Winds of Change Ecovillage

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I have been working on the issues of sustainable living and affordable living in combination with an aging population that is seeking new alternatives and how to help our veterans, this is my vision…

Inspirational photo of a tiny home community, I believe this is in Oregon.

Winds of Change Ecovillage:

Supporting Vibrant, Sustainable, Living Opportunities for

Mature Adults and Veterans

(Disabled/Homeless/Transitioning & Transitioning Single Parents)

By Beverly Sandlin, Spring Valley, MN

Age vibrantly in a community setting that nurtures the individual, the community and the land. A self-governing, self-sustaining, and self-reliant community that provides the opportunity for individual residences within an idyllic permaculture rural setting that nurtures the land, includes the arts, and provides income producing opportunities.

We can make it a reality!

Whispering Winds, Spring Valley, MN

Whispering Winds is a 3 acre permaculture farmette located in a quiet residential neighborhood within the city limits of Spring Valley, MN owned and operated by Beverly Sandlin. The three bedroom, 2.5 bath, Victorian cottage is set in a fairy tale landscape of lush permaculture perennial flower gardens, herbs, and edible fruiting bushes, with fruit bearing trees woven into the landscape as well as annual and perennial vegetable gardens. Horses, free range hens, ducks, and white doves grace the property which is surrounded on three sides by woods, sheltered from the western winds by the old railroad trestle, and bordered by the stocked trout stream, Spring Valley Creek. It is adjacent to Spring Valley Creek Park and the 8 mile round trip paved walking/biking trail.

A small barn features retail space and a loft which could be used for teaching a variety of activities or workshops. A detached garage is becoming a community space with carpentry and mechanic’s tools. The current master suite of the downstairs of the home has a private entrance that could be utilized as a business incubation office. A primitive private campsite is available in the back pasture which could be ideal for community building. A dog park is on premises.

Fossil hunting ecotours generated through the website and in conjunction with the Eagle Bluff Skills School through Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, Lanesboro, have been part of the venture since 2012. The upstairs of the home is currently being utilized as a Five Star Airbnb (the campsite “Woods Edge” is also an and site) to generate extra income, now in operation for one full year generating a modest income. Whispering Winds is part of the international network of organic and sustainable farms hosting students and other individuals, with Wwoofers scheduled from April to August, so far, of 2018.

The desire is to establish a 501c3 Nonprofit or link with an established nonprofit, and start small incubating community, workshops, ecotours and sustainable businesses at this property in order to purchase, cooperatively own, or collaborate with another landowner on other property to create Winds of Change Ecovillage. Whispering Winds would remain as a public demonstration project (the desire is to put this property into a Trust) as part of the Ecovillage and as a business and service link to the community of Spring Valley.

Whispering Winds Upstairs Balcony Suite –




Winds of Change Ecovillage is envisioned to be a nonprofit prototype, a movement toward/for, the creation of intentional, self-governing, affordable living communities, designed to provide vibrant sustainable living opportunities by combining independent residential community life, via sustainably built tiny homes, with income producing cooperative and independent ventures. The Ecovillage would create an environment of healthy social relationships where people can live, and work with others cooperatively, while maintaining financial independence, and to promote mutual care and respect, that can be replicated with a variety of populations (homeless, mentally, emotionally or physically disabled, low income, etc.) in other locations. Under the model, it could be done on the private property of like-minded owners who would like to help others and improve their property.

Inspirational Pallet House

Individuals, couples and families live independently in small sustainably built habitats (cottages and alternative buildings) while sharing daily life, meals if desired, and cooperative economic activities in common use buildings. Tasks include:

  • Providing affordable independent residences (resident, workshop or community built), that support a healthy community life to the target population helping them to participate fully in the world as contributing citizens;
  • Caring for the earth through sustainable and healthy methods of consumption, agriculture, and natural resource use with a focus on alternative, sustainable power such as solar, wind and geothermal energies;
  • Creating arrangements within the greater community designed to nurture the individuals and families at Winds of Change Ecovillage to contribute their time and skills according to their capabilities with all community members receiving sustenance based on their needs.

Inspirational Tiny Home

Housing would be divided into thirds:

  • Permanent living facilities for the stable Ecovillage population who conduct the day-to-day activities of the community;
  • Transitional homes meant to be 3 month to 2 year stability residences, or habitat for Wwoofers;
  • “A Taste of the Ecovillage” lifestyle rentals that produce income for the Ecovillage or for individual residents depending upon who built them and who maintains them.

Financial Thoughts at this Point in Time

The horse pasture at Whispering Winds.

