by Trish Mikkelson
One of the reasons that creating community is so beautiful is that there are more people to do all the work that it takes to simply maintain the community and so there is time left over to work on our goals which include projects. I (Trish) always find it much easier to work on a project when I have at least one other person who is passionate about the project to work with so we can encourage each other, hold each other accountable, and share the load using our strengths and talents.
Even though finishing this website and finding people to join the core group to create community is my highest priority, I still have projects I am working on because I can't help it!
Christ-Centered Spiritual Practices:
I have a Facebook page called Christ Centered Spiritual Practices where I facilitate spiritual practices up to 6 times a day on Facebook live. One person joins me almost every evening at 9 PM CST. A growing number of people join in from time to time.
This is an important, foundational project for these reasons:
*The foundation for spiritual practices being done by people who live in community is being laid as I get into this beautiful, monastic-like way of living.
*I am able to serve and feel a sense of purpose and connection even though no one is living in the community yet. I also am building relationships with vegans and nonvegans that support me in my spiritual path. I need this!
*I am being blessed immensely because I am drawing spiritual strength from these practices which I need so I have the strength, inspiration, and insight to be the founder of a community.
*People are getting to know me in a deeper way. People who are really serious about following Jesus, or having a more deep connection to God, are being drawn to help Jesus Vegans and veganism.
*People who are exploring joining the community can get to know me better and thus make a more educated decision about whether or not to join me.
*Christian vegans especially need spiritual strength because we are such a minority in our Christian communities. These spiritual practices can help us manifest the fruits of the spirit, be more in tune with Jesus, and have more energy so we can be more effective in our work.
Joey and Alexx, a couple I met at a vegan meetup in Fayetteville, and I have started this organization. Even though I have wanted to start an activist group, I just keep resisting the temptation because I know it is going to be a lot of work and I don't want to get distracted.
At the same time, I yearn to start doing something concrete in the animal rights activism arena locally. So when Joey and Alexx expressed enthusiasm about getting involved in activism, I felt inspired to start this group, which is simply a Facebook group at this time.
We are scheduled to have a table at the Omni Center for Peace, Justice, and Ecology annual members meeting where hundreds of people will be present. This is a big opportunity to reach out to activists and inspire them to become vegan. In addition, there is a place on the Facebook page where we are compiling a list of animal-friendly organizations in the Ozarks. The list is actually quite encouraging, including a no-kill animal shelter in Madison County where we live.
I also discovered that the Springfield, MO vegan activists are very involved. Springfield is about 3 hours from here.
Because I was funded to hire two great guys, Tas Zink and Chase Jones, who love to do permaculture projects, much has been done to both grow food and prepare gardens for Spring 2018.
I also have gotten exercise, fresh air, and renewed strength from working on projects which these hardworking young men helped me to start.
You can check out some of our Vegan permaculture projects here.
I was thrilled with how much food we grew last year. I have a lot of plants inside including moringa trees which are producing greens for my green smoothies.
Included in this project is growing plants in pots that we can plant in our own gardens as well as potentially sell. Comfrey, plantain, and peppermint are our main crops. I want to get lambsquarters, chickweed, and sorrel planted in pots in the spring.
I have harvested some of our Jerusalem Artichokes and am saving most of them for seed for the spring. This is a very hardy, easy to grow crop that has a ton of nutrition. They also are easy to store in the ground even during hard freezes. You just pick them when you want to eat them.
I saved a ton of marigold seeds and other seeds which will serve us well in the spring.
Here is a plant for a moringa farm which Tas put together: http://www.jesusvegans.com/moringa_farm
Travel and Networking
I love to travel! And to have a purpose to share Jesus and veganism everywhere I go makes travel really worthwhile. Plus, I find people who are interested in Jesus Vegans Ecovillage and who might be potential members or who can recommend members.
Here are the conferences I have attended since I started Jesus Vegans:
Mutual Aid Network conference in Madison, WI.
At this conference, I connected with Kurt Roskopf, who is now on our advisory board.
Creature Conference in London, England: I learned about this wonderful event from Kathy Dunn, who welcomed me warmly into the Shepherding All God's Creation Facebook group. Kathy and I now have met at 3 conferences, and are very good friends. She has blessed me immensely in numerous ways, including providing a wonderful outlet for prayers for animals and for each other.
Direct Action Everywhere Forum in Berkeley: This was 7 solid days of protests and learning experiences with lots of opportunities to talk to atheists and agnostics about Jesus, and talk about veganism with everyone. I enjoyed this immensely and made new friends with whom I am still connecting. I don't agree with all their tactics, yet I think much of what they do is really helpful. I will most likely attend their conference next year which is going to be a general animal rights conference.
Ozark Area Regional Conference: I want to stay connected with our bioregion, and I really enjoyed sharing about Jesus Vegans, making new friends and learning a ton of stuff from all the great attendees.
Cross Vision Conference in Minneapolis: I loved meeting my favorite teaching pastors, Greg Boyd and Bruxy Cavey. And I got to promote veganism in a number of ways, including asking Greg, "Why are you not a vegan?" You can hear my question and his answer here:
Christian Vegan Women's Retreat in Philadelphia. Sponsored by CreatureKind and facilitated by Sarah Withrow-King, I really enjoyed the retreat and was able to do some "vegangelizing" in Philadelphia and New York. Here is my post about the retreat.
Vegan Activities in Fayetteville: I am attending the monthly Vegetarian Potlucks at Omni Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology. Even though not completely vegan, this is a great chance to network, meet vegans, and inspire people to go vegan. I am also regularly attending the NWA Vegan Meetup in Fayetteville where I am meeting and networking with friendly, committed vegans.