New beginnings are exciting; they bring countless opportunities, but also challenges. As the Burr Oak Center for Durable Culture launches its first quarter in March 2010 we remind our first group of interns that there will be "hiccups" along the way: all of us must do our best to remain flexible and good-willed if we all are to succeed—and thrive.
BOC interns will always play key roles in determining the quality of their internship experience. Especially in the beginning year of operation, however, residential interns will be expected to work hard, not only "in the field" but in the classroom; they will be expected to research specific topics or skills, to process their findings into presentable formats, and to share that information during class time. Depending on the season, the daily schedule may be altered on short notice to maximize the use of good weather during planting and harvesting—for example—or shifted to accommodate day-long field trips, etc. Non-residential interns can expect to often need to adapt to daily conditions at the BOC—including weather, staff availability, national holidays, etc. Resident interns can expect 15 hours a week of class time, 20 hours of field labs and 10 hours of shared tasks, per week. [Not accounting for spontaneous adjustments, they can expect the Instruction Schedule and Task Rotation as posted at the bottom of this page.]
Given this intensive program, the BOC offers numerous benefits—for example, the use of the director's home in Saint Paul every quarter, for either two weekends or one week. Also, interns stay in fully-furnished dorm rooms, complete with bedding and towels, and enjoy home-cooked meals three times a day, seven days a week. Depending on the season, much of the food served will be grown on-site, literally "fresh from the garden". Diverse cultural and free-time offerings help enliven interns' stays; at least two times a month, weekend trips to Omaha or Sioux City provide new impulses.
Two notes: We welcome couples—hetero or same-gender—as interns, as well as children. We have furnished Big Blue as child-friendly as we could, with child-sized chairs, a wide array of instructional toys, juvenile books, etc. Also, as a focal point for various "green" projects in the Mid-Missouri River Valley, the area offers myriad opportunities for young adults (or older ones "shifting lives") who would like to start an organic farm, a self-run business, related services, etc. The land is rich, the climate amenable to organic agriculture, real estate amble and relatively very cheap, and there is a nascent "extended community" of individuals, couples and families who have come to the region to—in many cases literally—put down roots. Interns may choose to stay post-internship and become part of a growing community. For now, though: just come!
For at least the first growing season, regardless of majors all interns will be expected to work, in addition on their own projects, with the organic-crops projects on our primary parnters' sites: Jordan Creek , River Woods and Nekoda Farms. (Those interns working on the first two sites will reside at the Burr Oak Center; those involved with the last one will live with farmer Tim, in his ancestral home an hour west of Omaha/NE.) For the first quarter, we offer up to 11 residential internship slots, making the process of selecting the finalists from a growing list of applicants a competitive process. While we would like to welcome all interested persons, we have to address our own needs first, so that the larger project can grow, over time. (We will consider applicants wishing to commit to only one quarter, but will give preferential consideration to applicants able to commit to longer stays.) For that reason, we seek the following:
2 cooperative-marketing majors, (ideally, at least 12-month commitment); BOC, Turin/Iowa: One of the few internships currently offered through the BOC that easily could become a full-time job, we are seeking (ideally) a couple [children would be welcome!] to work with core-community staff to develop an organic-producers marketing cooperative through which to facilitate the growth of local, chemical-free crops and related services in the Mid-Missouri River valley (the flatlands and Loess Hills stretching, roughly, from Yankton/SD to Nebraska City/NE). Having applied for grants to fund this project, we see MORIVA as a vehicle to greatly increase and strengthen the local organic movement. Tasks would include, among others, networking with existing producers and sellers (farmers markets, restaurants, grocery stores, etc.), researching diverse marketing structures, conducting feasibility studies, drafting additional grants, giving presentations about the project to interested parties—organizing myriad details, down to helping build the warehouse/store/cafe around which the project centers. These interns will work closely with Burr Oak's primary partners, and others across the region.
1 organic-gardening/farming major, (at least 9-month commitment preferred); BOC, Turin/Iowa: Working with BOC staff and other interns, this person will design the entire Burr Oak campus as an "edible landscape"—including researching which fruit and vegetables would grow best in this climate, in this soil, and carrying out the subsequent planting, largely using Permaculture principles. The intern will study on-site seed growing, storage and selection, so that increasingly the project becomes semi-self-sufficient in terms of planting stock and seeds. Designing and building an effective composting system will comprise a central component of the internship's larger, related activities, as will helping to plan and construct a multi-function solar greenhouse.
