|The core PeaceWeaver community was birthed in central New Jersey in 1990, just prior to the start of the Persian Gulf War, by people who wanted to activate greater peace and healing in their lives and the world. We started to connect and express our feelings in Talking Stick Circles in Princeton and in Lambertville at the RoundHouse. Soon we were invited to schools and community groups to share this form of self-empowerment which fosters peace and understanding.|
Joining together in Talking Stick Circle again and again wove us into a community. In Circle, we enter into council with one another as human family. Being truly heard brings great healing and resolution of past wounds. Through the practice of listening we come to understand others more deeply, and gain greater insight about our own life experience as well. By sitting and listening to others we confront our own “inner editorial staff”, those seemingly endless opinions and judgments about others, which really are projections of our own lack of self worth. We learn patience and open to gentle forgiveness for ourselves and others.
In essence, Circle changes lives. It breaks down walls, prejudices, and fears and, instead, catalyzes connection and compassion. Our practice of Circle has served thousands of individuals and families as a source of healing and balance. In Circle we are all woven together as conscious community, where we come to realize we are not alone but share a common human experience.
Living in Community
Our mission is to model sustainable community. To live sustainably we eat a nutritious, plant-based diet that supports us to be well; grow our own food organically; build and live in green, energy-efficient homes; and celebrate daily with joy and laughter.
The foundation of sustainable community is clear, compassionate communication where we dare deeper honesty. Such clarity is made possible only through individual and collective wellness practices such as Circle, mindfulness, conscious eating, meditation, fasting, and service to others. We have always been known for our delicious food. In fact that’s what keeps most of us here! The key ingredient in everything we prepare and do is Love!
As a community we share in the practice of “conscious connection”. We begin each day by connecting with one another. We check in regarding our physical, mental and emotional health, so that we are all aware of how to best support each other. And we continue to stay in touch throughout the day. Staying connected insures that we are well and happy and move ahead as a unified team. As we each can attest to, living on our own is very challenging. Then you put two people together in relationship and life can get at least twice as difficult. Then if you have a day to day community, intensely working on themselves, you can just imagine how it can be. A chapter in one of our books is entitled “Sacred Community: Walking Through Hell with your Beloveds!” So yes, it’s not always pretty, but by hanging in there with unconditional presence, it is always profound and liberating.
We also collectively homeschool our children. Each adult teaches subjects that they’re passionate about. The kids thrive with the love and care of many adults. Every day we encourage them (& ourselves) to be gentle, loving and kind and to always do their best.
Humor is one of our “sustainability practices”. We laugh often so that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’ve come to see that folks who do take themselves too seriously can end up in serious condition. By practicing lightening up, we can let go of any and all heaviness. Remember we must be the change we wish to see in the world!
One of our dear brothers, Tom Taft, was moved to share this about his initial experience of our community:
“I was so impressed by the PeaceWeavers from the moment I arrived by a sense of absolute authenticity. The whole community has been living what it believes, not just talking about it, and the laughter at the PeaceWeavers is also just as authentic. It does not come across as silly or superficial laughter; it is laughter that springs from a sense of being together, of trusting each other, and of knowing that real joy and laughter – authentic shared joy and laughter – is such a strong force in combating so much of the pain and suffering that historically human cultures have inflicted upon each other in the form of wars, slavery and oppression. For me the ability to feel humor and to laugh hard is a critical part of real health, and it feels that it is laughter that echoes across Thunder Mountain much more than thunder itself.”
The RoundHouse in Lambertville was our original center. Known architecturally as the Silo House, it was the first passive solar house in New Jersey. Built in 1974, it was designed by the award-winning firm Jersey Devil. Several of our co-founders lived together there in the early ‘90s. Others grouped together in community living arrangements nearby.
The building was beautiful. Bhante, upon first seeing it, said “Oh, you live in a Temple!” It was simply three round silo tops connected by hallways. We felt very creative one day and renamed it the “RoundHouse”, and later we named our Center in Bath NY the “LongHouse”, because it is long. Good thing as kids we learned our shapes!
We saw how working on ourselves, individually and collectively, helped facilitate healing for others. Also, the support we received living in community gave us strength to help others to heal. As a connected core group, we could receive those in need of transitional support – i.e. troubled youth, single parents, the ill, and the dying. Twenty years later we still work on ourselves daily and support others through transitional times.
