Music All Around

The meat of this post was written on the last day of August, but it wasn’t completed and published until today =)

It’s a late August morning, my partner rises to milk cows and I quickly follow, out of bed and into the garden. The carrot beds need to be thinned and weeded. First things first, I drink a jar full of water and decide to not bring my hat. I won’t be out long and the Sun is short.

Entering the Lower Garden I notice a ruby-throated hummingbird, a very common bird to see in the gardens and community proper in the summer. My natural reaction is to grab for my camera, which isn’t there. My East Wind field guide is still missing a good shot of a hummingbird. I stand and watch as it flits to and fro among the tops of some young fruit trees. It is joined by a partner. They face each other for a second, saying hello, and then burst away. Together in flight, sharing this beautiful Life.

I think on this experience as I tend to the carrots. I think about this place, this land, and eventually, this outlet. How can I convey what I observe, what I feel? Through the lens of a camera? Via the English language? It all feels quite inadequate at times. And then I stop thinking. The presence that fills me in these moments brings a sense of calm. A wonderful feeling of reprieve from anxious worry. I can only document pieces of it. I can only express it in imperfect form, for there is no substitute for direct experience.

And now, as I sit at my desk writing this I see my day ahead. Customer inquiries to be answered, business decisions to be made, water meter reading around 9:30AM, weightlifting and filming before lunch, getting everything caught up and then spending the late afternoon and evening back with the carrots. Right here, I decide to take a break from writing.

What seemed to be shaping up to be a fairly routine day gets spiced up by a slew of unexpected events. The truck bringing in an order of forty thousand 16oz glass jars, soon to be filled with nut butters, is a couple inches too short for our dock and the first couple pallets can’t be lifted easily. Fran and I help Brian, the warehouse manager, jack up the pallets to the point where he can catch them with the forklift’s forks. I grab a jar of cashew butter to give as a gift to the waiting truck driver. The morning peanut roasting shift is in process and while I’m helping Brian I get hailed down from the factory, another hand is needed. I recruit one of our newer members, who happens to be walking by and has some free time, to help out. After dealing with these two business operation matters, I walk to the dormitory where I live and encounter a housemate I’m not necessarily on the best terms with. We talk, for the first time in a while, and both agree we want to reduce the tension between us. Living together isn’t always easy and maintaining relationships takes thoughtfulness and consideration.

It is days like this that fill me with an energetic verve, a fresh zest for life. Routine has its place, but living at East Wind is anything but routine. My experiences in this place have allowed my world to flourish in ways most unexpected. I’ve lived here long enough now to feel established and know I’m building a world of even greater possibilities. When I first came here over three and a half years ago, I didn’t know a single person living at East Wind or who had even been to East Wind. Making that leap into the unknown was the best decision of my life. This place is what you make of it, I offer no guarantees.

Finishing this piece, I am sitting at a new and temporary desk in my hometown of Erie. I’m taking several weeks away from the farm to help my father. Still working remotely in a number of ways. Helping with business concerns, revising our website, and attempting to edit together a number of videos about the things you can learn at East Wind. The flexibility of being your own boss is quite nice and I appreciate the ability to travel when I desire. Living in the city reminds of me of how spoiled I am at East Wind: dinner prepared daily, clean well water, the gardens, the creek and the forest. The food truly is incomparable and my digestive health shows the difference in quality. I must value this time away to gain new perspective and get some special projects done, but I miss home and cell phones are a poor way of maintaining intimate connection.

This post will be the last from me for at least a month. The YouTube rollout is coming, stay tuned!

Post and picture by Sumner


  1. Loved reading this

  2. So I was reading a few articles on your community and read where you guys are making like close to 5 million a year but only pay the residents $120.00 a month, is this true? No way it costs that much to manage a thousand acre property and the businesses you have there and no way would you ever spend that much in medical care for only 70 something people. Residents shouldn’t be living in bunk houses while others have their own house, with that much $ a year every resident should have their own private home. I’m looking into moving to, not for sure yet, a community like yours but it’s looking like all the ones I’ve checked out are using the residents as workers/laborers while the select few make mad $. Who’s the treasurer and are the finances, bank statements to show whats coming in and going out money wise shared with the residents? Thanks

