Friday, July 29, 2016


Eccleastes 11:1-6  Cast you bread upon the waters and after many days it will return to you.  So says the Bible.
Two days ago a car drove into our camp and this tall gentleman got out and approached my rig---said are you Randy Vining?  I said yes.  He said: 40 years ago you did me a big favor.

Meet Mark Shepherd---a real life philosopher from Denver.  I did not remember him or the favor till he gave me the details.
Turns out he was visiting New Orleans 40 years ago in his RV and needed a place to park while seeing the area.  He made his appeal at the local Unitarian Church and I granted his request.  He stayed 2 weeks or so and became intrigued with our Commune.  So much so that he started his own community back in Denver--which is still functioning.
He has read my blog for some time and decided to look me up.

(I remind you that gold for me is good information, ideas, inspiration, or hope)

1. He lifted my spirits with his personal life-adventure story--establishing a community--getting a masters in philosophy--confirming my belief that the self is fulfilled in community.

2. He reacquainted me with the philosophy of Haidt author of THE RIGHTEOUS MIND--why good people are so divided over politics and religion    Haidt has cleared up the mystery of why people hold such different opinions politically. Click here for a brief summary of his eye opening ideas. Or here   for a great TED talk on youtube.

3. He summarized for me the philosophy of  John Rawles Author of A THEORY OF JUSTICE.

4. He told me about a fascinating community nearby where people live in foam houses--a long time fascination of mine. Curious? click here.

5 He listened intelligently to my ideas about THE BAND OF BOONDOCKERS and the effort to pattern a new mobile culture.

6. He offered me a place to camp in the Denver area.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  YOU VERY LIKELY DO NOT KNOW HOW MUCH OF YOUR EVERYDAY DOINGS ARE GUIDED BY PHILOSOPHERS.  I have read that primitive tribes in the Amazon often have individuals of speculative mind and subtle thoughts that are for practical purposes philosophers.

A great visit and I consider myself well repaid for the bread I cast on the waters so long ago.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Pictured below is one tiny (but important) aspect of the challenge: Group conversation.

Here we are, with some guest,  in the cool mountain air of Leadville, Co, (elevation 10,000 ft)
This is no ordinary conversation, however, this is more like a salon conversation. (read more if you're curious)  Basically salons are focused, intelligent conversations  for pleasure and information exchange,where one person talks at a time and addresses the whole group.

Our group has "organically" evolved into a mobile salon. I remember this session in particular as fun and hilarious:  We discussed periods in our life when we were a Jerk---and how we escaped jerkdom.
Here is another organically evolved tradition of our group:  A SOAPBOX.  Whenever one of us feels very strongly about a point--we provide this stool for them to express themselves as forcefully as they choose.  Here, Kathy is making an impassioned defense of Mexican culture,

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  HOW WONDERFUL IS ENLIGHTENED CONVERSATION.  How different from idle chatter and contentious bickering.  I am delighted with the quality of our people and our interactions. I picture our conversations as a tumble of ideas----and like rocks in a tumbler polishing each other. 
I have no grandiose notions---but I remind my readers that one focused discussion group--organized by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia (he called it his Junto) generated ideas and actions that gave America it's first fire department, street lights, lending library and the University of Pennsylvania.

EVOLVING A CULTURE:  A culture is a shared pattern of behavious and interactions.  Our intention is to "organically" evolve our culture--Just feel our way along--discussing issues as they arise. We sharply distinguish "traditions" from rules--the latter imposed--the former invented by consenus. Here are a few current traditions and some I hope are on the horizon:

We define ourselves as a mobile band of boondockers--No designated leaders--. 

Have separate rigs and money and usually travel separately---assembling at an agreed upon place.

Use electronic connectedness--phones--text--facebook--emails.

Membership by invitation

Respect privacy--rarely knock--prefer texting.

Encourage members to leave and reconnect at will.

Purpose: to enjoy and enrich our lives.

On the horizon--not yet fleshed out--is a proceedure for dealing with any tensions that might arise and an exit proceedure.

Saturday, July 09, 2016


Meet "Little Charles" --A really smart and modern farmer in Northern Louisiana.

He farms 5000 acres of corn and soy beans.

With the aid of this super duper, electronically responsive, self driving equipment

and his strapling, equally bright son on the left. (the lady is my sister--the guy in red won the lottery 20 years ago and just amuses himself)

Now meet Tom Dixon--a retired contractor, who got "seized with the miracle of things growing."

and bought this 3 acre farm south of Santa Fe, New Mexico and started a COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE project. Dozens of his neighbors pay $25 for a share of the vegetables grown here.  Each receives a heaping basket  every two weeks. The surplus is taken to a farmers market and sold.
One interesting feature is that people are given the option to work for their share of food or be paid to work.  He hires teenagers at a fair wage.

That's my longtime friend Bushrod leading me to the tomato greenhouse.  I was complaining that I'd not tasted a delicious tomato since Mexico.  Just at that moment a hand reached me a tomato from inside the doorway.  I ate!  It was delicious.  Tom then introduced himself and explained that these were a very special hybrid species from Monsanto and each seed cost about 30 cents.

We walked the 3 acres, marveling at the variety being grown.  There were 2 ladies pulling carrots.
Notice the drip irrigation system. Water is precious here and treated with respect.

I turned to the south and was "smitten" by this magnificent tree.  Something akin to love and wonder swelled up in me.  I hope you've had a similar experience.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: Bushrod is so enamored of this tiny farm, the taste and quality of the organic vegetables it produces, the intelligent use of water, the non use of pesticides or fertilizers, (uses composts)  using garden debris for chicken fodder, eggs as a by-product, Farmers market sales of the surplus etc---that he gave me a $100 to tell you about it.  He suggested that I contrast the high productivity of this tiny farm with that of my Nephew's 5000 acres--providing little or no direct food for people---except indirectly as meat.  He believes that America and the world needs to reassess how much meat we eat and what it costs the environment to produce it.

Tom Dixon and his three acre farm are an inspiration and could turn out to be a model for the future if  the environment begins to rebel against our excesses.  We all may be compelled to resurrect our "victory gardens".  I come away convinced that a small garden can feed a family.

And I caught a glimpse of the wonder of growing things that inspired this artist-of-the-earth.

I do not mean to disparage my nephew's farm.  Until the Tom Dixons' of the world persuade us to catch the grow-your-own spirit---my nephew and his kind are feeding the world--and we would starve without them.

One final thing--Tom did not seem to fear genetically modified food.  And if he doesn't--neither will I.