Damn Good Biking

Damn Good Biking
Mammath Mountain

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sauk Centre News Add

  There are signs of prog­ress in opening the Valley Forge Village project on the former Minnesota Correc­tional Facility campus. The project is part of the Patrick McCaffrey Foundation. Mike Weisser, Vice Pres­ident of the Patrick McCaffrey Foundation, explained the lat­est happenings to citizens and city officials of Sauk Centre in moving ideas towards actions in a meeting Wednesday.

Weisser and others brought forth reports of 'nay saying' from some Sauk Centre resi­dents questioning an influx of persons into the community who might be 'unsavory,' an increase in taxes, and taking over jobs now held by local citizens. Apparently there are some around who feel appre­hensive about helping to bring the project into fruition, feel­ing this is sham for securing some individuals a chance to make a lot of money.

  “We shouldn't feel this way about our veterans who may have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own,” stated Weisser, and reinforced by others. “This is a time when immediate help is needed for that group of Americans, and we have immediate access to the finest property in the en­tire country for the variety of opportunities which could be­come a reality.”

  The project will be funded in total by donations to open the facility and will be fully self-sustaining within two years by income from vari­ous sources. A case study and business plan substantiates this projection as determined by experts in their fields.

Without naming names as yet, there are several activ­ists with money resources and political clout who are not only showing interest but also nudging others to come forth. “Hopefully this will ex­tend to the Presidency and Congress to take immediate action through the stimulus package,” he said.

Weisser handed out a 7-minute DVD to those in at­tendance, gaining input as to how to best distribute them.

Suggestions were made to have a showing on the Sauk Centre Herald stage during the Stearns County Fair and at the Interpretative Center.

The video is also on You­Tube and can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=7wSYD84y--g

“There are people know­ledgeable and capable enough to coordinate the many facets required in getting the proj­ect underway,” cited Weisser, who explained some of the pluses for the campus besides its having buildings already in place.

The entire project would be monitored by Larson-Al­len, a world-class C.P.A. firm that specializes in nonprofit organizations. They would set all salaries based on local pay standards and provide controls and audits over local contrac­tors, which will provide ser­vices and products.

  The veterans who would come to the facility are not those in need of extended care such as provided by the Vet­erans Administration. Instead they would be single, married, even with families, who may not be able to find a job, and in need of educational oppor­tunities required in the present societal framework.

  “Many veterans would come to the village who have been diagnosed with PTSD or TBI and just need a place to decompress before trying to fit back into society,” said Weisser.
  These veterans are not victims but are returning war­riors who fought to keep our country free and now have earned the right to have the training and rehabilitation necessary to lead a produc­tive life in society and with their families, according to Weisser.

 The grounds and loca­tion have much to offer.

  “For instance, there are 35 acres of farmland ready for organic farming to be taught by persons steeped in that area,” said Weisser. “A Minneapolis organic food coop is already on board to purchase all the crops from the site. A barn already built could house horses used for equine therapy for residents and their families.”

  There can be an innova­tive wellness program for the vets, which would be moni­tored by two doctors from the Mayo Clinic in Roches­ter who have a great feel for such a veterans program and its centering on body, mind and spirit.

  Sauk Centre, being in the center of the state, also has easy access from three highways systems moving through the city, I-94, State Highway 28 and US High­way 71. The city is close enough to eight colleges and technical schools within easy bus distance. Alexandria, Willmar, St. Cloud, Staples and Wadena are cities with such institutions.

Weisser went on to stress Valley Forge Village would be a nonprofit, privately­ run national institution with some financial and other aid from government. “Hopefully, within two years after its inception it would be financially manage­able on its own,' said Weis­ser. 'There are available op­portunities to initially house as many as 250 persons with a staff around 75-100, de­pending on the needs of the veterans.”

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Valley Forge DVD on Youtube

Valley Forge Village: (VFV) An intentional community for veterans and their families.

I can't get the link feature to work, simply cut and paste on address bar

This short film conveys the urgent need for funding a well-grounded vision of rehabilitation and healing for predeployed and returned service members. At Valley Forge we share a common vision and understand intimately the need for a facility such as this, but need to generate more awareness and funding to make this vision a reality.

