The organizers made a deal with the forces which control the weather. “If you don’t really need it to rain, it would be great if you could hold off until after the celebration”. With this deal struck, the rain remained at bay until after the circle was open.
One of the things which is significant to me personally is that my son chooses to come to these rituals. Last year he played the role of the element of fire during the callings. When i was a kid, there was nothing about the spiritual or religious experience of my parents that i would choose to do.
Part of what gives people confidence to try climbing the poll after the dance is complete is that even if you don’t make it, the crowd cheers for you. It is not about success, it is about being willing to take a chance and try.
In the lead up to the Loud Love event we have reached out to several different communities to both bolster the attendance of the event and diversify the world views of the participants. This has put us into conversation with local progressive church groups, some of whom are curious about why we reached out to them. In response to one pastor’s query about my characterization of the event as “edgy” i wrote the following letter.
i think it is totally appropriate for you to consult with members of your church before you go forward with posting our announcement. And part of what i think makes churches and other groups “progressive” is their willingness to engage with people who have quite different views than they have. There are several sets of parents already registered for the event and there is child care provided. We are quite conscious of what is child appropriate and what is not.Rather than being vague about what is “edgy”, i wanted to give a couple of examples. In the Drag Kings 101 workshop there what has been called a “Reverse Strip Tease” in which the facilitator of the workshop goes from being dressed in male clothing and donning tough demeanor thru costume changes and ultimately appears as a classically “dolled up” female. There is no nudity in these theatrics, but it is a very powerful transformation which challenges notions on gender and identity presentation.There is a workshop on kink through a feminist lens. Which discusses sex play that is outside many peoples experience, but this is not a tutorial on these practices, but rather an exploration of how these are made safe for the participants and how to insure that everyone involved is operating with full consent.And while the event does push on peoples beliefs, the organizers are committed to it being respectful and inclusive. We hope it is possible for you to promote it to your parishioners and we appreciate you considering this conference.
“…. a sexuality resource center and toy shop where you will find a
body positive, sex positive and shame free environment in which to
grow your sexual knowledge and increase your pleasure. The foundation of The Garden is sexuality education for adults and a commitment to body safe and eco-friendly products.The Garden is a queer woman owned business that caters to the whole DC community no matter your sex, gender, race, income, sexual experience or….well…if you have a body I want you to learn and shop here! ”
i appreciate that we try vaguely impossible things.
Dove is visiting Acorn with her 4 kids. To the casual observer we can’t absorb this number of children, particularly in that there is only one parent, but we are trying anyway. We are willing to risk falling in love with these charming people and not quite knowing how it is that they can live in a place which has a waiting list and is well under capacity for bedrooms. Fortunately, we are not casual observers.
Dragon did an amazing job of prettying up the Rec Collective. Until the weather got warm it was being used as a dorm for all the interns and guests. This is a receipt for entropy maximization. Take a slightly small oddly shaped one room straw bale and fill it with a constantly rotating collection of scruffy hippies and it will clutter and start to rot. Fox and a team of declutters shifted it from funky mattress and random junk hell and made it something usable, Dragon took the set up and made the place really nice. Dove’s two oldest girls, Bob and Anonymous, were reading and playing guitar in this newly liberated space.
Dragon had offered to teach the girls necklace making and beading if they wanted to learn it. When Dove went back to tell him the girls were excited about the offer, i told her to tell Dragon “This work is labor creditable.” A phrase i have been using at Twin Oaks for a decade and a half. But it’s meaning is very different here, and something worth exploring, especially for pioneers of new communities.
Acorn has a soft quota. You are supposed to do 42 hours of work a week, but very few members (mostly just the dual members and some pure Acorners who are into keeping track of stuff) actually account for their labor. If people rarely see you working or volunteering to take things on in a community meeting, they might wonder what you do. It is a topic which comes up in some clearnesses. But at the end of the day Acorn trusts its members to work enough and that some combination of work ethic, guilt and gentle pressure from other members will keep up with the big task of operating this place.
