Often I like to imagine what this area was like before the settlers arrived. There is a rich, but relatively short history to be found here. Most of our communities in Todd and Wadena County were founded 100 to 150 years ago. Ever think about how humans would navigate this once great Wilderness? Well trails and rivers were their highways and while we may not live in lakes country, thankfully we have the rivers!
A few years back, on a mild November day, my wife and I threw our recently acquired canoe into the Wing River in Hewitt. For nearly three hours we drifted down the river, enjoying the bountiful wild life and vegetation living along this forgotten terrain. I am guessing that it had been awhile since anyone had braved the Wing, with all of the fallen trees and barb wire fences crossing the river. When we left on our adventure that first time, we didn’t even have a plan for how to get back to town, but thankfully we caught a ride home by the county line. Since that initial experience, we have continued to enjoy trips down the river. The head waters of the Wing are located near Parkers Prairie and the river runs to the Leaf River, emptying into the Crow Wing and finally meeting up with the mighty Mississippi. So in theory, you could travel from Hewitt to New Orleans by river!
Rivers have always been great ways to travel, but not that long ago they were also a clean source of food and water. Over the years we have turned our backs on the health of the environment and the rivers in particular. As the water ways flow through the country side, much like the blood through our veins, the rivers accumulate numerous toxins from a variety of sources. By the time the water from the Wing River reaches the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi, the environment there is uninhabitable creating what is considered a “dead zone”.
I would like to see our communities be more conscience of the water sheds we live in. It is important for us to be aware of what we are draining into the rivers. The first step in accomplishing this is to get out and explore your river ways! The rivers are an untapped recreational resource in our area that are vitally connected to the future health and livability of our region. It is up to us as citizens to care and monitor what is happening with our water supplies. Only the areas of our nation that make a concerted effort to clean up and protect the environment will continue to support a healthy habitat for future generations.
Michael Dagen works and lives in what he calls, “the suburb of Wadena” aka the City of Hewitt. Michael is a song writer, audio engineer, and passionate lover of the outdoors. Dagen is married to artist Amber Fletschock and you can track their happenings at abandonedscoutcamp.com.
Article published in the Wadena Pioneer Journal on June 5th, 2014.
Being a recent transplant to this area, I see our small struggling communities as prime places to create your own opportunities. The cost of living here is low, the natural environment is bountiful and we are within visiting distance to three large cities. Oh, speaking of large cities, I am reminded: there is no traffic here! Since making this place home, I have noticed the lack of people in their twenties and thirties. Where did they all go? You guessed it, to the big cities to chase jobs, culture and education. But what if we were to convince them to stick around or come back? I can definitely relate to growing up in a small town and wanting to get away, but now I find myself in an even smaller town! Who would have guessed it?!
When the time finally came to consider life after high school, I remember not really knowing what I wanted to do for “a living”. I had the good fortune of enrolling in the post secondary program which gave me a taste of college during my senior year. I remember being coached; “if you don’t go to college in this day and age, you will never get a real job”! Well it wasn’t too long after my first year of college, that my parents told me I would have to take out a loan to continue. Being enrolled in a music industry program, I found my real passion after class by writing and recording music with friends. Even with the threat of; “you are on your own if you quite college”, I walked away and have never looked back. I liken these first independent years to a tree’s thickest grow rings. When living on your own you grow in a hurry!
Not being tied down by debt, I was able to raise enough money to take a trip to Europe and Turkey a year after dropping out of college. This experience gave me a broader perspective of this small world we share. The opportunity to see other cultures in action and have a temporary break from the same old influences is hard to beat. Staying clear of a pile of debt allows one to have experiences and take risks that wouldn’t otherwise be prudent. Getting out and seeing the world a bit, can help to foster appreciation for where you come from.
