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  • Writer's pictureColleen Dick

Rainbird is about People and the Journey, Part Two

Updated: Jan 4, 2022

Remembering the Early Years...


Left column: (top to bottom) Harrison Quigley | Andy Monks | Andy's excavator working

Center column: Neal Spackman | Harrison Quigley | Harrison, Matt Powers, Neal | Adam & Marie Remkes

Right column: Lady ?, Joshua Choate, John Flatberg, Michael Cundick | Dustin Hollis & John | Seth Peterson and the Convergence gang.

After the first Permaculture Convergence (in Part 1), I returned to Utah with the charge to find the other "Permies." Teachers that I had met in Minnesota were happy to give me referrals to their former students who were living in my area. And so, the adventure began.

Dan Halsey, the designer that I felt was most suited to the project that I had in mind, agreed to come to Utah in December, 2014, for a site visit. At almost the same time, I heard from a LinkedIn, Permaculture friend (Harrison Quigley) that he would be spending Thanksgiving with his family in Los Angeles, and so we invited him to come up and spend time with Dan as well. Harrison was working on his own project to create a better food system based on Agroecology. He had become interested in Permaculture while he was living in Australia. It was interesting to share perspectives as we prepared for site visits and open houses. A good time was had by all as we hosted "Introduction to Permaculture evenings" in both Alpine and Cedar City areas.

Harrison and I found synergy in our interests and talents, and decided to be co-founders of each others' organizations. We prepared paper work to incorporate the two new companies in early 2015. And, so began Onchenda Open Global Food Cooperative, and State of Grace Living, both Utah Benefit Corporations. We have spent much of the six intervening years in the development of the Onchenda Online Farmers' Market, which we have now turned over to a new generation of talent, leaving us to work full-time on the first State of Grace Living community: Rainbird Village. Yay!

We have developed some really wonderful friendships during this time. Our friends' pictures are above. We met Josh Choate as a referral from Peter Bane, and he had a great little natural food market at the time. He has now gone on to teach at Monticello College, and with his wife Amy, they operate Natural Philosophy Life.

John Flatberg, of Heartwater Farm, was an early advocate, teacher and mentor to us as we formulated the basics of our strategy to create a regenerative community. He introduced us to Andy Monks who was actively working on several Permaculture projects, and so between the two of them we got to see how these methods worked on the ground. Oh, the stories that these two can tell. They both received PDC (Permaculture Design Course) certifications under Warren Brush at Quail Springs Permaculture in Southern California. More of the Quail Spring graduates are up the road in Holden, Utah, where the Adam and Marie Remkes family lives. They have taken it all seriously in creation of their Homestead, built by themselves, and with an adorable rental cabin. Later, Michael and Maomi Cundick from the Salt Lake City, Artists for Local Agriculture groups, interned with John, one Summer, got the Permaculture bug and were also certified at Quail Springs. They, with others, went on to create a legacy of localized groups who are doing, on the ground projects throughout the Wasatch Front area of Utah including the more populous parts of the State. They established the Utah Permaculture Collective, an organization which serves and coordinates the smaller Permaculture Guilds.

Cathe' Fish, of Practical Permaculture, was also an early Permaculture teacher in Utah and worked with people in the Boulder, Utah area. Ron Johnson was one of her students and hosted us for a wonderful weekend at the Boulder Mountain Lodge. His ranch is designed with Permaculture principles and managed through Holistic Planned Grazing. He and his friends have restored soil health to the area.

Another North American Permaculture Convergence occurred in Northern California in 2016, and we were able to attend and talk to people about both the Onchenda Market and the community structures that we were working on at the time. Though very different from the one in Minnesota, we enjoyed ourselves and learned a lot.

At some point in time, Neal Spackman came home from Saudi Arabia, and after admiring his work for years, we got a chance to meet him in person. Luckily, we were hosting Matt Powers, while on tour to promote his Permaculture Student series and giving presentations along the way. It turns out that Matt and Neal are good friends and we were able to enjoy the time together. Neal is very interested in helping with the Regencubator program along with his other great work. We plan to use Matt's curriculum in teaching Permaculture to children as well as adults. So much for a wonderful beginning...

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