|Georgetown, TX, United States|
(projects i'm involved in)
I’m a co-founder of Vajra Azaya, non-profit organization that supports the establishment of self-reliant communities that incorporate the principles of permaculture design and sustainable development while providing educational opportunities for the public. Here’s the story. I have worked for the past decade in the fight against poverty with a focus on teen pregnancy prevention and youth development to encourage future orientation. I had a dream one night after a long day of pondering the uselessness of the programs I was helping to implement throughout the state of TX. In this dream I saw a community that consisted of eight octagon shaped structures made from what looked like mud with green living roofs around an outdoor kitchen. Food was growing in between, in front of, and behind each of the octagon structures and around the kitchen. I walked through the community and was guided by the voice of a man who was explaining to me what it was. As I approached the first structure and went inside the voice said, “This is knowledge”. I left this structure and went across the kitchen to the structure on the west side and went inside and the voice said “This is healing”. I passed though the kitchen again to the east side structure and the voice said, “This is meditation”. In the dream, I realized that this was a community were families lived. In that realization I jolted awake from the dream. When I was conscious, I had the shattering realization that this was an answer to what I had been fighting to solve for a decade and knew in that instant why it would work. I then took time and conversations with others who have similar ideas to discover how it would work. The name “Vajra Azaya” came from how the idea was revealed. Vajra is Sanskrit for “to be jolted awake as in spiritual awakening” and Azaya is Sanskrit for “retreat”. While I believe that the vision came from a spiritual place and the name is appropriate for the vision, the organization however, is not a spiritual organization nor does it have any religious affiliation.
When turning this dream into reality, I only considered non-profit 501c3 status for the organization rather than other business models. This was because I believe it is the answer to our fight against poverty, therefore I want anyone to be eligible to have a community or live in a community, regardless of ability to pay for the building of it. In order for this model of community to be an answer to the broader issue of poverty, it must be easy to replicate, easy to build, and easy for anyone to afford. A year of research of community building models ensued so that Vajra Azaya is using “best practices” in intentional community building. Because this vision was so shattering to me, I believe that seeing the communities will help to spread their use and because of that, it is important that these communities are open, at least at some times, to the public.
For more on the organization check out www.vajraazaya.org
I am not a “permaculture certified” person – I am a grant writer. Our organization has paid for others to be certified that work on our projects with us. As for me….I just had to Google what climate zone Austin TX was in - and I'm not sure I got it right ;)