We did Circles, sweat lodges, community gatherings, fasting and silent retreats. We also held large vegetarian Thanksgiving celebrations and hosted spiritual Elders.
Our Center was a hub of healing physically, emotionally and spiritually for many from NJ, PA, MD, NY and elsewhere. New people came continuously to our events; and, thus, our circle continued to hold more and more people within it.
In addition to all the activities at the RoundHouse, we did service work with the homeless in Philadelphia, shared Circle in numerous places, and brought the heartbeat of the drum and songs to many places (e.g. schools, colleges, yoga centers) in New Jersey and other states.
One of our annual events was our Spring Gathering in Washington Crossing Park on the Delaware River with great food, music, and ceremony. Often we would bring Master Drummers to conduct Drum Workshops with people drumming their hearts out.
At the RoundHouse, a small crew of people served the extended family for fourteen years through circles, sweat lodges, retreats, seasonal gatherings, healing sessions, meditations, drum workshops, speakers, hosting spiritual Elders, and supporting individuals in times of crisis or transition. In all of our work we were dedicated to honoring traditions of kindness and compassion and inspiring change.
In 1994, we found a piece of land in Bath, NY which became a new Center and home for us – Thunder Mountain Peace Sanctuary. For the next nine years we had two centers until 2003 when we brought our Center at the RoundHouse to a close. It was a difficult decision, but we felt we could ultimately serve ourselves and others best by focusing all of our attention on our Peace Sanctuary in New York.
Since 2003 we have continued to serve the PeaceWeaver extended community in the New Jersey area with a variety of events including our annual New Year’s Peace Gathering, Spring Gatherings, and Drum Workshops.
Bhante Dharmawara & other Elders
In 1990 Greg Lynn met Bhante Dharmawara, a 100 year old Buddhist monk, meditation teacher and healer originally from Cambodia. Upon meeting one another, Bhante took Greg Lynn on as his healing attendant. Bhante joined us in doing group meditations, healing sessions and retreats at the Round House. He quickly became our Grand Elder and lived with us off and on during his next ten years at the RoundHouse and later at our Center in New York.
Bhante had a profound commitment to wellness. One of his meditations was, “I am what I think. I am what I eat and drink.” He underscored how “our health is our greatest possession, without it we cannot serve ourselves or serve others”. At age 38 doctors gave Bhante six months to live, which spurred him to change his diet and lifestyle. At that time he became a Buddhist monk and stopped eating meat. He felt that changing to a plant based diet really saved his life and enabled him to live well beyond 100.
In 1996, Bhante came to live with us on Thunder Mountain in New York. He was with us for almost a whole year and turned 108 on February 12, 1997. Together we continued group meditations and silent retreats. Even at his advanced age he and Greg Lynn still did healing sessions with many people. This was a very special time for us as community with this global Elder who passed in 1999 at the age of 110 – the world’s oldest vegan and Buddhist monk.
As a healer Bhante had many “medicines” he would offer: vegan diet, meditation, green light, affirmations, and perhaps the one he used most often was humor. Laughter opens up Body and Mind and brings in new life force energy. Every day we would have many deep laughs together. One evening a friend was bringing in a smoothie for Bhante when she tripped, and the smoothie, in slow motion, went flying through the air, landing on Bhante’s face, neck and all over his monk’s robes. Without hesitation Bhante yelled out “This is such Great Luck! Any time you spill anything it is Great Luck!” – which immediately let the person who tripped feel not just Great Luck, but Great Relief!
Bhante was the Eldest Elder of the PeaceWeavers. When he was here, we welcomed Elders from many traditions to meet him – i.e. Seneca, Catholic, Tibetan Buddhist Elders and others. By working so closely with Bhante we came to appreciate the experience and wisdom that comes with Eldership. Bhante was a true Weaver of Peace.
Please see Our Elders page for more information on Bhante and the other Elders listed here.
