Tom’s Letter – 2009

I am happy to report that the hostel continues to move in the direction I want it to go. Over the past 34 years, we’ve gradually evolved from the early days of being a backpackers’ accommodation for international travelers (a period of my life that represented my alter-ego) to being a teaching facility promoting how to live a more responsible life, environmentally. While we still encourage travelers from everywhere to visit our hostel as we did in the “old days,” we like to cater to those who have the time to stay for a few days to learn more about sustainable living in a greener world.

In the past year, our managers, staff, and work-exchange have all been outstanding in leading the hostel toward our goals. From tirelessly working in our organic and herb gardens to assisting with re-cycling, composting and gray water disposal, the staff has been exemplary. Each evening, they prepare mouth-watering vegetarian and vegan dinners for our hungry guests, yet still find time to work on projects that improve the hostel facilities. For example, we are now in the process of completing an outdoor kitchen with cob oven and rocket stoves, so that meals can be prepared by using fuel gathered from the floor of the forest. The covering over this outdoor kitchen will be a living roof. Also, the basic structure of the new dome has been completed, with only the roof and interior remaining. When it’s finished, this will give us a wonderful space for our library, a place for audio-visual presentations, and a classroom for teachers.

The hostel looks good. It’s clean. The recent rains have filled the fish pond to its normal level. The swimming pool has been scrubbed to get ready for the coming hot weather. The lake looks great and gets constant use by guests for swimming, canoeing, and sunbathing on the dock. A new swing was constructed for those who like to do nothing more than sit at the end of the pathway and gaze out over the lake. A new sweat lodge has been built and should be ready for the June 7th sweat. The forest is presently filled with an alluring green color from the recent rains that makes the hostel even more beautiful than ever.

In the later part of 2008, we completed six huts out back of the hostel so that each staff member will have her or his own private accommodations with a board walk to each hut.

One of the most notable events of 2009 was the signing of the deed conveying Cyrus’s house at the end of Mister Road over to the hostel. This gives us the right to close off Mister Road for hostel use only, if we so decide.

Guests continue to fill the hostel most of the time, keeping the staff pretty busy. The flow of income into the hostel account helps to pay expenses, maintenance, and to provide for more hostel projects. This year we raised the price of the overnight stay from $20 to $25. The $5.00 increase goes directly into the Land Trust to help pay the mortgage we obtained to purchase the 19 acres on our eastern boundary, as well as Cyrus’s house. With these new acquisitions, the hostel now owns 131 acres.

There are still three other parcels of adjoining land we badly need to purchase. First, and foremost, is the property directly behind the lake. Our present boundary line ends just beyond the clearing on the other side of the lake. I’m sure you would agree that a subdivision in that location would ruin our present enjoyment of the lake, in that the backs of houses would be in full view. We really need the financial help from all of you who love the hostel in order to obtain this property. Our 501-C-3 approval from Internal Revenue Service should be forthcoming very soon, and all gifts will not only be greatly appreciated, but also tax-deductable.

The other two properties we want to purchase are on the east side of the hostel near Highway 82. This would place the drainage ditch as our eastern boundary. Again, we need financial help. Please know that if you decide to make a contribution, 100% of it will go directly to land purchases for the hostel, without one cent being used for administrative expenses.

If you would like to help us buy more property, please click on the DONATE button. It will charge your donation to any credit card or PayPal account, or you can write a check made payable to “The Hostel in the Forest Land Trust” and mail it to P. O. Box 1496, Brunswick, Georgia, 31521.

It is our earnest desire that this hostel continue in perpetuity, so that all who visit can be benefited in some good way. The comment I most often hear from people who have been to the hostel several times is, “The hostel has changed my life for the better.”

I feel that if we can continue to provide the right environment for the hostel, then people who go there will be able to find answers to their questions that might somehow bring about a more peaceful life for them. I am convinced that the hostel is an important place that not only changes lives for the better, but in some small way fosters peace in a troubled world.

Tom Dennard