1 small-livestock major, (at least 6-month commitment preferred); BOC, Turin/Iowa: This intern will be responsible for selction breeds of small livestock well suited to the BOC small-holding campus, as well as overseeing acquiring that livestock, feeding and caring for it, and, as needed, helping to organize the integrated use of the individual kinds of livestock: eggs, milk, meat, hides, etc. Optimal animal nutrition, given local conditions and resources, also will belong to this intern's core target skill set.
1 alternative-energies major (at least 3-month commitment preferred); BOC, Turin/Iowa: Within the parameters of available human, material and financial resources, this intern will research various kinds of alternative energy suitable to this specific project. As much as possible, this intern will help to realize the creation of at least one alternative-energy system for use on the BOC campus.
1-2 prairie/woodland-restoration-and-management majors, (at least 3-month commitment); Turin/Iowa: Either two single adults or a couple will live with nearby neighbors. While they will participate in the class work with the the other Turin-based interns, their field labs will take place on the particpating farms. With on-site oversight, they will learn about and then carry out prairie and woodland restoration and management. Specifically, they will practice containment of invasive species such as leafy spurge and red cedar (also known as "juniper") trees, as well as the [re-]introduction of once-native grasses, flowers and other plans to the Loess Hills. Their training will include sections about the geography and geology of the Loess Hills, and those interns present in May-June will plan and give presentations at the annual Prairie Institute in nearby Onawa.
1 health/wellness major, (ideally 1-year commitment, but 3-month probation); Flower of Life Healing Center, Mapleton/Iowa: Under the guidance of Doctors Alan and Jenny Schenne, this intern will practice principles of wellness in a number of ways—child development, family life, nutrition, home environmentalism, etc. This intern should be a native speaker of a non-English language, preferrably German, French or Spanish. S/he will be speaking primarily in her/his native language to the Schennes' two young girls, in a kind of daily-life "immersion" program. This person will be responsible for utilizing many practical skills, but always from a wellness viewpoint.
1 carpentry/practical-arts major, (ideally 1-year commitment, but 3-month probation); Flower of Life Healing Center, Mapleton/Iowa: Ideally the partner of the intern in the previous listing, this person will practice practical arts: energy-conscious carpentry, "green" groundskeeping, plumbing, electrical work, etc. This intern and her/his partner will split their "field lab" hours between working at the Schennes' home in Mapleton and on building projects at the BOC in Turin. S/he and that person's partner ideally will have 1-2 young children of their own, to live, play and work with the Schennes' two daughters—again, using the interns' non-English native language.
1-2 organic-gardening/farming majors, (6-month commitment, preferred); Nekoda Farm, Eastern Nebraska: Ideally a childless couple or two single adults, these interns will live and work with Tim on his family's long-established farm about an hour west of Omaha/Nebraska. Organic fruit and vegetables will be grown, but possibly also grain and perhaps lambs or a calf. Given the two-hour driving time between Nekoda Farm and the BOC, class instruction plays a different role in these internships. Still, periodically the intern/s will join the other interns at Big Blue for special events, weekends, work projects, etc.
[specific interships and details to be announced]
Instruction Schedule for resident interns:
daily, Mon-Fri: 7-7.30am - buffet-style self-service breakfast
7.30-8am - collection or clean up
8-10am – morning field lab
10-10.30am - morning break
10.30-noon - morning class
noon-12.45pm – (shared) dinner
12.45-2pm – mid-day break (mid-day Quiet Time)
2-3.30pm - afternoon class
3.30-4 - afternoon break
4-6pm – afternoon field lab
6-7pm – (shared) supper
10pm - Quiet Time begins (ends 6am, daily)
Sat: 7-8am - buffet-style self-service breakfast
7.30-8am - collection or clean up
noon-12.45pm – dinner (voluntary)
6-7pm – supper (voluntary)
[While not expected to, resident interns who wish may work alongside core members on Saturdays. They also are free to leave the BOC for the weekend.]
