Today is the first time in the entire year we've lived on the farm that we are both going somewhere, overnight, and leaving the care of the wood stove and livestock to someone else.
This is a big deal. Taking care of this place is something we take very seriously, and we tend to be control freaks about it. Plus, we know it's a lot of work and not something everyone wants to do.
But we got this great offer- my college is hosting us to speak to students about the relationship between social justice and farming. If you've followed along on our blog, you know that we see access to fresh food, land stewardship and injustices as a very important part of our mission. So we are going to speak to students about the ways in which advocacy can overlap many career paths, not just the ones folks usually think of (like organizing, social work, etc). We are also going to discuss our journey as activists, and how it lead us to R'Eisen Shine.
Wells College is my Hogwarts. I'm not sure that when I went to college, I was prepared for the college experience and expense. I'm not sure it was the right choice for me, but I never regret the experience I had there. My professors and fellow students inspired me to think critically, take action, and stand on my own. I remember getting dropped off, that first day- by my high school guidance counselor, who I lived with the summer after high school. I wasn't quite sure how I had managed to get to college, but here I was. Wells is on a big beautiful lake, and I could see it from my dorm room window. My hands shook, and I looked around at all of the boxes. I didn't have a place to go back to on break, I would have to find friends to stay with, or call in another favor with that guidance counselor. So it was either make Wells my home, or remain homeless.
So I did. I dug my heels in, and the place absorbed me. My classes engaged me, pushed me and forced me to rethink everything I had ever known in my abusive, conservative, catholic upbringing (not that all conservative catholic upbringings are bad or abusive- but mine was clearly). But more importantly, it was the first place that I felt secure in who I was. It was the first place that valued the voice I had, and forced me to defend my positions. It was where I met the friends I hold dear today, nearly ten years later. It was college, but it was more than that. And when I left only two years in, I grieved like I had lost a loved one- and in many ways I had. But Wells taught me how to love, how to fight, and how to learn.
Now we return, and I will share the old brick buildings and view of the lake with my wife. There is no place I hold more dear than our farm here, but without Wells- I wouldn't have known what to look for in a home.
I just hope that my experiences, and our story, and our work can inspire another student the way that so many other teachers inspired me.
The Wells College Motto is "To have and to share"- so we will go share. Because what I have, the fibers I'm built of, comes more from my time there then nearly any other place or experience I've had.