For once I was happy to be forced to drive slowly.
We had just finished a pretty rich Point A meeting with the Washington DC group and an even more successful mini-communities conference in NYC. I was exhausted, but excited to have some hours in the snow storm to chat with ex-Twin Oaker Dream. In many ways the trip is like the 1981 movie “My Dinner with Andre“, where Dream was playing the slightly other worldly stage director Andre Gregory.
Dream reminded me of transformative moments in his life, about feeling a Kundalini energy awakening in his body, while in bed aboard the USS Missouri just before it was struck by missiles during the first Gulf War. About falling in love with East Wind while at UMass Darmouth and struggling to decide if he should return to school. About hearing a word in a dream “Constatic” whispered to him. Constatic contrasts the unique experience of ecstatic, with a collective euphoric state, which he would only learn was a real (though very rarely used) word many years later.
Dream and I have quite similar tastes in a number of things. We both loved Being John Malcovich and the new movie Her, where the hero falls in love with his AI operating system. We were excited about the ideas in Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” and the works of Huxley. We shared a number of attractions to people in communities.
Without even a masters degree, Dream has somehow managed to secure teaching positions at both MIT and Harvard. Some combination of daring, charm and a highly accessible presentation style is what makes this story believable. But it is Dream’s imagination which makes him such good company for a long drive. He has all manner of wild ideas, some of which just might be huge, if they got the right attention. In this I also see the parts of myself I like best.
Dream is all about empowering kids using long-lever computer tools. Well after midnight when I finally left him behind at Morningstar, he had assembled a group of kids, including Willow to work with his new educational tech tool, called scratch. And within minutes of them working together my son was saying “I want to put up my own website.” And with inspiring teachers like Dream, it can’t be long before this is happening.
[Edited by Vermin F. Cockwolf]
It was perhaps a dozen years ago at a heated polyamory discussion dinner. There was a flirtatious communard who was known to be in a long-term committed relationship and their partner was quite jealous of their attractions outside their established relationship. One side of our divided conversation were people who believed that the responsibility for caring for that relationship was on the shared flirtatious partner. It was on this person to know, respect and communicate any agreements or boundaries the pre-existing relationship placed on the new connection. The other position was that it was good poly practice to communicate directly with your intimate’s other partners, especially if they are known to be jealous, so no one is surprised, everyone is on the same page and the new affair does not have an acidic effect on the existing romance. The group that was advocating for direct inquiry of the jealous partner was the older demographic at the table. I will call this group the Old Guard.
And there was kind of a “guardian” feeling to this concern. Poly is an ambitious relationship model. You are assuming that you can do better than upbringing. That you can transcend the perhaps 30% of all pop songs which promote exclusive romantic role models, or the 50% of soap operas which play off jealousy as a central theme. Not only do you have to be better, but the people you are playing with are going to have to be above average in their response to potentially highly charged emotional circumstances.
Remember the classical trajectory of new intimacies. They start with honeymoons. During this period we tend to be in significant denial about there being any flaws to our new partners. They are wonderful, their feet don’t stink, they treat you like you really deserve to be treated. And while you are wearing these rose colored glasses the existing (in this case jealous) partner can be completely reasonably worried that you would want to spend all your time with this shiny new relationship, rather than the grumpy old one with demanding attention, needing processing and not very fun.
Everyone in the old guard claimed to be not just taking care of the other partner, they were also taking care of the notion of polyamory being a responsible and sustainable relationship model. While it might be fun to jump on a discovered attraction at a party, the clean up can be a nightmare.
The young Turks thought differently (they were mostly 20-something so the label seemed apt at the time). We are adults, we are responsible for our relationships. If someone says they are romantically available to play it is untrusting and perhaps even insulting to say, “oh i have to go make sure i have permission from your main squeeze.” The young Turks thought they were being mature and respectful, the old guard thought the Turks represented the wild, wild west of intimacy frontiers. And while i have my own opinion, i can fully see why both sides believe theirs is a fair and reasonable position.
I am happy that there is again a polyamory discussion group at Twin Oaks, which Sky started up again. It happens on Tuesdays at dinner.
Shal who was at this polyamory dinner so long ago and thinks deeply about these issues had this to say about guards and Turks.
I understand the perspective of assuming new flame can be responsible for their own situation, but we know that is not always how it turns out. After all, the shared lover is looking at the situation with rose colored glasses too.
