Under the guidance of our intrepid leader, Stephanie Warren, several Oracle + Bronto teammates gathered at SEEDS in Durham, North Carolina. SEEDS is a nonprofit organization with a goal to develop the capacity of young people to respect life, the earth and each other through growing, cooking and sharing food in its two-acre urban garden setting. On that hot and humid day, Stephanie, Claire McCune, Jonathan Lessen, Jesse Bogartz, Karl Dragosz, Cameron Neal, Christiaan Mazza and I would soon discover that what seemed to be nothing more than a few hours of landscaping would quickly transition into a metaphysical experience.
The day began with an icebreaker session and orientation led by Dr. Glenda, our spiritual guide for the day. “Dr. G.” is a therapist in her day job but moonlights as a garden advisor at SEEDS during the summer. Dr. G. pointed out the areas needing attention that day, and the team divided into small groups and set about completing tasks. This is when the first metaphysical experience occurred. While weeding large areas, mowing, skimming pond scum and organizing several bins of work gloves seemed like simplistic tasks, the heat index that morning in the 90-100 degree range made them infinitely more challenging and caused many of us to ponder our good fortune in working in air-conditioned luxury at Oracle + Bronto.
We were joined on the scene that day by a small group of summer campers who were utterly fascinated by the team. One particularly precocious student, Lorenzo, was convinced that we were a group of prisoners performing on a work detail, and even asked as such. The team was perplexed by this truly philosophical question and debated its roots. Was it the Oracle volunteer t-shirts that everyone was wearing? The tattoos that were revealed because of the shirts? The fact that nobody exercising free will would seem to want to work in those conditions? Or was it simply the question of a seer asking us to ponder whether we are prisoners of the corporate world who fail to realize this? The debate over this was one of the highlights of the experience.
Other life lessons revealed themselves during this experience as well. When two locals arrived and joined the team, this gave some a chance to meet new friends. Other teammates debated the merits of the Oracle volunteer t-shirt design for such conditions. When Christiaan had to go offsite with Dr. G. to retrieve some supplies, we all pondered the importance of the buddy system.
During our time there, we forged new friendships, with both our teammates here at Oracle + Bronto and others within the local community. As is often the case during such experiences, we were really the ones who benefitted because this metaphysical experience caused us to ponder some basic questions of our existence and our good fortune in life.