Down to earth

Jahlelah Francia

Photo By shannon rooney

Jahlelah Francia, 20, never went to a traditional school—home and the world were and still are her schools. The daughter of Eartha Shanti, who sells sprouts at the Saturday farmers’ market, Francia has arisen in the wee morning hours since childhood to help her mother with the booth. Raised with a consciousness of sustainability, earth awareness, community and creativity, Francia graduated from Camptonville Academy (a home-schooling program). Since then she has traveled in Central America and spent six months living in a sustainable anarchist collective in Spain where she honed her Spanish. There, she learned about Rabbit Stick, a week-long camp in Idaho (in existence for 22 years) where participants learn “primitive skills.” Her clear blue eyes lit up as she described her experiences there. Francia is interested in primitive skill-sharing and can be reached at <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">{ document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,97,32,104,114,101,102,61,34,109,97,105,108,116,111,58,109,97,100,46,101,116,104,101,108,64,103,109,97,105,108,46,99,111,109,34,62,109,97,100,46,101,116,104,101,108,64,103,109,97,105,108,46,99,111,109,60,47,97,62)) } </script>.

What did you learn at Rabbit Stick?

I learned about making natural dyes—I dyed some clothes using walnuts when I got back to Chico. I learned how to make knots and nets, start fires in three ways, kayak survival and how to fish from a kayak, basket-weaving, making and hunting with a blow-gun, forging knives, making tools from obsidian, wilderness survival, and hide-tanning. There were many other workshops available too, and there were activities I observed and just picked up the idea of how to do them.

How much did the camp cost and how many people were there?

[It cost] $275, and I used ride-sharing to get there. There were about 250 people and about 50 to 60 instructors.

What was it like for you?

It was absolutely amazing! We’re getting to a point where our way of living isn’t working—it’s falling down all around us. Integrating these skills into my life is important—being resourceful and using what’s around me and re-using what I have. It was nice to come together with people about something productive. The world we live in is so unsustainable and, in ways, depressing.

What did other people experience?

People came slouched and left new. It was an open space for people to express themselves with very little ego and competition. People were just there to share. There was very much a community feel to it.

How do you cope with the “depressing” aspect of our unsustainable world?

The only way I’ve found is to create the life I want. That’s why I work at the farmers’ market—I love it! It’s about creating the life we want to live. As long as you’re fighting against something, that’s what you’re doing. You have to know what you want to get. Otherwise, you won’t recognize it when you see it.