“Husband and wife pair Bob Flatley and Kelle Kersten run Ahimsa Village, an intentional living community near Julian, Pa…Both also practice Engaged Buddhism.  “It’s not just the meditation—looking in—but it’s going out into your community,” said Kersten, who serves as director of Appalachian Zen House.  The pair facilitates a “Wisdom Circle” that focuses on nonviolent communication, and Kersten leads a summer camp at Ahimsa Village for 8 to 15-year-olds, which focuses on creating a deeper understanding of and concern for the natural world.”

The Appalachian Zen House was founded by Steve Kanji Ruhl, who now directs the residence program in Montague, MA.  Kanji will be presenting at the Symposium for Socially Engaged Buddhism on Zen Houses.  The excerpted article comes from VOICES of Central Pennsylvania:

As a teenager, Kersten checked out a book by Bill Mollison and began her lifelong fascination with “permaculture,” a combination of the words permanent, culture and agriculture. It refers to small-scale, intensive farming based on observing and replicating natural patterns, arranging components in relation to each other and the landscape and minimizing the use of manufactured energy.

Flatley and his college roommate Greg Martin dreamed of starting an intentional community since their days at Dickinson College.

The three founded Ahimsa Village in 2006 to create “a space that exemplifies the joyfulness of life while serving as an educational center for sustainable and compassionate living.”

Today the 68-acre property boasts a garden and an orchard containing 69 fruit and nut trees, 25 raspberry bushes and 100 strawberry plants and is designed according to permaculture principles. Flatley andKersten also maintain bee hives, harvest maple syrup and grow shitake mushrooms
on the property. Several energy-saving projects are underway, including a solar-powered water
pump, a solar hot water system, an Amishbuilt wood-burning cook stove and “humanure”
toilets that allow human waste to be composted.

But for Flatley and Kersten, permaculture goes beyond food production.
“We look at it as a whole system of living which includes the physical, the spiritual,
the mental and the emotional,” Flatley explained….

“I think we’re entering…a period of the spiraling down of the Western culture, the
whole system that’s built on the erroneous idea of constant growth,” said Flatley of the
need for a place like Ahimsa.

“It’s just the sense of doing for ourselves and not being so reliant on the fossil fuel
culture,” Kersten added. “It’s some sense of security and a sense of accomplishment.”

Download the original article from VOICES of Central Pennsylvania.

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