Driftless dreaming

We moved here and took the big step of establishing Liberation Park as an socio-ecological-Dhammic experiment because the driftless region‘s beauty and bounty, with small farms and lots of organic food, with woods and streams, with bike trails and cheese, offered plenty of possibilities for a young Dhamma refuge. We have not been disappointed in that choice. To be honest, we find much joy here, and meaning, and friendship.


As building and life at LP grows (see recent blogs), a vision for participating in the larger community of our township, county, and region is beginning to gather form. This is an emerging process with bursts of insights and long periods of slow digestion. “Driftless dreaming” will remark some of the pieces as they become clearer, yet still evolving, tentative, fully subject to the laws of inter-dependent co-arising and uncertainty.

We take this coulee and its region to be a good place to live. We want to live here. Why? What makes this a good place to live?

This is the question I want to ask neighbors and as many denizens of the driftless as I can.

My own responses to the question could be added here, but I’m new to this community. (In the eyes of some, I’ll always be new, just as in Siam I was always farang.) Better to inquire and listen for a while. At least I’ll try.

What do the old-timers think and feel about this area? What do the farmers, business people, school teachers, vets, and all think and feel about it?

natural mulch

Will we find any commonality? Shared values? Room for deepening the conversation?

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6 Responses to Driftless dreaming

  1. driftlessgil says:

    Nice blog, my friend…

  2. charlie knower says:

    Interesting topic, SK, and I hope to see some interest in replies. I’m a native of this region: was born within 15 miles of LP, in fact, and went to school in Viroqua and Hillsboro. I left in 1967 and returned to Viroqua in 2008. So, I have a connection with the old timers and one with the newcomers and appreciate both. I tend to be more tolerant of the old timers than some of the recent arrivals (my wife included). I think that’s a factor of having roots here. However, I find that I hang out with newcomers exclusively; even though I have this old connection I don’t have much more than that in common.
    Even as a teen, I was drawn to the liberal point of view that came out of the La Farge area where the local paper had a columnist (Judd Irwin) who was a left leaning, banjo playing, barefoot hillbilly.
    I see so many possibilities for how people might sustain themselves living here and look forward to hearing more on the topic.
    Thanks again for starting this.

  3. Peter Kaufman says:

    SK asks: “What makes this a good place to live?”
    or anyplace for that matter.

    Personally, I’m finding that I have a strong urge to interact with people who are fun, interesting and push my own envelope of comfort or stability. Currently in my life and our neighborhood, that’s not occurring. I feel disconnected. I believe there are many who feel the same way.

    The Parade insert in our paper recently had a very interesting article which I believe suggests why in part I might experience this lack of belonging. It’s entitled “Meet the Neighbors” (see: http://www.parade.com/news/2010/05/02-meet-the-neighbors.html)

    Another aspect making someplace a “good place to live” is feeling like I’m doing the best I can for the planet. There is much depressing news from social issues to ecological responsibility. I compost and recycle all I can, but it doesn’t feel like enough. Liberation Park is heading down a very desirable direction.

    I sometimes fantasize I’m on a self-sufficient farm perhaps with the old fashion Walton’s family-lifestyle versus my current Nuclear Family with felines and canine substituting for children. This dream feels more what “should” be.

    My 5 cents or so.


  4. Joe Orso says:

    Coming to the Driftless after living in several big cities was a challenge for me. I kind of saw it as a place to come, work a while, then leave. Growing up in big cities, I never would have imagined that living in a small city, much less rurally, would attract me. But it has. I love the natural beauty that everyone loves here. I am amazed by the land-based wisdom in the people here. Because of these things, I’ve seen my life shift from climbing the career ladder to seeking to reconnect with the land and the communities of creatures, plants and people that populate her. And so now instead of moving to the next big city, I’ve stayed in the Driftless, and am preparing to move to the country. I never heard of the Driftless before coming here. Now, I don’t want to leave, and hope the wisdom that exists here finds a place in conversations beyond the Driftless.

    Liberation Park has been a place that continues to nurture this journey, and I’m glad you’re starting to pull folks together in conversation via your blog, Santi.

  5. Jerry says:

    From an email:
    Regarding the driftless region, first I love the hilly, wooded terrain. It’s like a smaller version of the Appalachians, and like them has a tradition of small scale farming and a rural ethic of neighborliness.

    But, sadly, the tradition of family farming is falling apart. The old ways have largely given way to a modern lifestyle characterized by TV, internet, technically advanced equipment and methods, and ever increasing competitive pressure to get bigger.

    The absence of heavy industry keeps this area closer to nature than most parts of the country. The typical resident is comfortable gathering morels and black caps, and hunting turkey and deer, and fishing. But the best part is participation in farmers markets and the general interest in raising gardens.

    There is a vast resourcefulness here that is very admirable and will help us through the hard times that are coming. I think, when hard times come, it will be fairly easy to inspire locals to reclaim their tradition of community cooperation.

    Also, the locals are prone to under-dressing, unpretentious.


  6. hidetada says:

    Very nice blog and replies. I must say that I am definitely part of this dream — although I currently live in a suburb with young kids with a career that pushes me to keep climbing the ladder (reward system is as such). Santi, it’s nice to know that you are actually doing something for your dream and want to us to be part of it. So, thank you. I’d like to believe that I am doing my best to create a sustainable environment and peaceful and just society, though too often I feel my contribution is so limited. At least I try to have my students think about such issues in my classes.

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