20 Most Important Things (a work in progress)

20 Most Important Things (a work in progress)

20 Most Important Things (a work in progress) 640 480 Strawbale Studio

I was asked by Matt McCoul, “What are the 20 things I think are most important?”
I found that to be an inspiring question – do-able in size.
Perhaps you might want to start a list of “20 Most Important Things”, too !

Well, this is just being started… and yet I wanted to “get it out into the world”.
So – here is the beginning.  I expect to modify and add to this over time.

(This is a pic from the 2019 Herb Faire – where, for a weekend, folks camped on-site, children played, we spent our days mostly outside – learning and sharing and dancing & eating.  Ah.  That’s the direction I want to have more of)



20 most important things   updated 12/31/2019

  • “WHOLLY CONNECTED” ~ Drawing relationships between person, planet & empowerment.
    (See this  Thesis I wrote in 1979-80  for the Social Ecology MA fro Goddard College online – soon)
  • “AT WHAT COST” (This title may change to something more of “what I want” instead of “what’s wrong”)
    We have choice & amazing technology.  What do we do around issues like Aging, Child-raising, time to be with nature.  (I repeat this theme in many ways in other “important things”.)

    “What is it that I love so much behind this feeling?” hmm. Not quite what I want it to be yet…) I love a BALANCED LIFE. PEOPLE & NATURE…Wholly Connected, All “Relations”. Awe and reverence. Care, understanding. I want well-being for All. (Knowing that within the balance and harmony of life, things are “eating each other and getting eaten” and such things. Yet in the wholeness, I am imagining that Life (processes) seek to find a balance there they “are supported” and also “support”. I like to use the body as a metaphor… Each part, “doing its own thing” in a dance with all the other parts, “for the good of the whole”, which “supports the parts! Yay! (An ongoing thought for many years. Posted 2023- 6-28)


    The “what’s wrong” can help me “flip it over” and identify what I am needing. (Flow and connection, or support and understanding, or adventure and stimulation, or attention to a “part” that isn’t working so I can identify ways this part can again “contribute to life”. What request (do-able in the moment and not a demand) might I make of myself or others to shift this. Ex. Take 15 min and write down some concerns and possible strategies to get that need met or set up a get-together with a friend to get some company and “listening support”.  Or take a nap, or a walk, or. .. (I imagine there are 10,000 “strategies” to get any need met.  Need stimulation & adventure?  10,000 possibilities. Longing for connection? 10,000 ways to get that met. )


Hmmm. “What’s wrong”can lead to “right and wrong” thinking / blaming of others and situations. And if that blame is spoken or acted out  – might be responded to with defensiveness, argument, and more “right & wrong” thinking.  (Sound a bit like “Polarization”? lol)
What I am interested in is “deep listening”,  which might prevent “argument”, “debate”, even “war”. I’m longing for Listening that increases understanding of what people might be feeling or needing in their life. (Jimmy Carter would ask of others — groups, countries –“ What are your concerns?”  Having this attitude of heart and mind, there is more likelihood of sense of “we” rather than a sense of “enemy” or “other”, “defend & attack”.  In my experience this FREES UP AN INCREDIBLE AMOUNT OF CREATIVE ENERGY, which rather naturally  flows toward coming up with ideas for strategies that may help meet our needs.  There is also natural motivation to return the generosity of someone who listens carefully and values us. So things are more likely to flow forward, toward “what we want”, in a way where we feel safe and appreciated. And at the end of that process I have found also a natural sense of relaxation in my chest.


So I might re-frame from What’s WRONG?  To WHAT IS NEEDED?  Wow. That feels different. (We are talking needs, like saftey, connection, play) not strategies, like “a bath” or “a party” of which there are 10,,0000 possible ways (strategies) to meet a need (universal value or longing (renewal, adventure, to matter, choice, etc)



I look at the whole of human (and prehuman) time span and qualities…to imagine what we might be longing for and needing that might be harder to find in conventional culture (in US for example).

We were humans in Villages & Tribes for 30,000 or more years.  Now for the last 100 years we have electricity, cars, then radio and tv, and then computer and internet.  We have jobs to make “flexible green energy” to buy pretty much every part of our life.  We have nuclear families, and perhaps, or not, some local tribe we meet up with once a week or once a month. (Religions, meetups, play or study groups). We often depend on one partner to meet most of our needs.  We raise children alone when they are young, or take them to a day care/school with 25 other same age children, in usually an indoor room with 1 or 2 adults.  Ah.  Schooling helps back up our “job” situation, and meets some socializing, stimulation needs for youth.

What I would like to see woven back into daily life…is “something embodied to do” that makes sense and meets all sorts of needs.  For instance, gathering plants is outside meets needs for movement, stimulation & fun, challenge and capacity.  Gathering “contributes to life” by helping provide for well-being of the group.  It is ‘SOMETHING TO DO”.   It is responsive to the world (what’s the weather, the time of year?) It can provide a sense of wonder and gratitude, support and belonging.  Our eyes and muscles and bones are nourished.  Nourished, fun, meaningful.  That’s what I’m looking for.

