The facilitator did not think it would fly. “How many people would help organize a sober New Year’s Eve Eve party?” But when more than half the room raised their hands in the Acorn Community meeting, the follow up question became obvious “How many people would attend such a party?” Almost the every hand went up in the room.
I’ve tried several times to organize large sober parties at the communes, there has not been interest or willingness to give up a major holiday for this experiment. But the case for New Year’s Eve Eve was pretty compelling. For starters, New Year’s Eve was not going to be sober, so it is physically draining to party hard this way two nights in a row. So a sober party first is an obvious fix.
But funologically sober parties bring a score of other advantages. One is talented people who don’t like to be around intoxicated folks so much jump at the chance to help make sober event happen. Purl performed a charming surreal puppet shows and enthused karaoke facilitation as part of the night’s complex mix of activities.
One of the things which i did not pull off at this event, because i was too busy driving shuttles to Twin Oaks, was a real new year’s resolution game. Using some as-yet undefined combination of appreciative inquiry and transparency tools, i wanted to craft robust resolutions that people would be excited about attempting, and compassionate with themselves around lapsing from. Just like Validation Day fixed Valentines Day, just like the communes institutional sharing fixes brittle agreements, i wanted to try to fix the generally reckless process of making a new year’s resolution. And at the center of this unfulfilled plan was sober, heady talk.
One of the things the commune does, which i deeply appreciate, is to throw multi-generational events. At this party it meant having littler kids in the early stages and the teens show up when the Magic card game started around midnight. Willow was the youngest, i was the oldest. And what was clear was that it did not really matter what your age was; what mattered was how you played, and age held little advantage in this deeply competitive game (i was one of the first eliminated).
One of the things i realized only after the event was that while the communes tend to run in the hippie direction in terms of membership, many of our friends who came to this party are punks. The punks are, because of their culture and because of the differences, inherently more edgy. Pulling intoxicants out of the mix made it more comfortable to have edgy, different people in our midst, especially for those who had never met them before.
People seemed to enjoy this well attended event, with a bit of luck, it will become and annual tradition.