Open Collective
Open Collective
2023 Update from bellweather
Published on December 21, 2023 by Evan Tenenbaum

Hello Friends-

Thank you for your support, inspiration, engagement, and prayers this year. This one was a biggie for us! Here's an update on the year, lovingly crafted by brontë.

✦ Sending warmth - from our hearth to yours ✦

1. What did we accomplish during 2023? How did we use the economic support we recieved?

  • During 2023, bellweather:
    • launched The School for Inclement Weather (SFIW) — a climate preparedness training center focused on climate mitigation, disaster preparedness, and the contemplative practices required to navigate the spiritual dimensions of the climate emergency 
    • launched our pilot farm initiating a food security project with the Kashia Pomo Cultural Department to provide food to the 17 families living at the neighboring Kashia Rancheria - providing eggs and produce to the tribe during growing season (melons, apples, pears, grapes, herbs, tomatoes, tomato sauce, pesto, and onions) — for the winter we are offering tamales from chickens raised here and masa made from corn grown on the land with the tribe 
    • launched our Contemplative Agrarian Residency - hosting residents made up of cultural workers, healers, artists, theologians and land stewards invited to be in contemplative care with the land while also utilizing the refuge for their own respective retreat to focus on renewing their spiritual and artistic practices 
    • built goat and sheep barn from trees harvest from the land and milled on site to house animals who we are collaborating with for fire mitigation, soil regeneration, and fiber production — the trees were harvested in part through a program we hosted in fall of 2022 called Millcraft — training folks on responsibly harvesting a tree and how to safely operate the mill in a way that yields quality and specific building material for a project while minimizing wast
    • Hosted SFIW fall programming and fire/forestry trainings: SFIW’s Forest Fiesta to inaugurate the school, collaboration with Weaving Earth’s program ATTUNE, and collaboration with Biswell Forestry, Fire Forward, Lead to Life and Wudang White Horse Academy called Firecraft. 
    • certified 26 people as Wildland Firefighter Type II’s through our Firecraft gathering! These folks are now trained to go on crews for prescribed burns in the state of California. 
    • hosted two prescribed burns through our ATTUNE and Firecraft gathering — predominantly training folks of color, women, and queer folks in fire arts. 
    • launched our first public fundraiser 
    • used our money to support and purchase supplies, catering & infrastructure for bellweather’s various projects (across farm, animal care, contemplative agrarian residency, and SFIW offerings), build animal barn, support contractors to run farm and build goat barn, offer stipends to residents joining us for Contemplative Agrarian Residency, and offer stipends to support staff, teachers and artists contributing to SFIW programming.

2. What challenges did we face during 2023? What did we learn? How did we change or grow? 

In a very little window of time, we have accomplished an unbelievable amount of work! We have learned that we can offer incredible, integral offerings in alignment with what the earth is asking of us right now. We have learned that we are not short on vision but have been faced by caring for the challenge of aligning our ambition with our capacity. We initiated projects this year without confirming our own capacity, identifying ample financial and production support, and having a clear plan for prep and integration that moves at a pace that cares for our bodies and our relations. 

We are grateful to see the fruits of our labor this year and we integrated teachings after each program and residency. We have seen the gifts and challenges of taking the risk to say yes to opening our wildest dreams. And we are grateful we took the risk so we could learn from those teachings. The beautiful challenge of the work this year has transformed our boundaries, identified our limits, increased our wisdom, and lovingly reflected to us the importance of being more tender with ourselves next year. This year, we received the gift of increasing our collaborations and partnerships and will continue to rely on and call upon those partnerships to be supported in future programming. In 2024, we pray to be well-used not used-up. 

A major teaching from one of our most successful programs this year in collaboration with Weaving Earth was witnessing most of the administrative and production aspect of the programming be anchored by a partner. In the future, we will hire an administrator and producer for our programs so that we can be in our distinct role as hosts, teachers and curators. This year, for two of our programs we hired a site coordinator and that was invaluable support to delegate tasks for our programming. We also hope to learn from having spaciousness between our gatherings so that we can recover and having a specific window and time for programming throughout the year that identifies on and off seasons. 

3. What are our plans for 2024? 

  • We will continue to host our Contemplative Agrarian Residency - remodeling it to host residents over quarterly seasons rather than hosting folks month-to-month. 
  • We will host the third and final program of Weaving Earth’s ATTUNE program in June 2024. 
  • We are in conversation with Wilderness Torah about hosting a family camp for their programming in August 2024. 
  • We are in conversation with Nuns & Nones about hosting a residency for their organization that is also in reciprocity with the land. 
  • We will continue improving our farm with the Kashia Pomo tribe with the intention of formalizing a partnership that supports their vision for a tribal agricultural department 
  • In January, we will dream into any additional SFIW programming for the year centered in living in a fire climate, disaster preparedness, and weather-related mutual aid for the climate emergency. 
  • We will begin building new cabins to host future residents.