Gleebox Dinners

img_2135In January of this year we were in Pai Thailand and met a young backpacker named George, who was from  Sydney. We exchanged contact info and when we arrived in his hometown we reached out and he invited us to a gathering in an inner city suburb called Glebe. He said it was a potluck and sometimes they would jam, so bring a dish to share and our instruments.

We were welcomed by a house full of darling young ladies whom lived in the home and all of their many friends. We were taken aback by their kindness and  generosity and by the eclectic mix of kinfolk from around the globe. Naomi, Georgina, Madison and Kirsten shared their story of friendship and commitment to host a potluck meal every Monday night for their neighbors, friends and family. Their story resonated with our heart for hospitality and of course we love a story that includes a little serendipity.  You see our friend George had met some of the ladies while on a trip to Alice Springs. Once the ladies found out that George lived in Sydney they immediately invited him into the fold, and because of that invitation, we now found ourselves in their company and what joy to be included!

img_2098We stayed in Glebe for six weeks and every Monday we made a point of going to the Gleebox Dinners, finding that each week there was a different mix, enjoying the festive vibe of a house breathing with creativity and kindness as well as the quieter evenings chock full of intimate conversation. There was a comfort and familiarity to the evenings that made us feel like we were more than just guests, we felt like family.

Sometimes when we think of hospitality we think of fancy dinner parties and Martha Stewart but when we think of hospitality as a gift rather than a talent, we find a wholly other experience. We find a sense of home. Actually when you break it down, the word derives from the Latin hospes, meaning “host”, or “guest.” Hospes is formed from hostis, which means “stranger.”

Every culture has their understanding of hospitality, but we especially are drawn to Ancient traditions found in the Hebrew and Celtic customs. For instance, in Hebrew, the practice is called hachnasat orchim, or “welcoming guests”. Besides other expectations, hosts are expected to provide nourishment, comfort, and entertainment to their guests, and at the end of the visit, hosts customarily escort their guests out of their home, wishing them a safe journey. Celtic societies also valued the concept of hospitality, especially in terms of protection. A host who granted a person’s request for refuge was expected not only to provide food and shelter to his/her guest, but to make sure they did not come to harm while under their care.

What a gift for us weary travelers to call Glebe home for a time. And, what a gift to find such a lovely and safe welcome by our new friends at the Gleebox house. Here’s to all you kinfolk out there that offer up your time, talents and homes to foster community and friendship!

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The Kinfolk Road To Philly

Road to Philly JPGOver the course of a few weeks we rolled our way through the northern tip of West Virginia, Harrisburg, PA, through Amish Country finally arriving in Philadelphia. Every stop we reveled in community, seeing old friends and making new friends, learning and experiencing history, culture and the inspiring ways folks do life.

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Our first stop was with the Bannister family. Craig’s old music mate from Australia, Keith, and his family, welcomed us to their storybook town of Shepherdstown, WV.

They invited us to explore around their area, visiting the historical Civil War battlefields, Harpers Ferry where we learned about abolitionist, John Brown. We enjoyed an afternoon walk in the downtown district, shopping and getting a flavor of the local tea and coffee vendors. A favorite was the little ice-cream shop, Nutters Ice-cream, where they served up two huge scoops of homemade ice-cream for $2.00! Best of all, we were able to catch up on all the amazing life stories that had come our way, and theirs, over the past seven years since our last visit. Our last two days with them sickness came our way and it was in that moment that were so grateful to neighbor with kinfolk, able to find a comfort and hospitality.

IMG_2882Our next stop was in Harrisburg, PA  Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, sits near the middle of the large state. Once a thriving city, but was recently bankrupted by a former mayor. None the less, we found there was a sense of pride and community effort that seemed to keep the city alive. A few of our favorite things we noticed about this city, specially near the downtown area, was the community gardens and Broad Street Farmers Market. We also found the amount of children playing in the streets and folks sitting on their porches, neighbor to neighbor, enjoying the warm breeze and the company of each other, to be invigorating and most encouraging.

Our host in Harrisburg was the Compton family. We met Jake Compton a few weeks prior in Frostburg, MD when we played a show with Jon Felton and his Soulmobile. Jake played in Jon’s band that night and after the performance he invited us to his hometown.

He, his wife Sommers and their darling children, live inner city and are engaged community builders, encouraging their neighborhood by actively caring and connecting, as well as, impacting their greater community through the arts. They invited us to share meals, story and song at their performing space called the Harrisburg Improv Theatre. They use this space for concerts, performances and to teach improv classes. They are a  creative and innovative family, always looking for ways to invite other into life. This young couple expressed a desire for a story like ours and shared their uncertainty about their purpose, feeling like maybe they were missing out, wondering if travel might be the key. But what we saw, was that their life was already full and they were already living the dream. Travel would just be the icing on the cake.

