As we often stress here on PeakProsperity.com, nearly none of us can expect to become completely self-sufficient. It’s the (very) rare individual who can successfully live as a true ‘lone wolf’ — and being honest, who would want to? That’s a hard, lonely road.

Which is why we so strongly advocate integrating into a supportive community, or building one of your own if there’s none readily available. Having multiple trusted social relationships is a form of wealth in many ways more valuable than money. These are what support and sustain us when our plans fail us, when the situation calls for skills we lack, when we’re physically or mentally compromised. They also enrich our lives in ways money simply cannot, nourishing us as well as encouraging us to become our better selves.

But building community takes time and real effort. Especially in today’s society, where many of the old social norms that fostered community during our grandparents age have been severed by suburban fences, the rat-race workstyle, and the false sense of belonging offered by television and the Internet. So how exactly does one do it?

In this week’s podcast, we invite Chris’ wife Becca to share her expertise on the subject. Those who have attended our annual seminars in the past know her deep experience in this area, experience that she’s honed over the years advising Peak Prosperity readers looking for ways to better forge valued relationships in their own lives.

Community is built around a nucleus of relationships. So, you can think about community building as just starting with relationships. Think about building relationships with people where you have shared passion, shared interest, and shared values. Because it’s through the activities that you do where you intersect, overlap, and meet up during the week with others that you build that continuous connection that then expands to become community as more nuclei of these relationships come together.

If I was starting afresh and imagining how to go about building community, whether I was in my current location right now or moving to a new location, I would begin internally and ask what are my passions? What are my gifts? What is most important to me in the world? And then, I would seek other people through volunteering opportunities or through nonprofit organizations or through spiritual communities, or through sporting communities—whatever. I’d find others that share the same passions, interests, and values. Then, it just becomes about beginning to build connection. Begin to schedule activities together and find ways to intersect with the same group of people as frequently as possible. It’s that frequency of connection I think that’s really, really important. Then again, if you can come together with people around a shared expression of some kind — let’s say you are putting on an event together or you are hosting an activity together –t here is something really powerful about coming together with others to create your personal vision of something, whatever that might be.

So, that’s really how it starts. Just start small. Again, we were so lucky to move into this area where there were already so many different circles of community present, but that’s true all over the place. The key is finding the people that you resonate with, finding the people that you share that passion with in whatever way. So, it just starts with simple relationships and then builds out from there.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Becca Martenson (43m:52s)

Transcript: 

Chris Martenson: Welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host Chris Martenson, of course. One of the most common and enduring questions that we get at Peak Prosperity is about community. Everybody knows that community is going to play a very large role in how we experience the future, but it’s even more true that community is something that shapes how we experience such things as fulfillment, happiness, joy today. To talk about that with me today is someone who has more demonstrated experience in shaping and participating and building real and deep community than anybody I know, my lovely and talented wife Becca.

Now, those of you who have had the pleasure of seeing her in action at the Rowe and Mexico seminars know that she’s an immensely talented and powerful individual who I just happen to be married to, and whose strengths are both obvious and very different from mine. For ten years she’s been chairman of the board of the Vermont Wilderness School, combining her love of nature and talents for organizational management and growth. She offers personal coaching and counseling sessions to individuals helping them to step into their unique gifts and transition to their next great calling in life. Welcome Becca.

Becca Martenson: Thank you. It’s nice to be here.

Chris Martenson: Well, you already know from our extensive seminar experience that community is on the front burner for many people. So today, I want to talk about why we would want it, what we mean when we say the word "community," and how to go about creating more of it if we wish to. So, let’s start by defining community because it’s a somewhat elusive thing to talk about. It’s not really a thing like an apple or a house. Perhaps, like the United States Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart said, many think "I’ll know it when I see it.” So, I’d like to get your reaction to one set of definitions and see if there is anything you’d add. So, Dictionary defines community as 1.) a group of people living in a same place or having a particular characteristic in common, and 2.) a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. Anything to add?

Becca Martenson: Well, in my experience community is built around a nucleus of relationships. Those relationships may come together as a result of shared passions and values. That’s where I find the best and easiest community is formed is around the nucleus of shared values.

