March 27, 2009

Earth Hour

March 28, 2009 - 8:30 pm local time.
That's rights kids, it's Earth Hour. Time to turn off your lights for one measly hour to show some solidarity for the nice folks at the World Wildlife Fund. Individuals, businesses, governments, and organizations around the world will be turning off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour – to make a global statement of concern about climate change and to demonstrate commitment to finding solutions.
Now how easy is that?
I know clever Dentonistas, Dentonistos, and all other readers can figure out some way to spend an hour in the dark...
Maybe Trivial Pursuit by candle light?
However you choose to spend your hour, show that you're down with the climate by signing up here.

March 21, 2009

The Pagoda on Locust Street

Last week when I told you that the Pagoda on Locust Street inspired me to write about the north end of Locust, I promised to try to satisfy your curiosity about it.

Well, I must admit, I wondered about it for years before I ever gained entry to the first floor – as a student at The Yoga Hut – but I’ve never been in the apartments on the upper floors. Nor do I have a complete story on the Pagoda’s history, though I do have 3 pretty complete stories, two of which come to me from wise and nearly life-long Dentonistas.

One Dentonista told me a story of a family-style religion that took up residence and built the pagoda and an adjoining vegetarian restaurant, in the late 60’s early 70’s. (The last time I was in that restaurant, Enrique’s Mexican occupied it, and the woodcarvings and stained glass work were fantastic. Most recently, Jonathan’s Bar was there, but I never visited. You can see what’s left from the outside – look for the stained glass and wooden doorway on Congress Street, near Locust.) Apparently the food at the vegetarian restaurant was good, and all the members of the religion, mostly college students, worked there. According to this one Dentonista, many of these students dropped out of college, but did not notify their parents. They did turn their parent-funded tuitions over to their messianic leader. He eventually dropped out too, leaving them on their own…

Now, my other source, another wise Dentonista and yogini, told me the story of a “Kundalini Yoga group that bought up half the land around UNT, and built up that whole corner-- the ashram, the restaurant with the stained glass, and they had a bakery downtown-- all in the 70's. The Rudra Ashram. The leader, Rudi, was from NY. He had gone to India, obtained enlightenment, and founded two colonies – one in Denton and one in New York. Unfortunately, Rudi died in a plane crash in New Mexico, and two members split the property/followers, etc. Stuart Perrin got Denton and was not charismatic. As the 70's died, so did the Rudranandra ashram in Denton.”

A bit of easy research on your friendly neighborhood Dentonista’s part unearthed this additional version:

Rudra Center emerged in the early 1970’s out of the spiritual need of a small group of seekers in Denton Texas, who happened to meet Swami Rudrananda (Rudi) in Dallas Texas, while attending Swami Mutananda’s first’s tour.
After the…presentation, he was personally invited to Denton by this group. He obliged and the wheels of creation followed him, as he then offered to set up a meditation group for them and established an Ashram (place to study spirituality) in 1971.
To house this spiritual school for study, a small two story plantation house was pulled off the real-estate market at 611 North Locust Street… . He left the rest to be generated and paid for by the students. The work that followed created immense growth potential for all involved.

After Rudi left for his home in Manhattan, New York, the small group of students realized that it would be difficult to maintain these efforts by themselves, at this early stage, and requested a 'teacher' be sent to them to assist in their learning. Rudi then sent one of his leading disciples at the time, Stuart Perrin, to fulfill this role for him.

Rudi would continue to visit Denton, once or twice year, until his untimely crossing in 1973, to promote and assist in the Ashram’s spiritual growth and development. His guidance, and the demands that he placed upon all involved, were the inspiration and the light that nourished this seedling into growing and blooming into its present expression.

