547 days: Getting Funded

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547 days. From the day we first began in earnest the search for funds to make this dream come true, to the day we secured a deal. From slowly building networks of potential investors and presenting our pitch deck to them when we thought we could equity fund (and operate – ha!) the entire 32-unit sanctuary right off the bat, to entering and pitching in outdoor and eco hospitality competitions domestic and abroad, to the slow revelation that this concept of high-end DIY – completely new and untested – would need to be proven on our nickel first, to the re-conception of phases whereby the next phase of development includes only the minimum viable product – 6 units, a welcome center, and amenities – to this morning, as I email off financial team members to gather documents in preparation of a closing. Not including the 759 days of concept research and development, and to say nothing to characterize the financial or spiritual rigor endured to get here….547 days.

Matteuccia struthiopteris (Edible Fiddleheads) Unfurling.

I have learned to trust. I suppose what I am really talking about is trusting God, or the Universe, or whatever allegorical deity resonates with you. I bristle at all The Secret-era platitudes, like “Trust the Universe” – they seem to cheapen the sentiment – but it is pretty much what I mean: Accepting and honoring that a) there is a higher truth, a higher power, and transcendent order of things; b) that our perspective as human beings is inherently too limited to ever really understand it, c) that the best we can hope for is to gain some cognizance, through trial and error, of the rules of the game – like the law of attraction, for example – as they appear to our bounded brains and souls, and then try to play by those rules as much as possible to create the lives we want and fulfill whatever goals we may have, and then d) Trust what comes next. In my experience, the spiritual rules of the Universe do not require your acknowledgement or obedience to continue operating nonetheless.

So I have chosen to trust them, and the higher power behind them, and every day I ask the same thing in my brief morning meditation (five minutes, every single day, is all I’ve been able to achieve consistently with kids and life and breakfast and fires and compulsive spreadsheet tweaking, and I’m damn proud of it!): To help me use my joy and passion for food and nature and Maine to aid in fixing the completely fucked up trajectory of our planet that our species has somehow manufactured, especially in the past few centuries. Then I do my best to stop the constant outputting that my brain seems to default to, and just be quiet and receive. It’s kind of like actually listening when someone is speaking to you instead of planning the next thing you’ll say. Stop. Outputting! It’s very hard for me, but I’m getting a lot better at it with practice.

I am not some enlightened Yogi who intuitively knew how to honor the Divine Plan, but rather the Divine Plan itself has taught me to trust it. I never would have moved from our farm in Auburn and found this magical 500 acre mountain parcel where I’ve never felt so at home, and which, with it’s breezy peaks, amazing views, gorgeous streams and abundant wild foraging, shames the old 10-acres in Auburn, with it’s mosquito-infested brook and flat fields. I never would have shrunk down the project into a 6-unit starting scale, which has enabled a much more digestible timeline and nimble business model, able to adjust unit type and quantity to market demand as the phasing unfurls. And I certainly never would have willingly agreed to let our Gantt Chart for the Coal Burned Spoon run the better part of 5 years, including the most recent 547 days of funds-hunting. Never! But yet here we are, with everything in a better and more sustainable place than if I had had my druthers unchecked by the wise guidance of the Universe. All I can say is, Thank God!!

Presently, heavy equipment contracts are being secured. Material take-offs are being updated. Marketing staff are dreaming up ways to get us on TV. Architects are tweaking roof pitches and window trims. Interior design pricing is being honed. Child care programs are being designed. Meal Kit dinner maps are being written. Strategic partnerships are being forged. Electric snowmobiles are being researched. Primitive Skill class offerings are being generated. Sanctuary water demand is being calculated and pipes and pumps are being sized. Electrical consultants are performing site visits. State employees are reviewing conservation plans. Civil engineers are designing entrances. The days are getting longer. The momentum is getting stronger. And The Coal Burned Spoon Sanctuary is coming soon!!!

Foreground: Mt Abram. The two peaks to the left, as well as the backside of Mt Abram: The Coal Burned Spoon Sanctuary.

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The Best Things Come…

In the 1980’s, Heinz Ketchup issued a series of commercials demonstrating all the good things that come to the smart people who are patient enough