The people who join the Bezaleel Israel Eco-Village become the Village Collective.
It's just two people right now, but we are taking applications.
The Village Collective includes resident and non-resident Apprentices, Resident Stewards and the members of their households. Everyone may participate in meetings and discussions regarding the management of the eco-village, however, only Apprentices and Resident Stewards have decision-making authority in the consensus process.
If a minor child of an Apprentice or Resident is old enough to responsibly fulfill the minimum requirements of an apprenticeship, has learned appropriate communication skills and has a desire to participate in decision-making, they may apply to become an apprentice.
The Village Collective is the heart of the community with everyone desiring of, and engaged in, engendering an atmosphere of peace and harmony throughout the eco-village.
The Village Collective can include other collective enterprises like the Farm Collective.
The Village Collective manages the common infrastructure, common spaces and common assets of the Collective both domestic and those related to collective enterprises.
The Village Collective annually chooses up to two individuals from the Collective to represent the Collective as members of the Land Trust’s Board of Trustees.
Members of the Village Collective
Bezaleel Israel, known to his many friends as BZ, has worked harder in his lifetime than anyone you are likely ever to meet. Starting out working in auto manufacturing in Detroit, moving on to aviation mechanics and then to heavy equipment operation preparing hundreds of building sites and pouring close to 50 concrete foundations (including his own dwelling on the farm) and heavy equipment repair. He then took on purchasing and developing his farm, clearing undeveloped forest for his homestead and repair shop, clearing out drainage ditches, raising crops and saving seeds. BZ has also been involved in alternative energy, installing solar systems, wood-fired hot water and modifying vehicles to run off straight vegetable oil.
BZ has always been a seeker. Being a deeply thoughtful and questioning person, he developed a critical view of conventional society leading him to totally reject it and what it stands for. He sought solutions to what he saw happening around him, and to him, as a result of a lifestyle removed from nature and human comradery. It has been 50 years since BZ ‘dropped out,’ as he puts it, and began living an alternative lifestyle. 50 years ago, he was part of a workers’ collective auto repair shop. For 10 years he was part of the Love Family, a spiritual commune begun in the 1960’s where he farmed, kept the equipment running and participated in the highs and lows of intentional community. He also spent four years with the Evergreen Land Trust at Walker Creek. Afterwards, BZ settled into a more solitary life on his 20-care homestead.
Now getting on in years (BZ is 71), he wants to donate his farm to the Permaculture Conservation Trust and set up a stewardship agreement that will allow him to live out his days on the farm and share his knowledge and expertise with selected apprentices– The ultimate aim being to identify the right folks to enter into long-term leases to steward the land in perpetuity.
BZ is an ex officio member of the Farm Collective as he has retired from active farming. He offers guidance and shares his expertise with the Collective.
Chrys Ostrander was born in 1957 and raised in upstate New York. In the late 1970's, he went to college in Maine at the College of the Atlantic that was an alternative college offering a degree in Human Ecology. He would have been part of the class of 1980 had he not dropped out to join a communal organic natural foods bakery in Bar Harbor where he became an advocate for organic foods and critical of the industrial food system. Chrys moved to Washington State in 1990 from California where he had been a student, tofu maker, member of an organic produce distribution workers' collective and farmworker on a collective farm during the 1980s. In 1990, he and his small family settled at Tolstoy Farm in Davenport, WA, the oldest surviving non-religious intentional community in the U.S..
During the nearly 20 years Chrys lived at Tolstoy he operated a 4-acre certified organic micro-farm. From 2009 to 2013 he managed a 35-acre non-profit educational farm in Cheney, WA. Chrys raised dairy goats for 20 years, has taught organic farming and gardening and became active in sustainable, now regenerative, agriculture and food system advocacy and policy work.
Chrys co-founded the Tolstoy Farms Community Supported Agriculture project (CSA) and the Tolstoy Farms Marketing Collective that markets and distributes the organic produce grown at Tolstoy through regional stores and restaurants and at the Spokane Farmers' Market. Chrys co-founded the Spokane Farmers’ Market in 1998 which just finished its 23rd season. In 2021, Chrys was part of an effort in Spokane called the Latah Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries Heritage Project (LEAF) to save 48 acres of prime agricultural land from development, some of the last remaining zoned agricultural land in the city. His group was able to facilitate the rematriation of the land to the Coeur d'Alene Tribe who will preserve it and use it to educate about indigenous fisheries and food systems.
During the 1990s, Chrys served on the Boards of Tilth Producers (now Tilth Alliance), Washington’s organic and sustainable farmers' association. He has also served on the boards of the Washington State Farmers' Market Association, the Spokane MarketPlace (an attempt at a public market for Spokane) and the Spokane Farmers’ Market. Chrys served as paid staff and on the Steering Committee for the Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network, a statewide policy advocacy organization. Among the other achievements of the Network, the advocacy group convinced a reluctant Washington State University to include organic and sustainable agriculture in its research program and curricula. Now, twenty years later, the University advertises their "world class" organic agriculture degree in many of their promotional materials.
From 2014 to 2022, Chrys was Caretaker at a former retreat center known as Heartsong in Tumtum in Eastern Washington State where he managed an 8000 sq. ft. polyculture garden and various permaculture plantings. He assisted in crafting and implementing the land’s permaculture design and mentored seasonal permaculture apprentices there.
Chrys does free-lance web design and publishes Inland FoodWise Online, a newsletter and action alerts communication conduit for the Inland Northwest Foodshed.
Chrys is a certified permaculture designer having earned his certificate in 2012 completing a permaculture design course taught by Michael Pilarski. He is involved closely with the Inland Northwest Permaculture Guild, Spokane Permaculture and the Friends of the Trees Society supporting information sharing, networking and event coordination. He serves on the Board of Spokane Community Gardens. He is past President of the Spokane Food Policy Council and convener of the Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group.
Chrys is right now the only member of the Bezaleel Israel Farm Collective. Applications are being accepted.