Otesha Journey Begins
September 8th, 2009
Our Journey Begins
Early in the morning of September 1st, 18 “fairy jam children” from all over Canada prepared to meet for the first time at a Greyhound bus station in Ottawa. Complete strangers, they cycled in groups on their inaugural Otesha ride to Riverglen Biodynamic Farm outside of Ottawa. Greeted by their “fairy jam mothers” who fed them homemade local and organic strawberry jam, they were initiated into the Otesha way of living. Thus, they began to build a mobile sustainable community together, one full of joy, friendship… and jam.
Since our first meeting, we, the Great Lakes Tour 2009, have spent one week getting to know one another, setting up our own guidelines for our community, and preparing for life on the road. A lot can be accomplished when 18 people sit together in a circle on the grass, patiently allowing each individual to express their thoughts and ideas in turn. Moving forward with a decision only if the entire group reaches consensus, we are striving to make this a community that suits each individual that comprises it. We talked for hours (and hours, and hours) about the way we will reach out to others, how we will ride together, what we will eat, how we will respect each other, what we will do to reduce our environmental impact, and even talking about how we will talk. But we didn’t just talk – we played, laughed, loved, listened. As twilight settled in every night, we opened our eyes to a new activity – showcasing our individual abilities in a talent show, sharing our enviro-knowledge in a game of trivia, and even “shooting for the moon in an old tin can” at a hoe-down on the farm! With a chorus of crickets singing each evening as we walked back to our tents and a moonlit river to bathe in only a short walk away, 18 people began to adapt to the life of the bicycle traveler – connected to nature, enjoying each moment, and focusing on community-driven sustainability.
Throughout the week, we have worked on strengthening our theatrical ability, our environmental focus, and our community, all culminating with our premiere performance of our version of the Otesha play, “A Reason to Dream” at St. Paul’s University in Ottawa. Full of nerves, we huddled together in a hallway outside the theatre and sang together to our heart’s content, a melody that had been introduced to us earlier in the week – a melody intended to be used to indicate that something very important is about to happen. Each one of us was feeling different things as we prepared for our first performance, but exuberance, eager anticipation, and the feeling that we are part of something truly inspirational were certainly feelings bubbling up inside each and every one of us. As our first performance came to a close and the realization that we can now all sincerely say that we are being the change we want to see began to set in, the bonds we had formed over the past week were cemented together with a sense of hope and accomplishment. We received a standing ovation from our first audience and after chatting with many friendly faces, we got on our bikes and began the night ride back to the farm, only to be greeted by a tunnel of all of our supporters cheering us on as we rode away. The impact this enormous display of love and support had on our tour is almost too much for words. It was a moment we will never forget.
As we leave Riverglen to begin our 2000km journey across Ontario, we would like to express our gratitude to the many people that made our first week together so phenomenal. To the Otesha staff members that facilitated our meetings, planned our week, and inspired us to exceed all of our expectations, to Riverglen biodynamic farm that hosted us with open arms and an amazing atmosphere, to the volunteer chefs that created amazing gourmet vegan meals for us, often from veggies picked only hours before, to the lovely couple that taught us the boot scootin’ ways of the hoe-down, to those who donated food to us (from fresh veggies to muffins to hemp ice cream, and more!), and to our extremely receptive audience that showed up in droves to support us – thank you so much! Our gratitude toward each of you is enormous!!
And with that, we’re off! Here we come, Ontario!
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The Otesha Project
72 Riverdale Ave.
Ottawa, ON K1S 1R2
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