Upon Rudi’s crossing, Stuart Perrin assumed the full task at hand in Denton and continued to teach within and build the situation until 1978, when he passed the mantel to Mister Robert Baker (Silver Ra) who has maintained and continued to build upon it until the present time. As the present 'caregiver,' Silver Ra has incorporated many additional spiritual approaches, besides Rudra Meditation- the founding discipline, into the teaching format and has been the vehicle and focus of this Oasis of Awakening since that time. During Silver’s personal learning years with Rudi, his teacher often told him “to create a type of Spiritual University, where many kinds and types of spiritual work could coexist together”. Silver Ra has continued to build upon his ‘God Father’s’ vision to this day as chief instructor and guide for the Rudra Center for Enlightened Awareness.”

Fascinating, no? And, if you compare the three stories, you can see they’re all the same, all true – can’t you? They’re just slightly different versions of the same story.

In the years I’ve been here, the most significant external changes to the pagoda that I’ve noticed were the addition of a thunder bird to the roof, which I don’t think was a positive change, and the further cultivation of the gardens, which certainly is. To see it from the inside, why not check out a Yoga class? Or go to the oxygen bar? You could take some lessons in shamanism. Not for you? How about some purification in the sweat lodge? Or a pipe ceremony at the next full moon? No? At least go chill with some meditation - everybody could do with a little mind-clearing quiet time. Everybody.

Go on; ankle on over and bliss out on the myriad delights Locust Street has to offer, this gorgeous pagoda included!

March 15, 2009

North Locust Street

You know I think Denton is a city eminently suited to strolling with the historic neighborhoods, interesting architecture spanning over 100 years, and the little nooks and crannies of local shops, restaurants, and weirdness, and today I’ll suggest you walk down the north side of Locust Street, between Congress and University.
“What’s so great about this stretch,” you ask? Well, you already know it's in a great neighborhood. The Greenhouse is on Locust Street, and The Cupboard is just one street west. Of course, one block east is Austin Street and just two streets east is the Emily Fowler Library - reasons enough you might say. However, north Locust has some really great little bits all its own.

One of those, the pagoda, inspired me. Yes – the pagoda on Locust Street. If you’ve lived in Denton for any amount of time, of course you know the building I’m talking about, and I’ll bet you’re as curious as I was. Well, I won’t satisfy your curiosity here, but in my next post.
Why not now?
Iris season has just started in Denton - the only flower your friendly neighborhood Dentonista can grow with any guaranteed success - and I saw those gorgeous white ones blooming in a surprise clump, right by the side walk. I also noticed a few species of bulbs coming up, and I don't want you to miss them. Once they're gone, they're gone for the year.

What else? How about this house? I really like this house.
I don’t have any stories about it, but I would love some information about this architectural style. In fact, I didn’t even know this was a style, until I saw a house just like it, with the bowed front wall and sunrise detailing in Lorena, TX. They could have been twins. What’s in Lorena, TX? Nothing I could see but a tiny little business district (Old Towne), about ¼ of a block and some fabulous old Texas architecture. Sprawling, huge houses, a bit run down, and still residential. One wonders what they might be worth, if they were located in a larger city?
You know how I love shouting, “To the Internet!” right before I research anything? Well, I do, and I think I’m a pretty good researcher. However, I couldn’t find a bit of info about this style of house. I don’t know if architecture is difficult to research, or if I just don’t posses the correct language to pose the queries. So, my dears (Pat C., I’m looking in your direction), if anyone has any info on this style – or know where any others like it are located – I would really love to hear from you.
Look what else I saw, just wandering around. Y'all that is a vintage fire engine. It sits outside a local insurance company's offices. You know, I like that too. If you wander down this street, you'll see lots of great houses (several bungalow style, I believe) that have been restored or maintained as businesses. When you stop to notice, there are a lot of businesses on this street, and they fit in beautifully, for the most part, with their residential neighbors. A really nice example of mixed use space, without breaking new ground or razing existing buildings or trees.
And, on that note, I'll leave you, my dears
Be sure to tune in next week to learn about that awesome pagoda.