it´s been a while…

Hello dear family and friends of Mount of Oaks and the White Stone Association,

Apologies for the lack of communication / information in the last few years… Apart from our personal encounters with some of you who live closer, we are aware that our virtual communication with those who are far, has suffered drastically. We are sorry as we are always so grateful for all the support we have been receiving from all of you, and we are aware that we just haven’t communicated that to you for a long while. So, THANK YOU for continuing to journey together nonetheless 🙂 .
As for means of communicating we are more keen lately to keep it on a closed circle through email or face to face, as we´ve also realised how much energy and time consuming it was for us to use all the social media platforms as we were used to. As a result, our web page, facebook pages, instagram pages, etc, have been neglected for at least 2 years :-/ … We are still not sure if we want to re-activate these platforms, but if we do, it will not be regular, and I hope you understand… Life is much more exciting away from a screen 🙂 especially living on a farm :-). Depending less on high-technology is also part of our message 🙂

I would suggest a nice cup, or glass, of your preferred drink and a relaxed time to read this update that ended up longer than expected 🙂 as it happens when communication is not so regular… sorry about that too :-/… it might require 10 more minutes 🙂

OUR DIRECTION THESE LAST YEARS :With all the changes the world has been facing the last couple of years (in what seems to me as at a very high speed), we felt the need to slow down (as most of you probably), and re-think what really matters to us… Where is the Wind blowing us to?  What is that really is calling us?  What is giving life to us, and through us to those around us? Our almost immediate response since March 2020 has been these :

Prayersinginghealing and service to our local community, have been very present and important in our lives and in this place.

Me and Emma are still the main resident guardians (and we finally started to build a house for us last year… whoop whoop)…Since last summer we have had the pleasure to share this responsibility with Ricardo, who is currently living here in a caravan. We get the pleasure to also have Ricardo´s children for a week every fortnight –  Eva, 10 and Amadeu, 3 (nearly 4 he´s very proud to say), and their cat Peachy.
This “molecule” has been working well so far (apart from some cat fights with Peachy who is the new kitty cat in the hood) , and it has been helping us to clarify what we really want and realistically can support in this 5 hectare piece of land…We don’t see more than 2, max 3 resident dwellings.
Something that became clearer as we were slowing down, was that we (me and Emma) really need a private space that is “safe”… And the same will be for any resident, as the work can be quite intense at times. It´s part of looking after ourselves in order to be able to look after others .We are an open house and it can be exhausting when we don´t have clear boundaries or literally a place to “hide” ( says me, the introvert)… Our own house, away from all common spaces, is definitely in response to that, and also the clarity about the amount of residents we would like to see in this land…
We are looking for long term committed residents, willing to share responsibilities, as well as their hearts, willing to contribute with their finances, as well as their working hours, useful skills and willing to serve this land the same way we have been since 2006, with the awareness that we are serving a greater good 🙂
( Note: We are also volunteers contributing monthly with our own personal finances for the running of this place. We are giving of our time to work here and therefore we cannot take on full time jobs. Emma was offered a job this year, so we are for the first time having a wage at the end of each month which is a novelty, and a blessing at the time we will have big expenses to build our house the way we would like :-)… Divine timing :-)Ricardo is in an initial and transitional stage, and he is giving what he can. So, if you feel like supporting him personally, do get in touch and we can share more about this)

WHAT WE ENVISION AT THE MOMENT AT MOO :After 16 years, and with so many different people/ groups passing by, me and Emma feel it is time to call long-term residents to share responsibilities… We´ve been hosting volunteers to come and stay for short periods of time and some even for longer periods…that has been a great help and most of the time a very pleasant experience, but it has been exhausting too at times… We have gladly been sharing our skills and time with those that have passed by, and now we are looking for either already skilled folk or for those who would like to set roots here and share the lead…   Living in  community in such an open “house” has not been easy… Sharing our kitchen, our living room, our leisure places has been a privilege, but also a sacrifice at times… So we felt it was time for us (me and Emma) to call what we really want to see in this place, meeting our personal needs and desires instead of often trying to meet the expectations of those who pass by, above our own… What we aim is to have our own private space  and leave the common spaces  for all those Associates who would like to use them for workshops, events, etc… The residents will take care of general maintenance of land, animals and structures, and develop the general vision.
We envision 2 more dwellings max (and maybe one more is enough), of people who will live permanently and share all responsibilities, and all the benefits, of what it means to be a guardian of this land. After 16 years, and with many more tools and personal skills, I can say that it’s quite manageable at this stage, but it’s much lighter when responsibilities are shared, as there is still lots to do just in maintenance for example, never mind developments… We would like to include more animals in our ecosystem, for example, but we would not do that until we have others to share this huge responsibility. Also, I´m looking forward to having more time for other things apart from land management and building  🙂 .
Ricardo is at the moment in a one year trial, and he is already taking on some of the responsibilities which we are grateful for. He is in temporary housing and after a year, if we are all in agreement and alignment, he could start to build his own dwelling if he´s ready for that, or wait one more year. After that, we will request a clear decision.This is the process we are adopting… There is a long term commitment which enables us to share more responsibility, but we are all still “testing” for at least 2 years to see if it will really work for everyone in the long term. We will see how life unfolds…

Last year we added 2 small plots and a long “wildlife corridor” to the existing land… The “cabeço”, which some of us call it “the eagle rock”, or “the alien rock”, or “E.T” , and the little ruin next to it which is being called by our neighbours as “a capela” / “the chapel”, since I mentioned that was the purpose we envision for it :-)… a small open house of prayer  🙂

