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The importance of the Right Allies – Serenity Community

When the nation was exploding in protests over the murder of George Floyd, some skeptics, perhaps tired of the nations inability to hold Trump for any of his many crimes, said “these protests won’t change anything”.  They were wrong.

Viewers of mainstream news could be forgiven for thinking the big effects were removal of confederate statues and the confederate symbol from the flag of Mississippi and NASCAR races.  And i fear the biggest effect of the Trump presidency is that many news sources now focus more on telling us what we will get upset about, rather than what is actually important.  

The Floyd uprising changed policing in America.

However this short list misses most critical reforms and changes, many of which took place shortly after Floyd was murdered.  Some terrible laws were cancelled, including A 50 in New York which protected criminal bad cops by hiding their disciplinary records and complaints filed against them.  Colorado stripped cops of qualified immunity. LA cut over $150 million from the police budget and redirected it to other community servicesOver a dozen police chiefs were forced to resign, including in large cities like Atlanta, Tucson, Richmond and Louisville.  Police chiefs almost never resign suddenly or are fired.  Letitia James, the Attorney General of NY State made history by being the first AG to sue their own police department for use of excessive force.  At one point, i started to track all the things which had actually changed because of this uprising, it ended up being overwhelming by it and i quit.

Serenity Community – circa summer 2021

The communes also changed.  There were disruptive internal protests at these intentional communities about systemic racism and there was a lot of education of white communards about how despite their best intentions they were maintaining racist systems.  And in part because of these internal  protests POC members of communes started more seriously considering options which had only been discussed before.  Importantly, a number of BIPOC community members realized there was a need for a  BIPOC led income sharing community near the cluster of communes in Louisa county.  And so Serenity Community was born.  

OG Serenity

While Serenity (taken for the name for the starship in the Firefly TV series) is still forming, it is already making good things happen.  One of the things we are especially excited about is that Serenity has taken on the difficult task of dispersing scholarship (discount) tickets for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks who need economic assistance to come to QuinkFair.  Recently, has also agreed to take on the granting of scholarship tickets to other economically disadvantaged participants.  

And while they have been actively dispersing scholarship tickets, there are still more people who want to come to this event than can afford it. If you could help grow these scholarship funds it would be quite helpful.  If you are on Facebook, you can donate at this fundraiser or you can venmo 541-505-0803, be sure to include a note “QuinkFair Scholarships”

George Floyds death forced America to admit it had a systemic racism problem and while these important changes are to be lauded, we know the real work lies in front of us, but i am glad and excited to have the talented and energetic Serenity folks help in crafting a more fair and equitable world.

Quink Books – Open your mind

Good festivals build on people’s excitement, this is why so many events are designed around performers and their personalities.  But there are lots of other excitements which are available. 

 As we have been talking about quinks more, people keep asking for examples – and especially what are common quinks?  Things that don’t require the heroics of breaking a toxic relationship or the mastery of enlightenment.  

Wolf (on left) coordinates fire and flow arts for QuinkFair

Wolf suggested Quink books.  Almost everyone has read a book that has changed their life in a way which they look back on positively now.  These books hold a power and story for you and as organizers we want to bring that to our event.

On Friday Oct 1st at dinner we will have the participants of QuinkFair bring copies of their favorite books to dinner with the intention of discussing them, why they changed their lives and seeing if that is a message someone else in the group needs to hear.  

We ask that people consider bringing a copy to give away.  [If that’s not doable (financial challenges, difficulty finding a copy, etc) then you could also print the title and author on one side of a 3×5 index card and write why it was so important to you on the other side.  We’ll take photos of these cards and share them on the QuinkFair blog, as well as on Facebook.  ]

These are the three clear quink books for me and a sentence about what i took away from them:

The Dispossessed

That anarchist societies don’t make problems go away, they just shift how they are discussed and decided.

Be the revolution

Woman at the edge of time 

Was a compelling smack in the head about how my blindness to gender and racial inequity did not exempt me from at least learning about them and hopefully doing something about them.

The Fifth Sacred Thing

This book taught me that a good author can have me crying by page 4.  It showed exhausted heroes who looked a lot like people i loved.  And it showed our type of consensus decision making in impossible situations sparking effective non-violent resistance.

One of the most often used images to depict utopia comes from this book

What are the books that changed your life and why?  Can you provide copies for others to learn the things you did and perhaps other important lessons?

