The Be The Change Project

A Movement for the Upliftment of All Beings

Hi, everyone.  Here is an update on November 19, 2012.  Thanks to the amazing generosity of nearly 200 people we were able to buy the property in August of 2011.  We spent a lot of time making it livable with very little money or new materials (and a lot of natural building techniques).  Here is a sampling of what we've done since:
  • Turned off electricity on August 15th, 2011, have used fossil fuels on only three occasions (all for a chainsaw)
  • Started the "Edible 'Hood" program - gave out hundreds of donated seed packets, trees, tomato starts...to neighbors and helped several get their gardens going better.  Linked up manure and woodship sources for several more.  Built a greenhouse for $30 and lots of salvaged lumber and glass.
  • Began gardens and soil building and are raising chickens (8), bees (45,000:), rabbits (17), and two pigs
  • Have directly helped get three murals going on Wedekind to reduce graffiti and inspire pride in the 'hood
  • have given tours, hosted school field trip, spoken at events, and held classes and workshops (all gifted) for hundreds of people
  • Bring middle school kids over twice a week to work on the "farm" and experience a bit about how we live (spending time with the rabbits and grinding grain in the hand mill are both especially popular!  They also keep asking, "What about TV!?))
  • Have continued living well below the poverty level and with that our War Tax Resistance.
  • Volunteered for several organizations
  • We're in the middle of the "Undocumented Voices" project we began with Jeanmarie Simpson and other friends.  We interviewed several undocumented folks and transcribed them and Jeanmarie is creating a play based on the work to share with the country and affect the immigration debate.
  • Joined the Neighborhood Advisory Board to better effect change with the city
  • Are taking a larger role with the Quaker meeting
  • Have published two articles - wartax resistance in the Friends Journal and one on simplicity as Creation Care with the Maryknoll Affiliates Magazine.  We are also Maryknoll affiliates.
  • Gotten to know lots of neighbors!
  • Last month, Scott Lambert moved two houses down and shares the vision!!!
  • Have biked all over the place!
  • Continue to learn how to create hot water in the winter, ferment food, glean fruit, store food...
  • Used a SunOven, an earthen stove, and now our woodstove to cook our good
  • Have continued raising our two boys with the hope that they can also dream into the world they want to create
  • Are looking into how/if we can turn the homestead over to a land trust that can leverage the property to create affordable housing (aka the Catholic Worker in Worcester, MA who did this in 1983.  They were the first land owners to do this for a local nonprofit that has since gone on to establish 500 affordable homes in their area)
  • We're working on a large art installation for the Clearacre and Wedekind roundabout
  • We're visioning how to create a land and service-based school out of the main house for low income neighborhood kids
SEE A NEWS ARTICLE about the project from the Reno News & Review

Project Overview

We are Katy and Kyle Chandler-Isacksen and the Be the Change Project is part of an international movement dedicated to the upliftment of all beings.  Its mission is to promote deep connections within ourselves, with each other, nature, and spirit to awaken to our true nature, which we believe is love.  This is done through five practices:

  • Radical Simplicity
  • Service
  • Inner Work
  • Nonviolent Social and Political Activism
  • Honoring Nature

The Be the Change Project will be an urban homestead devoted to family learning and service in a low-income neighborhood in the heart of Reno, Nevada.  It will be an open and welcoming community space offering classes & workshops, family support, and a place to connect with nature and our higher selves.  The electricity and car-free sanctuary will be an organic micro-farm, act as a Permaculture & Natural Building demonstration site, and host the regional headquarters of the Bicycling Superheroes service group.  It will grow into a multi-generational Free-University and Free-School, sharing the power and challenge of Gandhian non-violence and radical simplicity with the globe.  In alignment with our mission, Be the Change will be wholly operated on the Gift Economy, with everything offered freely in a spirit of gratitude and celebration.


We are currently looking for land to be the home for the project.  Our ideal plot would be a half acre or more, in a bike-able and low-income neighborhood, near open natural space, and free or very inexpensive (under $50K) so we can be debt-free to do the work to which we feel called.  We are currently raising $55,000 towards the purchase of land and structures.  In under two weeks we have raised nearly $38,000! 

The Be the Change Project is inspired by our friends and teachers at the Possibility Alliance in northeast Missouri, Jane Addams’ Hull House in Chicago, and the Catholic Worker Movement. 


We believe a better world is possible.  And, we know that with spirit, love, and support, each of us can be the change we wish to see in the world. 


Our Story

For us, this effort is the culmination of nearly 15 years of work, study, and exploration, and it’s a full expression of our life and ideals.