Chris Martenson: Shared values like having pot lucks or shared values of…would these be people who all like to be on time or…what kind of values?

Becca Martenson: Thanks for clarifying. Well, for instance, in our experience in our time, in our town, we have many people that are brought together around the shared value of deep appreciation and desire to connect with nature. So, we have a shared value of nature connection. There are other communities that might join together around a shared value of loving to Contra dance, or a shared value of a spiritual connection through a religious organization of some form or another.

Chris Martenson: Okay, so in our community then, the one that we happen to inhabit, some people—in my men’s group, we got together around the idea that we wanted to be more resilient. This was the…like being prepared was a value we shared. Of course we share multiple other values. This idea of nature connection has a lot of resilient sort of ideas baked into it because nature of course is the ultimately resilient piece there. Let’s talk about in community, why in your experience is community so important?

Becca Martenson: Well, to me community is important because it is a web of relationships around me that I can both give into and receive from. So, I can support other people around me if they have needs of some kind or another and I can also put out a call for help if there’s something that I need. In addition, it’s just a place of joy for me to be able to walk through my neighborhood and see people right on my street that I have deep relationships with. It just fills me in a way that really has…you know, I can’t really put any other value on it. It’s very powerful.

Community is also important to me because of the different ways that we come together in groups. It might be coming together to build a garden together. It might be coming together to stack wood. It might be coming together to sit around a fire and share stories. It might be coming together to celebrate the birth of a baby. There are so many different complex and beautiful ways that human beings can gather. We’re so lucky in our community to have a network of people that value all of these different ways of being in a relationship with one another.

Chris Martenson: We moved to this area in 2003. So, that’s 12 years ago, and didn’t know anybody really at that point. And then, we moved to our current town seven years ago—again, not really knowing but a handful of people in this town. How many people would you say you would call in your extended or tight community, if those are different? How many today?

Becca Martenson: Gosh. Well, let’s see. I would say the first…I think about it in terms of rings. So the first ring around our family is maybe a network of 15 or 20 people that we have very close connected relationships with. And then, there’s a ring outside of that of maybe another 20-25 people. Then, there are rings outside of that that spread wider. All of these different rings have different aspects of connection with one another. So, it’s not any one thing. It’s really built on different types of relationships that, again, come together through these shared values.

Chris Martenson: When you say…how would you define ring one then? What are some of the characteristics or traits that you associate with that?

Becca Martenson: These are people that I see regularly. These are people that I have regular events with or that I take walks with regularly in the neighborhood or that I have a professional relationship with locally. But, they’re people that I physically see at least once a week or every other week. So, it really has to do with proximity and time—the amount of time that we spend together and the amount of events and activities that we have overlapping relationships with.

Chris Martenson: There are a crew of people in that ring one that you’ve been really close with that came out after a Rowe Seminar actually. It emerged from that. I would love for you to tell that story for a couple reasons, 1.) in case anybody listening wants to bring a crew from their town to Rowe at some point maybe to follow what happened. Why don’t you talk about what that experience was.

Becca Martenson: This is really a magical unfolding. I never ever could have predicted what has emerged. It began after a Rowe Seminar I believe four years ago, in which it just so happened that a number of people from our physical geographic area all attended Rowe. It wasn’t that many people. I think it was maybe six people from our geographic region. I wouldn’t even have considered them as like a part of my community, only in a very loose way. They came to Rowe and one of the things that we always recommend to folks that come to the seminar is to do some follow-up activities when they get home. So, one of the follow-up activities that this group chose to do—and I didn’t lead this, you didn’t lead this, somebody else did, which is wonderful. We formed a group of people who wanted to continue to explore how to be more resilient and prepared. It started with a core group of folks that came to Rowe, but quickly added on a number of people, again, in this geographic region. So, there’s probably about…oh, I don’t know, maybe 15 people or so involved in this group. Again, as I said, it began focusing on areas of resilience. So, we were looking at who has stored food and where can we share capital expenses together and what are the different ways that we’re responding.