QuinkFair is a transformation celebration borrowing from several festival cultures and striving to spark positive and healing experiences.  It takes place on beautiful private land in rural Virginia in the town of Mineral on Oct 1 thru 4.  Tickets are still available

bring the books that sparked a quink thought

For some event participants this has been a lovely exercise, they get to go to their favorite used book store, shop for the books which help them become who they are and then bring them to the event and press them into the hands of someone who you hope has a similar strong resonance with the book.

9/11 pop quiz “Why?”

Like most white Americans I did not learn the history of the burning of Black Wall St until the George Floyd protests. And I am a bit embarrassed about my minimal knowledge of the history of Union organizing and civil rights. Unsurprisingly I do better with anti nuclear activism history

But the question I find surprisingly few US Americans (including highly educated ones) can answer is “Why was the US attacked on 9/11?” It seems like an important question for us to have a consensus historical answer to. It is not like this was something Osama bin Laden was cagey about. He gave three very specific reason for the attacks on the U

  1. the US boycott of Iraq which had already killed 600k children 
  2. US construction of military bases in Saudi Arabia
  3. US political and military support for the Israeli’s war in Palestine

The more you dig into each of these reasons the more reasonable it becomes (if you lived in the region) to think the only way the US will stop doing these things is if you strike them dramatically at home. While bringing these issues to the attention of the world – because each represents an injustice or danger of US expansionism.

Merchants of death win!

But with perhaps the most dramatic terrorist attack in history, in the US least, bin Laden and friends lost control of the message.  Instead George W Bush told the country “they hate our freedom” as preposterous as that is.  I find that collectively we are much more likely to remember the “Freedom Fries” debate with France that the actual US instigated actions that sparked this retaliation.

Interestingly, this is another thing the US tends not to recognize – 9/11 did not start these wars. There were already happening, people in the Middle East were already dying because of US policy , but people in the west were just ignoring humanitarian organizations which were trying to call out these injustices. 9/11 was a surprise because we were happily ignoring our policy effects in the Middle East.

While we are fighting the Big Lie, it is important to remember we have likely been duped by other politicians.

A Festival with Homework

This is an ambitious event. We are striving to create a temporary community celebration where we positively change the lives of participants.  This experience strives to strike the delicate balance between joyous celebration and transformative self reflection.  We want you to have a crazy good time, and we also want you to walk away from the event a wiser, wilder, and more inspired person.  

To this end we are trying some unusual things: this festival has homework you need to complete before arriving. We are asking everyone to bring a very specific type of memory.  A rememberance where you made a choice and things in your life improved. It could be a little thing, standing up for yourself or taking a small risk. It could be a large thing, like breaking an addiction, falling in love or reaching a spiritual enlightenment. Reflecting back on the lock downs, how are you different in an improved way and how did that happen?  This memory will be the core of a story we want you to tell.

Homework for a festival?

What the talented storytellers explain is that the way you improve your story is to often retell it.  And this is also the way you understand your own story.  But we are often discouraged from telling these types of stories culturally because they are immodest.  Yet especially in these extraordinary times, modesty is dangerous and we need to honor and herald these heroic choices.

What event is this?  QuinkFair is an event on October 1,2, 3 and 4.  It is located in Mineral Virginia to be close to the communes of Louisa county.  A festival inspired by many other events and cultures including the rainbow gathering, burning man, and the intentional communities conferences.

The story we are asking you to develop is about a quink from your life, a quink is roughly defined as the opposite of trauma, where after some identifiable event your life improves or you experience a healing.  When people share these positive stories we observe two important things happen.  The first is that you think more about these experiences and pay attention to how they might happen in your future life and how you might best ride them.  And secondly, these are intimate stories of (in part) how you became who you are and this vulnerability brings intimacy with the group.  

Beyond crafting a story, we are asking folks to consider presenting about their quink experiences so others might learn from their paths.  Examples bondage class, group building with challenge course material, or try your hand with divination at the Temple of Oracles.  We discourage the term audience in favor of participant and co-creator or maker.

We borrow from other festival cultures and are strongly committed to both a high consent culture and a decommodified one.  Consent culture means we have a shared respect for bodily autonomy and feel safe.  For example, one of our the consent examples on the QuinkFair website suggests to “Ask open ended questions- for example, avoid saying “It’s okay if I hug you, right?”  Instead try saying “I’d like to hug you, how would you feel about that?”

Decommodified cultures don’t use vendors internally: no vendors, no service fee,  no barter, no corporate sponsors, no money based markets, and nothing for sale.  

Can we guarantee you will have a quink at this event?  Certainly not, but we do have both clever guides and powerful tools to help you find at least where you might look for your future quinks.  We also have intentional communities and especially (income sharing) communes coming to present themselves, so perhaps your Quink will be leaving your straight job and moving to a commune in the country?

