13 October 2010
There are places in which one feels immediately comfortable in upon arrival; the land trust that we stayed at in Atlanta, Georgia belongs in that category. Through www.helpx.net, we got in touch with a certain Noah G. before we left Orlando. Through Noah, we arranged a work exchange stay at the Lake Claire Community Land Trust.
This place is a myriad of different things; I’ve had trouble describing to others what we experienced when they asked where we stayed in Atlanta. After a navigation mishap that landed us an hour outside of the city, we pulled into the land trust’s parking lot and were immediately greeted with absolute friendliness and affability by the first person we met, one very sweet guy named Spencer.
The Land Trust is peaceful. On the property? A vegetable garden, tons of flowers, a few bunnies and cats, dogs, a sweat lodge, and several private residences ranging from cabins, small apartments, a yurt, a communal living home called “The Ark,” as well as the original building (where we stayed), “The Hearth.” There is also a place on the trust where drum circles are held for residents and those living in the Atlanta Five Points area. On our first night we attended a small drum circle held by “The Elders.” These were incredibly lovely people playing instruments, singing, and loving on every piece of the evening. They welcomed us with open arms and encouraged me to sing with them. I have rarely felt so instantly comfortable. That night, we met Beth, who made us double chocolate cookies in her kitchen and encouraged our burgeoning travels.
Monday through Friday, an after-school program is held on the land trust, called Soul Shine Children’s Studio. Shannon is the woman who runs the program and she is nothing short of LOVELY. What a beautiful place for kids to learn and explore.
As it happened, most of the residents and workers were attending a wedding for the weekend, and we had to practically beg for work to do, in exchange for our stay! Gus and I helped to move some wood that is going to be used for future building. We also pulled weeds in an area that is the planned spot for an arc of foliage and trees, leading into the garden area.
All over the property, there are hand painted signs and artwork that reminded me of my own instinctual and internal peace, well-being, and positivity. I could have stayed at the Land Trust for weeks and been happy. The Hearth is a three (four?) story building painted with warm colors, statues of the Buddha, a communal kitchen … we were lucky enough to have a loft, complete with books, to sleep in. It was pretty magical. On the night of the full moon, we attended the drum circle and what struck me was how lucky Atlanta is to have a place like the Lake Claire Community Land Trust. Experiencing its presence served to remind me that even in the middle of huge cities, community blossoms when it’s intentionally tended to, taken care of, and shared.
If you are ever in Little Five Points, Atlanta, please see if you can help out at the Land Trust in any way. It is, without a doubt, a unique, important, and beautiful community.