Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Healing Circle

On Sunday night we held a healing circle at Pacific Gardens to express our many feelings about the death of Murray Rogers, our dear friend.

We gathered together in the dining room to talk about the emotions that had surfaced since we heard the news - shock, sadness, guilt, anger, and frustration that we couldn't help him.

Carla, who had not known Murray, but saw how those of us who did were affected, kindly offered to provide refreshments, because, as she said, "I believe food nurtures more than the mere body" - and she was right.

Roz had decorated the room with soft-lit electric candles and arrangements of dried plants from our gardens.  There was a pensive photo of Murray and Susana's beautiful tribute to him displayed on a table.

Several in the community who, like Carla, had not personally known Murray, came to provide support and help us deal with our grief and sense of loss.  That meant a great deal.

We talked for almost two hours.  At times we wept as we recalled how Murray had struggled with his anxiety and depression.  At other times we laughed as we remembered Murray's offbeat sense of humour.

We remembered his incredible generosity, his willingness to tackle new projects, his creativity, his skills as a master electrician and a scuba diver, his passionate concern for the environment.

Murray was a unique shining star, a man like no other.  He could be bombastic and in-your-face, tender and loving, argumentative and then accepting.  We will never forget him.

We'll be holding a gathering for his family and his many friends on Saturday, Nov. 23rd from 2 to 5 pm at Pacific Gardens, where we will celebrate his life with music and food and share our stories.

Here is a picture of Murray as we like to remember him, taken at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Pacific Gardens a little more than four years ago.


Murray Rogers, centre, with Pacific Gardens co-founders, 2009

Saturday, November 9, 2013

We have lost one of our own

In the past, we have celebrated births in our Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community.  Now we grieve the loss of one of our own, Murray Rogers, who died suddenly earlier this week.  We mourn his death, but celebrate all that he meant to us.  
Susana Michaelis has written a moving tribute to Murray.  The creative logo he designed for our community is pictured above her words.

My Memories of Murray Rogers
I first met Murray in 1995 when I joined the Community Shared Agriculture Farm Project. A group of us idealistic folk created a society, got government funding, and ran a youth training program on an organic farm that we created. All of it was "out of the box", as none of us had experience running a farm, hiring staff and training large groups of teenagers! It was a challenge and great learning experience. These were the kinds of projects Murray jumped into without hesitation.
When David Weston started discussing the wild idea of creating a cohousing community in Nanaimo, it isn't surprising that Murray jumped right in. Another Murray-type adventure! Murray and I cold-called friends, and friends of friends, and asked for money to buy this amazing piece of land to create a new kind of intentional community. Amazingly, people opened their hearts and their wallets, and Pacific Gardens was conceived! The gestation period was long and arduous, but Pacific Gardens exists today because Murray Rogers believed in the dream when it seemed impossible. As co-founder, he fully invested his time, energy and money to see this project succeed.
Murray was always full of creative ideas. Every meeting he had some new innovative idea that he enthusiastically expounded upon! I must admit, he didn't always have an appreciative audience. However, when Murray showed us the logo he dreamed up for Pacific Gardens, and showed how the PG formed the image of Mount Benson, it was the fastest-adopted decision ever! We knew it was brilliant!!
Murray was larger than life. He was big in stature, big in heart, big in energy, and big in impact on others. He filled the room with his presence. You could always hear him coming, his constant jokes and puns, and his big belly-laugh at his own jokes!! He marched to his own drummer. His cat was called "Puppy" and his dog was called "Kitty". Murray never wanted to be conventional!
Murray embodied generosity and compassion. He housed homeless folk, joined and donated to countless non-profits and worthy projects, supported a family in Belize, founded REEF (Rogers Environmental Education Foundation) to preserve coral reefs in Belize, and could always be called upon to help in any situation. He visited his parents every single day in a senior facility.
Murray was a brilliant man who could make anything he set his mind to. He was the ultimate re-user of found materials. He could always see how something could be re-used or invented new.
An electrician, a lover of nature, a skilled scuba diver, a musician, an avid gardener, an activist, an artist, an inventor, a father, a friend. There was more to Murray than any of us know. He lived a very humble life, choosing to put his money and energy into helping others and protecting Mother Nature, which he valued so much.

I will miss having Murray, with his longs legs and suspenders holding up his pants, striding into our weekly potluck with his BBQ chicken in hand. I will miss his loud laugh and his jokes. I will miss his presence. He is probably trying to invent a way to make heaven more energy efficient! Bye for now, and be at peace, my good friend.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Fine Art of Composting

With so many dedicated gardeners here at Pacific Gardens, you would think the folks living here would know exactly what goes into the composting bin.

We have passionate discussions on the importance of layering brown material with green material, fool-proof methods of keeping down the fruit-fly population, and when to turn or not to turn, so we should be experts by now.

Well, maybe not.  Our indefatigable recycling, garbage and compost duo, Mia and Gloria, have made some interesting discoveries when checking out the compost bins for, shall we say, non-conforming items.

Oh, what they found! A plastic jockey figure.  A watch.  A plate. A fork. A spoon. A wine-bottle stopper.  A ping-pong ball.  A net-bag. Ribbon.  A ruler.  And a compostable bag - full of non-composted food!

This was in addition to the usual offenders -  bits of plastic, foil wrap, twist-ties, and different varieties of string, both plastic and non-plastic.

So they included this in the display of what not to compost at their most recent educational evening.

Creative composting from cohousers!

But as usual, they made it fun, with prizes, treats, popcorn and a movie, the only one our children had not seen yet, "The Gods Must Be Crazy", which demonstrates what can happen when you throw away a pop bottle!

There's obviously a fine art to composting, and recycling, but we're lucky to have Gloria and Mia, who teach it with creativity - and a certain amount of comedy.