It was really powerful because very shortly after the formation of that group we had a pretty major event in our area. We had Hurricane Irene that came through. When Hurricane Irene arrived, there was this calmness among the members of our group because they had already done so much of the preparation for an event, such as losing power for two weeks which happens very commonly, or losing access to your road when roads were washed out. There’s a lot of really significant impact from Hurricane Irene.

This group got together to prepare, had already done a lot of preparation in advance of this event. When the event happened, nobody was running around with their head cut off emergency storing of batteries and candles and food and things like that. So, that was like an initial thumbs up. It was really important.

But then after this and after everybody had done what we would think of as like that level one preparation process, the group began to really deepen in terms of the connection emotionally as well as providing practical physical support for one another.

So, the logistics of the group are that we meet every other Tuesday night at one of the member’s houses. We begin with a potluck. We have food together. And then, whatever happens for the rest of the evening—we usually meet for 2 ½ – 3 hours—is really the purview of the host. So, whoever is hosting gets to say what happens. Sometimes the host will say, I just got three cords of wood delivered and I need everybody to come and stack it. So, we would come and stack wood together and then eat and go home. Other physical activities that we’ve done with each other—we’ve done a lot of moving of people. So, when people have moved houses, we’ll have a crew of people that shows up, helps them pack, loads things onto trucks, moves them to the next place, and unloads. Including, by the way, one time we moved one of the member’s dirt from her garden because she had been building it so diligently over years and didn’t want to leave it behind. So, we moved dirt.

Other things that we’ve done together are supported two weddings that have happened among members of the group. We have celebrated the birth of babies together. Sometimes when we get together we just do a really deep check-in where each person takes ten minutes and shares about what’s going on in their life. What began as a resilience group and a preparation focused group has developed into one of the most profound community experiences that I have had. Again, we’ve been meeting every other week for four years. So, that’s a long time. Four years is a long time to be witness to one another and see us move from one life stage to another and go through major life experiences together.

This was, again, a very magical unfolding. I never would have predicted from the time we first met together and were talking about stored food, that it would evolve into this incredible feeling of—at this point it feels like family that we’ve built. So, it’s really an important thing. I find for myself that when I miss a gathering or if a gathering gets canceled for one reason or another, I really miss the people that I see.

Chris Martenson: You know what’s amazing to me is this group has all ages—people in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s I guess. My story, where I knew this had super value was when you and I, and the family, we went and we spent pretty close to a month in Hawaii in February of 2014. When we got back, we came home to a house that had just been freshly cleaned and there was food in the fridge and soup on the stove and little welcome notes. Your Portland group had been tracking your return and had come and really gave us a super welcome home mat. That was just amazing.

Becca Martenson: Yeah, that was really special. The super important element that you forgot to mention there was that we had a bunch of construction done on the house while we were gone. So, it wasn’t just that they had cleaned up the house. It was that they had cleaned up the house after a bunch of construction. So, everything was covered in dust and grime. People were literally like taking pictures off the walls and wiping them down. So, I mean it was a really extensive day of work. I didn’t know it was going to be happening. I didn’t ask for it to happen. It was this way of…that has really developed as being in service to one another, anticipating need and then stepping in. It’s the epitome of the example of social capital, the social capital that is built through building deep relationships with one another.

In addition, the folks that came to help clean up, it wasn’t just this group of folks that has been meeting every other week. It was also a number of young people that I do personal counseling work with in which we have a bartering relationship instead of a financial exchange relationship. These are folks that I had been in service to emotionally and personally. It was a way that they were giving back to me for the relationship that we have.

It’s another example of how there was intersecting circles that were coming together to be in support of us. It just filled me with such joy.

Chris Martenson: It’s safe to say that if there were an emergency of some form in your life these would be the first people you would call?

Becca Martenson: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Chris Martenson: Yesterday, somebody who I don’t believe is in the group, the gentleman who is in charge of the various outdoor programs that our kids have gone through and grace us in at this point in time. He was sick and he put out a call and what happened next?

