Saturday, January 14, 2012

Gift Circle Meeting @ St. Mary's

What is gift circle?

Gift circle is a regular gathering where people come to express their needs and others can offer to help them. The help is offered as a gift, and not a barter or exchange. Needs can range from a hug to moving books to babysitting to doing a personal process or holding space for another.

Gift circles are an expression of gift community, a concept created by Bill Kauth and Zoe Alowan. Bill and Zoe held a workshop on gift community last October in Fairfield, and this gift circle is a continuation of the idea. Gift community is a new way of creating and culturing community. The question asked of those at the workshop was, “How am I the gift?” “When has my gift been recognized, appreciated and honored?”

When we answer these questions, we can begin to live the gift that we are individually, while within community. We can also begin to ask for what we really need. Gift circle is the practical application of two important questions: “How am I the gift?” and “What do I need?”

Monday, January 9, 2012

St. Mary's grounds master planning - meeting notes

Following up on Dora's post, here are the notes from the brainstorming during last Thursday's meeting; this represents everyone's ideas but not necessarily the final result. (Thanks to Emanuel for typing up the notes!)

Design objectives:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Landscaping the St. Mary's Grounds: Masterplanning!

A group of interested individuals met this past week to begin creating a masterplan for the use of the St. Mary’s grounds. Group brainstorming led to lists of design objectives and specific design components.

Examples of objectives include both social concerns (building community, designing activities into the landscape, providing a safe & beautiful public space, etc.)  and eco/biological concerns (improve soil and water quality, create and maintain bio-diversity, include edible landscaping, etc.). 

 A few specific components that were discussed include: public benches and pathways, a community-oriented annual vegetable garden, a public food forest, a greenhouse, rain gardens and rain catchement from buildings, a gazebo and cob pizza oven, and many more.
A small group was formed to complete the mapping process. When this initial draft is complete, it will be made available online for the broader community to see and comment on. In tandem with this design phase, research has begun on sourcing and funding for landscaping elements (trees, tools, building materials, etc.). 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Beauty Shop Music Residency update

Residency gets $1000 grant from Iowa Arts Council for January!!!!

Wade creates an amazing video about the program, and about the December residency!!!

The Beauty Shop Music Residency Month One from Wade Koch on Vimeo.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Workshop building update

We've got a team working on setting up the workshop building on the NW corner of the property into a woodworking shop. There had been plans to do a work day this Sunday, but that has postponed. Here's why (from Roland):

So because the utilities to the building have been off for so long, Alliant has advised that we need to have an electrical contractor certify that the electrical is up to (the state) code, and have an hvac contractor certify the NG piping & fitting. Also, Connelly has not been able to drop off a dumpster yet.

We are postponing the Sunday work day until we can get the utilities organized (due to the potential cost that may be needed to bring the wiring to code).

We are looking at the option of beginning the workshop in the 3-bay garage between buildings. I'll send more on that soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bonnell U update

We met yesterday to discuss the next steps for Bonnell University (BU), and we are excited about taking the next steps to making this educational alternative available to more people in the near future. (For more info on BU, go to

Attendees: Anna Bruen, Andrew Perry, Colin Heaton, Gabe Kretchmer, myself

What we talked about/next steps:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Images for site planning - St. Mary's property

Beginning the process of a site plan for St. Mary's property, gathering some base images for use by the group.

First image is from Avi Pogel, second is from the Jefferson County Assessors office (, third and forth are from a SketchUp drawing I threw together.