Golden-headed Rebecca gleefully carried her little red bench through the door of her cardboard house, closed all the “shutters” and secured the entrance and was all alone in her canton retreat. Flashback — five years ago in Tijuana: a whole village constructed of cardboard crates, corrugated paper, stacks of newspaper and sheets of tin where blackheaded children ran in and out of the makeshift doors. When asked why the people didn’t build more permanent shelters, I was told that the river annually floods the area, destroying the homes anyway.

She dreamt she was in a Japanese house with rice paper walls which the mice were eating with little chopsticks. She ran through one wall and found herself in an old log cabin. Her feet were moccasin-shod, deer-skins clothed her body and she carried a tomahawk. Outside the window she could see the houses and, beyond, the road back to her people and their settlement. But, just then, a Tupperware saleswoman knocked at the door and she fled through a back door into a circular, glass house where she climbed into bed and woke up.

I sometimes wish I were a pioneer woman of a hundred years ago, building a new life in the frontier. The needs were so basic then: food, clothing, shelter. The hardships were physical and obvious. But today the enemy is not so easily seen. Providing shelter for one’s family has become a complex problem. We are not even certain of the meaning of “shelter.” According to the dictionary a shelter should provide refuge from “injury, exposure, observation, attack, pursuit, danger or annoyance.” Can today’s homes be considered shelters when most injuries occur there, when we are annoyed by prank phone calls or door-to-door salesmen or television commercials, when we are observed by our neighbors and exposed to the foul air, water, language and ideas that flow in and out of our lives, when we are pursued by bill collectors and attacked by maniacs? Surely, our idea of shelter has evolved somewhat since our grunting ancestors gratefully huddled together in caves.

In the last ten years, especially, people have discovered that a house is not necessarily a home or a shelter — and some are trying to do something about it. For example, David and I are trying to create a new kind of shelter, a true shelter, which would provide not only protection but also nourishment to strengthen the inhabitants so that we can deal with the world constructively. We call our ideal shelter New Eden, a community based on Love — of God and people and the world, on Democracy, on Freedom, on Co-operation, and on Self-sufficiency. These concepts have been distorted and misunderstood but we all know their true meanings. The world today, for all its beauty, has become a frightening place. As we sit in our air-conditioned, insulated, air-filtered, Lysol-sterile homes, secure in our reclining chairs, there are enough missiles facing each other to destroy all of it in a milli-second. Plus the facts that there are people with no shelter beyond an old jacket, that there are infants nursing at dry breasts, that there are men growing rich at the expense of others, that people are becoming less able to cope with the world or themselves, resulting in a high crime rate, high suicide rate, high divorce rate, low literacy rate and a growing urge in the meek simply to scream.

Some people have tried to retreat from it all and build their shelters in some hidden wood where they try to go it alone. But it’s impossible; it will all catch up with them. We cannot consider ourselves safe.

If we wish to provide real shelter we must cooperate, we must pool our resources and construct a new structure based on positive forces to counteract the old, negative ones. Our concept of New Eden is of a cooperative community of 40 or so families and individuals, living in their private dwellings, who share a love of God and God’s creation, and who are willing to break away from the disintegrating society around us to create a new life. It would be a place where the Spirit rules, a place to educate and raise our children, to grow healthful food, to prove that democratic principles can work, to provide a healthy alternative to suburban slums and apartment bee-hives. It would be a village that is truly a home town — a shelter and not a prison. We are looking for others who want to share our dream — come, let us build a true shelter together [contact New Eden through THE SUN] .

Now what has all this to do with food? Everything! Just think of the feasts such a community could have. As we all sit down to our first big communal celebration meal, I’d like to offer this dish for the occasion.

Oriental Vegetables

[serves 4-6]

3 medium onions, quartered
2 green peppers, cut in eighths
4 carrots, sliced vertically
6 stalks celery, sliced vertically
1 cup cooked soy beans
2 tomatoes diced
1 cup mung bean sprouts
4 tblspns. oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tspn. powdered ginger
1 tspn. mustard powder
¼ cup soy sauce

In large skillet, or Wok, heat oil. Stir in garlic for several seconds before adding the onions, peppers, celery, and carrots. Saute over high heat for about five to ten minutes. As vegetables begin to soften add ginger and mustard and soy sauce. Stir in soy beans, tomatoes and bean sprouts. Lower heat and simmer until everything is heated through.

Serve over brown rice.