Transformus is a regional Burning Man influenced event which used to be on a glorious site near Asheville, NC and has moved to a different beautiful place near Masonville, WV. Rick from Happy Hill came for the first time to this location and observed things i never would have noticed. Specifically, that the huge fields were not actually a monoculture, but a complex mix of different types of plants as part of a sophisticated wildlife and field management program. There is a huge need nationally for this type of soil regeneration and specifically Rick pointed out that they had planted Asclepias which are critical for supporting monarch butterfly populations.
Transformus was the first time i really got to see Dash (our new conference intern) shine. Dash is a gifted cook out of Boston who is helping to organize the Communities Conference and they put out impressive meals on the Camp Contact stoves. No matter where people were in the sprawling Tranformus campus, pretty much everyone made it back to camp around mealtime, despite there being a lot of great food all free at the festival.
Jason Taylor is a hero of mine. A Louisa local who did not discover the communes til he was a teenager, he is now an integral part of holding them together. From building the replacement Llano kitchen (after the actual Twin Oak tree fell on it and crushed it), to repairing the Twin Oaks sawmill and kiln, to repairing and running the seed packing robot machine at Acorn – Jason is our favorite handy person who keeping the communes operating. Jason is the site manager for QuinkFair, last year in that role he manifested all manner of elements from designing and wiring the solar system to leading the effort to build and burn the effigy.
At Transformus he led the screen-printing workshop, using Acorn’s new screen-printing device. This was a test run for the Communities Conference where we plan to print dozens of participants’ clothes (as we successfully in some years ago).
In the above picture Jason is paying for his postage due, by stuffing a huge pineapple top in his mouth. Which requires me to explain a bit about the post office.
The post office is a Burning Man inspired activity, which we ran at Transformus back in 2013 when i was a dual member at Acorn. Burning Man influenced events discourage the use of money internally (as does QuinkFair). Instead of monetary transactions they encourage cultural and comic exchanges. So to get a inter-festival letter sent, you need to pay into the post office with perhaps a skit or a joke or a dance. Similarly, your incoming letter is “postage due” and the postal carrier may try to get you to perform out of character. Asked to “read something that moves you”, a postal customers name Snax who was working registration at Transformus read the section of the Velveteen Rabbit on being real and started crying during their rendition – momentarily all activity stopped at the busy registration to witness this dramatic rendition.
The power of a post office funologically, is it can bring a little culture bomb into a camp. Another postal recipient asked for one of our “Daring” cards and got. “Make out with someone you have never kissed before, consensually, for 30 seconds starting now.” The dare was heard by a lovely person named Freefall, who after a short discussion about risks and STIs, they kissed. Somehow the 30 seconds recommendation got blown threw.
One of the modifications we tested on the regular post office format is we developed a number of postal challenge cards. These including Daring, Beautiful, Funny and Wild Cards. This allows the postal customer to think about what type of way they want subsidize the mail service by delivering a tiny cultural performance of these different types.
Spacious is the principal organizer of the Camp Contact theme camps within several regional burns and at the big burn in Nevada. To the untrained eye, his principal contribution is a tremendous amount of specialty hardware – kitchens, giant shade structures, domes, chill spaces, solar powered refrigerators, drinking and cleaning water systems, showers, bikes, trucks, hand tools and much more. If you are a decerning organizer, you know that the inter-personal stuff is more complex than even the most sophisticated of these inanimate objects: lovely attendees, who can’t afford camp fees or telling prospective participants who make people uncomfortable that they cannot be part of the camp or figuring out how to cover an internal camp task which someone promised to take responsibility for, and then they flaked on it or dealing with people who promise to pay their camp fees and then do not or getting exhausted campers to break down many structures before the rain hits at the end of the event or figuring out just how much the camp attendees are open to building without deciding not to build it or not to come back to the next camp ‘cos it was too much to build.
