I can't remember a time that I didn't love to dance. I was one of those little girls whose mothers carted them to weekly ballet and tap lessons. My friends and I choreographed dances after school and fawned over the cheerleaders at high school football games. My dreams were shaped by the Star Search dancers and some quintessential 80s dance movies: Dirty Dancing, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and Footloose.
This post was written by Paxus and originally appeared at www.communitiesconference.org Sections in italics are additions to the original post.
1. Reconsider your living situation. If you let it, the Communities Conference can really shake you up. Daring people who are trying new or untested lifestyles are presenting or in attendance. Step outside your comfort zone a bit and start from the assumption that you could live somewhere else, or with other people and see what this event has to offer and demonstrate. Let go of the assumption that your next year has to look like your last year and go back to your own personal values. What do you really care about? How could this be better experienced in your daily living situation?
This is a call to be daring, which i think is the most under nurtured revolutionary trait.
2. Chat with a rock star. There are a bunch of inspiring personalities at the Communities Conference and they are more accessible in this relaxed 3 day event than they are at most times in their busy lives. Seek out the people who say something that excited you and ask to have lunch or a more private chat with them. If this is your first time attending, read the entire set of workshop descriptions upon arrival and find out which presenters sound like they are doing stuff you are excited about and then get any of the event organizers to point that person out to you. This conversation might just change your life.
This calls to core funological metrics. If you are doing something really important, it will be transformational.
3. Fall in love with someone new. I’m not just talking about romantic love. Most participants of the Communities Conference come with the intention of stepping out of their regular lives at least a little bit. We arrive open to new experiences and people who we might not consider dancing with in our more mundane day to day life. The conference also throws people together in various small groups in workshops, or child care shifts, or mealtime chats. Dare to be open to someone new, introduce yourself, dont be afraid to share your thoughts, show up.
Here we are combining principals – being daring and doing things that change your life positively.
4. Engage deeply in the workshops. There are too many good choices at this event, but dont let that stop you. Figure out which workshops are going to make the most sense to you and figure it out early. If you are unsure, go check in with the people who are presenting and figure out if they have things to offer you.
This is in part a pitch for coming to the event prepared to get the most out of it. We write up this program with all manner of info in it and too few people (i fear) dont really use it deeply as they could and would benefit from.
5. Give a workshop in open space. So you have never given a workshop before? Time to give up the idea that you can’t. Start by thinking about the thing you care most about in the world, then think about what it is that might make other people interested in it. One of the easiest ways to give a workshop is to recognize that it is not a lecture. The wisdom is in the room, not just in your head. So think of discussion questions, let other people offer their truth, often they will hit the most important points, then you can just bat clean up and add the details which make it a bit richer. Keep the conversation moving, watch for the attention of your participants. Ask questions of people who seem engaged and curious. It is time to share what you are passionate about.
Another life changers is for someone to get up and do a workshop on what they are passionate about for the first time. They almost always get inspired to continue on and they often find new allies.
Several people have said the most useful piece of the Loud Love event was the transparency tools workshop. i was powerfully reminded that while the tools are useful, what appears to be really happening is that people are longing to be asked these revealing questions. With the smallest opportunity most people will share deep feelings and vulnerable information about themselves, even with people they dont know very well.
We have re-started the transparency group at Acorn. There were a few people excited about it and a number of people who showed up when it happened who seemed to like it. My original thought was that we should try to fuse Acorns more festive culture with this tool set and instead of having the classical, slightly formal transparency discussions. We should have transparency parties, where the format is more relaxed, less full group oriented and more smaller conversations. Distracting food and drink could be part of it as well.
Instead, at the first Acorn transparency event this year, we stuck to a more conventional format, with the group in a circle and a single person revealing themselves to everyone using several different tool sets. And i was blown away again.
What was exciting for me was that one member of the group told about their intense and difficult experience when they were young in urban gangs. What was curious was i had actually heard this story from this person before, but i did not realize how big an identity piece it was for them. How this violence had influenced their choice to leave their decaying urban center and ultimately settle into the commune sphere. In the transparency context, i could connect the dots in a way i had not before.
We need another new word, it is the opposite of betrayal. It is something more than just “bonding”. What transparency groups do is build trust and connections. i see it almost every time we do one. i fear that this happens so rarely, that the need for these trust building experiences are not in sufficient demand. if we are clever, we will change that.
i am not much of a fashion person. i can go long periods without looking in a mirror. One of the advantages of living in the commune is no one seems to care (except perhaps Bochie) that i almost never comb my hair. Last Wednesday i agreed to go to Charlottesville to do a filming of a couple of TV shows for the All Things Green on reactors and North Anna specifically. So i went up to Commie Clothes and grabbed a respectable looking button down shirt. Which Willow laughed at just moments after i took it “you look weird in a real shirt”. They said the shows will be aired in July.
Ali was handling the NBC TV 29 visit to Twin Oaks for a 90 second piece they were doing on our 46th Anniversary. Since i already had a TV ready shirt, i jumped in and did part of the interview.
i cant write about the details yet, but it almost certain that June will be called False Accusations.
For folks who tuned in late, i often name my months. This is a practice i started when i was living in the Czech Republic at i was informed by Erikk Piper that the Slavs used a completely different month naming practice than the Roman influenced world. It was not about roman gods, but about seasons and colors and cultural things which were happening. Month names like Harvest (for August) and Animals in Heat (for September) or Red (which is June).
So i have a trigger around false accusations, which is stronger than most peoples. This comes from being someone who is with some regularity bending or breaking the rules. Anarchists climb fences, graffiti walls, disassemble sleep schedules, go to jail, and write long essays about why they are anarchists.
And with quite some regularity, in community, in my action groups, with my friends and intimates i have to explain the unconventional decision i make. i am accused of being foolish, naive, a danger to myself and others, and more. i am regularly accused of something that i did do and i spend some fraction of my time explaining why i am doing what i am doing to an upset, curious or confused comrades.
So when someone accuses me of something i did not do, i often get angry. i would likely get far less angry than if i did not have to spend so much time on the legitimate accusations which come my way. But so it goes.
“We dont want to exclude people, that would make us a cult.” Izzie was commenting on her desire for the membership of the new unicorns club to be inclusive. And i realized i needed to explain what a cult really was.
So the 4 things which typify a cult are:
- it has a living charismatic leader
- you give them all your money
- you are kept away from your old friends and family
- you cant leave when you might like
They are bright kids, these sisters of Feonix, who quickly were intrigued by the idea that if a group persisted after its charismatic leader died, it shifts from being a cult to being a religion.
Zoe quickly quipped “We gave you a temporary unicorn tattoo, we want all your money, like that is going to happen.”
We had one lunch of this august group, i was quite honored to be the only person old enough to vote in the group.
Unicorn Club is in no way affiliated with the Twin Oaks home schooling program called Unicorns School, tho Zadek is in both.