Tickets are on sale here

See who is going from Facebook

Lots more info about this event at www.quink.org

We have a strict “vax or test” covid policy, please understand it before you buy tickets.

QuinkFair origins and inspiring festivals.

The Dark Side of Communes

I have 10 minutes today to present on how communes can help us move away from money centric economies. I love this topic and have quite a bit to say about it. So much to say, that it does not all fit into the time i have.

I think recruiters have an obligation to talk about the shadow sides of the things they are promoting. Here is the slide i did not have time for on the disadvantages of commune life in general.

  • Press your buttons
  • Sharing work, home, and money with a large group can be intense
  • Less autonomy (health care, kid care, snap long distance trips)
  • Less Privacy
  • Romantic breakups can be harder
  • Insular – reduced access to urban culture
  • Small social circle
  • Dramatically reduced chance of getting rich
  • Maybe shunned by family and old friends
  • No 401k (although there is phased community retirement)

Most of these points are self expanitory but i want to elaborare on the first one. Joining a commune is going to push your buttons. If you know what your buttons are, then you are signing up for a personal growth class by joining.  You will be confronted with this and have to grow, or suffer.  But the second possibility is that you do not actually know what your buttons are, and then coming to the commune can be a difficult and disorienting wake up call.  You could find out that you are crazy jealous and the partner of your dreams is polyamorous.  You could find out that you need much more alone time than you thought (because it had not been much of an issue before, because it happened “naturally”) and you need to adjust your schedule accordingly.  Maybe you like to make your own choices about which brand of shampoo or kind of desert you want, this could require some adjusting.

There are lots of advantages to living in a commune, but contrary to other peoples reporting, we have no illusions that this is utopia.

It maybe better than how you are currently living, but it ain’t no utopia.

My complete slideshow on Decentering Money

Poor Comparisons

I often find people comparing Hitler to Trump and i find it quite problematic.  It displays an ignorance of history that US Americans are famous for and it elevates Trump’s impact in a way which feels problematically inaccurate.  So let’s just dive in:

Genocide:  Hitler is responsible for killing millions of Jews, Romani, disabled folks, and other ethnic and religious minorities.  Beyond those murders, millions were tortured, enslaved, and raped.  Trump banned people from Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, tried (with varying levels of success) to build a souther border wall, and called Mexicans rapists.  Trump sent unmarked Federal Troops after BLM and antifa activists there were a handful of fatalities.  

Press: Hitler’s Ministry of Propaganda closed 3/4s of the nations newspapers and all we under strict editorial control, Nazi controlled press dominated almost all media.  Trump referred to the mainstream media as “fake news” but was unable to bar reporters he did not like from the White House press corps.  He can take credit for the birth of terrible news sources like Newsmax and One America Network, it is unclear if these will survive the lawsuits which have been brought against them by voting machine companies. 

Military expansion: Hitler drove the growth military to over 30% of the total population (over 22 million people), as well as indoctrinating children through the paramilitary organization known as Hitler youth.  Trump’s military growth was flat compared to GDP and never reached Obama’s highest spending levels.  Trump created the Space Force division of the military, which will likely just get folded back into the Air Force where it mostly came from.  The US active military is less than 1% of the population (about 2 million people).

Homophobia:  Hitler’s Nazis put 100,000 LGBT folks into concentration camps, destroyed scholarly work on sexuality and banned gay organizations and burned progressive sexual institutions.  Trump banned new transgender soldiers joining the military, and appointed anti marriage equality supreme court justices.  Biden reversed the transgender ban on his first day as president.  Trump’s supreme court is his most lasting legacy.  

Dictatorship:  Hilter’s party took complete control of the government, all other political parties were disbanded and outlawed.  The Nazi’s ruthlessly killed hundreds of political opposition within Germany.  Trump lost the House, the Senate and the White House and was unable to get a single one of his appointed judges to rule in his favor.  Trump’s supporters’ assault on the Capitol was uncoordinated, fanciful, ill conceived, and destined to failure.  Hitler burned their Capitol and pinned it on the communists and used that to seize power.   Trump got crowds to chant “lock her up”, Hitler did it.

Fascism:  Hitler seized control of the entire industrial infrastructure of Germany, this is what fascism used to mean.  Trump claimed to be a businessman and capitalist.  He moved resources away from the government and towards corporations and established wealth.  Hitler built a ruthless, dedicated and effective secret police network.  Trump diminished the power of his intelligence services by regularly replacing their heads and firing generals he did not like.