Twin Oaks has a hard quota. Budgets are agreed upon. Labor sheets are created. Personal labor is tracked by every member and submitted to be tallied for a vacation balance. Area labor is tracked by all responsible managers and variances (over budget or under) oft result in some type of corrective action. There are a scores of labor budgets and more than a handful of different labor systems in play – new member hours, flex hours, Personal Service Credits, Personal Affairs Leave, Labor Exchange with another community, labor collective hours, pension hours and more.
When you say “this is labor creditable” to someone at Twin Oaks, it really means something. You are going to record this and get credit for it and it matters. At Acorn, generally speaking it does not matter. No one is counting, it is not going to get logged somewhere.
It is still my belief that even without the beautiful labor system that Twin Oaks has, the average Acorner works more hours in a week. But i also think the average Acorner parties more as well and we just dont get as much sleep around here.
“Is he like their ringleader?” Valerie asked.
“More like their rainmaker.” Sky replied at the communities conference meeting, which sparked a whole conversation about organizing models in the progressive/radical movement.
The ringleader is running their own gang. Oft charismatic, this person offers a vision or at least a direction and strongly shapes the role of other gang/tribe members. There is a sense that elevating the ring leader and their agenda will strengthen your whole house and that often deferring to their wisdom in terms of action will advance the members beyond where they would be outside of the collective.
Rainmakers are resource people and networkers. They need not be charismatic nor have leadership skills, they need to know how to fix and manifest things. They probably don’t know how to get electricity from the nearby light poll hooked up to the recently occupied squat, but they know the person who can do it and they know how to get her to come over soon, so we can stop using these candles before we burnt the whole place down by accident.
It was a good day yesterday. Inspiring conversation with BB and Rob Jones and Ali. And also this personal clarification of roles, that i am more the guy who manifests stuff than the charismatic leader.
i woke up and looked out the window and saw someone i did not know, but i could guess who they were. i threw on my clothes, bopped out the door and said
“You must be Dragon, i am Pax”
to which he replied “i know i read your blog most mornings”
and of course this peaked my curiosity (and tickled my immodesty). We talked for a bit, of his mixed ethnic origins (Mayan, Swedish and Mexican), his early life fishing for food with him mom as a child. The same mom who bought a school bus which she named Lucy and painted it before taking Dragon and his sister across the country, turning their poverty into an adventure. Dragon told me that he was engaged, which is a state he hoped to maintain indefinitely, not really believing in marriage, but embracing commitment.
i may never know Dragon’s given name. Wild Horse named him shortly after he arrived and Dragon embraced this with the willing acceptance and daring which seems his style. And i dont need to know his given name, because for me his taken one is better in every way.
But what won my heart was when Dragon offered to cook at Twin Oaks on short notice. i had invited a couple of enthusiastic Land Day guests to stay at Twin Oaks and see if it might work for their family. I got them assigned a week of work each and then they vanished without a word. And thus their unfilled labor assignments become my headache as their host. Today i needed a prep cook and Dragon stepped up cheerfully and the crew back at Twin Oaks was impressed with his speed and pleasant manner.
Three are dead including a small boy, over 140 are wounded. Lives are shattered, peace is disrupted. President Obama stopped short of calling the attacks terrorism. One would hope this is because there has been no claim of responsibility yet, and we dont know why these innocents have been targeted. Without threats or demands from a political agent of some type, this is an awful random act of violence, and not terrorism at all. Yet it is likely the current administration has other motivations from avoiding, for the moment at least, the “T” word.
What we do know is that there is a tremendous search going on right now to find the person or group which planted these devices. The only hope these killers have of avoiding detection is if they were either brilliant in their coded messages, or they avoided using all digital media completely to plan their horrible attacks.
i scanned a dozen newspaper articles on these bombings. Many have human interest angles and interviews with witnesses or people in the area. Most articles are filled with promises by government officials that they will investigate fully and punish wrongdoers. But what is missing from every report i have read (and there are hundreds that i have not read of course) is why some individual or group might feel justified in doing this.