IMG_2920Later that week, we took a day drive out of the city and enjoyed a taste of Amish Country. We stumbled upon a little town called Intercourse and couldn’t help ourselves but to stop and have a photo taken by the town sign. Yes, we were those tourists. Ha! Really though, who names a town Intercourse, unless they were referring to the dictionaries first definition of the word which is “communication or dealings between individuals or groups.” Even so, we had a good laugh.

Once we got over the name, we sat back and enjoyed taking in the Amish way of life. The neatest thing about this area is the opportunity to see from a birds eye view how they farm and live. It was absolutely mind-boggling how hard they must work and so close to the earth, with the whole family involved. We admire and respect this culture and are thankful for the opportunity to see it unfold, even if from afar.

IMG_3017Our final destination on the “Kinfolk Road to Philly,” was Philadelphia, where we connected with kinfolk, Tevyn and Jay. We’ve had many mutual friends for years, and had run in similar circles but this was the first time we connected and shared story with Jay and Tevyn.

We met them at  Fanny Lou’s Porch for coffee and immediately felt like we were with family. We learned about their community, Circle of Hope, and their circles of ten that meet weekly, encouraging one another in faith and love. We visited the communities thrift store, coffee shop and were invited into one of their gatherings.

 

We also learned about Tevyn and Jay’s creative dreams and endeavor with the Carnival de Resistance, a traveling arts carnival and ceremonial theater company, a village demonstration project exploring ecological practices, and an education and social outreach project; all focusing on ecological justice and radical theology. We enjoyed meals, and conversation about traveling and shared stories about mutual friends whom we all love. Yes, we were talking about you, Joby, Seth and Jon. 🙂

IMG_2972We did a little sight-seeing, exploring the cities historical sites, including the Liberty Bell, the remains of the home of George Washington and we saw the statue of William Penn, all of which was just like the text books described but our most exciting day was spent at a local African heritage event on the South side of Philly, called the ODUNDE Festival.

The festival boasts the largest African-American street festival in the US with over 500,000 attendees.  The festival, whose concept originated from the Yoruba people of Nigeria, West Africa, celebrates the coming of another year for African-Americans and Africanized people around the world.

Our day was filled with amazing dance, music, and fool. We’d highly recommend this festival to anyone visiting Philly in June and looking for a fantastic educational and cultural experience.

 

 

Back The Bus Up

Parking a 40x8ft bus is no easy feat. However, over the course of the past three years of practicing it, our driver extraordinaire Craig Holland has become quite the expert. He has parked in all sorts of driveways across the US and this quick video of Craig pulling out of a 10 foot Oakland, CA driveway showcases his mad skills. (By the way, with only a few inches to spare on either side, he pulled into this drive way, just a week before)

We’ve done our share of camping in State Parks and RV Parks but our favorite place to park is in someones driveway. There is such a richness to life when we get to neighbor alongside our kinfolk,  sharing meals & hearing their story, hopes and dreams.

We’ve parked in all sorts of driveways from suburban cul-du-sacs in Albuquerque, NM and Carlsbad, CA, city driveways in Nashville, TN, Milwaukee, WI and Oakland, CA, to country life in Mt. Vernon, IA, and Lafayette, LA, street side in Bend, OR and Lexington, KY, Lakeside in Austin, TX to Mountain side in Golden, CO and Poolside in Phoenix, AZ. Plus so many more!

If you’d like to have us for a visit but you’re just not sure if we can fit in your drive way. Have a look at these brave neighbors.

 

So, if a friend of friend tells you, “Hey I know this family that travels around full-time in their bus, singing and neighboring with people. They are coming your way, and you should have them come park in your driveway.” Have no fear, all we need is a safe, relatively flat driveway, at least 10 feet wide and 40 feet long and we’re golden. And, if you’ll have us, we’ll be there with bells on, and probably our instruments too.

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Infusing Community

Community. We talk a lot about the subject, calling ourselves Community architects, builders, and encouragers. We take great delight being apart of and watching humanity weave together naturally. We love to see unity and harmony among our fellow-man. Practically though, people ask, how do we do that? There are all sorts of programs out there on building community, from creating small groups (cell groups), joining clubs, to hosting regular gatherings. We appreciate them all, but our favorite way of encouraging the coming together of folks is to offer our musical gifts in a house concert setting. It is here that the host sets the tone of openness by taking a risk and doing something out of the norm. Neighbors and friends from all walks of life gather, enjoy food, drink, conversation and song.