Sunday: 10-noon - self-service brunch
6-7pm – Sunday potluck (voluntary)
7-7.45pm – all-resident meeting for business
7.45-8.30pm – branches' meetings for business (as needed)
Monday: 7-8pm – branch-leaders consultation
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday: 7.30-8am – collection
Wednesday: 7-7.30pm – meeting for reflection
7.30-9.30pm – Forum
9.30-10pm – meeting for reflection (voluntary)
Friday: starting as of 7, ending no later than 10pm – Friday Fun Night
[Of the above, the following are not obligatory for resident interns: breakfast on any day they are on-site, branch-leaders Monday-evening consultation, Wednesday nights' “second reflection” and Friday Fun Night. Otherwise, it is expected that resident interns present in Monona County at the time a specific event takes place, will be on-hand.]
glossary and notes:
self-service: residents and guests choose their own food from items set out by the kitchen team, and wash their own dishes; they can eat alone, in their rooms, or in shared spaces
shared meals: all residents sit together and eat dinner, supper and Sunday potluck(interns may opt out of the potluck); each brings her/his dishes to the kitchen, where the clean-up crew washes them
dinner: the largest of the three daily meals, and the only one where meat is served to all who wish it; a vegetarian alternative is offered alongside the meat dish(es)*
supper: a lighter meal; any meat consumed during supper is provided by those wishing to eat it
[*Meat is consumed by some residents. For ecological reasons, those who choose to eat meat reduce our consumption of it to usually just once a day, as producing protein in the form of meat requires large amounts of grain, water and other resources—not to mention some people report they feel better when they eat less meat. Also, consuming more meat, white sugar and flour than a body can burn off through physical exertion can lead to diabetes, obesity and other illnesses. For ecological and economic reasons, we also voluntarily reduce our consumption of (e.g.) coffee, non-regional fruits and other foods that require unsustainable amounts of resources to produce or a long distance to reach Iowa. We try to be thoughtful with all consumption, whenever possible preferring to use natural over synthetic or highly processed, local over imported, fairly produced and traded over the yields of injustice.]
meeting for business: open to all residents, as financial and other business matters are discussed in detail and decided upon; “personal” issues are intentionally reserved for airing elsewhere, so that “practical” matters can be most effectively handled
branch-leaders consultation: the leaders of each “branch” meet to discuss issues relevant to all; open to all but obligatory only for those individuals who lead each branch
collection: a short, all-resident gathering begun with shared silence, broken when team leaders review and divide the tasks to be done for the following days, and closed with a few more moments of silence
reflection: an all-resident gathering begun with shared silence, broken when anyone present feels led to share her/his thoughts or feelings—NOT a time for dialog per se. A “second reflection” follows Forum as a chance for those who wish to reflect on what transpired earlier in the evening; it begins immediately after Forum, regardless if Forum takes the full two hours allotted it or not.
“Forum”: a loosely structured group process where conflicts, joys, problems, etc., can be explored, shared or resolved
Friday Fun Night: a lightly structured, changing program of in-house films, music, skits, readings, etc.; attendance is encouraged but not obligatory
Task Rotation for resident interns:
Each resident intern is asked to spend ten hours per week, every Monday-Friday, and ten hours one weekend per month, completing tasks related to shared daily living—cooking, cleaning, etc. That rotation occurs on the following schedule:
[ten food-service (cook, set up or clean up) hours invested by each intern, every week, Monday-Friday, and five hours each instructor every week, chosen from the following available slots:]
6.30-7am - buffet-style breakfast set up (2 persons=1 hour daily)
7.30-8am - breakfast clean up (2 persons=1 hour daily)
9.45-10am - morning break set up (1 person=1/2 hour daily)
10.45-11am - morning break clean up (1 person=1/2 hour daily)
11-noon - cook dinner (2 persons=2 hours daily)
11.30-noon – dinner set up (2 persons=1 hour daily)
12.45-1.15pm – dinner clean up (2 persons=1 hour daily)
3.15-3.30 - afternoon break set up (1 person=1/2 hour daily)
4-4.15pm - afternoon break clean up (1 person=1/2 hour daily)
5-6pm - cook supper (2 persons=2 hours daily)
5.30-6pm – supper set up (2 persons=1 hour daily)
7-7.30pm – supper clean up (2 persons=1 hour daily)
7-7.30pm – upstairs M-upstairs floors/T-upstairs bathroom/W-downstairs floors/T-downstairs bathroom/F-kitchen (2 persons=1 hour daily)
[seven food-service hours plus three cleaning hours, one weekend a month, per:]
[some time during the day - three hours of cleaning]
6.30-7am - breakfast set up
7.30-8am - breakfast clean up
11.30-noon – dinner set up
12.45-1.45pm – dinner clean up
5.30-6pm – supper set up
7-8pm – supper clean up
9.30-10am - brunch set up
noon-1pm - brunch clean up
5.30-6pm – Sunday potluck set up
7-8pm – Sunday potluck clean up