The primary focus of the VFV will be offering veterans an opportunity to readjust back after deployment in the form of opportunities for introspection, counseling, job training, as well as rest and relaxation.

Healing our veterans goes far beyond their physical bodies; wellness encompasses the body, mind, and spirit. Monitored by the Mayo Clinic the village wellness model will offer veterans a place to reinforce happiness and fulfillment while readjusting back into community after experiencing war.

The Valley Forge Village is nestled along the shores of Sauk Lake, located on the northern city limits of Sauk Centre Minnesota (population 5,000). The campus is centrally located within the state approximately 100 miles northwest from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Twin Cities on interstate 95. The VFV is also in close proximity to local institutions of higher education as well as VA medical facilities.

Some examples of vocational and job training will be in the areas of agriculture, green technologies, civil service, manufacturing, restaurant services, retail management, artisan craftsmanship, as well as many related skills essential for success.

When developing the agriculture aspect of the VFV, production will be focused on sustainably producing food for ourselves, the local community, and region. To achieve this goal, the village farm program will utilize a diversity of approaches such as: education, apprenticeships, and horticultural therapy, as well as for profit production business ventures.

Military service is deeply engrained within the fabric of our families and communities, if you are a veteran or know someone who is, send them this letter and link to youtube. Click on link below.

If you are inspired to donate, participate, or learn more about this unique opportunity, then please feel free to contact us anytime.

In Peace,

Joshua Anderson

Farm Manager- Valley Forge Village
National Veteran Coordinator-Farmer Veteran Coalition
Army Medic & Agriculture Extension Agent, Peace Corps Niger

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A pinch, did this really happen?

For those of you who have been tuning into my life since the conception of this blog, or before then, then you would know that I picked up the mandolin late in 2006 merely months prior to leaving for Niger and it has never been more than arm reach since.

Be it traversing a mountain, canoeing a river, or trudging through the Nigerien deserts, or continuing on my omnivores odyssey "ah" mandolin has never been more than arm reach away, hopefully, that's how its going to be as long life courses through my veins.

The mandolin influenced portion of my life began when my good friend and music mentor Rich Berry (a delta acoustic blues player) told me to play mandolin instead of guitar.

Bewildered my response was….What the @$&%! is a mandolin?

Prior to leaving for the walkabout in Niger my music genesis began by playing with and learning from friends or folk whom I would meet along the way. Not to mention the countless hours meticulously picking apart the music pulsing from the stereo.

Though I am no professional, if not for the likes of my immediate mentors the mandolin would never have crossed my path and altered my life. Here are a few of my most immediate influences.

Barty Crawford: 82 years young, A bluegrass hall of famer, mandolin player, teacher, fiddler, historian, and former cohort to the greats such as Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley and the list goes on and on and on.

Niger: Patrick (last name and age unknown)
AKA-Le Viper,("le vai-pie'aire") graan-PA! and rastaman.
Born Togolese, adopted Nigerien; Patrick was a farmer, musician, humanitarian, mentor to all Nigerien musicians coming up through the ranks as well up to the last day my very good friend.
RIP, bless this soul.

Rob Nold: mid 40's life long musician teacher since age 9, deeply rooted in Appalachian style playing, fiddle, guitar, luthier as well as damn good carpenter and fiery son of a bitch after a few snorts of whiskey.

Lastly, but not beastly there are also my indirect music guides to the likes of David Grisman, Bill Monroe, Sam Bush…the names go on and on, you know the type of Icons whom all aspiring pickers dream of playing like, playing with, or becoming one day.

In this case particular lets focus on Grisman, the one whom I aspired most to play with.

Formerly a member of Old and in the Way, best friend and music partner to the late Jerry Garcia, David "dawg" Grisman is nothing short of a mandolin virtuoso and though he has aged as all things naturally do, the dawg he has never ceased in his abilities to expand the influence of the mandolin into broader diversities of music genres.

The first time I listened to the dawg after picking up the mandolin my first thought was, some day I will find a way to play with him!

Life has a funny way of marking off those life "to do" things along the way, especially when you least expect it.

