BY: ERIK HUSTON
Far away from the mischief and mania of parallel/reality TV, soap opera politics and the old cliche of runaway consumerism, there is a new world emerging of literal lavender and horticulture seeping its way across borders.
In a vineyard on the outskirts of south Burlington a movement is brewing. Like a network of mycelium fungi it parties at lightning speeds under the earth, healing the soil from within for new plants to grow. The Valhalla Movement is the world’s people healing the world itself.
By proliferating what they call “Freedom Culture”, the Valhalla Movement pulls our world toward what we all hope, wish, will, want, dream and know is possible.
A world where begging ends because we all know our worth. Where those who have known their worth for longer, know it in others too, meeting them in gratitude for the life they have lived.
Where we all recognize that the lives we have collectively lived have led us to this juncture of now. And it is in this now that our choice is made, our vote is cast, our ballot is sung, for the moment we stand in is another link in the endless chain of nows that we choose to live. Now.
This is what Valhalla knows. And since the day their founders banded together and declared their mission to “proliferate Freedom Culture,” they have been holding that vision steady for all of us to join in on the fun.
Since the beginning there have been many that have joined. I was one of them. Many of my friends saw themselves as the creators of their own reality, and wanted a group of co-creators to support their vision, and they joined too.
But there is one of them who stands out. Not for his appearance, but for his accolade as the man who turned what was a long standing vision for most of us, into his day to day reality.
Garrett Adkins is a plain guy on the outside. He wears a saggy ’80s ball cap and enjoys the odd choice of PBR beer. He is a funny guy too, when he speaks it is hard to describe. The past does not exist for him the way it does for most of us. For him every word is a reconciliation. A rebirth.
But when he is there. He is there.
What Adkins has done in Vermont is truly something special. On the banks of Lake Champlain, an old colonial “mansion” turned permaculture farm and “alternative” education classroom is revving up for the winter.
This is Valhalla Vermont, built from the ground up by Adkins and a lively band of three others – Travis, Alex and Josiah – who deeply care about our planet. Together, they have turned an abandoned farm house into a conscious party nexus.
They make their priorities a fun way to escape the anxieties of a world on the brink. And their work is done with gratitude for the opportunity to make a difference.
As Adkins oversees the different processes he also gets to look up at what he has created. It is this sensation that I think we all so desperately, and for some so delightfully, want.
On the East side of the farm/hostel there is a stunning view of Mt Philo that gives you goose bumps just thinking about the climb. And below the old barn you can see rolling fields of lavender, which scent the air. The scenery imposes a genuine feeling of serenity that can’t quite be replicated.
Local breweries dot the landscape. And lavender and wine are the literal outputs of their vineyard and farm. Everything comes from within a mile of the land.
It must of been that eminence – that scenery – that permeated my own senses when I interviewed Adkins.
Adkins talked about a lot of things: about the community that surrounds him, or the “tribe.” He spoke of our current “mis-culture” and how he “missed a culture that has not yet been.”
But he also talked about how everything is an effect of a previous cause. About how the way we spend, the way we talk, how we act and live and love and play and fuck, will all change our world.
That is why Valhalla holds three pillars above all else, and holds these things for themselves as an ever rising bar of excellence.
The three pillars are:
“Sustainability has a few causes, it is so important that we look after Earth, because it is the only home we truly have,” says Adkins. “Sustainability comes in many forms. It is the way we choose to create our careers, our connection to our food and energy, how we spend our dollar (votes), and focus our attention. A lot of people think you have to sacrifice to be sustainable. You don’t. We are not about that. We have always been about the win/win.”
He spoke of a time long gone, when scarcity was the dominating drive of most humans.
“After WWII, America believed that it needed to increase consumption of products for a better economy. Advertisers became the new visionaries shaping the world where people needed to purchase items to solve the problems in their day-to-day life. The logic was, economy good = life good. Which is true, but now, more than ever, we need to change our mode from consumption to collaboration. Now that we have it all, and we do, we need to find a way to do more with less instead of feeling like the next purchase will solve all our problems.”
We can’t rely on big corp number one, two and three to provide us with the cheapest cheeseburger. At least not every day or even every weekend. We need to think about how to get the same pleasure, enjoyment and fulfilment, from the technologies that are becoming available and the simple pleasure of growing your own food or producing your own solar energy.
There are many examples of this. And they seem to grow by the day. But it is important to upgrade our minds as fast as we update our computers.
This is what Valhalla means by their second pillar, “self-reliance”.
“We literally need to stop waiting for the government to solve our problems when we can start fixing many of them by ourselves and with our communities. We need to stop relying on people and situations around the world and start being more self-reliant in the towns we live in,” says Adkins. “The connection and fulfilment you can achieve from growing your own food and relying on your neighbour is incredibly rewarding. Self-reliance isn’t so much about “self” but the community or “tribe” you surround yourself with.”
We can’t do this without a community. Everyone has one, but some are more conducive than others. Some have their heads stuck in a cloud of smog. Others are crafting lavender and brewing wine to change the world. What Valhalla thinks is the most powerful indicator of a good community is “collaborative action.”
Psychologists call this phenomenon “group flow.” When an entire tribe is on fire with collaboration and action to the point of superhuman productivity. This is what we all want and, more importantly, this is what nature intended for us. For group flow to occur there has to be a clear mission or purpose for everyone. It lights you up. It makes you soar. It creates worlds.
“Valhalla has its roots in the occupy movement. We really rose to the calling a lot of people had around this time,” says Adkins. “We saw the power and energy coming from the protests but felt that the majority of energy was spotlighting the issues and not the solutions. We hope to help represent that solution by relying less on big corporations and more on ourselves and neighbours through sustainable innovation and Freedom Culture.”
Every action, no matter how big or small, makes a ripple that is felt by all of us.
A simple “like” on Valhalla’s facebook page will keep you up to date. But more importantly it counts as a vote for what is to come.
“If you are ready for your calling and are here to change the world in a big way, send me an email and we can chat,” suggests Adkins. “We offer many opportunities in the form of online classes and mentorships that help you create a social movement, business or put permaculture into practice…I joined Valhalla and started living the life of a social entrepreneur and Valhalla Vermont co-founder by reaching out to Valhalla a little over a year ago. If you feel like this is something you are interested in too, I’m here to help!”
You can reach Adkins at his email here: [email protected]