Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Hebron Crossroads 9-19-04
By Jeff Gill

Monarch butterflies are back around the milkweed stands, swooping and drifting and fluttering through my yard, more orange than the now fading marigolds around the slumping tomato vines.
Thanks to friends and neighbors who have mowed my lawn during this broken-armed summer (ooh-rah for Scott and Mike), their consideration has extended to mowing around the milkweed I leave in the back corners, which by this time of the year can be a real pain to avoid.
But sure enough, they helped draw back those orange and black regal Lepidoptera to the Hebron Crossroads. Sadly, there seems to be fewer of them, which matches with what I’ve been reading about the cutting of their home forests in Mexico. This is one of those kind of conservation issues I wish conservatives still put front and center; too many still sound like they think that the ocean is a fathomless depth for absorbing waste and pollution, that there are limitless reaches of sky to pump chemical smog into for dispersal, or that the myriad clouds of monarch butterflies mean that we can spare a few million. Earth has limits that we do well to respect.
Humans have limits, too; limits not only of overwork and activity, but limits of solitude and self-sufficiency. We need each other, even when we get on each others’ nerves. People need community and culture and contact, even more in our crowded but individualized society.
“Intentional Community” is the phrase sociologists give to those times and places we create a place to belong that isn’t a neighborhood or village. Summer sees intentional communities sprouting all over the place, and as summer ends we see fewer of them as we retreat for the winter into our homes and streets.
Camp is a good example, whether a kids camp for a week in cabins or an RV park for a few days. National Trail Raceway has a number of intentional communities through the season: each big weekend becomes one in itself, and the Wednesday nights are a running sort of family all along.
Some very specific examples include the two week “Pennsic War” just east of Ohio near Grove City, PA. Thousands of medieval re-enactors move in and live “in character” wearing robes, roasting meat, jousting and the like. This isn’t open to visitors, it is a planned community that exists for its members, but for two weeks.
Nationally famous, or infamous, is the just completed “Burning Man” festival on a dry lake bed in Nevada each Labor Day weekend. Created by artists and performers from the San Francisco area decades ago, they now create Nevada’s third largest municipality for three days each year, where mobile works of performance art move through crowds that may be garishly costumed, nude, or wearing pajamas.
“Burning Man” has been going on so long that now original participants have married there (as they do at Pennsic) and now bring children (ditto) who have grown up knowing this as their “other home.”
Much more sedate – at least by comparison – is the Sweet Corn Festival, which is an event you pass through for many, but an actual community for quite a few. Coming right up is the Backwoods Fest at the other end of Buckeye Lake, which I suspect operates much the same way.
And of course there are churches, communities within our communities whose membership is not necessarily so geographic, but gives participants a very real place to belong, to feel connected. Many of our local long-standing churches are family oriented and made up of family members who may not all live right next to each other, but appreciate having a place to come together each week.
Our area welcomes a new faith community this Sunday as a weekly place of worship, even though they’ve been around for quite a few months now. New Life Community, a new church start of the United Methodist Church, is starting every week 10:30 am services Sept. 19 at Lakewood Intermediate School’s auditorium, where the leadership group with Brian Harkness, their pastor, rents space.
This intentional community hopes to offer a place to belong for newer residents, those with perhaps less of a geographic tie to the area, and a style of music and message a bit less traditional than many churches use.
With less than 40% of our area claiming any church affiliation, there’s room at the Crossroads for New Life Community and for all who work to create community on all levels!
For our more elderly residents, the Licking County Aging Program offers a variety of “intentional communities” to seniors and their families. Zerger Hall on Newark’s east end is one of the better known forms of that, but many of their programs, like “Meals On Wheels,” are meant to go on the road.
With the sponsorship of Hebron Christian Church, Jacksontown United Methodist, and the United Methodist Church of Hebron, they will come to the Hebron council chambers on Wed., Sept. 22 at 7 pm to talk about “Medicare Prescription Cards.”
Alice Gordon, a Hebron resident, is Medicare staff person with LCAP, and she is putting together a program for us that may well be repeated at other community locations around the county. For our panel, she’s bringing Shirley Curtis, Diane Leeds, and MaryAnn Draa.
Alice also said she was bringing Larry Fugate, but since that would put two Booster columnists in the same room, we may have to check Ohio Fair Meetings law to see if we can get away with that.
And a final personal note: my own family continues to spread widely across not only the Midwest, but now also the whole country, as is true for many of you. This is probably one of the reasons intentional communities are growing in popularity, with family relationships stretching and thinning. We need those kinds of bonds, and if we have to we create them from scratch. But I am blessed with brothers and a sister I love, even if I don’t see them as much as I’d like.
All of which is to say that I learned by cell phone and e-mail picture that on Labor Day my sister decided to go into labor, and delivered my first nephew and the Little Guy’s first boy cousin, Brady Joseph Christiansen, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Mother, child, and the loving community around them from coast to coast are all doing well.

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and Brady’s uncle; if you have momentous announcements or news of local interest, call 928-4066 or e-mail disciple@voyager.net.

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