The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of not exactly meeting people but of interviewing a select group of people. I have at points been frustrated, I confess. There are issues with the way the community is set up and it creates some integration issues. Sure I could wander alone on the roads and meet people, but I would become a target of marriage proposals and psssst calls. I have avoided the village a bit just for these reasons. My supervisor on my first full week here dropped me off at the ball field on a Friday night. There was supposed to BINGO happening but mostly it was loud music and drunk men. My supervisor knowing these men were respectable just left me there. I was a bit unsettled at first. He had said he was going to have me meet a woman in the community down there, but she was not there at the time. I made a good friend of a man who I now call and plan on wandering around with when he has time. The best answer to are you married, by the way, is YES! Sorry Richard but we got married when you were sleeping!
I have found the Farmers to be a diverse group of people and have become acquainted enough with them to feel comfortable trying to see them on my own. Some of the farmers I still have not met. There is a division in the group and it seems that people have different ideas as to what the group should be doing. I have finally analyzed a good portion of this so that I can say that the farmers desire to have water up on the farm and they desire a feeling of unity. The unity is where I will begin. May as well take that big one and shoot it square in the eye! My thought is to find a group of people who truly farm their plots, who are willing to forgive and move on and who are willing to at least try a new idea. I also want people who are willing to share skills and help each other out. I have identified a few individuals, but I am thinking of waiting until closer to September to really work this aspect into a project.
Currently I am working on potato boxes and want to experiment with growing out of season to see what happens. I intend on growing again in season to compare yields. I have been working with a lovely ex-pat from Vashon Island, right outside of Seattle! We have accomplished a ton together but I am going to spend the rest of the summer focusing on integration. She is leaving for a few weeks, so that will help establish a routine. The real issue is that I could not find a location to just sit and chat or sit and work on things as of yet. Working on things in my apartment isolates me from the community. I was very relieved when my supervisor suggested the community center once a week to be present in the community. I love this idea. To further make it so much better, he informed me that many in the community want to talk with me. If I spend at least one day a week in the center they can come to me, and they will not feel their confidentiality being violated. That is a huge problem, I walk around with a notebook and they tend to get quiet in fear of saying something that will be brought up and pushed back on them. At least that is how it appears to me.
I did manage to meet a few people in the past few weeks. In fact I have met many, they mostly know who I am, but I have no idea who everyone else is, but this is normal since I am one and they are many. Last Friday I went to a dead yard, (ded yahd) with the man I met a few weeks ago. He asked if I could play domino. I told him I know how to play but am not that good at it. He has been bragging that we tenfold a couple of men that night. I had no idea, but that means we nailed 10 games in a row! I guess I might actually be pretty good, or they were being nice since I was the only female at the table. Either way I think I might have a weekly partner for domino matches.
Today as I was seeking out people in the community to chat with, I met the pastor of the Assemblies of the First Born. So far the limited history I have established of the community, this church is the foundation of the community. He was a very nice man and he saw me looking at a flyer on the church wall about a community event. He came out and introduced himself, he invited me to attend a service and to come about and chat with him sometime. I guess I will have to take my life-long fear of church and sit my butt in for a service. He is a good person to know in the community and is very community oriented, this could prove to be my foundation for projects and integration.
Having been basically at work almost every day since I got here, I have not actually attended a church in the community as of yet. I have tried to attend a church on the outskirts of the community twice now, but it only meets on the last Sunday of the Month. When Tressa comes back I will attend that church, but until then I will go at least once to the main church. I really hope that by just wandering into the community at different times I will be able to establish myself so much better. There is a division within the community, this one runs deep. There is the original community and then there is the Scheme. I live in the Scheme, so not only am I white, I am seen as a come unto. The Scheme represents not only a class division but also a group of people who are not originally from the community or alwaysbeens. The real issue goes beyond class but also into how the Scheme does not really spend much time in the community, therefore it appears they are “better thans”. This is not actually true, it is more about a group of tenants who have no idea how long their living situation will last, therefore integration is not a priority. You see many people up here work in Ochi in the resorts or in retail. They have regular jobs and they are usually tired when they return from work, or they work strange days and have not time to integrate. Whatever the reason, it is not really about being better, simply about lifestyle, which sadly can cause friction and hurt feelings.