The “wildlife corridor”, or “boar land”, was purchased last year with many donations that most of you sent, for which we are very grateful… We were not necessarily looking for more land, and we definitely didn’t need more work, but a series of events led us into buying it, and “it just happened”… All these lands and all life in them are very happy they will not be sprayed with chemicals or plowed anymore 🙂
At the same time we were suddenly approached by other friends who expressed the desire to stay close and have their own plot of land in this valley and cooperate with what is already developed while doing their own thing ( which is what we prefer) …  it  all came as a big wave and it felt at times overwhelming… other times too good to be true 🙂

OTHER VISIONS COMING ALONG…So it started to make even more sense our idea to have our own separate and private space, and live more in a collective where others will have their own separate and private space, and we could share responsibility on taking care, managing and using the common spaces at MoO…This is still maturing and unfolding… next episodes to be developed :-)…

May clarity come to the surface… As I said before, it´s most times too exciting, other times a bit overwhelming … specially when it comes to other people´s expectations, and our tendency to see everyone happy and living up their own calling 🙂 … 

EXTENDED COMMUNITY…Beyond our little valley, there are other small collectives emerging between us and Póvoa de Atalaia, or between us and Alpedrinha, which are the villages closest to us for those who don´t know … it´s all very exciting… Actually, not only here, but all over Fundão area and surroundings… very interesting people with very interesting visions and projects.A stronger sense of community and family also comes along which is very encouraging too.
Another big news, as I mentioned briefly, is that Emma has a full time job this year… She was not even looking for it, but the offer came to her from the City council of Fundão, who recognised her skills in the area and she’s now a “mediator” between the english speaking foreign local community and the local council … She´s pretty much being paid for what she has been doing for years 🙂 … For those who know Emma, it’s not surprising to say that she’s doing much more than that… She has been helping the other migrant groups that are now coming to Fundão too : Asian and Brazilian workers, Afghan, Syrian and Eritrean refugees and as of this week Ukrainians…Prayers and support will be more than welcome. As much as it is part of her calling and passion, it is also quite exhausting to deal with so many different worlds, needs and realities at the same time. 
It has been a massive change and adjustment here in the land too, but I think we are managing it well, and we need to trust that this too is part of a bigger picture that surpasses our understanding 🙂

We are in mid March, so we already have a few great achievements to share, and a few more goals for the rest of the season.
So, we started the year having our new solar system installed which is working superbly so far… Even after all these cloudy days it´s working totally fine… It was a nearly 2000e expense, but definitely worth it . And I´m glad I took the time last year to build a new roof for the panels, perfectly facing south and without big trees in front of it 🙂 We will be able to run a better fridge and even a washing machine, imagine… much progress ahead, we better watch out… Emma is particularly happy with that last part so she doesn´t have to drive her laundry back and forth to Fundão anymore 🙂 I´m more excited that I don´t need to use our generator every time I need to use a power tool 🙂 We all have our preferences… and I will definitely use the washing machine too… I still have to install it though :-/ …

This last month me and Ricardo have been working on final finishes on our common space… A book shelf inside and lime plaster outside with some 3d earth plaster features… even Eva and Amadeu helped with the 3d clay and lime wash 🙂 … I don´t know how many years that has been on my list, but finally the time has come, and it felt very satisfying… 

As I was in the flow and it was just next door I also lime plastered the outside kitchen wall that was still unfinished… very satisfying too 🙂

Me and Ricardo also prepared loads of fire wood for the next year and the Mimosas are quite “under control” already, which is also quite satisfying. We have had a very dry winter which helped as well… But we do hope lots of rain come in spring time 🙂
Apart from a few more Olives, most of the pruning of all our fruit trees is done 🙂 

Our GOALS for the rest of the season– 

fix a few things in our compost toilets and shower house
– extend electrics to the shower house and camping kitchen
– continue the work in our house ( I will run some one or two day workshops in different stages and share it mainly locally as I am resisting getting back to social media for advertisement. If you are interested please send an e.mail in our contact form and I will add you to a mail list). This includes a rocket stove with a cob benchstrawbale wallcob walladobe brickswattle and daub walls, earth floor and lime plasters

– host weekly medicinal singing circles after April

– host Sweat lodge ceremonies 
– host a healing ceremony

– Plant more fruit trees in Autumn 

And I think I must have covered the essential communication from the last couple of years… Pheeeeeew 🙂 Thanks for bearing with me until here.

P.S. – If you are interested in becoming a “White Stone” Associate with a 25e yearly fee, let us know. Thank you in advance.

 Aims of the association:
   The association has the aim of promoting health and personal, social, spiritual and ecological well-being through contact with nature. The association is both multicultural and multilingual.

   Our main goals are:
   * Creation of collaborative spaces to promote social, economic and spiritual well being, local economy initiatives, community gatherings and educational opportunities.
   * Model and educate about the advantages of a ‘simple lifestyle’ and raise awareness of current environmental issues.
   * Promote healthy choices for the consumption and production of local, organic produce.
   * Encourage rural ‘ecological and educational tourism’ in a sustainable manner, respecting the cultural and local resources.
   * Offering accommodation in naturally constructed buildings and basic natural camping facilities.
   * Promote intercultural collaboration 
   What are the benefits of becoming an associate?
   By paying the annual 25E fee you will be able to have discounts on some of Mount of Oaks products and accommodation.    As an Associate, you will be able to use our spaces and structures to host your events, workshops, ideas, at a reduced renting price.   And more importantly you join a family of supporters committed to these ways of being, and you will be supporting us, the residents, and encouraging us to keep doing what we have   been doing. Basically you are participating in what we do with our lives here. Together we can achieve great things.

Barbara(in the name of all beings at MoO)