Camp Contact would not exist without Spacious, the hardware (as complex as it is) is the easy part, creating a harmonious, financially viable, well-equipped camp with a bunch of diverse participants who are not always reliable – that is the heavy lifting of an organizer.
Perhaps because i am so disorganized, one of the things i appreciate in other organizers is being nimble. Being regularly interrupted and still being effective, being able to change plans gracefully on short notice, rapidly adopting to the shifting variables are all signs of a nimble event organizer. Orion Posey is the son of one of my favorite activists Susan Posey and the generous traveling electrician Milo MacTavish. Orion was supposed to be performing in a play near Norfolk, a few days before Transformus, but the play got cancelled and Orion reached out to me about being a conference intern. He agreed to come to Transformus, without really knowing what it is, but knowing that their festival activities would be secondary to the networking and outreach work we wanted them to do. Orion delivered a bunch of mail, dispersed a number of fingerbooks, acted as an ambassador from our events to workshops on topics we are interested in. With Twin Oaks population the lowest it has been in years; we can use all the help we can get, and Orion is the addition of a nimble set of hands.
If you are interested in our small regional burn in Virginia Sept 23 thru 26 – check out QuinkFair:
If you are interested in intentional communities, consider our Labor Day (Sept 2 thru 6) event, the Communities Conference:
The year has been jammed and even though it is not done, it’s time for me to look back so i can guess where i want to go. And i want to ask for your help with these projects which speak to me, because i hope at least one of them will speak to you.
It was a joy and privilege to start the year with the successful conclusion of the Flip Georgia campaign. We wrestled two Senate seats away from the Republicans and stripped McConnell of Majority Leader status, and briefly felt hope on the country’s ability to recover from Trump. Rev Warnock’s win was confirmed the evening of January 5, and Jon Ossoff’s victory was confirmed the next morning on January 6th. A few hours later, we watched the Jan 6th insurrection at the Capitol (on tv).
Part of the Flip team was hired to explore remedies to disinformation movements in general and QAnon in particular, and we created the QRemedy project. We are trying all manner of different approaches with a special emphasis on games. We assembled an expert panel of game designers which concentrated on conspiracy theories and disinformation campaigns, and was brilliantly facilitated by my dear comrade Crystal who was able to wrestle UCSC into partnering with us. Rez and Angie are working on curating our large body of research on this novel movement and its impacts, as well as misinformation and disinformation movements in general. You will find the first part of the resources we’ve compiled here, and more will be posted in the coming weeks.
It’s not all work and political struggle; i was also part of a team of “disorganizers” who pulled off a transformative festival called QuinkFair this last October. We had our share of quinks to brag about. Several people’s paths turned towards new opportunities: people quit jobs that were not serving them, joined communities, fell in love, and one chronicled the first annoyed use of the word “quink”.
He: And this relationship is important to me because …
She: Hey can we go, i want to get to this workshop which is happening soon!
He: Hold on, i am trying to have a quink here with you!
She: Okay, well, now you have my attention.
He: Will you marry me?
She: Wow – yes!
These stories and more made this one of my favorite events ever and we have been invited back to the same site for Fall 2022. QuinkFair will be in Louisa County on September 22-26, 2022. RSVP
Part of what was brilliant about QuinkFair was the work Serenity Community did helping with scholarship and work exchange especially for POC and queer participants. I have been very happy with the work i have been doing with Serenity on starting the first POC centric income sharing community in the county, and QuinkFair is a good outreach event as Serenity seeks more members and supporters. This small but important step created an unusually successful event and is why i am asking for funds for it
We are also seeking funding for QRemedy’s on-going work countering disinformation. Our work includes research and exploration of how to counter these movements, as well as crafting a new empathy/compassion guide book for people who have lost friends or family to these rabbit holes and are hoping to maintain their relationships.
Thanks for reading
Paxus on the Train
23 Exploding Mushrooms 2021
A quink is roughly defined as the opposite of trauma, it is a specific event (a spark) that transforms your life positively from that point onward.
