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Langley Hoyt's review of A Communitarian's Almanac & Apothecary Guide

I have recently published A Communitarian's Almanac and Apothecary Guide, a 98 page toolkit for folks to tend the land and to people. I asked Langley Hoyt to read and review the book. Here's what she said:

The pandemic has caused me to slow down, and stay in place more than I used to. These days, I spend much more time in my home and yard. I take walks on the same routes, through the same parks and neighborhoods, and each time I walk I notice something new. The changing of the seasons feels more significant. It is a period of watching.

Helms’s Communitarian’s Almanac and Apothecary is a way to note, at the beginning of each month, how the world is changing around us and how we can respond to those changes with an attitude of welcome. In a time when so many of us feel as though the ground beneath our feet is constantly shifting, Helms reminds us that some things remain the same. There have always been blueberries to harvest.

And nestled into the roots of the steady monthly tasks that accompany each changing season, Helms has laid the foundation of community life and mutual care that guides the folks at QC Family Tree. As I read through the almanac, I noticed the familiar patterns I lived into in years past-- baptisms and blueberries in July; deadhead the flowers in August; celebrate a-ha moments at Epiphany. I also recognized the guiding values of QC Family Tree that have worked their way into my own core values, sticking, like recognizing and living into abundance rather than scarcity, bringing pain to speech, a commitment to justice through everyday small-scale choices that ripple outwards. I’ve been lucky to spend several formative years at QC Family Tree, and I felt a tenderness reading the Almanac, grateful to have something in my hands to hold on to the rhythm of the seasons and the values that grow neighborliness and kinship.

This is about noticing. Noticing the divine in your neighbor and neighborhood, paying close attention to the land, and dancing in step to the seasons. In a society of extraction-- extraction of wealth from Black communities, theft of life through violent systems and policies, draining the wellness from the land we live on-- the almanac provides an alternative to fall into step with abundance, to foster growth and adaptation. Octavia Butler says, “God is change.” Rather than fighting to hold on to patterns that do not fit the season, the almanac gives us an opportunity to look at the present with clarity and the future with anticipation, and to dance into holy change with familiarity and joy.

You can order A Communitarian's Almanac and Apothecary Guide on my website shop.

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