The Dacha Project, founded in 2008, is a do-it-yourself, egalitarian and educational homestead. We are comprised of six friends and an extensive circle of supporters and community members. Here are our bios!
Hi there. A little about me: I’m a traveler, or rather I used to be one before I moved here to the Ithaca area to build the Dacha. I’ve been around the wonderful country of Germany, farmed (thank you, WWOOF) in the beauty of Hawai’i, climbed rocks with the bears of Yosemite National Park in California, and driven across the U.S. twelve times so far. Although I’m a woods and mountains girl at heart, I’ve been lured by the likes of Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Chicago and Portland.
I’m an immigrant. I moved from Kiev, Ukraine to Brooklyn sidewalks at age 7 in 1989. Yes, I do eat borscht, but only if my babushka made it. I’m in love with languages and so far my collection includes English, Russian, un poco Español, ein bissen Deutsch, and a tiny bit of French.
I’m into the arts. I play guitar, am learning to pluck the ol’ banjo strings and tinker with a Cajun style accordion. I sing my little songs. I write little tornadoes. Currently my focus is on Akula and the Fantastic Finn Family Circus, which is a work-in-progress concept album that will include songs, stories and artwork. I sew, crotchet, play with paint, I make puppets out of scraps (check out my LilySilly.com).
I’m a teacher, a nerd. After getting my Masters in Education from Rutgers University, I taught high school Language Arts in Mahwah, NJ. It was an amazing time, and of course, as any teacher will tell you, a learning experience. We put on plays, read Salinger and Angelou, wrote poems, tried to survive high school. I’ve worked a lot with tutoring and child care and it’s a profession that hits hard in the heart. I hope to continue it in one shape or another.
Most recently, I’m a part of this experimental off grid homestead project. I live with 6 people who are my friends and family. I’ve been on a crash course in sustainable living and building. There is still a lot to learn, but I like this lifestyle. I’m pretty hooked. The waterfalls around here are kinda helpful, too.
Danila likes experimenting with fermented foods, building stuff out of recycled materials, and making community radio. On any given day, Danila might be taking up any number of projects, from boiling down maple syrup, to pickling garlic scapes, to working a chainsaw, to building a shed, to building a different shed. Danila is proud of all the sheds he has built.
Let me tell you a story. There once was a little burro in Peru and he gave me some advice. Since then my life has turned into an adventure. Then again what was I doing already fraternizing with a donkey in a faraway land? Perhaps, the adventure began much earlier.
Yes, now I remember. I was born in Dagestan, land of (stan) mountains (dage), in a city on the Caspian Sea. It is a hot-blooded place, with clan disputes and overflowing passion. My whole family moved from there long ago. I am a construction engineer of the imagination. When I cannot find something out in the world that I think should exist, I build it. Hence, my involvement with the Dacha Project. I am continually and ever-increasingly awed by the power of collaboration, and aim to write extensively on the subject. What people can do when they come together is often beyond our individual imaginations. Though we have to cede some control, I have found what we gain outweighs any compromise we have made. If you’d like to read my further thoughts on the Dacha Project and life, check out my interview on SocioTree called, Lea LSF// The Dacha Project.
I will tell you the most important thing there is know about me….if you ask.
Since I was born in Kiev and moved to Brooklyn at the age of five, I call myself an immigrant. I began learning English (with a Brooklyn accent) by watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while my family assimilated and worked toward the American dream.
As my parents moved my sister and me to New Jersey, they got comfortable in the suburban lifestyle. Even though I was grateful for the security of the burbs, I always had an itch to see the world. So immediately after graduating Rutgers Business School, where I tried to lose the Brooklyn accent, I packed a bag and have been vagabonding and couchsurfing ever since.
In the last four years, I have traveled to Germany, Italy, Mexico, Hawaii and across the US mainland twelve times. I like to taste the extremes of various lifestyles and find a balance that keeps me honest. I try these lifestyles on for size and seesaw between being a radical homesteader, a worker and a cultural explorer. However, I realize that I must try the jobs and the ways of life that are not so easy and go against the grain of what I believe in order to remain open minded and have first hand experience.
So before I found a home at the Dacha, I did experiment with a formal job title, the “security” of a regular paycheck, health insurance and being a consumer in a fast paced world. However, I felt like I was diagonally parked in a parallel universe. In my current and more sustainable Dacha life, I feel inspired, grounded and proud of my frugal, unconventional wisdom. I find security in the garden, insurance through the community and I give myself an informal job title when it is due.
Now, I like to enjoy a crafter-noon making a puppet with old fabrics, beading with stones, sewing a costume for a Lady Gaga Party or playing with wire gadgets and old bike tires. Sometimes, I name our bull frogs “Freddy” and follow butterfly highways around the ponds till Bill Murray, our Dacha ground hog, nods a good morning in my direction.
I am a refugee from the Mid-West. I love cast iron and puppies. People have described me as a classic American backyard tinkerer. I will take your diesel engine apart and put it back together all weird and good, running on vegetable oil like it was designed to. I spend all my time on earth scheming and starting projects. I love coffee and cannot be found in anything but grubby clothes.
I am attempting to live the bicoastal dream–navigating between the gorges of the east & the bay of the west coast–trying to find a harmonious balance between and for: family & friends, city & country, love & community, poetry & paychecks. I am a writer, editor, researcher, and freelance whatever-you-needer. My being is currently in flux & cracking open with change.