Becca Martenson: This is another member of the community—a really beloved leader of the community of people that are really dedicated to raising children that are in relationship to nature. This is a man who I consider to be an uncle to my children. Yeah, both he and his wife were down with the stomach flu and could not get out of bed. I got a text in the day saying "help." That text went out to a number of people. There were three different people who were able to drop everything, go and pick up the kids, bring them back to the house, get things cleaned up there, make sure the kids were fed, and get them ready for bed. So, there was this beautiful hand-off where I went and picked up the kids, brought them home, and then I handed off to another community member who showed up and took it from there to bed time. Again, it just filled me with such joy to be able to be in service to this family, to this man and his children, because I can’t even put a price on what he has given to our family and to my children. This is the beautiful reciprocity that is possible when we are in connection with one another in community.

Chris Martenson: Now, for a lot of people this is going to sound a little utopian and kind of magical—how did this happen? There’s two parts to this story I want to go with. First, how it is that we ended up here. I will submit that there is some truth to the idea that we moved into a place that already had a community that we could plug into. It wasn’t built from scratch by us or anybody. It was here. And then the second part of this would be if you don’t have something like this, how you go about building it. So, why don’t we talk first about how it was that we chose to live here?

Becca Martenson: Okay, so rewinding all the way back to the early 2000’s when we were living in Mystic, Connecticut. We didn’t really know what community was then, I realize now when I look back on it. We had a network of friends and acquaintances, but I would not call it a community as I understand it now. But one of the projects that I was involved in in the very early stages down there was an attempt to begin a food cooperative, which would have enabled us to essentially have a good natural foods grocery store to go to to get healthy food for the family, which wasn’t in the area.

This was a huge headache. It was a really big process and very, very challenging. When we were looking to move, the one thing I said was I want to go somewhere where there is already an established food coop so that this is not something that I have to start up. I want to go where somebody has already done this. What happens is when people gather together to form a food cooperative it, by its very nature, has community built around it. So, I knew if we found places that had a food coop already established there would already be community in that area.

So, we started by looking in the general region where we wanted to move and drew a circle around all the different food coops. We basically just came up into the area and drove around and landed where we did. But, knowing that we wanted to find a place that already had a nucleus of community, of the type of community that we were looking for, already built was really important. So, the entire Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, which is where we live, has many, many, many nodes of community already built here, around again a lot of values that we share around sustainability and resilience and connection to nature—all of these things. We are so blessed to live in this region because there are more community hubs in this area than I could even participate in, in a good way. So, it’s a rich area just to start with.

Once we got up here we get really connected—because we were home schooling the children and because I got involved in the Vermont Wilderness School—we got connected with a particular sub community of home schooling families that were interested in staying in relationship and building connection to nature. That really forms the basis of the community that we are now enjoying—not necessarily all homeschooling families, but people that are part of the larger Vermont Wilderness School network of folks that find an extreme value in being connected to the natural world.

Chris Martenson: I’m going to deviate there because it has come up a lot and people are hearing in threaded throughout. What is this nature connection? I know, but I’m asking a leading question because I want people to understand that this nature connection is actually really important, very deep. So, let’s spend a little time on that. What is it?

Becca Martenson: The way that our culture right now generally is in relationship to nature is kind of informational. When children are in school, they learn about nature. They might learn about rainforests and they might learn about different ecosystems, but they are not in relationship with the nature around them, generally as a rule. So, nature connection is really about relationship with the natural world—what is my connection to the land that I live on? There is something powerfully important for human beings, I believe, to have this connection with nature. I believe that essentially all the woes of the world—and oh my goodness there are many right now—can be traced to a disconnection between human beings and the natural world, in which we begin to believe that we are apart from nature instead of a part of nature. This leads to all of the extractive ways that we are…you know, the way that we pull resources from the land without really thinking about the larger impact—our pollutive tendencies.

The disconnect from nature is, I believe, the source of all of the problems that we have right now. So reconnecting with nature…I believe that connection with nature is actually a human birthright and something that we’re all meant to be doing. There’s just something about our industrialized culture and world that has separated us.

Through this connection with nature, it’s relational. It’s "what is my relationship with this tree in my backyard" as opposed to "what is the information that I may know about trees." So, that’s a little brief overview of the difference between having an intellectual understanding of nature and being in a relationship with nature.

