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Want to Phone Bank?

People keep asking us how to volunteer to phone bank.

Schedule to Phone Bank for Florida  

This will hook you up to the collection for group we are working with on Florida’s critical candidates and referendums.

Nationally, these are the groups we think are doing some of the more accessible organizing for phone banking:

After weeks of being asked to take pictures with inspired citizens getting out to vote, Thumbs had only compiled a photo collage of garden gnomes and copulating dragon flies.  However, when Karen challenged him to put this tiny hat on a stray neighborhood cat, he delivered with this Fred Astaire feline putting on the ritz.

Yesterdays challenge action was Karen asked Thumbs to put this tiny hat on a stray cat and take a picture.  Our man was up to the challenge

cat with hat.jpg

i never said i was beneath using cat pictures 

 

why i am an anarchist

anarchism is the ultimate intellectual and ethical high wire act without a net.  it starts with rejecting the principle extant political institutions and dominant paradigms – but to get very far you need to build something. you need not build based on great thinkers of the past (tho some are available).  you can go where you find your passion and create something based on what you experience as true.  it is a broad anti-orthodoxy and thus everyone has their own slightly different personal flavor.  this is mine, i hope you like it.

Chomsky states not moral agents.jpg

i share.  perhaps the greatest challenge to the dominant political models is the idea that you do not have to possess things exclusively. widespread change in only this cultural value could result in a far more economically just world, using the same or fewer resources. i own little myself and live in places where material things are held in common.

anarchism deals with more than just the physical. feminism is about sharing power. it is training people to listen, helping the quiet find voice, flattening hierarchy and finding consensus – this is the beginning of building justice.  i like the adage that anarchism is the philosophy and feminism is the practice.

polyamory is sharing lovers – i do not claim sole rights to my intimates, and they as well have other lovers. i find it a great poison that intimacy should be locked up and made exclusive. it is the commodification of love. some of the hardest work of my life has been moving thru jealousy,  balancing time and establishing clear communication.

beltane-2-valerie-and-face-paint.jpg

radical spirituality is about sharing the planet with all of its life forms and respecting their rights.  as pagans we seek to build relevant rituals. we explore how to move symbols and create meaning.  this is the reclaiming of magic from the scientists and spirituality from the church. it also dovetails with environmental politics and the development of the connection to things greater than the self. these are the critical extensions of our language and culture we need to evolve.

i am a communard – i choose to live in an intentional community, where we work and live together, sharing income and resources, we build our own buildings, grow much of our own food organically, we don’t use money internally. there are basically no locks, no tv and virtually no crime. it is far from utopia – we have little shared vision, for example – but it is working model of what can be.

emmaposter-open-road.jpg

anarchism is embracing flexible strategies in face of structural dilemmas. a central example is the prefigurative politics versus the “length of the fuse” debate.  it is intellectually attractive to say “we will limit the tools we use now for the social change to the ones we want to still have in our new society.” violence and property destruction are the tactics most often excluded by this reasoning.  the length of the fuse argument is “if you are running out of time to change things you need to use fast tools”. sadly, prefigurative approaches are generally slow.  the resolution is that there is no fixed strategy – the workers (or activists) decide, the people who are on the scene at the relevant time make the choices. it was a pacifist who convinced me that violence played a central role in ending nuclear construction in Germany. when you are looking at preventing thousands of years of uncontrollable toxins, can you risk failure because you could not reach consensus on strategy?

anarchy stands for.jpg

i smuggle – borders are perhaps the most offensive static structure of the state.  i had the good fortune to help smuggle 3 Tibetan monks across a thousand miles of the Himalayas and into Nepal to see the Dalai Lama. i have carried banned documents and other contraband.  i’ve gotten caught a few times, but i’ve been lucky and made it thru basically unscratched.

i am a lobbyist – i have run thru the halls of parliament and congress trying to get elected officials to behave as i thought they should.  i am not especially good at it, but i have been the best available. simply because we can see that a governmental system is corrupt does not justify failing to engage with it. we have more tools than protest.

