Fighting for Sacred Food, and Spaces, in the Oregon Rainforest
By James Smith
Circle of Children, an Oregon-based non-profit, is moving to create a space for like-minded community members far and wide to gather, knowledge-share, work, and learn. Once up and running, their visionary Triangle Lake Center will host non-profit organizations,sustainable-living programs, visiting scholars, and local students and schools.
Circle of Children is aiming to create a safe sacred space that will safely allow kids to get back out to work, play, and learn in natural environments, even as those natural spaces are rapidly declining.
he Founder and Director of Circle of Children, William Weishampel (also known as Blackhorse Shasta) is working with his all-volunteer staff to get the donated $1.2 million, 60 acre conference center, volunteer guest houses, restrooms, kitchen, and gardens, repaired, renovated, and operational. Unfortunately, for the last few years Circle of Children has been facing challenging legal hurdles and political opposition to their operations from those who don’t want to see a cooperatively-run natural learning space take hold in the heavily-logged region.
Circle of Children’s story is not a new one. Many activists and whole-foods proponents have faced similar setbacks and challenges. It is what we all face, as the individuals and communities who are trying to protect and preserve good wholesome food, heirloom varieties of seeds and eats, endangered species, and beautiful natural spaces. It is a fight that will never end until we lose our protected spaces, or run out energy and resources– but thankfully for every negative force there is an even greater and more powerful force on the side of good, who know how to mobilize the masses and call attention to worthy causes.
Some of the things on circle of Children’s wish list, or rather “dream” list as far as their long term-goals go, are solar panels for the barn and a wood chipper so they can more effectively clean and maintain the property - producing their own mulch as well. They understand the importance of mulching, composting and utilizing natural manures to mimic the rich spongy soil of the forest floor around them.
Conventional gardening techniques, like tilling and subtractive farming, do nothing for the long-term health of the plants, soil, or planet. In contrast, applied regenerative techniques and permaculture concepts, like food forests and low water gardening – are making a resurgence in a big way – because they just make more sense! We can’t afford anything less than to start repairing the planet instead of only maintaining the status-quo. If we can grow healthy organic foods for ourselves and our communities in the process, and also teach children the value of hard work and effort – what’s not to like?
Circle of Children knows they are facing an uphill battle but one that they will keep fighting. Their courage in the face of consistent smear campaigns and operational permit issues they are facing is inspirational. They have the support of hundreds of local residents and students and a list of community organizations that are excited to use the conference center - planned to be offered as a community resource - to hold their events, retreats, and other work projects.
One upcoming event, in coordination with GEM Network, is a “Permaculture Olympics.” where participants will compete in a wide range of events designed to challenge their permaculture, farming, and field talents. Participants will get a chance to show off their finely-honed skills in a variety of permaculture-themed events. Contact Circle of Children for more information on how you can help or get involved.
With continued financial support, in-kind donations, and gifted volunteer hours from people all around the globe, Circle of Children will see their dreams and goals materialize. Though weary, they will overcome these obstacles and legal battles to come out stronger and more vibrant than ever before. Stay strong, my weary friends, stay strong!