We are an urban homestead and learning space dedicated to service and simplicity and rooted in integral nonviolence.
Our mission is to help create a more just and life-sustaining culture. To those ends we look to nurture connection to people, place and purpose in all we do.
BTC has been inspired by the Possibility Alliance, the Catholic Worker Movement (and particularly Canticle Farm), House Alive natural builders, Joanna Macy and her work, and dozens of other mentors and friends who make the world a better place by walking their talk.
The Be the Change Project was founded by Katy and Kyle Chandler-Isacksen in August of 2011 after they spent two years traveling the country seeking a bigger and more integrated vision for their lives. Over the course of their travels they visited several communities around the country, apprenticed at House Alive Natural Builders in Oregon, and lived at the Possibility Alliance in NE Missouri which launched them back to Reno to start the BTC Project.
Thanks to the support of nearly 200 people, they were able to purchase a dilapidated house in a socio-economically diverse Reno neighborhood. Since then they have worked the land and reached out into their neighborhood and city to do their part in creating what Martin Luther King, Jr. called, “The Beloved Community”.
In 2015 BTC became a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
From Katy and Kyle:
Our attempt to live a nonviolent life is guided by principles of Gandhian Integral Nonviolence. We attempt, in our day-to-day existence, to apply the wisdom of past practitioners to our own time and context with its own particular challenges and struggles.
Our friend and mentor Chris Moore-Backman describes this Gandhian approach:
“This approach to nonviolent living and social change organizing balances self-purification (aligning practice and principle at the personal level), constructive program (work of social uplift and renewal) and satyagraha (soul force, nonviolent resistance) — three pillars of our work as a community organization dedicated to enacting the positive shifts we long to see in ourselves, in our society, in our world.”
These “three spheres” are illustrated below:
Looking at Constructive Program, our homestead is at the heart of it where we grow organic food, live simply, bike, teach, operate on the gift economy, practice natural building, and so on…But it goes beyond what we do on the little piece of land we call home. It extends outward to encompass reparations, racial unity, immigrant rights, regional sustainability and the systems of justice, education, energy and transportation, housing, and health & wellness. It is an evolving blueprint for a better world.
We are grateful to have found this path, humbled by its magnitude and beauty, joyful that we get to share it with so many good people, and challenged by how far and how fast we need to go.
Go here to learn more about Constructive Program, generally.
The BTC Community has:
- Transformed the 2055 McCloud Avenue homestead into a hyper-productive permaculture farm with plants for food, medicine, wildlife, soil building, and pollinators. They also raise rabbits, chickens and pigs.
- Developed two other neighborhood gardens and distributed hundreds of trees, seedlings and seeds to neighbors through their “Edible Hood” Project
- Produced “Liberty’s Children” a play based on interviews with undocumented immigrants
- Welcomed over 1400 visitors for tours, field trips, classes and workshops to the homestead
- Given away tens of thousands of articles of Patagonia Clothing to needful folks in Reno, the region, and as far away as Greece for Syrian refugees
- Created with Councilmember Bobzien the Climate Action Initiative with the city of Reno to help direct sustainability efforts and draft a climate change plan for the city
- Volunteered weekly with Mountain Ministries collecting food from supermarkets and distributing it to those in need
- Held three free and family friendly Artown concerts in Pat Baker Park
- Held community book groups on “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness” to bring awareness to mass incarceration
- Served on the Ward 3 Neighborhood Advisory Board and the Urban Forestry Commission
- Taught gifted classes/workshops on topics from Integral Nonviolence to Natural Building to Permaculture
- Gone caroling in their neighborhood with an ever-larger group every December
- Orchestrated two murals (one being Reno’s largest) and one sculpture to beautify Wedekind Avenue
- Were chosen as one of Mother Earth News’ “Homesteads of the Year” in 2013
- Began the Reno Rot Riders, Reno’s bike-powered compost collection service to push for wiser management of our city’s waste, to build soil, support local food, and to do something to fight climate change
- Lived without electricity, fossil fuels, or their own vehicle on about $7,000/year since 2011
- Been war-tax resistors since 2011 by living well under the poverty level
- Fundraised and purchased an empty lot two doors down which will be developed into another garden hub and neighborhood community center
- Been published in Friends Journal, Western Friend, Mother Earth News Blog, and more
- Become a member group of PLAN, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada
- Served on the board of the Local Food Network
Be the Change in the Media
In Friends Journal Article about War-tax Resistance
An article in Not So Far Afield, the Maryknoll newsletter
One of Mother Earth News’ Homestead of the Year in 2013
Other Sites of Interest
Our friend Chris Moore-Backman’s Kickstarter campaign for his book. “The Gandhian Iceberg”
The “One Day Cob House” workshop video