anarchism-is-democracy-taken-seriously.jpg

i am a propagandist – i don’t believe i or we have any monopoly on the truth – i have debated ideologues and i know they are sure they are right as i think i am in my most arrogant moments.  we have an obligation to put out our beliefs brilliantly and we need to remember that we are trying to sway people to think like us, not because we know we have a better way, but because we believe we do.

propaganda_catapult.jpg

i’m an outlaw – i shoplift, counterfeit, trespass, destroy property, break and enter, hop trains, panhandle, violate curfews, copyrights and security clearances, trade on the black markets, tax resist, enter and exit countries illegally, black ride (ride without a ticket), lie to the police, default on credit cards (for $50K), forge signatures, falsify visa’s, hitchhike, cut handcuffs, leak state secrets and don’t wear seat belts (for somewhat crazy reasons). i wish i could say all of this has been done for the greater good and to advance the revolution – in fact, some was self-serving and some just frivolous. But i certainly don’t start from the place of assuming laws are right – this is the anarchist prerogative.

i am a life style terrorist. someone who asks uncomfortable questions to people who are comfortable, about what they really need and what they can contribute.  of course, this is only credible from a place of doing it yourself and is best served in a humorous and non-dogmatic way. when visiting people we don’t really know my Dutch lover Hawina and i try to be “ambassadors from where we want to come from”. this is about pushing the positive aspects of our lifestyle choices, hoping to inspire folks to try to do more progressive political work.  This can be as small as recycling and using mass transit to as large as quitting your corporate job and running campaigns or moving to a commune.

vote nobody

i am a clownmy favorite fairy tale ends with the line “don’t take yourself too seriously”.  i make a point to remember jokes and riddles and try to make people laugh.  i don’t believe things are so bad we can’t make it without humor. similarly, one of the things i like the most about my community is that we strive to be a great audience – anyone willing to get up and perform is highly appreciated. i have watched it change the self-confidence of our kids and improve the overall quality of our cultural life.

 

kid laptop skyline

he will need a bigger bag

 

i travel. i have hitchhiked on sail boats from Mexico to Australia, trained across Europe and Asia, crossed the Atlantic twice on polish tramp ships, worked briefly on the north slope of Alaska and the bottom of the ocean near Hawaii. years ago i quit flying, for energy and environmental reasons, but i continued to travel more than most people i know – i am writing this on the train across the US. i have had to change my perception about the importance of the time spent traveling – correspondingly, i make fewer but longer trips.  but i have basically stopped going to places where i don’t know anyone – this is the difference between tourism and traveling. i strive to discover the culture thru the eyes of people who live there, rather than a guide book.

i raise funds – money is an oft necessary great evil. i learned how to make it come towards projects and campaigns which were important.  i never escaped the feeling that there was something wrong with this solution, and my ego did unhealthy flops around successfully finding money.  when i was doing this a great deal, it felt best to be homeless, without salary and living very cheaply.

 

we can do it

Know who “we” is

 

anarchists seem to be either of the individualistic/loner type or cooperators looking for allies.  i am always looking for allies. the success of the recent World Bank and WTO protests has been the ability of divergent groups to put aside their differences long enuf to come together to make an effective mass protest.  globalization and these oft media-invisible institutions which drive it are now the subjects of popular debate and they can not continue unchanged. we are a long way from closing them, but debt cancellation is gaining momentum and the WTO fast track seems derailed – both good things.  anarchists were central in organizing these actions.

anarchism deals with more than just the physical. feminism is about sharing power. it is training people to listen, helping the quiet fine voice, flattening hierarchy and finding consensus – this is the beginning of building justice.  i like the adage that anarchism is the philosophy and feminism is the practice.

proudhon property is theft

building these broad coalitions. and there are lots of other types of alliances – my wordsmith lover jazz edited this piece … almost every project of significant scale is a collaborative effort, and many which fail simply did not gather the right allies.

i am an organizer.  there are several key differences between an organizer and a leader.  the first is that no job is too low for an organizer. they are self-aware enough to know what they can teach and humble enuf to know there is still lots to learn.  always pressed for time, good organizers don’t get stuck and don’t overwork problems. they replace themselves before they leave work undone (something i have often failed in) and they are most generally invisible to the eye of fame.