We are former middle and high school teachers who spent ten years working with young people and being inspired by the love and heroic efforts of many great teachers while equally disappointed by the failures of a system that supports our unsustainable and unjust culture.  After receiving a $150,000 grant to start a middle school and creating what we felt was a powerful community-and project-based program, we found that even this model was mired in many of the same systemic failures.  Around the same time, we worked as political organizers  in 2004, and again, despite the amazing work and inspiring intentions, the game of politics left us totally dispirited. 

In 2007, we walked away.  We quit our teaching jobs, we moved out of our house and into a 200 sq foot strawbale cabin with our two young sons, we became war tax resisters, we gave away most of our possessions, we disconnected from news and media, and began the process of recreating our lives and rediscovering our deep connections to nature and spirit.  In the last four years we’ve apprenticed, studied, and gained new skills and passions in permaculture, gardening, radical simplicity, and natural building.  We aligned our family's lifestyle with our values of justice, fair-share, and connection to nature and spirit. 

But something was missing.  We were happy with our own lives, but felt disconnected from the broader society and unsure how to participate and make a difference.  We left Reno in search of a vision to give our lives to.  After an amazing 6-month natural building apprenticeship and learning about unschooling at House Alive in Oregon, we moved on to the Possibility Alliance in Northeast Missouri. 


We found it!  The Possibility Alliance has created an integrated vision of how to authentically live our values and contribute to the upliftment of all beings (ourselves included).  The PA is a community dedicated to service and Gandhian Nonviolence and is leading the effort of generating a radically different America.  We lived and learned there for six months and then discovered the similar but urban models embodied in the Catholic Worker Movement.  When someone asked, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” We answered (much to our surprise) with, “We’d start an urban project in Reno!”  It was time to go home and rejoin our friends and family and create the Be The Change Project.  Inspired by the Possibility Alliance, the Catholic Worker Movement, and Jane Addams’ Hull House, we were ready.

The Impact

Over 1200 people visit the Possibility Alliance each year.  They leave inspired, shaken out of their smallness, ready to change their lives and give their energy to big work.  They create amazing projects like an urban house and farm in inner city Kansas City and a Peace and Permaculture University.  1200 people a year...with no promotion...and they're in LaPlata, Missouri! 

The Reno area is home to 300,000 people and California is only 12 miles away.  We're on Amtrak and Interstate 80.  Reno is a destination (a strange one at times, but still a destination - like the Burners headed to the Black Rock Desert and Burning Man who migrate here in droves at the end of every summer).  We know if we build it they will come.  We know that an urban homestead where Permaculture, integral nonviolence, and natural building is lived and taught; where service is a daily act; where at night, the soft glow from beeswax candles shows smiling faces gathered around a table sharing stories, music and dreams, will be irresistible. 

We are creating a new culture in the shell of the old.   We believe a better world is possible.  And, we know that with spirit, love, and support, each of us can be the change we wish to see in the world. 

Help us make it so.


What We Need & What You Get

With IndieGoGo we are looking to raise at least $8,000 as part of our $55,000 fund raising campaign. 


Your donation is worth twice as much!  We have a donor who is willing to match every donation up to $20,000!  If we succeed in raising more than $55K in donations and no-interest loans then he will add more money to the pot.  


In terms of perks, for every donation above $25 you'll get copy of our kids book titled, "Snakes Wear Socks".  It's a fun story about missing socks and cold-blooded critters for kids ages 3 and up.  It's being published by Martin Pearl Publishing and due out in November (sorry for the wait).


$50 gets you an organic cotton FARMY shirt.  Says FARMY, looks like ARMY.  They get lots of happy comments.


$200 brings the award-winning documentary film , "The Perfect Cappuccino" into your world.


$500 Mega Change Maker gets you the shirt, the book, the film, and our undying gratitude.


A donation of $1000 or more gets you a cob oven built by Cobitat for Humanity!  Cob is a mix of clay, sand, and straw (somewhat like adobe) and a cob oven means home-baked bread and bring-a-topping pizza parties all year long.  See the perks for details. Or, you can get all the other perks and our undying gratitude.

Other Ways You Can Help

Spread the word and use the share tools of IndieGoGo.

For tax deductible donations, make checks out to "The Rainshadow Foundation" with "Be the Change Project" on the subject line.  Mail these to 541 Sunnyside Drive, Reno, NV 89503.

As Mother Theresa used to say, “Come and See!” Once we purchase the property, there will be plenty of fun, sweaty work, community service, and sharing of dreams and meals to be had.

Some math:  We can reach $40K with only 200 donors each contributing $100 (with the $20K match).  

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