Portrait: Romina Wendell

Romina Wendell
Age 43 • Cortes Island, BC
Music composer, web developer, land steward

rominaWhen my partner and I were travelling in Jamaica, we camped for a month at Mr. Buck’s place in the ghettos of Ocho Rios. The ghettos were this strange sort of post-apocalyptic jungle where the hustlers lived, among abandoned banana groves and overgrown cars. Mr. Buck was sort of a primitive permaculturalist. He liked his white rum and his weed, raised fish in little ponds, and grew green bananas to offer his many guests.

Mr. Buck had built his house on the path between Kingston and Ocho Rios—I mean, his house was literally on the path, so in order to get from place to place you basically had to walk right through his living room. Mr. Buck’s house was open to everyone, and everyone passed through his house. His place was like the unofficial community shelter and you always knew you and your possessions were safe there. If you were having hard times or your wife kicked you out, you knew you could always go stay with Mr. Buck. He shared what he had, and he built his life to support himself and others.

This solitary old man was a rock of his community, and it seemed like everyone in Jamaica knew and respected him, from the down-and-outs to the famous people. When Mr. Buck got sick folks immediately came to his little shack and tended to him. This simple man’s way of living­—his generosity and self-sufficiency—made a very deep impression on me. Of all the life models I’ve ever seen I was been most impressed by Mr. Buck, and I have tried to live by his example. Well—maybe without the white rum.

Many years later, in 2008, I was gifted this beautiful piece of land on Cortes Island known as Moonhill. Now I spend my days tending the land, making music, honing my practice, and learning myself and nature. I nurture myself here and I also offer this place to my friends and companions, as shelter from the storm. I know I am so fortunate to be in abundance and able to share. I’ve got lots of blueberries—here, have some!

I don’t have children or siblings so I can’t say who will be with me in my old age. But I know I can make friends with pretty much anybody, so even if I’m surrounded by casual friends and strangers I have faith that someone will always come to help me. I might not have any family left, but maybe I can play piano for the people in the old age hall. I’ll still have something to offer, and I know I will be OK.

<Portrait photo of Romina by Darshan Photography>
<more about Romina at ThinkingLikeAVillage.com>

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