The Skinny

Last Saturday after a full day of reading and leisurely landscaping the parcel of turf around my humble tent I casually strode up the hill armed to the teeth with my mandolin and with no ambition other than allowing the natural course of events to unfold for a night.

The final performances were mandolin players of all skill levels who shelled out about a thousand clams to learn from some of the masters of the Mandolin world and then later perform with them on stage at the closing gala.

After the individual and group performances they invited all mandolin players to come up stage and perform two numbers in a full mandolin orchestra.

So myself and another fellow farmie from the apprenticeship went up with our mandolins stood in the back unknowingly stealing the earned spots of two paying pickers apparently part of the rhythm section.

Unbeknown to us the whole group had been practicing throughout the week and even had sheet music and assigned soloist etc etc.

Playing practically "air mandolin" we were struggling to even play anything remotely close to the practiced pickers, but having a ball all the same.

At the end the player next to us mumbled "helps if you come to practice before the performance"
My reply was, how could we have done that, we just got here!

Squinty eyes, you could feel the hairy eyeballs glaring.

At this time the conductor of the performance announces a post party at the commons center.

We look at each other…...Why not? Lets go.

Committed to the night, a trio of our group including the stage storming cohort and one of our awesome "2nd year" apprentices stayed behind after the rest of the farmie gang returned to home base to retire.

About an hour after the performance and closing ceremony many of the players, professors, and family members began trickling into the commons center, Brazilians, Czhech's, Germans, Americans. You name it This is the dAwg's mandolin symposium, its internationally accepted that if you want to learn from the best, this is where you come, but its gonna cost some serious $$$$

Much to my chagrin the festivities were complete with wine, beer, sausages, cheeses, and all the other delectable treats found at an event such as this. So reluctantly we indulge, and thank god my guilty conscious didn't slow me down! It was nearly midnight and I had only a small breakfast way earlier in the day.

The soiree started as all social engagements begin; modest, refrained, then later WHOOSH!

The Brazilians cut loose, outside dozens of folk are dancing, laughing, and commenting on the Brazilians' contagious charm and their amazing skills as musicians.

By this time the cat is out of the bag, nearly all know we have crashed the party, but somehow we are accepted and forgiven. Our rap is that we are farmers who have been supplying all of them with the fresh cut flowers, salad mixes, assorted veggies " and such and that as a result we were too busy to come up earlier or partake in the event formally".

"Though I have been planning on crashing this party since I made the connection between attending CASFS and knowing the symposium was here about two years ago!!"

The gentlemen who growled at us for playing on stage is a computer programmer from Sonoma County, he has a few kids involved in 4-H, they even raise some heritage breeds of turkeys, he sought out our advice in some farming techniques.

We gave him some input, cost him a beer.

Needing a respite from the excitable influence of the Brazilians especially (Danilo Brito) check this man out!!! He was voted pretty much best musician in Brazil, really nice guy, imagine Django Reinheart but with all his fingers, anyhow I was needing a break so I went inside and was swept away by an entirely different party.

Sitting on couches there were kids aged about 8 (much better players than I) and all other aged folks playing blues music to the que of one of the mandolin facilitators whom I befriended named Rich Delgrosso who specializes in blues mandolin, and does it damn well.

Immediately myself and fellow stage storming cohort grab our mando's and sneak into two open chairs front and center of the circle and then quickly started owning the circle for what its worth….

Then it happens,minding my own bidness, focused intently on my own playing I take a lead here and there, play rhythm, add my flavor of chops, before we know it the whole room is up singing having a blast to old school blues "You got me up, down, all around……"

I look up and there he is….the….the….the dawg, Mr. Grisman himself…. JAMMING!

My eyes light up, my picking intensifies what do you do when the music legend and personal music hero sits across from you?

Well you smile back, try not to go into hyper #1 fan ever mode then JAM to the music like jesus himself is leading the sermon.

The song ends he looks at me, gives a nod, a smile, and then gives me his mandolin to play.

Seriously, can I be 13 year old girl here, OMG! OMG!

For what seemed like an eternity but lasted only about an hour or so the songs keep coming; the dawg takes a lead, we take some, the masses of onlookers grow, myself and cohort are on cloud 9, all other life on the planet ceases to matter (except Cat' I wish she could be there) but really could this night be better?