There is a curious asymmetry in the English language in which words that describe negative or problematic concepts do not have named positive counterparts. Contagious, jealousy, paranoia, trauma just to name a few.
If we want to build a new world we need new words. Quink is not just part of the name of this event, it was coined to name a transformative personal experience.
What is a Quink?
- The spark of positive change
- Roughly the opposite of trauma
- A specific identifiable event after which the person has prolonged and possibly permanent positive memories and capacities.
Examples of Quinks
One of the easiest quink to understand are the ones we find through books. Most people can relate to the sentence “I read this book and it changed my life for the better”, that is their quink book. Another accessible quink is simply standing up for yourself, and especially when you are at a power disadvantage – save a possible disastrous response, drawing boundaries, expressing them and maintaining them can be a quink. Good consent culture enables risk taking, risk taking richens the environment for quinks.
The endless process of enlightenment is perhaps the most elusive quink. Any experience which informs your understanding of self and/or world is a point, from which forward, your life is positively influenced.
Love is perhaps the most accessible, yet fickle, quink. Love’s impact has the power to change us into a state of grace AND unravel us into some tough and testy feelings. Either way, the personal and shared growth from Love can be a quink trajectory in many ways.
Kicking an addiction, be it to drugs, media, or toxic relationships, is an invitation for quink. This involves your own agreement with yourself for betterment paired with more resilience for transformation.
The idea was compelling, study the really exciting festivals and celebrations, take the best pieces of these cultures and combine them into a beautiful Frankensteinian creation. The tricky part is establishing which are the finest parts and figuring out if (and how) they fit together.
Central rituals are a major difference between Burning Man and the Rainbow Gathering. At Rainbow thousands of participants hold hands in silence in a giant ring on the 4th of July. When the moment feels complete the children run into the center, break the trance, and thus commences wild dancing. At Burning Man there are two central rituals, the effigy burn and the temple burn, both of which revolve around fire but have very different flavors. The former is a pyrotechnic exhibition of tremendous scale, with fire dancers and a giant man which blazes for hours leading into a bacchanalian celebration of wild dancing in the desert.
Burning Man Fire Breathers
Photo Credit: rosehalady0 from Pixabay
The temple burn is a more somber and self reflective ritual which is powerful like a brilliant funeral can be. It is all about letting go of things, your sadness at a deceased friend or relative, your addiction to online games or a dysfunctional relationship, or realize it really is finally time to quit the job which is not working for you.
We decided to embrace the Burning Man central rituals. There were several reasons for this, the first is an effort to bring people who are familiar with or excited by Burning Man culture to the event. It feels like especially the temple burn is potentially quink inducing, and a bacchanalian celebration is practically guaranteed to be a good time. While the rainbow ritual is elegant, accessible and unifying, it did not feel powerful enough for us to embrace for Quink Fair. One of the key ideas of Quink Fair! Is to introduce creative people from mainstream cultures to the intentional communities (and especially income sharing) movement.
Free is nice, but quite limiting
Tickets are another important cultural aspect, and major cultural difference. Part of the brilliance of the regional and national Rainbow Gatherings is that they are free to attend and no one is “controlling” a gate that keeps some people out. Despite it’s inclusion principle, Burning Man is a privileged event. The low income tickets are $240 and literally thousands of people pay over $1,000 to be assured to get in. This is before you pay for a camp and gear, and transportation to this remote site- it’s quite normal to spend $1,000 or more on these expenses, especially if you’re traveling from far away. The advantage of the paid ticket model is organizers can pay for porta potties and event insurance and art grants, and what ever else is important.
Burning Man preaches “radical self-reliance” which means a number of things, but near the top of the list is “bring everything you will need” and packing for attending this harsh desert event is a complex and expensive affair. Rainbow Gather’s unofficial motto is “Welcome Home” and true to this tagline is the idea that when you go home you need to bring the fewest things of any journey, since your stuff or your support network is already there. From a festival organizers perspective, when you have well stocked and equipped participants you reduce costs and you share the provisioning burden for the event. But if you can welcome almost anyone, including people who have little gear or money, then you are a more diverse and inclusive crowd and you provide a more full service experience.