Military Action:  Hitler invaded 20 countries.  Trump bombed Syria and assassinated an Iranian General.  Trump withdrew the US from support of the Kurds in Syria and started the withdrawal from Afghanistan.  Trump supported proxy wars in Yemen and Palestine.  

Death:  Google sez: “Some 75 million people died in World War II, including about 20 million military personnel and 40 million civilians, many of whom died because of deliberate genocide, massacres, mass-bombings, disease, and starvation.” Without Hitler as the charismatic leader of the Nazi party, that probably would not have happened.  Trump can take significant responsibility for spikes in mass shootings and racist police killings and assaults, the murders and suicides associated with Jan 6th failed insurrection, unnecessary starvation and abuse on the southern border..

As terrible as Trump was, Hitler was a whole different class of monster. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is world-war-2-deaths-to-a-country-population-percentage.png

Minimizing the impact of Hitler by comparing it to Trump’s antics is something someone from the US is more likely to do than someone from Europe or Asia.

What is important and similar in these men is that they both succeeded in driving a significant fraction of their population into doing destructive, damaging things, which are not in their best interests.  He held rallies which, visually and content-wise, bear some similarities to rallies in Nazi Germany.  QAnon has not gone away, the Proud Boys are seeing a spike in recruitment.  Nor is the 2020 election defeat of Trump anything like the 1945 demise of Hitler, this threat is active and must be addressed.

Like Hitler til the end, Trump has not significantly been held responsible for his failures and crimes.  Recent raids on Giuliani will put tremendous pressure on him to flip on the former president. Trump may yet face the music.

Edit help from Angie Tupelo

A Convenient Catastrophe

I remember as a young child when the first remote controls for televisions came out.  I found it a curious device, we had managed to change channels on the television quite happily without this device, which seemed to be destine to get lost or crushed or run out of batteries.  I imagined it would not be popular and fade away, like 8 track tapes.  And to be clear on the the period in time, there were only a few TV stations and cable was decades away.

remote control.jpg

I was tremendously wrong.  And one of the things which typifies especially US american behavior is we have a slaving devotion to convenience.  Many will, for example, stream the same song repeatedly, rather than download it – because streaming is easier.  And we assume we will always have the internet when we need it.

Everyday many people watch the light rail fly past as they sit alone in their cars in rush hour traffic, because it is more convenient to take your own car, more convenient to not bother car pooling, more convenient to leave work at the same time 90% of the workforce is leaving work (it would be inconvenient to change my schedule to avoid rush hour).  We pay in time and money for this type of convenience.

train zips past rush hour.jpg

Cars are just more convenient

Turns out, pandemics are crazy inconvenient.  What if you should want a haircut?  Or to defund the police in a mass non-violent movement?  What if you want to have an indoor rally crammed with supporters who are discouraged from wearing face masks?

we demand haircuts

Kill for fashion

And this inconvenience is most of why the coronavirus is going to hit the US harder than any other country.  Yes, we have terrible leadership, especially at the Federal level.  But the information is now out there, you can try to blame the president who suggests you inject bleach.  But you don’t trust him for anything else, so this seems a weak excuse.  Are we really washing our hands enough?  I fear not.

Covid-Herd-Immunity-Fest.jpg

The event which made me realize our chances of survival were seriously diminished was the “Covid Herd Immunity Fest” in Ringle Wisconsin.  This event coming in a few short weeks will host 2500 people in an outdoor space designed to hold 10K.

When I first heard of this event i thought to myself “I don’t think that is going to work”.  I did not know exactly how, but it was clearly too bold.  And indeed, this event has had a rough ride.  Two of the originally scheduled bands have dropped out of the event, one explicitly because of the festivals name.

The festival has changed it’s name, but what appears clear is the event – with it’s version of social distancing will take place.  Sadly, it is not enough for us to say “well, I don’t like it so I will simply not attend.”  The hospital that may fill because of this type of event, may be your own.

Covid Herd Immunity Fest Banner

It is not called this anymore, but the message still lingers

I use remotes to control televisions these days, and I use face masks whenever I am near strangers (a technology I am forecasting will be increasingly popular).  But I fear that this joke about herd immunity will become a tragic reality.

 

Tulsa is calling Hackers

[Readings for white readers:  It is Juneteenth, the 155th anniversary of the announcement that slaves were legally freed in Texas.  Here is what some black leaders think of this event this year.  Tulsa also just remembered the 99th anniversary of the Burning of Black Wall Street which killed hundreds of blacks, interned over 6000 in camps and rendered homeless 10,000 blacks in one of the most violent acts of white supremacy in this countries history.  A history which until recently was hidden.  