Rather than encouraging our youth to leave the area for higher education, what if we could convince them that everything they needed to succeed can be found right here? Thanks to the internet, we are more than able to connect with the world and educate ourselves for little or no cost. That said, we can’t forget about the wealth of knowledge to be found from family, friends, regional neighbors, tech schools and the local library. Maybe you share similar dreams with your children and could start a company together? Maybe you kind of like your parents and wouldn’t mind building your own house on a portion of their land to stay close to home? If you see or hear about a neighbor or local family starting a business, make a point of supporting them. If we truly desire to thrive as small communities once again, we best return to a path of interdependence. No better way to do this than by encouraging and supporting the youth in hopes of keeping their dreams, ideas and energy around.
Michael Dagen works and lives in what he calls, “the suburb of Wadena” aka the City of Hewitt. Michael is a song writer, audio engineer, and passionate lover of the outdoors. Dagen is married to artist Amber Fletschock and you can track their doings at abandonedscoutcamp.com.
Article published in the Wadena Pioneer Journal the week of March 18th, 2014.
*The mission of Barter Fest is to foster self reliance and grow community interdependence on a regional scale. Inspired by the founding mothers & fathers of rural Minnesota who built thriving communities with access to little or no paper currency, this event presents an opportunity to celebrate life’s bounty and a chance to share, trade and connect with one another.* Barter Fest is gonna HAPPEN September 20th, 2014, so save the date dears!
We finally made it to the Winter Solstice! To be honest it was starting to get hard watching the days grow shorter and shorter and shorter and SHORTER, but finally; this is as far as the darkness will take us! I admit, this is the first time in my life that I have TAKEN the time to really experience the four seasons with all their depth & beauty. One of the greatest gifts of having dogs as companions is the wonderful routine of the daily walk. No matter the weather, they get your ass out there! You never know what you might see, discover or realize when you spend a little time in nature. There is nothing better than losing yourself on a walk (or ski). Give it a try!
Not having to travel for work for a WHOLE YEAR has really given me a chance to ground myself in this place I call home. It damn near took the whole year to come to grips with the fact that I don’t have to leave! I am so very thankful to no longer be constantly uprooting my thoughts, dreams and projects. As the days grew shorter leading up to the solstice, I decided to rest and reflect on the past year, knowing that this down time would be needed so that the BEAST inside of this individual would be ready to be released!!! (Are you ready for this!?)
I feel very fortunate to come to THIS time in this life. I am no longer afraid of anything. I know who I am and why I am here. I will share and use the knowledge that I discover in this lifetime to help others. I will no longer hesitate to use all the gifts granted to this individual. I acknowledge that I do and will make mistakes. I know that I am loved and I will always aim to love, even those who I disagree with the most. I will always speak up and protect the place I call home: EARTH.
We have all been duped. From the get go of your life, even before you took your first breath, chances are the meddling began. But before I go any further, stop; take a few DEEP breaths…step back from everything you’ve been told up to this point in your life. Ok, now that you’ve given yourself a little time, let’s just say (for FUN!) that we humans actually choose when and where to come into this world. Yep, we chose the situation, no matter how great or crappy it is; this is where we need to be. Why? Well, maybe you’ve lived many many many many lives before this and the situation where you find yourself, is right where you need to be to grow and develop as a spirit. AND just possibly, this is a situation where you saw an opportunity to help change this twisted world we live in!
What? ”You mean that I didn’t come here to buy stuff”? Thats right, looking at things from back here (remember we took a step back from what we’ve been told:) it seems like the reason we are here is to work our little life away, trying to make enough paper to survive. The more paper you have, the more stuff you can buy in hopes of trying to feel better about living in this unnatural society? Now, what if you had been brought up to speed on this intel from the get go? Would you use this knowledge to better yourself and our home (EARTH) or would you spend your time manipulating others? Either way for the IN-MAN or the out, it all ends quickly and in the same way. SO, it’s really just up to you silly!
If you find yourself unhealthy and unhappy (rather than questioning your sanity), question what you’re ingesting through your eyes, ears and mouth! If the time you are spending is leaving you unfulfilled, (your work) spend your time doing things that you enjoy. If you have had it with the propped up charade that has been presented to US as; “just the way things are”, STOP BUYING into it. Sure, nothing happens over night, but the more of US that start on a path to a new way, the quicker we will get there together. We all have a unique perspective and role to play in this great unfolding drama. Make the most of your part in hopes of not having to come back to play the same role over again!