Permanent Residents would contribute 5 hours per week to maintain and manage the Ecovillage and split 50% of the proceeds of all common business ventures they choose to partake in (workshops, wood fired pizza nights, ecotours, dog training/grooming, vacation rentals, technology support, farmers markets, CSAs, childcare, etc.), with the remaining 50% returning to the Ecovillage nonprofit budget.

Transitional Residents would contribute 20 hours per week to the daily tasks of the Ecovillage, pay or work off in whole or part, to receive room and board during their stay, with self-created options for income or to work off-site. Or they could just rent an affordable tiny home with a minimal 5 hour per week community commitment of maintenance. If they choose to build a home there (according to covenants and whether it is portable or permanent) and contribute 10 hours per week of service they would receive one year of “lot rent” and be eligible for permanent residency.

The permaculture landscape is park-like. The property adjoins Spring Valley Creek Park.

Taste of the Ecovillage housing would utilize the Airbnb model of “live like a local” with the abodes being built via alternative building workshops hosted by the Ecovillage or by individuals.* These workshops could include, but not be limited to, tiny homes, cordwood homes, log cabins, pallet houses, strawbale, adobe, cob, stone, hobbit homes, yurts, tree houses, etc. with or without solar, wind and geothermal workshops. These workshops could start at Whispering Winds and then be transferred onto rural acreage to create the Winds of Change Ecovillage.

* Individuals would retain ownership of their work if it is transportable.

All work to be approved of by the cooperative/landowner.

Edible gardens, herbs, and fruiting trees and bushes are inter-planted with perennial flower gardens.

Possible Cooperative Financial Model

Add up all the bills:

Mortgage (if land/homestead is purchased or being purchased by an individual, land cooperative, etc.)






Air Conditioning



Common Vehicle Cost or Payment & Insurance– use of vehicle 60 cents a mile to be kept in separate kitty for maintenance/replacement, fuel.

SUBTOTAL and ADD 1/3 for maintenance/repairs, replacements/extras


Divide by permanent residents + 5 hours a week of common cleaning and maintenance of property.


As of this writing there are 2 people (transitional third person) involved on Whispering Winds, a mortgage free property, so living expenses are at a very affordable $1200 per month for two people, with enough entrepreneurial opportunities on the property to potentially make living here FREE, or to even make money, on top of minimal Social Security income.

Beverly Sandlin and veteran Bob Benter

Beverly Sandlin, B.A., is the owner/operator of Whispering Winds. She is a 63 year young disabled (2 strokes) grandmother. As a divorced single parent she built her own home on 8 undeveloped acres and in 4.5 years had the home completed and the property mortgage free. She was the Coordinator for the Sustainable Farming Assn. of SE MN for 5 years, was a Fillmore County Master Gardener, taught many community education classes and workshops, has written extensively on homesteading, amateur paleontologist, has attempted to live her life utilizing the 3Rs – Recycle, Reuse, Reduce – and is currently an Airbnb SuperHost.

Bob Benter is a Vietnam era Army Veteran, 63 years young, retired, has worked in the plastics industry most of his life, loves riding his Harley, is a volunteer driver for SEMCAC, has a fire wood business, and is committed to helping other Veterans. He is collecting pallets and working on developing a model pallet house in the garden and pallet cabin at Camp which may be built via workshop, and/or with Wwoofers in 2018, which will become Airbnb demonstration models at Whispering Winds and generate additional income.

Paul Hurtado, transitional, is a disabled Army Veteran on temporary assignment at a local wind farm who is interested in tiny homes, living affordably, and is curious and supportive of this vision. He has built a “man cave” out of pallets, is building pallet furniture, and will be helping to remodel the just purchased ice shack into the tiny home “Dreamin’ Tiny” which will become an Airbnb tiny home demonstration model at Whispering Winds.

All labor to be assessed at a living wage of $15 an hour.

If a person can’t do their share of work for the week they are assessed $75 for that week. If they are gone from the co-op (not part of making the mess to clean) half that at $37.50 for maintenance chores OR to be made up in time within 30 days if the person is able-bodied.

This works for a single dwelling or commons,

separate residences the individuals are responsible for their own maintenance, utilities, heat, etc.

Individual or Cooperative Businesses

within the Ecovillage Cooperative

Entrepreneurial ventures are ENCOURAGED to promote self-reliance and self-esteem.

Individuals: When using common ground or areas for tiny house rentals, 20% of the net proceeds shall come back to the co-op.

Individuals doing childcare, services, use of the office, etc. on common ground or areas assessed at 10% to the co-op.