Peace and Healing Caravans
In the summer of 1991 we went on our first Peace and Healing Caravan across the U.S. Fifteen people traveled with us on that first trip around the nation. We did volunteer work, healing work and participated in ceremony on reservations. We also brought people together in Talking Stick Circles, visited sacred sites on the Earth, and deepened our practice of living in community with one another. This was the first of many caravans throughout North America. On that initial two month trip we did Circle or other service work in New York, Ontario, South Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
Our caravans grew in size and length. One year we had over sixty people join us on the road! We added the Pacific Northwest to our route. Travelling and working together so closely was very challenging and rewarding; ultimately, it really helped us to bond as a community.
After the first caravan, even more of us lived together as extended family and supported one another on our own healing journeys. A Tibetan teacher once was asked, “How do you know when you’ve completed your karmic work?” He replied, “As long as you’re in a human body you have work to do.” As a community of humans we wholeheartedly agree!
Native American Connection
On our caravans we met many Native American spiritual Elders including Chief Harry Blue Thunder, Uncle Earl Swift Hawk, Genevieve White Wing, Colin Horse Looking, Connie & Earnest Mirabal, Chester Kahn, Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief of the Cree nation, and other friends.
Our bonds with native nations have remained strong. In subsequent caravans, we attended Spiritual Unity of the Tribes gatherings in Nambe Falls, NM; Custer, SD; at Vernon & Emalee Schmidt’s land in the Black Hills; Mexican Springs, NM and Vineland, NJ. For many years it was our honor to help prepare for the traditional Ring Thunder Pow-Wow on Rosebud. In 1995 we were invited there to the Inter-Tribal Treaty Council. Overall we were privileged to visit with people from many different tribes including the Dine (Navajo), Cree, Pueblo, Hopi, Cherokee, Lakota and others.
New Year’s Peace Gathering
Our first New Year’s Peace Gathering was in 1990 at the RoundHouse. At that time our nation was careening down the road to its first war with Iraq. In response we chose to have an alternative new year’s gathering focused on Peace. We continue this tradition of bringing people together to vision Peace in the New Year for all beings.
The event became bigger, and with more people attending, we moved it to the Princeton University Chapel, in Princeton, NJ. It has evolved into an ecstatic evening of music, prayer, honoring and gratitude with hundreds of heartful people. People come to recharge their spiritual batteries and send out an intent for the new year. In 2010, we had our 20th annual New Year’s Peace Gathering with over 400 people in attendance!
Choosing the name PeaceWeavers & Incorporating as a Non-Profit
After a couple of years together, people started calling us “that drum group from New Jersey.” So, we figured it was time to choose a name! Since we had been weaving peace and healing across the country with our caravans, we chose the name “PeaceWeavers”. Additionally, we acknowledge each person as a thread in the sacred web of life; and, we commit to weave peace and healing with our own threads.
The more we served, the more people wanted to support us. This led us to incorporate as PeaceWeavers Inc. and receive our official status as a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization in 1994.
Finding the Land & Naming it Thunder Mountain
Realizing the power of collective living and practicing together, we focused our intent on finding a place to settle on the land, grow our food, birth our babies, raise our children, care for our parents, etc. A group of our most involved members, whom we called, at that time, the VisionWeavers, began to vision for land. With this in mind, we visited other intentional communities and looked for land on our caravans.
In 1993, we were led to this humble, yet powerful piece of land in the hills of the Finger Lakes region of NY, which we fell in love with. The 250 acre piece of property includes a 5 acre lake and is one of the highest points in the area with a stunning 180 degree view. We leased the property in 1994 and purchased it in 1995.
This name really resonated with us since each summer the “thunder beings” visit often bringing rain and new life. And as you read earlier, the laughter that echoes across the mountain. In addition this name underscores our connections with Lakota Elder Grandpa Harry Blue Thunder; the Ring Thunder Clan at Rosebud Reservation; and Cherokee medicine man Rolling Thunder.
Thunder Mountain Peace Sanctuary
From 1994 until 2003 we were weaving community and hosting events and retreats at both of our Centers, the RoundHouse in New Jersey and the LongHouse on Thunder Mountain in Bath, New York. Our 11,000 square foot center is named the LongHouse because of its main 40’x80’ Long Room.
Soon, we began our first experiments with natural building. With our Long Room unfinished and uninsulated, we were unable to host large community events indoors in the cold months. So, we built temporary straw bale walls within the confines of the Long Room to accommodate spiritual Elders and friends for retreats and our annual vegetarian Thanksgiving.