Like the Dorthy Fix song says; “Together may we break the chains of the old ways”!
Here we are again at the Autumn Equinox, one of two days per year when the hours of light and dark are equal, OH and the TIME FOR another BARTER FEST! Can’t think of a better way for us to get together to share and celebrate the fruits of our labor. Why go through all the work to have a barter fest? Honestly for me hosting a festival like this is a great excuse to get old friends together, while creating an opportunity to make new ones! After the first year in 2010, we couldn’t believe the incredible energy that radiated from this place after the event. In a way, Barter Fest has become a power plant of positive energy that resonates through out the year. It is SO empowering to come together with a group of independent humans to celebrate all that we have to offer each other!
Barter Fest was inspired by the founding fathers and mothers of Hewitt. Like most communities in Minnesota, there was a lack of paper currency floating around when the first pioneers arrived. These were hard working, unique, creative people that landed here and I can definitely see why they chose to set up camp in this beautiful place. The early settlers traded their hard work, talents and know how, while building solid communities of interdependent relationships. Barter Fest aims to rekindle this community resilience, but on a regional scale.
So what’s happening this year? For the fourth year in a row, Barter Fest will kick off with the 10billionbeats.com global peace drumming. This hour long drumming will take place in the downtown Hewitt park, Friday September 20th from 7 – 8 pm. If you show up early on Friday you will have a chance to find the best camping spot, get settled in and if you’re willing: WE CAN ALWAYS USE your HELP! This year does promise to be a bit different. Rather than schedule wonderful performers like prior years: https://soundcloud.com/abandoned-scout-camp, we decided to try an open mic performance format for 2013. Many attendees to Barter Fest are writers, musicians and other gifted folk, so we thought why not trade songs, talents and stories? Who’s gonna get something for a song?!
The bartering will begin at 10 am on Saturday and the celebration spills over into the night. Once again, this event is sponsored by the City of Hewitt and Hewitt Lions club and as always the Lions will be peddling their “Ranger” burgers and fresh cut fries. If you have frequented Barter Fest before, you will know to dress warm= I’m talking about long underwear warm! Traditionally, for whatever reason, the festival has fallen on a clear, but brisk autumn day. Is it really free, what’s the catch? Yes, Barter Fest is free to attend, free to park, free to barter and free to camp (REALLY, there’s no catch). The camp sites are not sponsored by the City or festival, but have been offered up by neighbors to the Abandoned Scout Camp and down by the river, so just ask around if your looking for a place to pitch a tent. Can I sell my goods at Barter Fest? Yes, all that we ask is that you are open to bartering your goods, but of course YOU may DECIDE to trade for paper. How do I barter? No two barters are ever alike. Bartering presents a creative opportunity with every transaction. Often bartering will involve more than just two individuals. It’s best not to limit your imagination by being told how to barter. I recommend just giving it a try! Hope to see you in Hewitt!
Do you own your time or does the time own you? All work and no play will make your life go away! How to balance: work, play, garden, family, friends, passion, love and community? The thing is…it takes time to figure this out! Here are a few pieces of intel from the frontline of this struggle: 1) combine as many pieces of your time pie as you can…make your passion your work, work for your community!…play with your friends… maybe love your cousin?(one less family reunion!) 2) Time is not a strait line…try imagining it more as a spiraling sine wave with ups and downs…round and round. 3) Don’t fight time: flow with it like a river…eventually it will take you where you want to go. 4) Limit or eliminate “hang me” overs….nothing worse than wasting a day with a self induced headache…and if your gonna have a few, stick with non chemical versions or make your own! 5) Eliminate distractions: It wasn’t that long ago that I actually spent hours at a time watching the “state team”, day after day, week after week. When one season ends, a different season begins = no matter what team wins you lose time! (Funny how this team watching goes with #4 on the list.) Besides watching and listening to games, I was prone to renting stories…five for five or seven for seven. Watching seven movies in a week! Yikes!!! Would love to have that time back. Let’s make our own damn stories! 6) Lastly, it comes down to if you really want to own time: own your screens! It’s so easy to fast forward the clock in front of a screen and there are plenty to choose from, now days. I’d much rather be with the trees than with the screens and with that said, I’m out of here!