I agree with the reasons you speak of to be checking in with established intimates of a new flame. And there are some reasons that you did not mention why I think it is wise to be considerate of other partners of a new lover or potential lover. If the topic comes up at the new poly dinner I will mention these.It is not just about whether one gets the ok to start the relationship or not. There are many situations in life when one is more likely to feel ok with a change if one is asked first rather than the change being made without asking. I think this is also true of new relationships with one’s partner. If the other intimate of a new flame is asked nicely, and especially if co is assured co’s situation will be considered and cared about in the decisions made in the future (if that is true), co is more likely to feel ok with the proposed new relationship. And then the new relationship is more likely to go well. So I see such an approach as a wise mix of altruism and self-interest.
Also when in such a situation I would want my new lover’s life to go well, not just when co is with me but also in broader ways. And if co’s current relationship blows up it would cause much unhappiness to this person I care a lot about. So checking in with partners’ partners is not just caring for and about the other intimate one is checking in with, it is also and more importantly caring for and about the person one is getting emotionally involved with.I call such an approach “cooperative poly”.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
“The most interesting list is not the very long list of diseases where cannabis is an effective treatment. The most interesting list is the impressive list where cannabis is the only effective treatment.” And with this intro you are thrown into the colorful world of Lex Pelger.
A writer, scientist and world traveler, Lex believes that the way you change the world is by finding and telling the right stories. His search for these stories has taken him to the slums of India, where he covered the struggle of Tibetans until his second arrest got him deported.
He hitched to Mexico and across the US which he calls the kingdom of fear. He is a man of many loves.
One of his major loves is the story of cannabis and its healing properties. He says:
If Western medicine tells us anything about cannabis it’s that it cures, prevents & treats cancer. There’s abundant evidence in human trials across a wide range of cancer types that THC and CBD induce apoptosis in cancer cells. The cancer cells shut down their mitochondrial engines as the tumor shrinks and perhaps dies.
He is a most gracious host in Brooklyn, where several of us stayed after the last Point A meeting, along with half a dozen couchsurfers in his crowded 2 bedroom flat.
What has inspired this post is his most recent article in Ladybud magazine: The War on Weed is a War on the Elderly. If you have aging friends or parents or are concerned with issues of public health, i would strongly encourage you to read it. But if you don’t have time, let me share the part i found most compelling:
Cannabis helps with so many basic problems of aging: it lowers inflammation across the body, lessening aches, migraines and arthritis. By itself, it’s helpful against pain and it enhances the other painkillers so a patient needs less addictive opiates with just a few puffs of pot. It eases nausea from chemotherapy, treats sleep apnea, raises bone density for osteoporosis and protects the GI tract. It prevents heart attacks and lessens the neurotoxicity of strokes if applied immediately (the federal Health & Human Services even has a patent for this cannabinoid neuroprotection. This makes it even more ironic when the DEA claims ‘no medical benefit’). For as yet unknown reasons, cannabis works especially well for movement disorders like Parkinson’s and the self-attacking autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s disease. Cannabis slows the viruses of herpes and HIV, the prions of Mad Cow disease and even destroys the MRSA bacteria in a test tube (this drug resistant staph infection now kills more people than HIV every year and we have no new antibiotics left to kill it – except for the cannabinoids from that wicked weed). Our brain overflows with cannabinoid receptors that protect against MS, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s. Cannabis attacks and prevents cancer by several different pathways and it often eases depression.
My father died of Parkinson’s and the last part of his life was especially difficult. With persistence and luck the stories Lex is telling will change the world to ease the pain and suffering of folks like my dad.
[Edited by Judy Youngquest]
If you are in the area (Charlottesville/Central VA) and you feel like you have some sense as to what community life is like, you should come see the Sunday Jan 26th performance of Freegantown (if you have not already missed it, this is likely today for you).
Willow (who’s full name is Willow Star Falcon-Flansburgh) plays the villainous ex-communard who goes off to work for evil corporation Traitor Joes. His name is Dark Star in the play. This 30 minute performance, complete with a start up song with Evan on ukulele, is the best kid theater i have seen and some of the best theater to come out of the commune.
I won’t spoil the plot which teases all manner of commune customs and practices and includes blatant calls from the kids for more bandwidth in the community. But I will say this performance is a bit of insider ball, if you know nothing about the communes, about our pocket dramas around guests or our practices around dumpstering food, you will miss some parts of the story. None the less i would encourage you to come.
i will post more pictures (Hawina took some and Sky will tomorrow – all the Star parents are super proud this evening) and possibly get up the video of it. Aubby did and amazing job writing mostly and directing the piece. Ezra wrote and performed the musical accompaniment.
So be there ZK dining hall Sunday Jan 26th high noon – show starts on time. There is no charge for this performance, and if you wanted to leave a donation, that would be great.