When life forecloses on you, join the (Zen) Army.

Photo by P. Shershov

When I come back in my next laid-back, enlightened life, I’m coming back as Indigo Cantor, Commander-in-Chief of the Zen Army. www.zenarmy.org and http://zenarmy.ning.com/ Like me, she’s on a 365-day mission to improve the world in whatever small way she can. Unlike me, she’s walking the walk – whereas I actually prefer to talk the talk (and write the checks).

Indigo & Paul

Here’s what I love about Indigo. Last year, she and her partner Paul both lost their homes in Nevada to foreclosure in the latest economic Armageddon (thanks, Goldman-Sachs, for all that you do). But since they’d been to South Africa the year before, Indigo had come back filled with a sense of gratitude, freedom & a desire to do something positive. So instead of freaking out (my preferred mode of crisis management) she simply said – hey, let’s just get out there and do some good.

Zen Army barracks: "The Shining Example"

Voila! The birth of the All Volunteer Zen Army … housed in a vintage 1970 Airstream trailer,(aka: The Shining Example) that Paul & Indigo bought with the last of their savings, and hit the road in January 2010. Their mission: to spend the year volunteering their time anywhere they felt they were needed: in disaster relief, animal welfare, senior care, health and nutrition, education, social justice, environmental issues –or just shoveling poop at Dreamchaser Animal Rescue http://www.dreamchaserpmu.org/ in New River, Arizona.

Zen Army mascot

Indigo’s mantra is to find a need and fill it. They’re known for making surprise forays into towns, finding a senior center or food bank, and walking in declaring, “Hi! We’re the Zen Army and we’re here to help!”

Green River, photo by Ken Tudor

That’s what happened when the Zen Army busted in to Green River, Utah, a quiet little town that is quivering on the lip of a full-scale depression. Indigo and Paul unerringly headed straight for the Green River community center – a one-woman show run by local force-of-nature Joni, that is a senior center/ meals-on-wheels/ boys and girls club/ food bank/ social club, all in one. They started helping Joni deliver meals to the needy.. and that’s when Indigo found me (yesterday) and asked me to donate $100 to buy recyclable containers for Joni to deliver meals to seniors. It took me about two seconds to say yes.

Joni (green sweater) and Green River friends

The Zen Army will bivouac for awhile in Green River, helping Joni and a few wonderful AmeriCorps volunteers who are working to bring constructive change to the town. Then they’ll jump in the Shining Example and take their mission of active volunteerism to Wyoming, Idaho, and points east. Wherever they’re needed.

With 2500 people following them on Twitter http://twitter.com/zenarmy and over 600 fans on facebook http://www.facebook.com/thezenarmy the Zen Army is just hitting its stride. 30+ volunteers answered the call the last time they rallied the troops to work with the Nature Conservancy on a clean-up project. Clearly, the Zen Army a force to be reckoned with. And when Indigo gets to Atlanta, count me in!