It has been long enough. Finally we have started to record the Dorthy Fix double album: “Heavy Meddle”! I attribute the 6 year delay from our last album “The Darkness” to fear and lack of time. With our past recording projects, we set ambitious goals of recording an album in a month just before hitting the road on tour, assembling the albums along the way! We promised to never put ourselves through that rushed process again. As you may or may not know recording an album yourself is hard and kind of yucky. Each project pulls a small chunk out of your being, never to be seen again. This fear of loss has been a sub-conscience anchor preventing the DF ship from sailing. The time factor has been an excuse as well, being up rooted every few weeks made it hard to focus on a project of this scale, but now there are no excuses! The world needs this album! And if we don’t get it out soon, the universe may just come a’knocking to repossess the songs! So, we may be hard to find for awhile and if you need me I’ll either be in the garden or the studio. Just place your ear up to the door, before knocking!
Are you able to find any PEACE these days? It sure seems like we are experiencing an on slot of challenges and disaster. It’s pretty easy to get over whelmed with this chaos and fear, but at the same time we are drawn to this pool of pain, just to feel SOMETHING! The taste of powerful feelings is intoxicating, so maybe we dive in, only to find that the current takes you under! Why and what are we searching for? Why do we feel so empty and incomplete? WE HAVE been duped into believing that happiness comes in the form of paper, so if you wanna be happy you best get a job! What!? Nothing wrong with doing what you love, to improve yourself or your surroundings, but don’t fall into being a slave for this phony charade that has gone on long enough. All the while we chase around the rat wheel; we are disconnected to the real source of all life:
The greatest deception humans have ever experienced is this seperation from source. We have been convinced so thoroughly that human bodies are flawed, chemicals are better and corporate science knows best. Through this conditioning we willingly destroy the very home under our feet! Our destruction of the planet Earth IS complete insanity. There are no excuses for US. We have only ourselves to blame and WE are the only ones who can change course. The sinking ship is large, but it CAN be turned around. It may take a lifetime or two, but we best get started now. Every decision we make from how we live our life to who and what we support is the way to HEAL the wounds and live in harmony with this place. There is peace to be found in the natural world, just step off of the rat wheel and try it!
WE MADE IT. Here we are at the Vernal (spring) Equinox 2013! You may be growing tired of this ^crazy^ man telling you to set your intentions for the year NOW, but I have learned from experience that if you do; they will very likely come true. (So be careful what you wish for dears!) YOU HAVE the POWER to over come in your thoughts, actions and feelings. So often we give this power to others: media, doctors, schools, churches, governments and all the other bullies on the block. Ha! Why do we do this?…because it’s easier to do what you’re told and not be free. From the very first minutes of life on this amazing planet our conditioning begins. This system is passed down from those who were trained before US; by those who were trained before them and so on. It is time to end these cycles of deception and destruction!
May our paths and intentions cross this year!
Much love always,
P.S. Only 6 months left until Barter Fest September 21st, 2013!
Work continues on the new Leon Boots record which the cards are saying will be released sometime in 2013. Darin & Aaron have been writing & playing music together since before they were old enough to drive and in the early days they would travel to practice by boat across the lake. Over the years these boys have shared multiple projects including amazing bands like: “Aaron America” and “United”. We feel so very fortunate to be assisting with the Leon Boots project. I have posted a few works in progress from the new album at:
2013 has already been one hell of a year and we’ll be to the Spring Equinox in 10 days! Do you have your intentions ready for the ancient new year: the Spring Equinox? Trust me: this is the REAL time to set your goals for the year. Together let’s keep the magic flowing! Our gifts and abilities are growing stronger day after day and if we join forces; there’s no telling what we can create! As always, so glad to share this experience with you.