Faces of West Marin’s future, searching for a home

08/11/2011

Wes

Wes Temby had reached burn-out and wasn’t getting any younger. Living in Las Vegas and slogging through the doldrums of corporate law wasn’t exactly the quixotic future the then-27-year-old had intended.

“I got into law because I wanted to save the world,” he said. “But the legal system is just such a racket. Then I went into corporate law because I thought I’d at least make money. But that was even worse because it’s just faceless and heartless and bad.”

In 2008, Wes got out. He moved to San Francisco, and took to writing ad copy and catalogue blurbs for whomever would pay. Eventually, though, he found himself right back in the same dark existential hole. “It was fun work, but I got to the point where I was asking myself, ‘Does this job matter?’” he said. 

A year ago, Wes discovered West Marin, and with it a renewed sense of purpose. He studied permaculture in Bolinas, and this past spring started an internship with Marin Organic. He makes ends meet by working part-time jobs at Nicasio Valley Cheese and Terra Firma Farms, and by writing. 

Still, some things are missing: a steady job and a home. Now 30, Wes commutes from San Rafael, where he rents an apartment with his partner. 

“It would be a lot easier if I lived out here,” he said. “I think especially when you’re dealing with agriculture or something like that, for me, it’s about respecting the land and being there and living it and being a part of it, and not just day-tripping out.”

Arron

For the longest time, Arron Wilder thought he wanted to be a doctor. Then he went to college and met a girl, and realized that what interested him most was not was medicine, but dirt. 

The epiphany led him to Wisconsin, where, in 1997, he was introduced to the subscription-based system of farming known as community-supported agriculture (CSA). “I liked it because it seemed like a good way for people to really participate in the farming process,” he said. “As opposed to just seeing where their food comes from.”

In 2001, Arron moved to West Marin, but eventually left because of the lack of young people. “It was so isolating and really hard because most of my friends were 50 and up,” he said. “And I was fine for a little while, but in order to relate to anyone my own age I felt like I had to go to the city.”

Ten years later, he’s trying once again. He found a room on the Mesa, in Point Reyes Station, and an acre of arable land nearby to tend. This spring, with support from Gordon Hull, who owns the land, he launched the town’s first-ever plant-based CSA program. 

To make the most of what he has, he practices very small scale, labor-intensive agriculture, which he says “doesn’t require the use of heavy equipment or petroleum products or stuff like that.” 

But Arron, 34, would be remiss to say that the farm, with all 16 of its current members, is what actually pays his bills. For that, he relies on another full-time job as an ecological landscape designer. He is grateful for the work, but would rather focus on farming.

“All I really want is to do good work and be part of some future here,” he said. “Where we can produce a lot of food in our own area and people can be proud of that.”

June

Miss June came to West Marin because of a man. They met in New Orleans; he played music, as did she. In 2005, they moved to Inverness Park, where he had grown up, and started a band. 

The relationship didn’t last, but her affection for the area, and all its similarities to her native Santa Cruz, did. “The wilderness is beautiful,” she said. “And the small town feel is a huge draw to me. It really forces you to have to work out your issues because you see everybody all the time.” 

Last year, June began organizing a free, local educational network called the West Marin Free Skool. The network’s structure is based on “pay-it-forward” economics, which requires a lot of faith, and is not always easy to support. “It’s also hard,” she said, “because you have to have a free space in order to hold a free class.”

This month, June, who is 32, and her four-year-old daughter, Clementine, will move to Bolinas. This will be their third move this year. To make ends meet, she works part-time jobs at Vita Collage and Toby’s Coffee Bar, in Point Reyes Station, and also cuts hair on occasion. 

Though she has no plans to leave the area, which she now considers a home, she wishes it were easier to stay. “We’re sort of in this catch-22 of not being able to have housing here,” she said. “If everybody in this younger generation had the foundation of being steady and having a home, then we would be able to focus a lot more energy on some really amazing, exciting new things.” 

 

Community Conversation #7 will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, August 21 at the Dance Palace, in Point Reyes Station. Food and free childcare provided.