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It's the prequel edition!!

Don't put the cart before the horse, now...if you need to catch up, here's where we're at:
Chapter 1: The Reason for the Journey
Chapter 2: Where We're Going
Chapter 3: The Trail Map
Chapter 4: Provisioning for the Journey
Chapter 5, Truth-Checking

~Yours truly, the Saddle Up! trail bosses. 

Chapter 6, The Dusty Trail Behind Us:  A brief history of Ekone’s facilities and how we arrived at this crossroads.

Ray Mitchell bought 160 acres at the end of the road in 1972, with some friends and a vision of community and stewardship on sacred earth. 
Winters were rough in the “Mermaid Café,” the tiny cabin next to the creek, with hops vines growing through cracks in the walls and the constant hustle to make mortgage payments.  A community gathering space and home was needed; the octagonal Lodge was built in the late 70’s. 
In 1986, timber prices were high and adjacent lands were being logged and developed.  Ray rallied some friends and started Sacred Earth Foundation as a way to purchase and protect endangered parcels in the watershed.  To help fund this work, Ray invited a handful of families to send their kids to the ranch for the summer.  The first Ekone Summer Camp session consisted of 8 kids and a packtrip into the Simcoe Mountains. 
Their kitchen, on and off the ranch, was an open campfire.  Lodging was a single tipi, bathing was in the pond, and the outhouse was…charming! 
Those kids had an amazing time, and the next year, more kids came.  Sharing the land with children became a purpose unto itself, rather than just a means to the end of land protection.  

Pretty soon, there were a few more tipis.  An army tent was acquired to house a propane stove, some counters, and large coolers.  Ice was hauled from a neighbor’s freezer.  A makeshift shower was walled with sheets of plywood. 
And still more kids came.  In 1995, the Yummy Tummy Café was framed, using wood harvested from the land and milled on site with the new Woodmizer bandsaw mill.  It was roofed with a blue tarp, and the walls were open to the air. 
The late 90’s brought the strawbale roundhouse, A-frame bunkhouse, and the bathhouse with real flush toilets.  Ekone Summer Camp was growing up!
And the kids continued to have foundational, enlivening, transformative experiences at Ekone Ranch.  Something about the combination of community, land, horses, hard work, big play, dirt, sun, stars, and dishes was changing kids’ lives. 
A new generation of camp leadership came of age and started taking on more responsibility at Ekone, just in the nick of time before Ray Mitchell died suddenly of a heart attack at age 61 in 2007.  Thus began an era of transition.  

Ray’s time was one of “build first, ask later (or not at all).”  Ray was flying under the radar in every way—no permits, no licenses, no insurance, no payroll, and as few taxes as possible.  Build as you go, with what you have on hand.  No money for a foundation?  No problem—pier blocks will do.  No money for a roof?  Build it anyways, and hope the funds show up before the tarp wears out (and they always did).  

Without this make-do, git ‘er done, take no prisoners attitude, Ekone would never have become the thriving place it is today.  If Ray had asked permission first, or insisted on foundations, he’d never have got ‘er done. 
So this is the inheritance of the next generation of Ekone leadership, and to us lies the task of bringing Ekone above board.  Of validating the powerful work that Sacred Earth Foundation does in the world, legitimizing the organization, and preparing for the long future.  And getting all the permits, insurance, and foundations that a grown-up organization needs to have! 
Watch in the coming days for the final chapters of Straight from the Saddle!
Chapter 7: How many cowpokes does it take to Saddle Up?  Our team.
Chapter 8: Route Scouts:  The early donors who believed in this journey before we even knew the destination.
"Um, wait a minute.  There's no "click here to donate" button."

You're right.  We are not asking for your donation today--but we both know that we will.  And soon.  We'll be asking everyone we know to   s t  r   e   t    c     h     on behalf of Ekone.

But it's not a decision we want you to make impulsively.  We want you to have all the information, talk to your family and financial advisors, think about who you know, and consider carefully how you might be able to help Ekone Ranch survive and thrive long into the future.

And ideally, we'd love to have a personal conversation with you to talk about your gift, your connections, and other ways you might be able to help.  Ready to schedule that conversation, or simply raise your hand in support of this work?  Please jot your name down HERE and we'll follow up!

Sacred Earth Foundation stewards 1,133 acres in the upper Rock Creek watershed, and is the home of Ekone Summer Camps and White Eagle Memorial Preserve.  ~
509-773-4536 ~

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