The best primer for white people on race I have found is complied by Michael Caloz.]

In a surprisingly reckless act, the President is inviting 19,000 people to Tulsa for his first campaign rally.  This event is to be done without social distancing and without masks, dramatically increasing the chance of spreading the coronavirus to participants.  Hundreds of Tulsa health professionals have petitioned the mayor to cancel it.

trump virus cartoon

The Trump campaign is requiring people who go to the event to click on a liability waiver which absolves the campaign of responsibility if they get infected.   But there are questions about whether this type of liability waiver will actually protect the campaign.  This is from the LA Times:

According to Timothy D. Lytton, a law professor at Georgia State University College of Law, the courts have imposed three basic limits on liability waivers. First, you can’t assume risks you don’t know about; second, you have to assume the risk voluntarily; and third, the waiver has to be consistent with public policy.

It is the last limit which seems the most important to me.  There are still bans on gatherings of over 50 people in many places (though likely not Oklahoma) and the CDC identifies the highest risk for gatherings as:

Highest risk: Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area. 

choir spreading covid

How is a campaign rally like a choir practice?

This is where the hackers come in.  What if someone could get a hold of the names and contact information of the 19,000 people who attended this event?  What if a month after the event you were to contact those people and ask if they had been infected by the virus?  What if some lawyers filed a class action suit on behalf of these survivors or victims’ families?

There is quite some chance that this would not work, despite liability waivers often not being respected by the courts.  But even if the court challenge failed, perhaps it would influence the attendance at the up coming planned rallies in Florida, North Carolina and Arizona which are the spots for the next Trump rallies.

 

 

Finding your Origin Myth

I am facilitating an online workshop on how to tell your own origin story. It is on zoom on Monday June 15 7 PM Eastern time and here is the event link on Facebook. [If you would prefer email me at paxus@twinoaks.org] There is a donation requested, which is going to front line activists in Minneapolis.

I want to disspell a myth about origin myths. An origin myth need not be part of your early life.  In fact regardless of your age, the pandemic or the Floyd Uprising might be the center of your personal Origin Myth.

Your origin myth is it is a story that helps other people understand both an important life  transformation as well as something about the trajectory you want to be going in.  An origin myth is the truth based story you might offer when someone you were excited about connecting with asked you to tell them about yourself.  And you could have more than one.

My origin myth is about a train ride and a curious character.  And about how i became a story teller.

When considering your origin myth review events which have most shaped you into being the who you are and especially the parts of yourself that are helping you to be who you want to be. But a good origin myth is not completely true, it gives you room to be a bit better than you really are or were, it is supposed to be an inspirational tale. This gives you license to polish the characters, including yourself.

Don’t let accuracy get in the way of a good story

In this two hour workshop we will share rough origin stories and likely break into small groups for everyone to tell their story and get some constructive feedback from other participants.  I’ve never done this workshop before, so it might be a bit rough, nor have i ever done breakout groups on zoom, hopefully i will figure that part out by Monday.  

There is a requested donation for this workshop, with 100% of the money going to front line POC activists in Minneapolis working on the uprising that city has sparked.  

To get the link to the zoom event, you have to RSVP on the Facebook page or email me.

 

June is the Floyd Uprising

Perhaps my first critical lesson in the politics of language was the difference between a riot and an uprising. Riots happen all the time, crowds get violent when their team wins or loses, groups destroy property for a bevy of reasons, righteous, impulsive or perhaps simply drunk.

Uprisings are potentially going somewhere. Uprisings are the building blocks for revolutions and other kinds of political change, small or large. Uprisings are when injustice hits a flash point and people say “no more” in a way that might put a police car or a city into flames.

Early map of the George Floyd Uprising – Source Healthyfrog.com

The best piece on the complexity of this situation was summarized by Will Stenberg and includes this thinking on judgement of the protests:

I am uncomfortable saying, as some of my fellow leftists do, that a situation this complicated is GOOD, and I refuse to say, with centrists, that it is bad or wrong. The only thing I know is that it is INEVITABLE. And it’s not new. American cities burn every couple of generations because America has not learned to respect its black citizens.

It is no longer true that only winners write history, now anyone can. Part of writing it is to give it names and i am calling the month of June 2020 the George Floyd Uprising, because that is what it looks like today and that is what i want. Of course, i want it to go on longer than this month, but a month of sustained political protest could transform the national political process.

Minneapolis May 29, 2020

Tonight there are more peaceful protests than altercations nationally, but the president is threatening to deploy the army within the country.