Arts, Crafts, etc. sold in the cooperative consignment shop assessed at 20% to the co-op.

Individuals using the co-op garage to fix cars for others and charge them, co-op shop to build things for others and charge them, co-op crafting areas, kitchen, etc. to teach skills or create things for sale to others, etc. 10% back for the use of the facilities.

NO ASSESSMENT for people working out of their own space providing services for others OR working off premises.

Promoting Sustainability and Frugality

Initial assessments will have to be determined to provide a sustainable working fund for the Ecovillage cooperative to be determined over time by the permanent residents. Then these funds will be used to build additional facilities, remodel, invested in new ventures, add to tools, etc. in proportion to the funds collected and redistributed if not used: ex. Mechanics need a lift in the garage to make more money; seamstresses need an embroidery machine, childcare needs play equipment, builders need a planer, bakers need a commercial refrigerator, etc.

Any unused funds will be apportioned back at the end of the year in early December fairly to residents: ex. The consignment shop doesn’t need anything so the artists selling out of it get their money back proportionately, the mechanics don’t need more tools, they get their money back proportionately, childcare doesn’t need anything they get their money back, etc.

Reference sites:

Currently opening sites in 25 states.

Victoria, Australia

L’Arche Communities, International

Dancing Rabbit (in Missouri)

Gould Farm (in Massachusetts)

Temescal Commons (in Oakland, CA)

Camphill Communities, International


Tiny Digs Hotel, Portland, OR

Beautiful Train Caboose Inspired Tiny House at Portland Hotel


Consulting with Dr. Lyla Brown, Boston, MA



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Trilobite Beetle Found in East Asia

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This is Super Fun! 




Copy and paste the link to National Geographic and be AMAZED!

No they are not related to the ocean crawling fossil trilobites, but were named after them!


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Wonderful Fall Hunt!

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YES I am still alive and still fossil hunting and giving fossil tours! What a year! Sooooo many fossil hunts and just no time to record them! Soooo many AWESOME finds and maybe this winter I will have time to share! But just so you know there are LOTS of fossils here in Fillmore County, Minnesota, and just to tease you – LOL – a couple of pics…

AWESOME fall hunt!

The hunt for the “mythical” Seven Springs.

The serenity of Seven Springs.

Awesome Galena Formation fossils found by Todd!

Maclurites crassus found by Old Bev – best one ever!

Best Maclurites crassus to date prepped – above way out does this one!

Full hunt on

If you are into fossils you have got to be on TFF!

DISCOUNTS for fossil hunters who book a night at my Whispering Winds: Beautiful Three Acre Hobby Farm or Woods Edge Camp ( Spring Valley, MN, sites AND a custom fossil hunt! LOVE meeting other fossil hunters!  😀

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Earth Day Private Hunt with CAVE!

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Earth Day 2017 was absolutely perfect for a private hunt here in Bluff Country. The skies were bright blue and April temps were into the 70s. This group was from Rochester, a mentor with two older children. We started out going through the fossil gardens in my yard to accustom their eyes to the shapes in the rocks and then off to Site 1, my favorite place to take new fossil hunters!

We got to see the Prosser and Stewartville members of the Galena Formation in the stark cliffs and then hunt the creek and came up with a GREAT criniod fossil just laying there on the beach! Sorry, no pic.  🙁

Then we went up to the creek that bubbles from beneath the bluff and the boys immediately started exploring and finding fossils!

April in the woods doesn’t get better than this!

One of the boys even found an abandoned cabin site down stream!

Checking out fossils and an abandoned cabin site.

Then we worked the roadside ditches.

Lots of finds in this roadside hunt.

They broke lots of rock!

A very distinct cephalopod in a very large rock.

These were city folk and as we searched the abandoned quarry I pointed out The Nastys like burning nettle (better than spinach boiled and makes a great spring tonic tea) and wild parsnip starting to shoot up. Then we rounded the hill and worked our way over to the cave in the side of the bluff. One of the boys decided to explore the cave!

Climbing into the cave via old pallets.

I have always wanted to see into that cave, but am a little too old to attempt to scale pallets and rock climb!

He made it! And took pictures of the inside of the cave so we could see it also!

Looking into the cave that he described as being 50-60 feet deep and further, but we had no flashlight.

Sidewalls and a deeper entrance point.

If I weren’t claustrophobic that might be tempting… 🙂

And out again for the climb down, which is always worse than going up!

Getting ready to climb down.

The day was starting to shorten and they had more places they wanted to visit on Earth Day, so on the walk back I pointed out different wild flowers along the deer trail we followed that were just starting to bloom – Bluebells, Dutchman’s Breeches, and Blood Root.