Chris Martenson: There are a lot of practices that go with that. A sit spot being a place that you would go outside every day for maybe five or ten minutes, but a spot. You get used to a spot and you discover that at first there’s birds around you and then over time you go "no, no, there’s that bird, that Robin." They become individuals. Then it becomes relational. So, it’s really about spending time outside with an intention of becoming a part of it rather than apart from it.

Becca Martenson: Absolutely. It’s about opening your senses and being fully alive and really absorbing what’s out there. Yes, the whole sit spot practice, which is just a daily spending time outside in one place—very simple—is one of the core routines that the children practice in these nature programs that they do that the Vermont Wilderness School facilitates.

Chris Martenson: There’s a strong hunting community in our neck of the woods too. I think for a lot of men, hunting is enforced sit spot time. It’s that one or two weeks a year where you just go out and, if you’re me, you don’t see anything, but your senses are on high alert in case you do. It really is like an enforced…it’s a socially okay time to go out and reconnect in a very deep way. Hunting actually is a very profound way to connect—very primal. So, I think these practices are still endemic out there in certain sub communities I would include. Lots of outdoor enthusiasts get out there for the same sets of reasons, whether you like kayaking silently on a lake or fishing or whatever these things happen to be. There’s a connection there that a lot of people already know.

So, let’s imagine for the moment that some great calamity befalls us and you and I, we have to move to a new community. I’m thinking about how you would go about starting over again, for somebody who feels like they’re at the starting point of this, and whether there is anything specifically that would be different if you lived in a city, and we’ll go from there. How do you go about building community? It sounds so nebulous.

Becca Martenson: Yeah, it does sound nebulous. As I said in the beginning, community is built around a nucleus of relationships. So, you can think about community building as just starting with relationships. Again, thinking about people, building relationships with people where you have shared passion, shared interest, shared values, because it’s through the activities that you do where you intersect with people, overlap, meet up during the week that you build that continuous connection that then expands to become community as more nuclei of these relationships kind of come together.

So, if I was starting and imagining…whether I was in a location right now or moving to a new location, I would really begin internally and ask: What are my passions? What are my gifts? What is most important to me in the world? And then, I would seek other people through volunteering opportunities or through nonprofit organizations or through spiritual communities, or through sporting communities—whatever it is. Find others that share those same passions, interests, and values. Then, just begin to build connection. Begin to schedule activities together and find ways to intersect with the same group of people as frequently as possible. It’s that frequency of connection I think that’s really, really important. Then again, if you can come together with people around a shared expression of some kind, let’s say you are putting on an event together or you are hosting an activity together. There is something really powerful about coming together with others to create your personal vision of something, whatever that might be.

So, that’s really how it starts. Just start small. Again, we were so lucky to move into this area where there were already so many different circles of community present, but that’s true all over the place. The key is finding the people that you resonate with, finding the people that you share that passion with in whatever way. So, it just starts with simple relationships and then builds out from there.

Chris Martenson: What if you lived in…I’ve heard this before from people. They say, "I live in a city. I live in a huge apartment building and I really don’t know anybody in my building." Would you say that again you would follow the same pattern where perhaps you don’t share anything in common with these people in the building except you all live there, so that community then is something that you’re going to align around your passions and aligned groups and individuals with shared values or would you be really looking to make community with people because of proximity?

Becca Martenson: Yes, that’s a good distinction Chris, the difference between sort of geographic community of just proximity of the people around you and then you have the community of shared values. We’re so lucky because those happen to overlap, but I know that’s unusual. I’m just making this up because I’ve never lived in a city in my life. You know me, I’m a country girl. But, if I lived in an apartment building in a city, one thing I might start by doing is having a little potluck for all of the people that lived on my floor. Just put a flyer under different doors in people’s apartments and just say "I want to get to know you. Come on over to my place on Friday at six and bring a dish and let’s just get to know each other."

So, the classic potluck model I think is a great one for bringing people together that may or may not have shared values and connections and just begin that stage one level of figuring out who is around. What are the different skill sets of the people that live in your general proximity? You’re looking for connections. So, you’re looking for things that you share, whatever that might be. It might be a passion for baseball cards, or it might be "oh my gosh our kids go to the same school. I didn’t know that. That’s awesome." Find where do you find connection with others.