The answer is no, but it certainly didn't get any worse, Mike Marshall approaches, we play a finale "Sitting on Top of the World" he forgets the chords….eh, I guess it even happens to the pro's.

After the jam we continue to shmooze, then I get to talk with Mr. Grisman,
David! Mr. Grisman! Big Fan, since playing…….lived Niger……lost desert w/ mandolin…listen all the time…...returned….travelled OMG! OMG!

Fucking # 1 fan mode, I felt like those pesky Michael Jackson fanatics you see crying uncontrollably.
Totally embarrassing.

Well he might think I was a little hyper excited and one of the millions….but you know how often do you get to lose it in front of your idol?

Well I don't know, but I'll let you know after life throws more of them in my path.

Wrapping up, we go back outside the Brazilians are even more charged then before but the party is closing its nearing 0300 in the morning, we say our good byes we are walking away and we hear

"HEY FARMERS!!! Thanks for crashing our party" all laugh.

The next morning I’m up at 0800, immediately I pinch myself, did last night really happen?

Did I really go to bed at 0500 and already up ready to keep picking?

At our encouragement from the evening festivities a few of the mandolin teachers including "Mike Marshall none the less seemed to have heeded our advice and spent some time walking the farm before shoving off"

Welcome to paradise, our farm, we are simply muses here to grow food and offer a little music on the side.

Up howl'n with the Dawg

What a wonderful weekend.

Thursday marked the beginning of a rock star weekend.

June 25th I celebrated my birthday by cooking for the fellow farmers; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. From 0600-1900 the humble servant was night held inside the kitchen. Well it wasn't that bad, I had some PBR's listened to good music and enjoyed the company of another apprentice.

Friday was devoted towards celebrating and knocking another notch on the birthday belt. Best of all, oddly enough, this year there are three other apprentices who share the same birthday as moi.

So in remembrance to the king of pop, we boogied the night away in the Farm Center to all the MJ classics.

The next day I decided to tap into my creative center and then I spent the better part of Saturday transforming my barren campsite into a creative place of zen.

After a honest attempt at beautification the result was a nice redwood shag carpet for a front lawn and some foraged lawn ornaments doubled as chairs, tables, and art…all in the form of chopped up trees!

No hubcaps but plenty of empty mason or moonshine jars (depending geographically) ….though there is no 'shine to fill the jars I chose flower bouquets.

Who would have thought I had a knack for making floral arrangements?

So after the landscaping, a leisurely hot outdoor shower, and cold frosty oat soda; I mustered enough steam to trudge up the hill on campus and watch the closing night for the David Grisman mandolin symposium being held on at the auditorium.

From there I am going to cease this blog entry. But weary not I am going to devote an entirely fresh entry to mark the evenings festivities.

I will say nay but this.

That whole life checklist thingy…put a big freak'n red check mark on it.

Whats anutta yeahr?

31 Years young.

June 25th 1978 between the hours 0800-0900 my mother brought me into this magical world.
I have been kicking and screaming every since. "-)

On my birthday I woke at the butt crack of dawn and made breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 45 fungry farmers. Yes fungry, part fun, part hungry.

A day well spent listening to music, talking with loved ones, having a PBR here and there and sharing the kitchen with a mad English born-"Irish adopted" ole' gent.

Kevin is from County Clair and aside from being a rad guy he can also be considered the worlds leading expert in native variety Irish orchard trees.

Seriously dialed in, damn good teacher, much better friend.

June 25th carries many distinctions as a historical date.

Did you know my birth day also coincides with:
North Korea invading South Korea:1950
The patent of barbed wire 1830ish
The day General Custer was served his last pie…

And now…... the dubious distinction of the day Michael Jackson and Farrah Faucet perished and took their new journey into the unknown.

To celebrate MJ-FF lives as well as the living-we are rejoicing with three other people here who have the same birthday, and two of those are twins!!

It’s the day after the event and what a grand regal time complete with disco ball, free flowing libations, dancing, merry jubilation as well as lovely fresh picked blueberry pie from the farm as well as the greatest happy birthday song ever sang to me.

Bless my fellow farmers.
Many blessings to all,
Thanks for reading, keep on keep'n on.