group-vs-team.jpg

in a tiny train station in Czechoslovakia, i helped a man buy an international ticket and we got to talking.  he told me he had the best job in the world, traveling from place to place telling stories.  After listening to one of his stories and thinking about this for a while, i decided that it was a wonderful and important job and have been working on my storytelling ever since.

people shaped by stories.jpg

i am an optimist – if the anarchist principle is that “you can do what ever you want, but you must take responsibility for it” and you believe the new age principle of “we create our own reality”, then we have an obligation to be optimistic – or else we are creating the wrong reality.  For seven years i lived in eastern Europe working with small anti-nuclear groups against the most powerful corporations and the state.  i was constantly reminding them that it was groups exactly like theirs which had stopped reactors around the world.  it is as papa Chomsky so well put it:

chomsky on hope.jpg

i am in the hope business. and that is why i am an anarchist.

 

7 magics

There is an ontology of magic I developed a couple of decades ago, which I never wrote about.  The idea is that there are three sets of magical spectrums, representing 7 different types of magical presentation or mechanism.

High versus Low Magic:  When you are designing a ritual or spiritual event you have to decide how much you are going to prepare.  Is this event rehearsed?  Will there be costumes?  Will there be elaborate sets or complex props for your event?  The more you prepare, the more pageantry, the more visual and auditory elements to your event, the higher the magic.

 

damanhur ritual

High Ritual at Damanhur, Italy

 

skipping stones

Low magic uses what is around

Dark versus Light magic:  The easy way to distinguish these types of magic is by answering the question “Does this magic take power over someone else?”  If the answer is “yes” then you are some type of dark magic.  If you are doing something to someone without their consent, this is not cool.

gradient-scale

Light magic works in cooperation with whoever it is operating on.  A prayer to heal someone (who wanted to be healed) would qualify (assuming your religion does not freak out at the idea its sacred acts would be considered magic).

Hard versus Soft Magic:  Soft magic is when you make some type of request or cast an intention, that is possible, but perhaps improbable.  Here again, many prayers would qualify.  Hard magic is when your actions are breaking the laws of physics.  Psychic surgery would qualify as hard magic.

 

breaking-laws-of-physics-cartoon

Magic can happen in a lab

Telepathy might qualify as hard magic, teleportation or telekinetics definitely would.

Pop Magic:  The last form of magic is not a spectrum at all.  Popular magic is tricks or illusionism.  This is a different type of event with gravitates towards high and hard magic characteristics.

 

floating girl

Seeing is believing

Perhaps it is less about types of magic as it is descriptions of magic.

Older posts:

Pomegranates and Pillow Fights: Contemporary Pagan Solstice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost an orgy

Spoiler:  This post has no descriptions of graphic sex.

“Can I kiss you?” it seemed like a perfectly reasonable question.  It was asked across a cuddle pile in the midst of a party up at the conference site where several people were making new romantic connections.

kiss dice in mouth

“I don’t really know you very well.” Was the reply I was slightly surprised to hear.  But then something really powerful and slightly profound happened.  Nothing.

The mood did not change.  No one got embarrassed and felt like they needed to leave.  No one laughed at the rejection or felt sorry for someone.  The party just moved on.

We think and talk a lot about consent culture in the communes.  We do orientations for visitors and guests so they don’t make cultural mistakes around initiating intimacy, which is easy to do if you are just mimicking what you see others doing.   We explore new types of agreements around boundaries.  And the reward for our efforts is we get to take some types of risks, like my friend who got rejected from the make out session.

consent flow

What this does is create comfort and safety.  It makes people feel like their boundaries are going to be respected.  This in turn often helps them to push limits out.  This reveals new possibilities and new connections.

And thus the party drifted right up to the edge of becoming an orgy.   As a funologist, this is something I want to understand.  For when you push aside all the sophomoric jokes and embarrassment about what orgies are, assuming they are done in a healthy consent environment, they are daring and liminal events.  They change peoples lives.

And in this case, the “almost” does not really matter.  Everyone could feel the possibility, we had created the space that was that safe and daring.

Unlikely Hammocks

Our customers send as all manner of interesting pieces of news about hammocks worldwide.  This Dutch story particularly caught my eye.

Closer to home, yesterday was Black Friday and we launched our first major hammocks holiday season sale.