You can do that, and it might be a little bit diverse if you’re looking at a geographic community based on the people that live in your proximity. But again, the key is you’re always looking for where do we share connection?

Chris Martenson: I think of this as…you know my personal little model of this is that at the first level I might know that somebody exists. I know somebody lives next door. And then in the next layer I might know their name. A little further down, which might come through a potluck, I might learn a little bit about them—what they do for work or for play. And then, a little later on if I get to know them more deeply I’ll know why—why they work at the place they do or a little bit more about their background. Then, if I really get to know somebody deeply what happens is I’ll actually know what drives them, like why they react the ways they do. This is the part about people, when I first meet people sometimes they have these confusing sorts of ways of responding and reacting and I don’t always find that pleasurable sometimes with some people. Once I’ve learned what drives people I can get to that spot of compassion, of really understanding what it is. My work in life is learning how not to take things personally and learning how to just let people…understand that everybody has a driver and motivation. I just can’t see it. It takes time to see it. So for me, to get through that ladder of knowing, to get down to the deeper layers, it really requires seeing people in all sorts of different circumstances.

Becca Martenson: Yeah, and what you’re really pointing to there Chris is the stickiness that comes with being human in relationship to other human beings. You know, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Things can get really messy. If you are in relationship with people that may not have a high level of self-awareness then it can be super challenging. Community is not a…I don’t want to present a utopian vision of it, even though our experience of it here is pretty beautiful. But, there are those moments when things get messy. The deeper you know someone, the more you have that ability to have a deeper level of understanding. Again, that comes with time. You’re going to have all different levels of relationship with people in your community. Some people, it will be just more of an acquaintance level knowledge and others it might be a very deep level of relationship. So, that’s the beauty of it. It’s the variety of connections that are possible.

Chris Martenson: Let’s imagine for a moment that—and we get this a lot too of course— that some people just have a harder time reaching out, making connections. They’re introverts. I’m something of an introvert, certainly compared to you or to Adam. For the people who do have a more difficult time just getting through that first opening, what sort of advice do you have?

Becca Martenson: Yeah, it’s interesting. I’ve been thinking about this a lot because this really comes up frequently. If one is introverted and is more comfortable spending more time alone than in social activities with other people, how do introverts build community? I would say in many ways it’s very similar. Start small. Begin with one relationship that you are really feeding, that you’re developing that lovely reciprocity of both giving and receiving. Just start with that one connection, that one relationship, and then allow that gradually over time with whatever comfort level you want to branch and then connect to another.

You’ll notice in communities that there are certain people that seem to be the primary connectors. They seem to be right at the center and connected to lots and lots of people. It’s good for folks who are more introverted to be able to identify who that connector is in the community and see if it’s possible to build relationship with a connector. So, it’s essentially like establishing social capital with the person that has a lot of social capital, I think has a lot of value. Starting small is really important.

Another thing that I’ve heard that seems counterintuitive, but that it may be important for people that are introverted to actually initiate an activity of some kind. Let’s say it’s a bird walking morning. I’m thinking of things that I would want to do—or a nature hike or something like that.

Chris Martenson: Full contact crocket.

Becca Martenson: [Laughter] Full contact crocket…

Chris Martenson: We want to cover the bases on this.

Becca Martenson: Exactly. Or you know a Frisbee game down in the town green or something like that to just send out word via whatever means possible to the people that you know and just initiate a small event of some kind of another. Just to have that experience of reaching out and starting something, whatever it is, because then you have the—essentially I’ll say—control over the variables, to be able to say "well I’d like it to be a short event because long social events wear me out. So, I want it to be just an hour. I want it to just be a time where I get together with a few people and we play a game." Whatever it is, taking that initiative in a leadership way actually may be more relieving for someone with more introverted tendencies than attempting to join into something that is already created where there’s all of this unspoken social stuff going on that you may or may not have a bead on. So, that might be another suggestion.