We finally got to see inside that cave!

What a GREAT Earth Day Adventure!



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Eagle Bluff Skills School April Classes

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Hunting fossils by the creek at Site 1.

What beautiful weather we had for these two first fossil hunts of the season through the Eagle Bluff Skills School! Friday was our traditional afternoon class and Saturday was our first morning class. The morning classes are great for those who want to buy one of the three fossil hunting maps I have compiled for Fillmore and Winona counties and go hunting on their own the rest of the day.

Site 1 offers an abandoned quarry, cave, a hidden stream where rare Silurian fossils can sometimes be found and great roadside hunting!

Hidden stream at Site 1 and more fossil finds!

Off to Site 2 and lots of fossils found here! It was hard to get people back into the Eagle Bluff van to get to our last site!

On the rocks at Site 2.


Pounding rock is always fun! He’ll get that fossil out yet! 😀


Beautiful brachiopods, sea shells, from an ancient sea shore when Minnesota was on the equator and under a shallow sea.

Site 3 always yields lots of fossils!

On the rocks at Site 3. This site is located just above a continuously occupied Native American Village for over 1,000 years, so occasionally Native American artifacts are found here also.

And sometimes we get to meet the local inhabitants!  LOL  😀

We encountered several Garter Snake nesting sites.


Ben found a great Fisherites!


This lady found a beautiful Hormatomas sp. gastropod and lots of other fossils!


This gal found a stunning hash plate of the Ordovician sea bottom and a complete Fisherites among other fossils!

In my opinion, a must see before you come and fossil hunt is the documentary video, 26 minutes, “The Mysteries of the Driftless”. Fossil hunting is a great family outing! I put together this post on fun things to see and do in Bluff Country which includes this video and others with lots of links:

Bluff Country: An Outdoor Paradise! Lots of LINKS!

Want to visit Bluff Country and come fossil hunting? Contact Eagle Bluff for their next fossil hunting classes, or contact me at for 507-922-0083 to book a private hunt or purchase some maps!

I also host guests and campers through – Whispering Winds.



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Trilobite Identification Rock & More

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Caleb Scheer of found and labeled this rock.

Caleb Scheer of found and labeled this rock.


You should be able to right click and copy and paste this onto your desktop for close examination–open with Paint. So often we see pictures and photos of prepared specimens, however identifying them while in matrix is a whole new adventure. I had asked Caleb ( on the sidebar–everything trilobite!) to take the time to do this for me, so that I can become better at identifying trilobites, etc.

I hope this helps you as much as it has me!

Thanks Caleb!

Here is an Excellent website for trilobite information:  Dr. Sam Gon also has a 90 page color PDF book on trilobites for only $6.00! Just take it a bite at a time, not to get overwhelmed and realize that there are something like 5,000 different types of trilobites!

Caleb has 14 different species of trilobite labeled on this one rock. And 5 other classes or creatures. I found it much easier to have the list separated from the picture when I opened the copied picture with Paint, magnified it and moved around to all of the different numbered spots. So, I am going to type the list in and hopefully you will be able to copy it, print, and have a less frustrating time identifying things. 🙂

In Red: Trilobites

1. Celtencrinus spicitus parts

2. Proetus species cephalons (heads)

3. Ceraurus species cephalons

4. Flexicalymene species parts

5. Calyptaulax callicephalus

6. Hypodicranotus species

7. Anataphrus boreaus pygidium (tail)

8. Achatella

9. Spaerocoryphe

10. Thaleops laurentiana

11. Hardpidella

12. Encrinuroides species

13. Ceraurinus marginatus

14. Eomonorachas


In Green:

1. Tiny crinoids

2. Brachiopod

3. Clam

4. Bryozoan

5. Cystoid Plates


Isotelus Trilobite: I have found several of these, so they are fairly common in this area. A very large trilobite that can get over 2 feet long! Note the triangular shape? Bits of the shell left on? The final note for identification are the “crinkles” on the bottom two sides of the triangle. This guy probably would have been a foot long! I got him on the Cty. 11 cut about 4 miles northeast of Fountain–and this may well be Maquoketa Shale. But I have also found them above Rifle Hill Quarry in the Maquoketa Shale formation.

Isotelus Pygidium (tail)

Isotelus Pygidium (tail)


Here is a hash plate I found at the Hwy. 52 cut just below Fountain with at least 8 Eomonorachas trilobite pygidiums-2 on the “front” and 6 on the “back”! Just tap to make the pictures larger. What do YOU see?!

Front side of hash plate with at least two trilobite pygidiums in it.

