I am so looking forward to visiting Bonnie Sundance’s cozy and wonderful cabin in Nederland again for the June 5th Skillshare potluck! She is one of the most gentle and kind spirits I’ve ever met and has a profound connection with nature. She is a mentor and inspires me in the environmental work we both have in common. I attended the last potluck she hosted and I also earned some Skillshare time dollars assisting her on October 31, 2015. This is the story of that day’s exchange.

Bonnie does not own a car – she gets rides from neighbors, rides her bike, hitchhikes, or takes the bus, so I picked her up that morning at the Boulder Farmer’s Market to haul two bushels of apples and drove up the Canyon. Before getting to work, Bonnie served us a beautiful, organic, healthy meal. The delectable homemade soup had avocado, basil, garlic, steamed green beans, and almond cheese. She also served fresh spinach and carrots and “Gluten Gone Dakota” bread from Great Harvest that was to die for.

Before eating, Bonnie prayed, “Great spirit – we call upon your gracious presence to help us bless and thank the Earth for this food. We connect with and thank the air and the soil and the water, the sun and moon, the oil beings, the human beings who help bring this food to us. We ask that you bless and purify back to origin all of the sources of this food so everything is harmonious with the Earth which is my intention is for my life to live in harmony with the natural rhythms of the Earth. Blessed be.”

As we enjoyed the food, I asked if she is completely off the grid. She said yes, electrically and waterwise (no running water). She uses very little propane for her cooking. Her refrigerator is a small DC that runs on a 195 Watt solar panel and the energy is stored in four batteries (size of car batteries). Two are working while the other two are charging. Long-time friend of Bonnie’s Harry Albert helped set that up for TD!

There is also a smaller 40 Watt solar panel on the roof, which runs the lights and the computer with one battery for back up. Bonnie said she can go a few days without sunlight if she rations. In winter, once in a while, she’ll be without power and wears an LED head lamp to see.

In the past, Skillshare members Lisa and Wayne Dicksteen came up to analyze how to better insulate the cabin and another time Lisa came up to measure and cut plastic to put over the windows to keep out the cold. Bonnie said, “It makes such a big difference doing this in a new place – two minds are so much better than one and it is really SO much more fun besides!”

I agree. It was so enjoyable carrying buckets of avocado and peach pits together into the forest to put into an old goldmining pit as she remarked, “So here we are on
Halloween standing in the forest with a warm sun and chilly wind and this is a task we are doing
on the Day of the Dead where we are returning to the Earth what is the Earth’s!”
After our walk in the forest, we returned to the cabin, where I collected a few buckets of water
from the 50 gallon drum outside and we put some weather stripping around several of the
windows to get ready for winter. By the way, she uses a wood burning stove for warmth but only
in the morning and the evenings. The wood comes only from downed trees.
Before I left. Bonnie fixed us some wonderful tea she made from rose hips and red clover that
she had gathered and she was excited to tell me that very soon Harry and a couple of friends and
another Skillshare member, Paul Beique, would be coming up to put a huge solar panel that will
track with the sun. Of course they will earn time dollars! (There is a story about this in a previous
issue of the SKOOP.)

And then I wondered how Bonnie earns her time dollars. She told me about her Skillshare member organization, Our Sacred Earth (www.our-sacred-earth.org), where she earns about 40 hours a year for nonprofit work planning and facilitating activities, promoting awareness about climate change and caring for the Earth and all Life. She also gets some hours promoting Skillshare at the Farmers Market and writing articles for the SKOOP. She has made 263 exchanges with 61 members in 12 years! “I do a lot of work for the Earth in many different ways and part of the choice of living here that I’ve learned is a realization that I’m doing for myself, I’m asking less and less of the Earth and more of myself I live in the midst of nature because it’s so healing. I’ve learned that trees have the most incredible intelligence. We are unaware of what they know and how much they understand – they’ve lived on the Earth much longer than human beings!”