This is where the Fair part of the name comes from
The Quink Fair! “disorganizers” made the choice to have ticket prices, but make them fairly low ($90 for three days) and include work exchange options. And of course we hope we have the money we need for porta potties, insurance and art grants and more.
Photo Credit: Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay
Kitchens and food are another major cultural difference. At the Rainbow Gatherings perhaps 1/3 of the camps are free kitchens serving to anyone who comes to them. At Burning Man people are responsible for bringing their own food to this difficult environment and preparing it. There is some food being given away at BM (clever DC friends are doing a pizza delivery service this year), but it would be an odd diet and an organizing struggle to attend this event without food or a camp which provides it for you.
For Quink Fair we’ve gone with a hybrid model around food. Haven House theme camp (run by one of the disorganizers who threw a temper tantrum upon hearing food wouldn’t be provided) will provide 3 meals a day, plus drinks and snacks between meals. This is free and available to all who want or need food, or who just enjoy sharing meals with a group. But some (perhaps most) attendees will still bring some of their own food and/or cooking equipment, either for their own use or to share. It’s a combination of Burning Man’s freedom with Rainbow’s safety net, which we hope will bring the best of both systems;
And Rainbow was a huge influence. We want to make food accessible, we want to decentralize organizing as much as we can, we want anyone who really wants to attend to be able to come.
Image found at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/481181541408416340/
Rainbow, Burning Man and the Communities Conference (which we draw inspiration from) all have workshops offered by participants. The communities conference curates them by selecting headliners and scheduling open space separately. We did not want to go this way. There is a large collection of workshops, some given by event disorganizers, most by participants and there is no distinction between which are organized by who.
There is a lot of experience in the group of disorganizers who are trying to pull this event together, but we can’t be certain that we have made the right choices. We’ve likely made wrong choices but that’s part of the adventure of a new event. We have been talking a lot about our own quink experiences and how they can be replicated at this event. Almost everyone we talk with is enthusiastic about the idea.
Lots more information to be found at www.quink.org where you can also buy tickets. If you are excited or intrigues you, go to the facebook Quink Fair! 2019 event and click “interested” or “going” and we will send you more information. If you have questions, suggestions, or want to lend a hand, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other blog posts about Quink Fair!
- 4 Events that inspired QuinkFair
- Temple of Oracles
- Quink Fair! Forming
- Getting the Band back together
- Fail Soft
- Words you don’t know might help you
- Paths to Ignition
Tobias developed “Quink” as the opposite of trauma, when an important event changes your life forever, but in a positive way, instead of a damaging one. Rob Brezney popularized the term pronoia, the notion that the world is secretly out to help you have a wonderful time and support you. But there are numerous more terms needed.
Abigail text me the other day that she was meeting with her sexual wellness student group and they were looking for the term for a woman who enjoys sex, has a healthy relationship with it and has it often. This word does not exist (please comment if you know otherwise), but the derogatory terms for sexually active women go on and on.
Websters dictionary claims that “sexism” did not enter our vocabulary until 1969. This has always amazed me. What was the conversation about gender equality like, before these basic ideas we labeled? i am confident that they happened, and i am convinced they were weaker and hampered.
My utopia consists of super cooperators and super appreciators. And especially in the later, English is failing us. We have a constrained vocabulary around appreciation. No terms for smaller appreciations, or life saving/changing ones. There is no term for an appreciation which brings with it an obligation to repay somehow. No term to mark continued persistent efforts, or to commemorate spontaneous acts of good will.
Having new words is the first small but critical step towards changing the culture. We have had the term compersion, for quite some years now, but most polyamorous folx are still taking baby steps when it comes to appreciating their lovers other lovers, much less being excited about them or feeling really good about them.
What new word are you making up today? And how can we use it to craft a conversation which takes us to where we want to be?