In 1998, we added a second floor to the LongHouse which holds most of our guest rooms and our meditation hall. This addition enabled us to house more people for retreats.
We reached out to other local groups, including the Bath Peace & Justice Group led by Mike & Rita Moretti, who have become PeaceWeaver Elders. In 1999, in conjunction with this group we established an annual Peace Scholarship which is given to local graduating seniors who demonstrate commitment to peace and justice, compassion and service to the community.
To learn more about our peace scholarship which has been a model for other awards in New York State, please go to our Community Outreach page.
We continue to be invited by other organizations including local schools, colleges and civic groups to share Circle or do presentations on our sustainability work.
Since our beginnings, our intent with Retreats has been to create a profound experience of wellness and peace. We provide a variety of tools that empower people to be proactive about their health and happiness.
Our retreats are a collective journey into awakening greater love. Each person is supported to open and grow beyond their habitual attachments. These retreats strengthen the participants as weavers of peace for their own circle of friends and family. And every retreat, including the Silent Meditation, is filled with joy and laughter.
At the RoundHouse, we offered Silent Meditation and Fasting Cleanse Retreats. We continue to offer these at Thunder Mountain in addition to Peace Retreats, Vegan Retreats, Garden Weekends, Harvest Weekends, and Visioning Retreats. Thousands of people have come on retreat at Thunder Mountain. Often they adopt our Mountain as a spiritual home and our community as spiritual family. Please see Our Retreats and Seasonal Gatherings pages to learn more about these events.
Summer Peace Gatherings
In the summer of 1996, our second summer on Thunder Mountain, we hosted our first Spiritual Unity of the Tribes (SUT) Gathering which brought together native Elders, whom we had met on our Peace & Healing Caravans, with over 400 people from across the U.S. Focusing on the web of life and our interdependence, we lived in peace as a micro-global village. Honoring the Elders and listening to their stories, we sat in Circle together with each person sharing their insights around the sacred fire.
In 1997 we hosted our second summer gathering, the Spiritual Unity of the World Gathering. We were blessed to have Elders from a number of different traditions and native nations. Similar in form and spirit to our first gathering, this event was the pre-cursor to our subsequent Summer Peace Gatherings.
Over a decade and a half later, our Summer Peace Gatherings are still an extended community of folks coming together to live in harmony and celebrate on the Earth and under the Stars. We begin each day with a sunrise ceremony under the arbor around the sacred fire. This ceremony is the foundation for our day together. Then we offer yoga and meditation, Circle, delicious vegan meals, kids’ activities, swimming, sweat lodge, a sand Mandala by Tibetan Buddhist monk Tenzin Yignyen, healing work, natural building, music, speakers and much heartfelt connection. It’s become a family reunion with newcomers joining each year!
In 2005, we hosted Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas Gandhi, at our Summer Peace Gathering. He spoke to over two hundred people at the LongHouse. He and his wife, Sunanda, brought great joy and wisdom to us all. Since then Arun has become a PeaceWeaver Elder and part of our family. To learn more about Arun, please see Our Elders page.
Other prominent speakers who have presented at our Gatherings include: T. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University & author of The China Study; Gene Baur, co-founder of The Farm Sanctuary, author of Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts & Minds About Animals and Food, and Harold Brown, former beef farmer and founder of FarmKind.
Paul Winter, Grammy-award winning saxophonist and founder of the Paul Winter Consort, has graced our Gathering with his amazing symphony of the natural world. Other musicians over the years include: Wah!, David Darling, Babik, Frank Meyer, and Fred Goodnight – not to mention lots of homegrown talent, especially the kids, at our annual Talent Share!
In 2010, our 16th Summer Peace Gathering featured Arun Gandhi, a Kirtan led by Sarah Halley and Stephen Groff from Philadelphia, Redline Zydeco from Rochester, NY, and the PeaceWeaver Jam Band who had its world premier in an ecstatic evening of dancing and singing under the big tent!
In the spring of 2007 & `08 several of us went to New Orleans with a large group of volunteers led by Mike Ellis, co-founder of Love Knows No Bounds in Ithaca, NY. There we worked on multiple re-construction sites – assessing material needs, clearing debris, painting, putting up sheetrock, roofing, insulation, fencing, and making meals. It was a rewarding experience to help those so hard hit by the hurricane.