Chris Martenson: It’s interesting to me to see how all of this has really developed. I’m astonished actually at how many sub communities are really out there. We mentioned a few—hunters and nature connected people and things like that. Again, not mutually exclusive, a lot of overlap in those two groups. But, there’s people who are really into horses. Tango dancing I’ve discovered is a community unto itself that you can actually do wherever you live and it has traction other places you might go. There are a lot of ways you can really get involved in interesting things. I think whether you’re introverted or extroverted it’s great.

I think it’s easier to tap into a community that’s already there than to try and start from scratch as it were. If you and I were back in the throes of trying to figure out where to live, I think I would be very clear that one of the key characteristics that would be nonnegotiable would be moving to a place with those intact communities. I’m sure we just missed it or something, but when I lived in Mystic, Connecticut my assessment that I came away with was: It’s classic Connecticut. Everybody was on their acre and it was very insular and isolated and not super deep in the kinds of community that draw me. That’s how I experienced it.

Becca Martenson: It just wasn’t a good fit for us. I think that’s really important. It’s not about judgment over one thing being better than another. It’s what’s a good fit for you? Again, that needs to be driven by your own gifts and passion. Always start right in the center of you. What gives you joy? Go find other people that get joy doing the same thing that you get joy from, and you will have an instant connection. Again, everything builds from there.

Chris, one of the things that I want to describe is a couple other ways that you and I did some early community building at our place. One of the things I want to describe is the community orchard planting that we did. We had a big project where we wanted to turn a little section of our two acre property into an orchard. We also wanted to support other people in the community to learn about planting orchards and learn about everything to do with fruit trees.

So, we invited a couple of experts in the field to come and join us for the day. We just put out the call—we’re planting an orchard. Come and learn. Come and be a part of it. I think over the day we had about 35 people that showed up in different cycles. Some people came early on and helped add amendments to all of the holes and some people came for the actual planting of the trees and then some people were there afterwards when the trees were all planted and it was time to do the first pruning on them. It was this really joyful experience where, by the way, we got a lot done. It was amazing what we got accomplished with all of those people over the day that would have been very taxing for you and I to attempt to do solo.

In the process of building relationship with each other, we have a shared task together. We’re planting fruit in the neighborhood that is going to be basically more than you and I or our family can consume. So we’re creating abundance to share. We’re also providing a place for people to learn about amendments and pruning and pests and all of the different things we might want to consider when putting in an orchard. So, there’s an example of how we needed to get something done and the doing of it was a community creating event that also built resilience for our local area. So, you can see where there’s a lot of…you know, in permaculture it’s called "stacking functions" where there’s a lot of different qualities that are getting addressed all at once.

Chris Martenson: How would you describe for people the relative importance of your community to you at this point in your life?

Becca Martenson: Gosh you know, it’s so hard to quantify for me because it’s so woven into my life that it’s hard to sort of pull it apart and say how important is this to me. It’s like how important is food to me. It’s woven into the fabric of my life in a way that provides nourishment to me on many, many levels. So, it’s very hard for me to quantify other than to say it’s woven into every part of my life.

Chris Martenson: Well, let me ask you this: How much do you like your life right now?

Becca Martenson: Well, I love my life. I feel absolutely blessed to live where I do, to be able to share deep connections with the people that live on my street. That seems like wild abundance to me. To be able to share values with people that abut the land that we live on, to be able to have these incredible events that we both facilitate and participate in—it brings a lot of joy to me.

Chris Martenson: As well, I should note that with that abundance, you and I have been in a position to be able to put out microloans to individuals, organizations, just zero interest loans or whatnot just to help people and organizations with tight times and all of that. That feels really good. So, there’s lots and lots of ways to participate out there. Yeah, maybe the fruit trees will be super abundant this year—fingers crossed. I don’t know. Bad year last year, maybe we’ll have a great one this year. Glad I’m not a farmer for professional life because whoa…I would have been killed last year.

Alright, with that, we’re out of time. I do want to though, for those who are interested in finding out more about you and your work and what you offer, including any insights or coaching they may desire as they build community and seek to bring their unique gifts to the world, where can they go to find out more?

Becca Martenson: They can find out more by going to my website, which is BeccaMartenson.com and contacting me through there if anybody would like to.

Chris Martenson: Fantastic. Well Becca, thank you so much for your time today.

Becca Martenson: Thank you Chris.