April 23, 2014


As one would expect when adventuring to a secluded educational community in the woods- everyone here has questions about what inspired my journey and everyone back home has questions about what I'm doing in this foreign land of new people (plant, animal and human alike).

The answers to such questions are far too numerous and complex to break down into just one easily digestible few-hundred-word article, so I'll simplify my story somewhat for now and trust that over the course of my time here, through this and other articles, I'll be able to gradually paint a more thorough picture of who I am, what I'm doing at Windward and what ventures still lie over yonder horizon. For now I'll stick to the basics!

My name is Chelsea, I'm a junior in undergraduate studies and I've come to Windward to study permaculture design via the Evergreen State College.

In line with one of permaculture's basic principles- that every resilient design decision should serve multiple functions- my choice to come to Windward was multi-faceted.

Windward is involved in so many expressions of sustainability (including but certainly not limited to permaculture design and sustainable social community practices) that it seemed a great place to start my homesteading experience- especially because I love Washington state and have wanted to stay relatively close to home for my current studies.

Beyond permaculture design my broader studies include ecology and wildlife conservation, natural home building, art and sexuality... all things that the various wizards of Windward have also studied and can therefore teach me much about.

That kept in mind and close to my heart, it became clear that Windward was likely to be the only intentional community near home with their fingers in all of the same pies I've been taking bites out of throughout my college experience.

While my learning contract is primarily focused on permaculture design it would be more apt to say that I'm studying how to be a resilient, respectful, proactive, empowered and self-sufficient human being within an interconnected ecological community. (Then again, one could argue that all of that falls under the umbrella of permaculture!)

Thus far I've loved my experience here just as I suspected I would. With each day I feel more connected to the land, plants, animals and humans I'm sharing this space with, and thereby more whole within myself; healed.

This is another article of itself but part of my journey to Windward was to seek sanctuary in nature, away from the anxious hustle and bustle of the Emerald City.

While some may find adjusting to living in such a rural environment difficult I find that it has been a sweet and simple transition for my city-weary heart. The switch to being surrounded by plants rather than sidewalks, trees rather than streetlights, native birds rather than stop signs, plateau winds rather than rushing cars, rolling hills rather than skyscrapers... has done a great deal to calm my fragmented soul.

In the city I struggle to feel safe, joyful and creative. At Windward I've found that every day I feel more awake than the last, more excited to further my studies and more fulfilled as a human being. It certainly helps that everyone here is diversely creative, motivated and welcoming!

What I look forward to most is using this time and place to truly devote myself to the broad array of studies I'm interested in that my city jobs prevented me from whole-heartedly pursuing. As a recent transfer student to Evergreen I've finally created an avenue to give myself back to education, and education for education sake!

I'm here to once again fall in love with learning, and to once again fall in love with myself as an insatiably curious student of life. I'm happy to say that while my internship contract through Evergreen lasts until the end of spring, I'm staying with Windward through the end of summer until school starts back up in Fall.

In this way I hope to give myself as much time as possible to fall head over heels into the learning opportunities here, to greedily soak up as much knowledge as I can while this community has generously invited me into their home.

I look forward to continue sharing what I learn through my internship! Stay tuned!