Groundswell began as an intentional community rooted in queer chosen family and committed to environmental stewardship. Our values include heart-centered process, embodied spirituality, and reverence for the natural systems upon which all life depends.
Currently we have six full members, who are owner/managers of the Groundswell Retreat Center. We are a consensus-based, worker-run cooperative. We host queer community gatherings, rent our facility to other groups, and offer special opportunities to members of our Cahoots program. We live across the creek from the retreat center, where we care for a variety of farm animals and garden plots. Our extended community includes a handful of folks who also live here and help us operate the business and tend the land.
the land Community
“I’m too old to have a pronoun”
Founding Member & Elder
William is one of Groundswell’s founding members, having been involved with the project since its inception in 2014. Over the years he has been a calligrapher, visual artist, writer, editor, linguist, sustainability advocate, and queer community dreamer. He attended his first Radical Faerie gathering in 1979, and the consciousness and connection that he found there inspired a vision of queer intentional community which has manifested, now 40 years later, in Groundswell. He brings to the project his passions for heart-space, cultural history, odd bits of knowledge, and hand lettering.
DoubleSnake (né Jim Montgomery)
they/them or he/him
Accounting & Livestock Coordinator/Elder Farm Hand
Did you say queer disabled homesteaders? With a passion for connecting queers to nature and the ecosystems around them, Jim DoubleSnake has been raising livestock for more than 30 years. He began as a teenager raising small farm animals including fowl and rabbits in his mother’s urban backyard in the San Francisco East Bay. His experience is not limited to small stock, he was the main livestock tender at Green Faerie Farm (a small urban homestead in Berkeley) from 1995 to 2015, where he raised goats, llamas, rabbits, and a variety of fowl – mostly chickens. He now resides at the Groundswell Community where he is learning more about permaculture and integrated forest management. He continues to love life among queers and animals and also coordinates our accounting systems.
He has a good amount of experience as an educator as well. He volunteered at the Berkeley Free Clinic from 1981 to 2006, mostly working as a health educator focusing on STI and HIV prevention. From 1992 to 2015 he taught at Maybeck High School in Berkeley teaching many subjects but mainly the subjects of Health Ed. and Mathematics. From 2011-2016, He also was on the faculty of the Institute of Urban Homesteading, teaching a wide variety of courses. He continues to share what he’s learned as a farmer through small events and forums.
Shane On You
Chief Mischief Maker and polymath extraordinairre, Shane On You spends his time doing all of the things. As an early-blooming faggot, Shane founded a non-profit performance arts collective and has co-produced over 50 original plays and has been passionate about the arts ever since. Shane helped organize the first gay pride event in Modesto, a celebration still happening every year. Shane On you is fed by sacred clown medicine and radical queer expression. He hopes that we can break down the barriers between each other and within ourselves with love, patience, and compassion.
If, while walking in the woods, you stumble upon a magical tea party, Sprite is the smiling lady in the frock pouring tea. Lead kitchen queen and visionary extraordinairre, Sprite is responsible for savory feasts, decadent sweets, and illustrious outdoor tea parties for a hundred or more. Be it a shared recipe, a raucous performance, or a magical concoction, Sprite has many surprises up her wizard’s sleeve. Part florist, part burlesque performer, and an all-around mother, Sprite births her grand visions into reality all over Groundswell. When she isn't dishing or decorating for gatherings, you may find Sprite in cool repose by the creek, voraciously consuming podcasts, or making warmth in our community home.
they/them, he/him, she/her
Facilities Coordinator & Chief Disciplinarian
Kotori brings queer diversity to Groundswell. He is a member of the land community who has lived here for three years. As a transmasculine POC, Kotori has roots in many tribes, including Black Leather Wings, the RadFae, and Leather. He is an edge-walker, a space holder, and a master of touch. Heart-centered and full of joy, Kotori is grateful to be a part of creating the home, project, and community of Groundswell.
Guest Services Coordinator, Head Gardener
At an intersection of art and architecture, permaculture and ecology, tea and Zen training, Justin now finds himself at Groundswell. Offering his skills as a gardener, systems thinker, and hospitality rockstar, Justin has been part of alternative communities for most of his life, and works to make Groundswell a place that inspires alternative ways of living and being. He contemplates how our human dwelling processes can be enmeshed with natural ecosystems while also working to heal those ecosystems. He attempts a balance between being impeccable with details and letting go of attachment to specific outcomes. He enjoys cultivating and sharing a seed library, experimenting in the kitchen, and curating an occasional tea ceremony.
Unckle Bug is a queer Disabled Persian who was adopted into a Welsh clan as an infant. He is a Lorekeeper of Old Ways, and a retired Sociolinguist and ASL/English Interpreter. Communication is thrilling to Unckle Bug: as a life-long, Family Tradition Witch who has been walking with the Radical Faeries since 1985, Unckle Bug works to shift fear and conflict in community and see paths forward. He employs his skills of Social Ecology to help create physical, social, and cultural spaces with the goal of making them equitably useful for all participants. When he is not tending to the social fabric of community, you'll likely find Unckle Bug knitting or spending time with the livestock. He sees the process of raising livestock and having love for the creatures that we eat as a spiritual experience.
Quack of all trades
Before Groundswell, Jason was fortunate to work on this land teaching wildcrafting, survival skills, and storytelling to kids. And then POOF! that same land became Groundswell.
Jason brings his excitement for bringing queer people together in his many tasks as a creator and collaborator for Groundswell. After a four-year dance, Jason finally calls Groundswell home. When he isn’t writing copy, baking scones, or taking on a building project, you might find him reading a book, wandering the woods for mushrooms, or listening to an elder tell a story of our queer past. A details queen, “feel all your feelings” advocate, and communications conduit, Miz Patten especially enjoys helping create spaces where queer people can hold and care for their vulnerabilities, with the support of the incredible land, our selves, and our comrades in community.
Do’er of The Things
Jes is all about making it happen. From spreadsheets to gardens, she likes the things organized and pretty. A maker and a doer, she's crafty and has a love for herbs and oils and things that smell real good. Holder of spaces, a mother in her own right, she caretakes and tends to. A lover of plants and a witch in the kitchen, she can manage and create. Through radical healing and journeys towards betterment, Jes passionately stewards this land for the community and the richness of health and wealth that shows itself when we gather together.