Body & senses & mind & even “heart” – TOGETHER.  Embodied.

Right now we have “jobs” = flexible capacity to get needs met for survival, fun, etc.
and we have “shopping”  = procuring things we need
and arranging, do things with the things = doing things with the things.

What is missing (what I want more of) is a ‘CALLING TO THE OUTDOORS”  and “EMBODIMENT” and “COMMUNITY”.  I find I really enjoy “mending clothes” and talking.  (Natural long-time human experience). It could be “making tools” or “fixing stuff” or “making music” or “story-telling”.
And there might be no-one around (on the internet I have many choices of connecting with others, even creating new families and social circles of my choice)

So I hold this as…we have gone out, away from “home” (nature and tribe).  We have explored, individuated, learned and created many new things…. And now there’s a part of us that wants to come “back home” – bringing the best with us, and re-integrate into our home (nature) our family (Life, Groups, Friends, maybe birth or created Families…  We long to be able to go outside and have “things to do” ….and a commons filled with natural resources…to play with, to bring into our lives in a useful way.

Embodiment:  Checking out what we might be longing for from our previous time as humans over 10’s of thousands of years. We lived in The Village / The Tribe  until very recently.  We built our own shelters, got food, and knew how to do everything needed to survive.  (Like the birds at the feeder, who would be fine without the feeder.  Capable beings, knowing what to eat, how to find it, make or find shelter, mate and raise offspring.)

We lived in community, We had “things to do” that engaged our body and mind”.  Surviving, creating shelter, getting food, water, raising children, caring for each other, the elders.  (and beings on the planet over ? years ? from bacteria? From ? )

Our being / body might want light, movement, security, adventure, renewal.

  • “KINDNESS & EMPOWERMENT” – NVC Non-Violent Communication / Compassionate Communication / Reflective Listening & other skills that actually increase compassion naturally.


  • “CO-CREATION” Projects
    mural, set design oliver, peace quilt, Confilict resolution puppets, natural buildings & projects, running Strawbale Studio, gardens (co-creative dance with Life)



Crying – I think of as “an overflow of more feelings than the body can hold… or an expression, a discharge of emotion. “

Anger – I think of as “an overflow of more feelings that the body can hold… or an expression, a discharge, of emotion.”
(a “ warning light on the dashboard” that something needs attention. )
Marshall Rosenberg  ” I never listen to what people say. I look for what they might be feeling & needing.”

*  NATURAL AGING & DEATH  (I have this as a google doc at this point)
Basically, how did humans do aging and death in traditional cultures – that could help meet our needs today –  for community and support as we pass through those seasons of life.

  • 2023-4-16 PROPORTIA & DEMENTIA (a Rocket Stove phrase by my natural building teacher Ianto Evans)   I’m thinking that dementia, memory loss, confusion…might have something to do with the “mind checking out”….when what we see seems beyond what we can handle or negotiate.  I’m imagining it might be like the body defense system that “goes into shock” when there is a trauma or event that is so so big it can’t be processed.  Or even the “super strength” to lift a car off a body….an adrenaline? extra boost to get the job done.  A TEMPORARY assist by the body.  So. as we see how things are going, as our body is aging (of course, naturally, like the rest of life)…and we have MINDS that can comprehend, and imagine into the future….that things are going to….(whatever it is we imagine)…   I’m thinking there is so much worry that can be there… in our consciousness… worry about our bodies, our income, out place in life, the losses…. that we might just OVERRIDE that conscious mind and come to the PRESENT….leaving memory behind.  Meets some needs, maybe not other needs. (THIS COULD BE DEVELOPED MORE)  Maybe there is a component of “not being in the moment” as well, not “aware” that I put my coffee cup down here, because my “mind is somewhere else” (worrying?). 
    • Se this all is to speculate that this loss of connection with some parts of our mind might be a protective response
    • In nature, with the other-than-human animals living life out, in the environment.  I can imagine when an animal can’t hunt, or move around, or think normally, then….they….die.  Likely a predator will eat them, is my guess.  The group likely couldn’t protect them long term (like we can as humans, with modern strategies, extend life).  In the day, pneumonia might end the life of a person sooner.  Rituals and beliefs might assist as well: take the elder out on the ice float, or up on the mountain.  An integrated ending, perhaps a “gift to the tribe” to let go back into life.
  • “WHO WILL I BE NEXT?”  I imagine the firewood burning in the wood stove at Strawbale Studio during a winter Full Moon Potluck.  “”I was a tree, then fell over in death, or was cut down….then I became firewood.  Now I am burning, and “BECOMING ASH”….then likely I will be strewn on the driveway to help cars get out of the lane that does uphill to the main road.  “THEN, WHAT WILL i BECOME?”  Ashes, to become part of a blade of grass, or a Burdock plant, OR??? “AND THEN, THEN, WHAT WILL I BE, WHO WILL I BE”.