how I became “Brother Martin”

Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I was a simple fruit farmer, a member of an intentional community called “The Farm.” I was a much simpler fruit farmer than most, since I didn’t own the land, didn’t buy my farm supplies with my own money, and grew the fruit to share with the other members of my community rather than for sale. Pretty much all the money in the community was handled through a central office, with budget decisions made by a board of the different interests in the community–farmers, construction workers, health workers, school teachers, etc.

Our income, while impressive in total–hundreds of thousands of dollars a year–averaged out to about a dollar a day per person, but the dollars were only a small percentage of our wealth. We provided each other/ourselves with food, medical care, housing, transportation, school for our children, and a host of other things at no cost. It was not paradise. We were dirt poor by any standard, but we had our freedom.

One of the things we eventually came up with was our own community TV station–not broadcast (tho we had a low-power broadcast pirate FM station) but distributed through the community via cable. We used it for internal communication–such as telling the community the Farming Crew’s plans, often via humorous skits. In one of those skits, I “became” Brother Martin, holding a revival in The First Church of Farming.

The community started experiencing social and financial difficulties in the early eighties. Socially, our kids started becoming television-influenced teenagers who wanted things that couldn’t be had on a dollar a day, and many of my generation fell prey to the same neuroses that had bedeviled our parents when we were teenagers, causing general dissatisfaction with our standard of living and the same generation gap that we, as young parents, had sworn we would never create. Financially, we fell prey to the general worsening of the economy that occurred as the seventies faded into the eighties, plus which we were saddled with serious debts due to overly speculative vegetable and field crop farming ventures, serious medical bills incurred by a few community members, and the failure of a local bank that had been very friendly to us. There was increasing debate in the community about whether to continue our communal experiement. I argued strongly against abandoning it, and would appear on the community TV station as “Brother Martin,” railing humorously against changing the community’s nature and calling for a revival of our “old time religion.” My viewpoint did not prevail, and the commune turned into a community in which “all for one and one for all” was replaced with “every man for himself.” I stuck it out for seven years, trying to run the apple orchard as a business and hoping things would change, but by 1990 it was obvious that I wasn’t going to make a living from the apple trees and the community was not going to de-gentrify itself, and I left, a bitter exile from a country that no longer existed. There was no place I could go that felt like home, and home didn’t feel like home any more either.

As the twentieth century staggered to a close, I was working in the produce department of a health food store in Nashville, Tennessee, and starting to get more serious about singing the songs I had occasionally been writing and playing the pianos that seemed to be wherever I went. Out of the blue, an old friend and sympathizer from my days on The Farm started working at the store, too, and she hailed me as “Brother Martin,” the first time anybody had reminded me of my religious sobriquet in many years. I started using it as a musial nom de plume, and then as I became more involved in the internet, it just seemed natural to use it other places as well. I still base my politics on what I consider spiritual principles, such as

Treat other people the way you want to be treated.

We’re all in this together.

We are not separate from each other. (nearly the same as preceding statement, but profoundly different, as well)

“Howsoever ye treat the least of Mine, is how ye treat Me.”

It’s very serioius, but don’t take it too seriously.

so “Brother Martin,” with its strong religious overtones (tho I am neither Protestant nor Catholic, but Buddhist) seems like a good handle. Any questions?

Responses

  1. Jullay from Ladakh, where trees are bare and skies are blue.

  2. howdy Brother Martin, just found your site, am heartened by it 🙂
    I am moving too in what I have found to be the Right Direction, am
    encouraged and strenghtened by finding Others

  3. Hi bro

    Sounds like a similar story, but very different too.
    I was looking up peter berg and luckily stumbled upon deep green perspective and like it a lot.

    What happened with the (oh shit, this is a blog. I just popped back to get the right title for that bioregional meeting in jan. and it had Changed On Me to the antarctic icesheet calving event.).

    So what happened at that meeting? I guess I should look in the blog archives, ok, I will.

    That was genuinely disorienting my friend, one minute in the 70’s and on the farm and having kids at home, next minute Here, Now, brought to us by cnn. Phew. Start over.

    Hi nice to meet ya, sounds like we’re alike alot. You must be oldish too, Kids all over the map, raised them on a horse from birth and they haven’t been on one since they left, sound familiar?

    Anyway I see bad shit coming down the pike and thought, I have a lifetime of thought and experience in surviving economic depressions and the like, that really shouldn’t just go to waste.

    So I got on the silicone highway and here I am. Just like that “mexico on $5 a day guy said”

    I should probably get back to you after i have read some more of your stuff so I’m not just asking already answered question. I’ll do that.

    Me and joanne are 63 and 53 respectively live beside a pretty big lake in IDFdk3 BC. grow garden, chickens and cats, fish, drive a 84 toyota 4×4 on purpose, run win 98se, on purpose. write and cogitate excessively. I’m an opinionated, eco_logic_aly competent “natural historian” that has an answer for some of the worlds problems. heh heh.

    So will read on

    bye for now

    douglas

    I’m occasionally tempted to start marketing Organic Hemlock Tea … “The first tea that’s guaranteed to reduce your impact on the environment!”

  4. Dear brother,

    I have enjoyed reading your words.

    brother martin

  5. say it loud, I am brother and I’m proud

    good to have you as a bro

    alan g

  6. nice words I enjoyed that – lettuce pray together in the church of religious consumerism – oh brother where art thou?


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