Front side of hash plate with at least two trilobite pygidiums in it.


One pygidium on front.

One pygidium on front.


One pygidium on the side of the front.

One pygidium on the side of the front.




Back side of hash plate with at least 6 trilobite pygidium.

Back side of hash plate with at least 6 trilobite pygidium.


2 pygidium on back.

2 pygidium on back.


Two more pygidium on back.

Two more pygidium on back.


And another pair on the back!

And another pair on the back!


Some of those brown shell casings are probably from trilobites. I am really only recognizing the pygidiums so far, so there may well be far more trilobites and more species on this plate. 😀 But hopefully this helps you on your hunts!

At this point, if I were going to recommend 3 proven trilobite hunt locations, they would be:

1. The Maquoketa Shale about 1 to 2 miles north of the village of Fillmore on County 5, go to the upper end. I have pulled 4 whole rollers out of there.

2. Just south of Fillmore about 2 miles on Cty. 5 is a huge roadcut on the west side. Great for receptaculitids but the upper end is good for trilobites–don’t miss the shelf in the middle if you dare!

3. The hash plates on Hwy. 52, like just below Fountain not a quarter of a mile, the ditch going south on the west side of the highway–yeah, lots of trilos in there! And hey, jump over to my blog about Adventure and Fun in Bluff Country and do a search on Fountain–several nice places to take a break and eat!







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Horn Coral Video

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Snow Cover!

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Spring Valley Creek at Whispering Winds.

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Coco Says VOTE!

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Coco, the donkey, getting out the vote!

Coco, the donkey, getting out the vote!

Coco is a 28 year old wild burro adopted through the BLM Adopt-A-Horse-Or-Burro program in 1989. He has more ribbons and trophies than most horses. He has been a wonderful ambassador for the Program and donkeys in general his entire life.

In my home, the policy is that if you don’t vote you don’t get to complain or have a voice about politics!


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Just for FUN! Halloween 2016

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I LOVE decorating for Halloween! The challenge is to do it inexpensively, so I thought I would share a few of the scenes and a few of my tips.  🙂

ww-ghost-townJust an old garden stake and some leftover quarter inch wood painted up. The zombie coming out of the ground I made with a scape of plywood, the two hands were $1 at the Dollar Store, a scrape of chicken wire to create the mold with about a half a can of Great Stuff foam over that and a piece of an old black skirt. Everything draped in a piece of poly cobweb.

Entrance to the house.

Entrance to the house.



witch-and-cauldronThe cauldron in front of the witch has solar lights in it covered with a piece of plastic green table cloth with eye balls and cockroaches glued to it – lights up at night!

witchLove this witch’s face and 7′ tall! $5 at Family Dollar!


$1 ghoul by the door.

garage-door-2Closeup of the garage door. This is a $7 scene setter from Party City taped onto 4 mil black plastic and hung with magnets – pretty cool!

murphy-wild-eyedMurphy the mini horse decked out in his costume for Halloween!



We’ll see if this video works. It is the $16.88 Walmart special light show.

two-skeleton-birdsAn old bird cage painted black with two $1 skeleton birds in it.  🙂


detached-garage-betterOn the garage door I have a piece of a Halloween door cover taped onto black plastic and held up by magnet on a roll.

coco-barn-betterCoco the donkey in his Halloween get up!  😀

entrance-to-parkWalking down into the campfire area.


Hope this video works as it features the creepy music! Bummer, I’m not getting any sound on this video, please let me know if you do – It is kind of creepy!  LOL  😀

zombie-crossingZombie Crossing! Creepy skeleton guy coming out of Hell is again just a piece of plywood with chicken wire and spray foam and a piece of black skirt over it. Silicone caulked the $1 head and $1 arms to it.

zombie-girl-onlyZombie Girl was 50 cents at a rummage sale made up with some old makeup.

spider-mummyMummy has a chicken wire frame covered in strips of an old sheet and then covered in poly spiderweb with spiders!

scary-face$1 scary face!


eyesCreepy eyes out of plywood with some craft paint.

bats-by-rhubarbBats from the Dollar Store hung on an apple tree.

ghost-girlGhost girl is chicken wire molded and spray painted white.



mushroom-tree-faceLeftover quarter inch plywood jigsawed into eyes and mouth, painted white and then used a black marker to fill in.

playground-treeGhosts and Goblins by the “playground tree” as the kids call it with swings and a tree fort.

pumkin-pinataPinata Fun! $1 Chinese lantern filled with $3 of wrapped candy!


Hope this inspires someone to have some fun this Halloween!



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