In 2007, `08, & `09, we brought a total of 80 Katrina survivors from St. John #5 Faith Church in the 7th Ward of New Orleans to our Summer Peace Gatherings. In partnership with Love Knows No Bounds, we hosted these dear people to help them heal the wounds of living in a disaster area. It was a remarkable time together sharing their pain and their strength. We fell in love with each other, and the healing of Thunder Mountain sent them home with renewed spirits! As we all sang together, “it is already done in the Spirit!”
At our Gatherings and throughout our history we have hosted spiritual Elders. In 1996, we hosted walkers from the Independence Walk for Tibet at the RoundHouse and then again in 1997 at the LongHouse. The walks were organized by the International Tibet Independence Movement, co-founded by Larry Gerstein and Thubten Jigme Norbu, the eldest brother of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. A small group of courageous, committed individuals gave months of their time and hundreds of miles walking.
Walking with them laid the foundation for many friendships with Tibetan Amalas (Grandmothers), and Palden Gyatso, to name just a few of those working to free Tibet. In the summer of 1996 we travelled to Norbu’s Tibetan Cultural Center in Bloomington, Indiana to support their building of a new temple. We met His Holiness the Dalai Lama at that special event. Later, Dadon, world-famous Tibetan singer and activist who stayed with us at the LongHouse in ’97, performed at our Mother Earth Music and Arts Festivals.
Mother Earth Music & Arts Festivals
In 1999, we were inspired to weave together Spirit & Music in a new way through a four day festival that included famous musicians and spiritual elders. This event, which drew over a thousand people, sent out Peace to the world and the new millennium. Our featured performers were 10,000 Maniacs, Baba Olatunji, Odetta, Dadon, Melanie, R. Carlos Nakai, and Samite of Uganda. Other performers included Safka, Miche Fambro, Los Caribes, Triple Play, Bare Bones, Sunny Weather, Kathy Moser, Bossa Rio Trio, the Lit Bros., Pat Kane & Donal O’Shaughnessy, Coco Bastien, Drumcliffe School of Irish Dance, Faustwork Mask Theater, and the Bubble Man.
We presented yoga, tai chi, and a number of healing arts and did demonstrations of straw bale construction, solar and wind power. MEMA ‘99 was Tibetan Buddhist monk Tenzin Yignyen’s first visit to our Mountain to construct a Sand Mandala. After the festival, Dine Elder Chester Kahn said it was an historic event combining music and spirit for the first time.
We hosted our second MEMA Festival in 2000. Samite of Uganda and Baba Olatunji returned to perform timeless African rhythms and melodies; and Paul Winter shared the symphony of the Earth and its creatures. Other performers included Dadon, storyteller Rafe Martin, Groovelily, Rafe Pearlman, Playback Philadelphia (a theater group), and many others. The MEMA Festivals were incredible celebrations of music, theatre, art and sustainability.
In 2000 Greg Lynn started travelling to Buffalo offering Circles and Healing Sessions. In the decade to follow, a large extended community unfolded there. Deepest gratitude to Paula and Kevin Connors, for leading the way in creating the PeaceWeaver community in Buffalo.
In 2003 & 2004, our Peace Relay had 24 hour long events in Buffalo with many people gathering to pray, connect, and support Peace through Circle, yoga classes, chanting, and more.
In 2006, we co-sponsored His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to the State University of New York at Buffalo and were one of the featured organizations in the Dalai Lama Experience. Later that fall, we hosted Dr. Emoto, famed author and researcher of water crystals, whose work is featured in the movie What the Bleep Do We Know?. Over 700 people attended this remarkable event!
In 2007, we had a large Peace Gathering/Healing for the Trees Ceremony after the devastating ice storm there. We also co-sponsored Al Gore’s visit to State University of New York at Buffalo where he showed An Inconvenient Truth.
In 2010, we had several successful PeaceWeaver Weekends at Gilda’s Club in Buffalo. These weekends included a Healing Dinner, Morning Practice, Talking Stick Circle, Green Light Meditations, Healing Sessions, and Vegan Cooking Classes.