So this is the point in this blog post where the “true patriots” are going to want to bail out and read something else. Because what is politically untouchable is that there are hundreds of groups which could have planted these bombs as retaliation for US policy towards them. What no one wants to talk about is the possibility that these are not unprovoked and unjustified attacks, but simply a completely predictable chapter in a widening war the US is waging all over the world.
If you were a Pakistani American who just heard that drones had killed some child in your family, for no apparent reason at all, this type of bombing might feel like revenge for the strike against your family.
Which brings us to the useful definition of terrorism. For me a useful definition would be:
Terrorism is the act or threat of violence against non-combatants to advance a political agenda.
This is not at all the definition which is in common use. Wikipedia goes on at length about the problem that governments have with defining this word. For starters, almost all definitions of terrorism exclude state actors. States can not be terrorists, even if they behave exactly like non-states. Unusually non-combatants are excluded. Governments want their troops and secret police to be able to be victims of terrorism, regardless of what actions these trained killers have perpetrated against these so-called terrorists.
What seems obviously true, but that no one wants to talk about, is that as long as the US is killing innocents in other countries someone is going to feel that the appropriate response is to strike back at the US. Sometimes this will be on US soil and sometimes civilians will die tragically like they did in Boston
I am flattered that this article has been translated in Czech and posted by my old friend and boss Jakub Patocka
Most people don’t follow the news in Japan, but some encouraging things are happening in the wake of the Fukushima accident. It turns out my pessimistic forecasts about the current pro-nuclear government and it’s ability to restart nuclear reactors closed after Fukushima were overly pessimistic (usually not my problem). There are several things which are happening in Japan which make the worlds former third largest nuclear power (after the US and France) seem like it is almost completely retiring from this field, as Germany has, despite it still having a pro-nuclear government and a technophilic culture.
The first thing is that Fukushima is increasingly not under control. The US press carries little about this, but in the last week 3 of the 7 newly built underwater storage takes at Fukushima have failed, dumping high level radiation into the sea again. Over 120K liters had leaked, before this third leak was discovered. These tanks have failed in fairly rapid succession, increasing the chances that all these tanks will fail in the near future. Thus with over two years experience and billions invested, one of the worlds largest utilities can not manage one of the simplest aspects of this disaster and the situation is deteriorating. TEPCO also does not know why the tanks are failing. In addition to this the plants cooling system has failed twice in the last two weeks. While not news in the US, this does influence public acceptance in Japan of the restart of reactors.
The second factor is the new nuclear regulator seems to be taking it’s job seriously, despite having a distinctly pro-nuclear bias. The NRA (no relation to the US gun lobby) has released a draft proposal for the conditions needed for restart of reactors. This includes installing filter vents in more than half of Japan’s 50 reactors. Something which will cost significantly and delay restart of these reactors by years. While the NRA has given reactor companies a 5 year grace period to build second remote control rooms for reactors, Japanese nuclear utilities will need to include this additional cost in their calculations about restart costs.
The NRA has not been lenient with regard to fire proofing cables in reactors. The regulator is not giving reactor operators a pass on this one. This means in the case of older reactor designs the entire plant will have to be rewired. This upgrade likely makes the restart of these older plants financially impossible. And even for newer plants (many of which are waiting to hear if they are on active fault lines, with the new expanded 400K time horizon for seismic activity) this upgrade could take years.
The final news is that Japan is ditching it’s highly effective government mandated energy efficiency programs this year AND there will be a 6.7% energy surplus in 2013 AND this is with 48 of 50 nuclear power plants off line. What this means is that the utilities (contrary to last years dire black out forecasts with these reactors off line) dont need to restart reactors to handle the nations energy needs.
So a slightly tough regulator plus new slow regulations plus no urgent need for the reactors to come back online plus continuing problems at Fukushima plus 160K people still displaced from their homes because of Fukushima equals likely long delays in restarts.
