Hi monks, nuns, and acolytes, I've got a prospect and invitation to float by you all.
I live just down the road from an amazing historical and cultural complex set in a beautiful, quiet yet vibrant nook of New England between New York's Hudson Valley and western Massachusetts Berkshire mtns. It was the center of the utopian / millenarian Shaker movement in America during the 1800s; you can read up here:
The once quite substantial and successful settlement is very well preserved and maintained by three groups which occupy different 'neighborhoods' of the original village complex: an outdoor museum in the north, a boarding school (Darrow) in the middle, and [The Abode of the Message] sufi retreat center to the south. The latter of these is a quite remarkable spiritual center going back almost 40 years, and headquarters of the Sufi Order International. Satellite view here:
The setting is really quite extraordinary! One of the richest environments on every level - nature, culture, community, history, sustainability, resources - I've encountered. I am working now to establish a basis for immersive live / learn / launch regenerative community development next door to all this, in conjunction with VillageLab.net and RegenerativeLearning.org
Now, the sufi group are in a bit of an uncertain transitional phase themselves and in fact The Abode center was on the cusp of closing down this year save for an emergency fundraising drive that has bought them another 6-12 months of time to reconfigure and balance the books. Their residential community has been dwindling over the last decade, now down to only 10-15 full timers in a facility that could easily accommodate 100+ including a large farm area, hundred acre woods, workshop, indoor / outdoor gathering space, dining hall, modern amenities, etc. all 2.5 hrs from NYC and Boston, 3.5 from Montreal....
Therein lies an opportunity I believe for UnMonastery. Can you feel it!?
The current director of the facility is my next door neighbor, a pragmatic lady looking for creative and forward-thinking solutions to reset course for the organization and community. There is an existing open residential program for people interested in experiencing the way of life at the center without making any special commitment to its spiritual basis, and several unaffiliated groups which make use of the facilities via short term rental during summer season (primarily an expansive separate 'mountain camp' area with cabins and bunkhouses and open air facilities in private woodsy setting) but they have not been able to promote this sufficiently or in the right places and it is underutilized. They are very interested in new arrangements with aligned groups, projects, people who can make good use of the space subordinate to or in tandem with the primary focus of Sufi community study and practice. I would very much like to facilitate this occurrence.
I'm based in upstate New York since attending the inaugural emergingleaderlabs.org program hosted here 3.5 years ago at nearby solaqua.org in Chatham. My personal focus and passion is on re-establishment of appropriate bioregional economic basis via "agile ecovillaging" in an integrative permaculture approach mixed with p2p and open source network capabilities, analogous to Open Source Ecology efforts with perhaps a more grounded and socio-culturally aware tact. I have cultivated many local connections and potential partners in these efforts, but currently lack for a dedicated 'core team' with capabilities and shared vision to move forward in a more substantial way. It's a bit of chicken / egg conundrum. I'd really like your help!
Currently I can offer affordable rooms in my house (in its own delightful mini-community cluster a mile from The Abode) starting November at $300 /person /month or point to the residential offering at the Abode which runs around $800 /month including some meals. There is also a nearby Quaker intentional community qivc.org with very comfortable spaces available in winter. I would like to convene a group here interested in planning and preparing the steps to invite much larger participation in between this site and perhaps others nearby for a number of programs and developments next year.
Interested? Please let's explore! Happy to follow up here or side channels...questions / suggestions welcome. Thanks for your support - Baraka Bashad (may the blessings be)!