Peace Relays & Marches
We organized Peace Relays in 2003 & 2004 for 7 and 12 consecutive days, traveling from site to site in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. At each site we hosted peace practices-Circle, meditation, prayer, yoga, chanting, drumming, healing, and visioning -all focused on our desire for greater peace in our world. The Relays were demonstrations of collective will for Peace. Additional satellite groups in Maine, Colorado, Puerto Rico and Utah hosted 24 hours of Relay events for global peace as well. Our initial Relay was a response to the impending war against Iraq.
Also in 2003 & 2004, we participated in several Peace Marches in D.C. and NYC. We have participated in these since our beginnings. As we march, singing and playing our big drum draws hundreds of people to move together in the name of Peace. We feel it is important to speak up for peace from a foundation of love and harmony instead of anger.
Kids Peace Camp & Teen Initiation
Out of respect, love and support of the kids in our extended community, we created our first Kids Peace Camp in 2001. This soon became an annual event that expanded from four days to a whole week (per the kids’ request!). During Camp, kids and teens make their home on Thunder Mountain to learn, grow and have fun within our loving community environment.
We give them tools to be confident in whom they are which secures their own health and happiness. We share with them practices that honor the sacredness of life and our interconnectedness – i.e. Circle, meditation, smudging and acknowledging one another. Together, we learn that everything has a medicine: animals, birds, rocks, trees, water, earth, and air, and even their unique self!
The campers are honored and supported to be their best. We feed their sense of creativity, wonder and beauty in all we do together including outdoor games, swimming, hiking, arts & crafts, drumming, yoga, theater games, eco-learning, camping out, cooking out and many other special activities.
The youth counselors have the opportunity to care for the campers and exercise leadership. They are encouraged to model compassion, clarity, and teamwork. To learn more about Camp, please see the Kids Peace Camp page.
Feeling the need to provide constructive and supportive ritual for the teens in our extended community, we had our first Teen Initiation/Rite of Passage in the spring of 2007. During this weekend of circle, sweat lodge, vision quest and more, teenagers and parents bond during their time of great transition. This retreat offers a way for teens to intentionally let go of their childhood and embrace healthy adulthood with the wisdom and support of a circle of loving adults.
Building Community in the Classroom
After twelve years of presenting Talking Stick Circle and seeing its profound benefits, we created a professional development training program for schools entitled Building Community in the Classroom. This program shows teachers how to use Circle as a tool to improve communication, reduce stress, build character, and strengthen community between teachers, students, and parents. Having a practice of Circle creates a safer and more positive learning environment for the children. Upon introducing the teachers to circle, many have broken down crying and sharing that this is the first time that they’ve felt free to share their real feelings in school! To learn more about this program, please see our Community Outreach page.
PeaceWeaver Organic Farm, CSA & Cookbook
We first grew our own vegetables organically on Thunder Mountain in 1995. Seeing a need for more sustainable agriculture in our region, we initiated our first CSA or Community Supported Agriculture program in 2000. Through our CSA we provide fresh-picked, organic produce weekly to individuals and families during the growing season.
We also offer education in organic growing to our working members who help weekly. Extra produce goes to our local food pantry and the Senior Nutrition Program which provides hot and home-delivered meals to elders.
Certified Organic by NOFA-NY, our CSA has grown with each year. In 2010 we grew veggies for over 100 families in the Southern Tier! Our CSA work is not simply about growing healthy vegetables. It’s about being part of a movement that is boosting local economies as well as reclaiming healthy food, unspoiled land, air and water for ourselves and generations to come.
In an effort to utilize more of our farmable land to feed people, we began growing small organic grain crops in 2007. To learn more about our Farm and CSA, please see Our Farm page.
In addition to growing good food, we love preparing healthy food! Delicious food has been a PeaceWeaver trademark since we first came together. Because of the demand for our recipes, we published our first PeaceWeaver Vegetarian Family Cookbook in 2002. Recipes came from our own LongHouse cooks as well as friends and family. This cookbook has sold out in each of three printings! We are currently working on a new PeaceWeaver Vegan Cookbook.
