to spring up from that, and become exponential due to lack of other people and diversity.

This round we were in Northern California. The demographics of the area we were in were mainly people who were middle class and white, and this was a bit disappointing from a diversity point of view. Especially since our last round in rural Oregon was about the same demographics.

I pursued outreach in diversity with my recruiter role, where I scheduled a recruiting event with the local Native American reservation. The tribe welcomed us to their reservation, and said they were interested in involvement with the program in the future. This was exciting for me, because even though we have not had much diversity, this experience proved to me that lack of diversity is just even more reason to seek it out. And chances are, when you reach out, people are going to be happy you did.

There are challenges here as far as diversity is concerned, and I talked with it a bit with a friend who was very knowledgeable on the topic. She said that the hippie culture around the area had moved all other diverse people out of the area, and now it is a predominantly well-off, white, hippie culture. The organizations we work with do not seem to be prioritizing diversity, because everyone who works for these organizations, and who come from all over the U.S., are white.

When my friend left the team it was a blow to our diversity, as we were already a predominantly white team, and now have even less diversity among us.

It’s definitely been an eye opening experience for me, as I have always idealized the hippie culture, and communes. But something that I have learned is that when you are out in the middle of nowhere and leave society, you don’t get to interact with different kinds of people very often. And also, just because someone has a liberal stance on a certain area and it makes it their identity, it doesn’t mean that they are completely open minded in all areas at all.

The last week we were here, though, we met two young farmers at a gathering. While the meeting was predominantly white again, there were a few people from diverse backgrounds, two of whom being the farmers my roommate Jess and I befriended and later hung out with. Both of them were studying biodynamic farming, which was something that I had never heard of before- combining spirituality with farming. Planting according to constellations, crystals in the compost, piles of herbs along the perimeter of the gardens. Both of their families had come to the US during revolution in their home countries– Bosnia and Indigenous Mexico. They talked a lot about their dreams of returning to their home countries in a few years, and practicing their cultural farming traditions.

My team has been impacted by the issues of power and privilege this round in many ways. I don’t think a lot of them team has picked up on this, but a few of us have. While it’s been a great place to live, we are not really helping out people who really need it. Our sponsors are taking a vacation to Hawaii when we leave, and the others are charging 3,000 for three months at the school. I don’t feel like we are reaching underprivileged people with our work here, though it has been fun for most members of our team.

I feel like I have served as an efficient ally this round, but I think I have much to improve upon. Racist comments have been made throughout our time here, by our own team members as well as members of the community. I have made a face and walked away, but I still have not found the words to communicate what I want to communicate. But I think this round has equipped me with the confidence to pursue that communication. Because no one wants to be racist, it’s a matter of being uninformed. And I’d like to learn how to inform, as well as be informed. Reaching out to the Native American tribe was a big step for me, as I felt like I might be unwanted, or bothersome. What I learned is it is worth it to reach out, regardless of what the outcome is. And most likely people also want to be understood, and to understand. They are just waiting for that outreach and go ahead just as you are.

The changes I want to make in my life after this experience is I want to do more outreach. I want to stop being scared of what others will think, and I want to be the one leading the group thought if need be. I want to follow my passion for learning about different people and cultures, and enrich my life with as much diversity and understanding as possible.

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