2017-holiday-sale-chairs

“Why have you not done a winter holiday sale before?”  I can hear you asking.  Principally because hammocks are very largely a seasonal purchase, and winter is not their season.  Which is why we are leading with our stylish hanging chairs.

If you are looking for a lovely holiday present, go to www.twinoakshammocks.com and use the “HOLIDAYS2016” discount code once you have added something to the shopping cart.  At 25%, this is the biggest discount we have ever had.

These hammocks, hanging chairs and accompanying pillows are made in the US, by our workers cooperative, nestled within our income sharing intentional community.  What could be a better way to spend your hard earned money?

floating-hammock

Still on the drawing boards

Bystander Intervention Workshop

 

It is my personal desire to tangle work and play so completely that the things which I do for fun or inspiration are the things which are my vocation.  So when my lover Abigail came to visit before New Years, I asked her if she was willing to do a workshop on Bystander Intervention at Twin Oaks and at the newly formed income sharing community in Richmond, Quercus.  Abigail agreed to the workshops, not knowing what she was getting herself into.

Abigail does interactive theater.  This means, among other things, that she creates workshops with role plays of problematic scenarios where participants are given the opportunity to practice intervening in the scenes and experience how they work.  By practicing interventions, and receiving real time feedback about what works and what doesn’t, participants get the lived experience of stepping in as a bystander, and are more likely to actually intervene the next time they are faced with a situation where someone is potentially being harmed.

MLK silence is betrayal

The time is now

Bystander intervention is the idea that it is not enough to chat about how to create healthy and safe culture.  When you see someone oppressing or threatening someone else, you have to do something about it.

The problem is, unlike physics or history classes, bystander intervention almost never has one right answer.  Those willing to stand up to bad behavior have to evaluate the losses and gains associated with various strategies.  It is never all gains.

I learned the three general strategies for addressing situations where a bystander should intervene.    These are called the “3 Ds” and were originally outlined by Dorothy Edwards, Executive Director of Green Dot:

  1. Direct Intervention
  2. Distraction
  3. Delegation

 

Direct Intervention is where you take on the oppression straight on.  There are lots of different ways to do this.  In one role play, a guy at a party was trying to have sex with a gal who was intoxicated.  He knew she did not like him sober, but was hoping “she would be frisky when she was drunk.”  Ash from Quercus intervened by asking him if it would not be better for him to look for someone who really wanted to have sex with him.  A question so obvious it was completely disarming.

Some of the most powerful interventions of the workshops were shocking.  In a role play where people were betting on the gender of a new barista, Jillian intervened by asking the perpetrator, “Do you have a penis in those pants?  You want to show us?”  The shocked perp wanted to know why she was asking.  She calmly replied, “You were so interested in what was happening in the barista’s pants, that I was curious about yours.”

slut shame

 

Hawina, in the workshop done at Twin Oaks, did the slut shamers one better.  After they had spoken briefly about how terrible one woman was who had been involved in multiple romantic interactions, Hawina stepped into the role play and said, “Yeah, well, it says in the Bible that whores should be stoned to death!”  When the shocked slut shamers said this might go too far, Hawina replied that they seemed to be completely on board with the belief that women who were ‘too sexual’ ought to be shamed and punished. It was another brilliant and disarming example of a comment that made the perpetrators re-evaluate their own behavior.

Perhaps appropriately, during the workshop in Richmond, I actually had to do an intervention.  There was a transient person who was hanging out at Quercus who was extremely drunk.  His name was Glib.  It was clear from even before the workshop that Glib was in no state to be a workshop participant and would be interrupting the event if we did not discuss his involvement.  He was quiet for the first few moments of the workshop and then started his non-stop talking.  I asked him to step outside with me and chat.  It was not an easy conversation.  He was occasionally defensive, he resented being singled out and being talked to.  At moments our talk got heated, but we did agree in the end that if he could respect that people were there to attend the workshop and not listen to him, then he could participate.  Mostly he stayed out of the event, but for the last 20 minutes or so, he attended and was respectful of what was happening.