Recently, we were parked with the Heikkila/Hansen families just outside of Austin, TX. They are two beautiful families, linked by a brother and sister relationship, who are united in lifestyle and situated on the same property. They share life with one another on a daily basis. And, although they have a desire to connect with surrounding neighbors, they haven’t known how to go about starting that process.  Our arrival and offer to do a concert in their backyard got their wheels turning. After a little explanation of how the night moves, they felt comfortable and began to put the word out to friends and neighbors. The night brought together kinfolk from all walks of life and the result was an infusion of encouragement and just a little bit stronger bond of understanding and commitment in the neighborhood.

We love twinkle lights, we love playing music together, we love good food and drink but most of all we love seeing people connect and engage. That’s the spice of life for us Hollands! That’s why we call ourselves merrymakers and that is why we do what we do.

If you would like us to come and play in your backyard, we’d be delighted.

 

All of the amazing photos were taken by Van Teodosio.

Learning to Fly in Oakland

Our second round with our Oakland crew was just as rewarding as our first.

IMG_3708We parked with our Nic and Moe our host family and settled in for a week of whatever might come. It’s one of the most unpredictable neighborhoods we visit and a very difficult place for us to park, with only a 10 foot drive and a tall iron fence on each side. Craig pulled it off though and we were so thankful to be with them again.

Josh and Margie welcomed us with a meal and Josh prepped us on the weeks events. We shared a song workshop with the pre-school and spent time in community with new and old friends, including an invite to one of the community meals, tea with our friend Carla and her baby girl, and jamming with Lono, our wise elder from Hawaii. We also shared sacred space at New Hope’s Sunday gathering.

We travel with tools on board and it’s always a blessing to be able to offer his gifts in craftsmanship. This time around Craig was able to help Nic and Moe with a tile project.

For homeschool/roadschool we visited Berkley. We toured the campus and went to hear Burmese poet, Zeyar Lynn, which was a real treat. And, the best part of the week came when Josh invited Craig and Banjo to learn how to build and fly an RC plane.

 

Not a typical hobby for one who lives in the hood but for Josh this hobby has turned out to be a fantastic tool to build connection with his neighbors. Josh and Margie live on a very dangerous block between International Blvd and Fruitvale. They neighbor with pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers and refugees from around the world. Josh researched inexpensive ways to build the RC planes and purchased supplies. Through conversation with some of his neighbors he found an interest in trying to build a plane and learn to fly. That lead to a Fly club which meet regularly.

This commitment to the long haul is what we admire so much about our friends at New Hope. Their commitment to knowing God, loving others and really pressing into community is such an encouragement to us. In one of the darkest places in our country they offer a vibrant light of love to the community around them.  And, it is a joy to partner with them even for a short time.

Rest in the Desert

NeighborsOur last visit to Phoenix in February of 2012 was one of the most profound moments of our journey. It was the place where we actually saw the hand of God knit together the body. We saw the miracle of community woven together like we had never seen before. It was also our first real taste of an economy not of this world. We were looking forward to going back but it is the desert. I know folks rave about this place but for a water girl, the desert is the desert! We were tired and the pieces of the puzzle that we had last time around were not falling into place. We didn’t have a clear picture of who, how, what or why for this visit. However, we moved forward in faith.

The Skeens were our hosts. Jeff, Amy and their four precious children.

Who knew our weary souls would find such refreshment in this dry desert? And, yet we did. Ten days we spent, pouring into community, soaking up the sun… and the rain. Yes, it rained for three days in the desert. There was a harmony that washed over us the moment we pulled into their driveway and we knew we were with family. We shared story, encouragement, laughter, difficulties, meals, and more encouragement.

Because our schedule was light, with only one performance in the area (at the Chandler Multicultural Festival) we had more time to spend really tending to some much-needed areas, including our health. Amy took Grace and I to Holy Yoga. We ended up getting in three session, just the kick-start we needed. I was able to find a chiropractor and a massage therapist to do some intense work on my traps and neck, relieving a head ache I had since October. Banjo was able to really connect with Noah, the Skeens oldest and enjoy the friendship of a brother. Craig and Jeff connected deeply as well and at one point I made a joke about them having a “bromance” but honestly, it really was great to see them as kindred spirits, working out story and building more on the bus. Graciana was poured into by Anna, a Young Life leader from Jeff and Amy’s church.  A real joy and contentment fell over Graciana and a vision of her future was seen.  We shared in song with friends from Kineo Church. We enjoyed continued community with our friends, the Seymore’s, The Hummels, The Ortiz’s, Joel Pritchard, Lori Englert and Steve from Hope thru Art.

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The desert is still the desert, but the community we shared in Phoenix will remain an oasis.  And, we can’t wait to be with these kinfolk again.