Monday, October 4, 2010

Headwaters Gathering Fall 2010

This weekend, the Greater Headwaters community hosted the biannual Headwaters Gathering, which happens every spring and fall. The gathering is a community event where families and friends from Southern Ontario and beyond come together to celebrate the seasons, share skills, stories, as well as goods and services at the renowned trading blanket. The gathering started out as a group of friends getting together to practice traditional, earth-based skills. As those friends have grown to create organizations that teach those skills (like Sticks and Stones Wilderness School, Earth Tracks, The P.I.N.E. Project and Earth Mentorship Programs), the event has evolved into a regional festivity where members of the greater community and travelers from even further connect to expand their earth wisdom. An important emphasis of the gathering is that it's community-run, with everyone participating as a volunteer to look after the group's needs. There's a goal of stewardship and the group takes it upon themselves to leave the land better than when they got there through individual acts of care taking and a project for the land. If you're interested in community and nature connection it's an event you don't want to miss.

The gathering started Friday but the keenest member of the group showed up Thursday, camping out with a makeshift tent in the form of a tarp stretched and tied over a pine log. He helped with splitting wood, arranging the barn, and general prep. The next batch showed up Friday morning. From there, things became community-based and all the routine tasks of organization fell into place with volunteer efforts. Kudos to community! The first fire of the weekend was lit by a group friction fire effort. It blazed strongly for the rest of the weekend to keep the October chill out of everyone's bones as well as to welcome newcomers.

The crowd was made up of families with children, hardcore barefooters who didn't seem to mind the brisk weather, couples of all ages, dogs, kittens, interns from Sticks and Stones, and community organizers like Skeet Sutherland, Alexis Burnett of Earth Tracks, Darian Bacon, and Andrew McMartin of The P.I.N.E. Project. A lot of first timers joined the fun, and the crowd numbered about 60. The workshops were led by many members of this community who wanted to share their skills and knowledge. Topics included fire by friction and coal-burned bowls, how to make your own bucksaws and knives (led by Doug Getgood who runs the Toronto Survivalism meetup group), a plant walk, an edible mushroom walk, archery and arrow making, casual flintknapping, and a children's program led by The P.I.N.E. Project. Everything flowed very smoothly and it's amazing how much easier things are with efforts evenly divided.

It was a scramble Saturday afternoon to secure a cooking spot at the fire for the evening's delicious weekend event, the potluck. With bellies full, the trading blanket opened by the fire, with organizer Darian as host. The trading was moved inside the barn with the rain. Some memorable trades included; certificates for stays at Wolf Den Nature Retreat and Hostel in Algonquin Park, traps from the indigenous Sami people of Scandinavia, a turkey oven, arrowheads, high quality stone for flintknapping, a hula hoop made out of plumbing tubing for body massage, books, and even live performances and songs. It was an enjoyable ceremony.

Mm, mm... campfire cooking

The results of campfire cooking, the weekend potluck

The Headwaters Gathering is an adventure. Participants never know what they're going to learn, what old friends they're going to bump into, or how many new friends they'll make. The location moves across Southern Ontario's beautifully diverse scenery, accommodations change, and the workshops and opportunities at the trading blanket are always different. In the past the stewardship project has involved tree planting, helping out local farmers, and making habitat for wildlife. It's a very dynamic, camp-like atmosphere. What is sure, is that there is a like-minded community for people of Ontario to be part of, and that twice a year there's a time and a space to celebrate it. It's an honour to host the Headwaters Gathering and Sticks and Stones is deeply grateful for the community effort it took to pull things together. Things have come a long way since the very first gathering of just a few friends.


Wolfmaan said...

Headwaters Autumn 2010 was amazing! I learned so much, and met so many great people!

Anonymous said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................