Distraction has many forms.  Often it is fast and simple.  The intoxicated gal who the creepy guy was trying to seduce was rescued by one bystander who came in and said “It is time to go,” grabbed her hand and pulled her away.  This is classic distraction.  The perp is left without the person they are coming on to.  It interrupts the problematic behavior, but not by directly confronting it.

The advantage of this format often is that there is fairly little risk, unless the target of the abuse does not cooperate (or desire the intervention).  The intervener said that she has done this before with people she does not know.  The danger here is if there is some interest on the part of the target in the perpetrator, you can end up in a tug of war with the perp.

Unlike direct intervention, distraction often leaves the perp without any strong message that their behavior was problematic.  There is no “educational moment.”. And here the trade off can be, “Do I get my friend out of this jam?” versus “Do I try to take care of my community which has this problematic person in it currently?”  Again, there are more trade offs.  Getting your friend away may be all you feel like you have energy for.  If you are in a bar or other public setting, it can be quite difficult to confront the perp in any meaningful way that takes care of others.  And the risk of direct confrontation goes way up when you are sticking around to discuss or negotiate with the prospective assailant.

no intervention cartoon

Don’t just walk away

Delegation is the final tool and perhaps the hardest one to use in these anarchist identified communities.  

During the role play of the drunk person at a party, someone jumped into the action and said, “I am her brother” (referring to the intoxicated woman).  This was a lie, but it still might be an effective technique.  Other possible persons for delegation are hosts of the party, or friends of the guest who is a possible threat.  Just because you could confront someone, does not mean you should, and there are often more effective people to confront them.

One problem with delegation is that it disempowers the prospective victim.  In the role play, when this technique was used, the target person did not feel comfortable having to depend on some external man to take care of her.  Contacting the police may raise similar issues.  Many communities are reluctant to call the police on their own membership, especially for minor violations.  (That said, none of the communities I work with take the rights of survivors away, so the survivors can always choose to bring in law enforcement if they think this is best.)  Adding to the complications of this work, you may not easily find a solution which works for all parties.

pinata bystanders

Looking for heroes

Both workshops went well, despite one needing an intervention.  The role plays were entertaining, informative and got at key issues both times they were offered.  What we found over the 90 minutes of discussion and theater was that people got more animated and daring as the problems became more deeply examined.  And daring is definitely what is needed.

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 95,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

ABC Nightline Coverage of Twin Oaks

It was with quite some anticipation and fear that today approached.  Almost a month ago ABC Nightline came and filmed at Twin Oaks and several members were unhappy about the high impact of their visit.  For me, even more worrying was the prospect of them doing a slash piece on us, as the NY Times did some years back (after the NY Times photographer had spent a bunch of time telling us how wonderful and important we were – but it is editors, not photographers who determine what is news).

Link to ABC Nightline Video Coverage of Twin Oaks

Gryphon and i making a hammock - Credit ABC Nightline News

Gryphon and i making a hammock – Credit ABC Nightline News

In the end, I was mostly relieved by the piece.  I don’t need them to depict Twin Oaks as paradise. I certainly don’t see it that way and almost always tell people about the down sides of the commune (including minimal access to resources including money and thus general inability to travel personally, labyrinth decision making process and reduced privacy).  And it is still a better place than almost any other i have visited.

And it seems this time, the mainstream media mostly agreed with me.

no privacy street sign

Well, there is some privacy

How China’s energy program destroys the scalability argument

I am reblogging this clever article that uses the crash development courses in China for both nuclear and wind expansion to put to bed the myth that only nuclear can scale to address climate change. Useful reading.

Other posts on China’s energy plan:

This might be an important trend

This might be an important trend

Political Imagery

Is bling the new chains?

Is bling the new chains?

What Santa really looks like

What Santa really looks like

One stop cleaning

One stop cleaning

Well be okay without the artists

We’ll be okay without the artists

Facebook lets me see everything

Facebook lets me see everything

Stay warm til we figure out a way out of here

Stay warm til we figure out a way out of here

Who is your filter?

What is your filter?

quality political discourse

quality political discourse

"it okay, i will clean it myself"

“it okay, i will clean it myself”

Exporting democracy

Exporting democracy

nukes are the future

nukes are the future

our great leader will show us the way

our great leader will show us the way

For the complete set of 29 drawing in this style go to The Mind Unleashed