Things look little better for the nuclear industry here at home. Former US NRC chair Gregory B. Jaczko said that the problems of the current US nuclear fleet cannot be fixed by upgrading them and the fleet should be phased out and replaced with new technology. He also said he was opposed to reactor life extension, which is perhaps the most important remaining fight in the US. Add to this the recent GAO report pushing the NRC to expand it’s 10 mile emergency evacuation radius, which would make siting new plants more difficult and I think these last 5 reactor blocks under construction in the US will be the last full sized reactors built in this country (and they might not even all get finished).
Oh and did i mention the costs of renewables is dropping below most fossil fuel (and especially nuclear). And private investors are staying far from nuclear projects, since government guarantees for these investments are shrinking most places except the UK and France.
After 3 decades of fighting this beast, it is comforting to see it slowly dying.
My brother very generously gave the communes two dozen free tickets and back stage passes to his show last night in Cville. The Acorners and Oakers loved it. Some attendees were repeat offenders from last years show.
The band played it’s only platinum album Flood, for most of the show. And on this album is the song Hot Cha, which is the most clearly-about-me song my brother has written. The lyrics of Hot Cha were written (i believe) in response to my disappearance from contact with my parents for much of 1982. My brother and i often played the game Derby Day when we were little and Hot Cha was horse number two and my favorite. Despite his claims otherwise, i am clear that this song on the Flood album is about me.
The funny thing is that i told Mac that this song was about me just before the show and when it started playing she said “This is your song!”. But i did not really recognize it. At first this struck me as odd. Here is this song, written by my brother, on his most famous album, which is about me and i don’t even recognize it. That seems lame.
But really, i am not that big a fan of my brothers music (i do appreciate their theatrics) and it turns out that i dont know most of this album. And he does not know my stuff, so it seemed fair that i might not be paying super careful attention to this critical media.
Before the show we bumped into Olivia in front of the Jefferson Theater with her TMBG t-shirt on, excited about the show – i had never met Olivia before this evening. The conversation turned to the point where i admitted that my brother was in the band and Olivia said “You must be Pax”, which is i think the first time that someone has identified me by name for this connection. I was so excited i gave her one of our back stage passes.
When the show was over, we went thru the strange underground tunnels that lead to where the bands relax. The woman in the wheel chair from Louisa who i had worked on a local campaign with me, who i donated tickets to, could not come with us to the back stage party, which made me sad.
As is often the case, my brother was gregarious and generous. The commune hippies descended like locust on the food and drink in the back stage area. When we left half an hour later it was all but gone. We talked a bit about his coming tour to Australia, about angry audience vibe in Cville and other places. I also reminded him that he was completely right in his political forecast about Obama’s re-election. In May of 2012 he had forecasted “people will be surprised how much he wins by”. When i congratulated him on this forecast he was both dismissive (“could the Republicans have chosen a worse candidate?)” and quick to follow up with a new forecast for the coming two years.
“The Republican Party has opened a Pandora’s box of troubles which will ultimately tear the party apart. The Tea Party and other wingnuts will crash it within two years.” I am doubtful, but i thought Obama was going to be much closer than he was, so i will suspend disbelief.
He talked about his work to stop fracking, his insights into NY Governor Cuomo’s completely political nature (“he has no moral compass.” John said) and the unexpected popularity of their coming Australia trip.
Having evaporated the food, my crew left the green room of the Jefferson theater without Olivia, who lingered behind in the place she always wanted to be.
Since there seems to be a bunch of TMBG fan traffic to this post, i should perhaps go more into detail about my contention that this song was written about me, since there is at least some dispute about it. The song refers to the first time Hot Cha went away a float island was his home. A pretty clear reference to the time i spent hitching on sailboats across the Pacific.
In the original Hot Cha video (which seems now to have been pulled from You Tube) i am told there was a phone with “PAX” on the center of the rotary dial.
My brother certainly feels some affinity for the prodigal son story in light of my disappearance and we did eat fondue together when we were growing up, which is a bit of an odd food choice.
Okay, enuf parasiting off my brothers fame, on to other adventures.