    • Haha! I appreciate your skepticism, having a healthy dose is a good thing when considering new places to live. There is a difference between sales and profits. Our businesses GROSSED about $4 million last year. Profits were about $700,000. This $700,000 covers food ($85,000 budget), electricity, propane, internet, and all the budgets for non-business areas. The monthly stipend everyone receives is $150 a month (collectively, that is about $130,000 each year) and there is also yearly profit sharing. So, for example, last year there was profit sharing of $880 for every member. The other portion of excess profits goes into our bank account. That money can be used for any number of things, such as a new dormitory that I am proposing to start building in 2019. Yes, we are a registered not-for-profit organization with the state of Missouri and we have a treasurer. All financial documents are open to everyone who lives here. Once our annual plan (budgets) have passed this year I intend on doing a post on our money situation, you will probably be interested in that!

      We have five dormitories as well as personal shelters. Not everyone wants to run their own wood stove throughout the winter or deal with off grid electric. Not everyone wants to have to walk farther to get to the dining hall or a hot shower. The dormitories have a lot more amenities then most of the personal shelters. Dormitories are a lot more efficient than personal shelters, but space issues are important. Of course, not every living space here is equally desirable, as they were built at different times by different people. By getting a new dormitory built I hope to increase living standards as well as eliminate all the marginal living spaces we currently have.

  3. Thank you Lori
    Perhaps we shall meet someday.
    I loved you writings.

  4. I really long for what you have. Thanks for sharing

  5. Such an attractive community. How many visitors typically come through in the warmer months?

    • We will have anywhere from five to eight in the warmer months. March/April and September/October are the best times to visit, in my opinion (I like the season change).

  6. Hey Sumner,
    Thanks for the beautiful post!
    Would any of the kids or parents at Eastwind consider writing a post about what living at eastwind is like for them? I’m very curious about family life there– how it is parenting in community, sharing a house with other families, choosing public vs homeschooling etc.

    • I would love for more people here to write posts for the blog, but it certainly isn’t a top priority for most here. I have managed to get one other person to write a blog (Boone’s blog on communal economics) in the over two years that I have been doing this.

      The parents especially are busier than most, all but one family here has children that are under the age of five. I will put the idea out there, but I can’t make any promises!

  7. Hi – I wonder about general taxation by the state. Does the community pay taxes and also do members vote in state organised elections? I am thinking of the relationship between the community and wider society. I did read the information about members partaking in local socially responsible actions.

    • Yes, we do pay taxes. We are subject to both state income and federal income taxes. However, we typically don’t make enough money to pay taxes.
      We had four vans full of people go out and vote in the most recent election. Not everyone votes, of course.

  8. When the Music of our hearts blends with the “Music All Around”, the winds of the East, West, North, & South find Pure Union and Harmony in Life!

    Thank you for sharing the most comprehensive and beautiful community website I have ever read. I’d like to visit sometime soon.

  9. Hey, I am thinking to apply membership…but I have my partner and my 1 almost 2 year old, is that a problem? what wi will have to do or what kids do? hope for a reply thanks ! 🙂

    • If is definitely more difficult, but not impossible for a family to become members. People with in demand skills are especially desirable. Please check out everything in the Visiting and Membership tab on the website.

  10. Hello, I saw a story on your community and wanted to know what an associate member is? Planning in requesting a visit.

    • Associate members live at East Wind for part of the year. At least two months out of the year and not more than ten months. They get a room and a stipend, but don’t have a vote. You can choose to become a provisional member (path to full membership) or associate status after the visitor period. And you can decide to switch from associate to provisional member and vice versa. Usually, this status is used by full members who lived at East Wind and then decided on a more nomadic lifestyle. We have a couple staying here through spring, for example. I believe there are only three people with associate status at this time.

  11. Sumner, I love this paragraph showing how difficult it is to explain God’s creation. “I think on this experience as I tend to the carrots. I think about this place, this land, and eventually, this outlet. How can I convey what I observe, what I feel? Through the lens of a camera? Via the English language? It all feels quite inadequate at times. And then I stop thinking. The presence that fills me in these moments brings a sense of calm. A wonderful feeling of reprieve from anxious worry. I can only document pieces of it. I can only express it in imperfect form, for there is no substitute for direct experience.” Absolutely, beautifully written, Sumner. You should write a book, you have a natural ability.

  12. Cathy Richardson

    I am interested in visiting your community if possible….

  13. Richard dean miller

    How much does it cost

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