Natural Building Colloquiums, Earth Councils & Workshops
During our first caravan in 1991we learned about natural building by visiting one of the first Earth Ships built with used tires outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Over the years we experimented with other natural building techniques. In 1998 Darren Port, who later joined our community, co-facilitated the first East Coast Natural Building Colloquium in Maryland. Through him we met natural builder and designer Mary Golden and with her organized 2004 NBC-East. Our PeaceWeaver architect Kevin Connors, legendary natural builder SunRay Kelley, and Mary were the main designers for the original buildings. Our deepest gratitude to them and all the other designers who have made all our natural buildings possible.
Since then the foremost designers, builders, educators and innovators in the fields of natural building and sustainable living have converged each year on Thunder Mountain to share their knowledge and skills with hundreds of people from all over the country wanting hands-on experience. We’ve been blessed to have the expertise of SunRay, David Eisenberg, Frank Meyer, Dan Chiras, Laura Bartels, Deanne Bednar, Sarah Highland, Jim Luckner, Ed Raduazo, Sarah Machtey, David Vail, Aaron Dennis, Rob & Jaki Roy, Ianto, Doni Kiffmeyer, Chris Jackson, Pete Fust, Catherine Wanek, Carol Crews, Same Droege, Joe Jenkins, Tom & Satomi Lander, Mark Piepkorn, Chris McClellan, Dave McMillan, Ben Simpson, Sigi Koko, Jim Juczak, Janell Kapoor, Tim Owen-Kennedy, Kevin Kegler, Chris Magwood, and other brilliant presenters. Thanks to these folks and so many others the buildings are beautiful examples of natural building and mighty spirit.
Our seven Colloquiums have not only provided invaluable know-how but also transformed people’s lives and our land. Many hands and hearts have helped build our Ceremonial Building, Retreat Cabin, Guest Cabin, Sauna, Barn, Children’s Playhouse, Woodshed, and several other structures. The natural materials of the human spirit are as important as any of the natural materials used.
Two of these buildings, the Retreat and Guest Cabins, will be available to rent for personal retreats beginning in 2011! Visit our cabin rental page for more information. To learn more about our Natural Building Colloquiums, please see the Natural Building Colloquium page.
Out of a desire to bring people together to examine climate change and how we can respond to it, we held our first Earth Councils in 2007. Jim Merkel, world-famous author of Radical Simplicity and co-founder of the Global Living Project, educated participants at our second Earth Council about how to calculate their actual ecological footprint and identify how they could reduce it.
In the spring of 2009 we had a Natural Plastering Workshop led by our dear friend and brother from Texas, Frank Meyer. Many friends helped add a natural plaster finish to our 40’x80’ LongRoom. Later that spring we had 48 solar panels installed on the LongHouse roof and hosted our first Solar Energy Systems workshop with the help of our installer, Solar Liberty Inc. out of Buffalo.
Our New Timber Frame Barn!
In the summer and fall of 2010, Sarah Highland, master timber framer and principal of Highland Artisan in Ithaca, NY, focused the construction of our new timber framed barn! The first phase of building occurred during our 7th Natural Building Colloquium. Work continued during a week-long timber framing workshop in September; and, in October, we completed the barn! Each phase culminated with a barn raising in which up to 50 people helped put the finished pieces in place. These raisings were incredible community-building experiences with great food and celebration afterwards.
The Building Fund Campaign
In the fall of 2010, dear friends Sarah Halley and Tom Taft from Philadelphia, helped us initiate a Building Fund Campaign. The Barn was the first building completed with support from this fund. The next project the fund will support is an addition to the LongHouse that includes a commercial kitchen and guest rooms, which are desperately needed to expand the number of people we can serve.
After the addition we will build staff housing which will serve as models of sustainable building. Having adequate staff housing is essential to our success as a Peace Sanctuary. If you would like to learn more about our Building Fund, please go to our Building Fund page.
Weaving It All Together
Throughout our twenty years together so far, our focus has been to promote greater peace and wellness by providing a center of functional community that offers gatherings, healing work, and retreats. We direct our care and consideration to our beautiful, precious planet and actively support her healing through sustainable living practices. With all we do, we encourage people to wake up to whom they truly are, do their best, and create a better world for our children and the generations to come. Ultimately, as more and more people are empowered to live their lives in this way, we feel that we can manifest Peace on Earth for all beings in our lifetime.
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