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Thursday, February 4, 2016

On Showing Up

Lately I've been pondering the importance of showing up if you want your voice to be heard.  I am part of a community group working to save a local and urban creek and we always need more people to plug in.  As I talk to people, they are always willing to complain about the trash along the creek or some such, but when you invite them to a work party, ask them to find volunteers for our periodic cleanups, or invite them to a community workshop on proposed changes for the area, they are no where to be found.

Now different people can plug in in different ways based on their interests and abilities and the commitment required for plugging in could be a few hours a month to a few hours a week.  Saving our creek does not prevent anyone from holding a job, caring for their families, or what ever it is they do with their time.  All of it doesn't even need to be done in person.

All of this brings me to the gathering. What is unique about the gathering is that our decision make process works face to face for the most part.  Sometimes conference calls are arranged to discuss where we can meet face to face.  Other phone calls help people connect with each other when they are out and about and are trying to find a place to meet face to face.  Sense a pattern?

As a long time activist, who shares my birthday, once said "just show up."  If you want to get involved with the world, show up.  Sure the Internet is useful. I use it all the time to make information available to people, to informally connect with others, and to quickly gather information, but it's not that same as being present with people who are committed to making change. 

Now the creek work is much more conducive to disembodied things like making formal comments on environmental impact reports and lobbying our elected officials, but much like the gathering, the important work gets done in councils (rainbow speak for meetings), on the land (rainbow speak for at the creek), or in community (rainbow speak for the core group of folks saving the creek).

Every year the Internet (and most especially FaceBook) fills up with ideas, opinions, perspectives, and dictates that are shared and discussed by people on-line --- many of whom don't regularly attend the annual gathering for world peace and the positive evolution of the planet. But what needs to be realized is that if you want to impact how things unfold, then you need to "show up" on the land, participate in formal or informal councils, and be part of the process.

The great thing about gatherings is that we need everyone's perspective from the person who just showed up and asked "what's council?" to the person who's been gathering since the 1970s.  This gathering thing we do is an embodied sort of experience where people gain the full benefit of the many ways humans communicate: words, facial expressions, body positions, auras, and what ever telepathic ways we communicate with each other.

As many of my friends point out, gathering and all the related things done in the name of gathering are verbs, not nouns.  Please join us in verbing.


  1. I was reminded of your position of having mixed emotions about squatters (on AGR) that live along the creek from time to time and leaving their trash (and waste) behind for others to deal with. Being one who has long held the position of reinstating squatter’s rights I’m also aware of the fact that most of the problems with squatters is just that – the tendency toward being a public nuisance. Even though my days of squatting have been (at least temporarily) abated due to injury I still do what I can to help the homeless. Let me make a suggestion to you and your group of friends that have taken on the task of cleaning up behind the likes of those whose conduct is less than mature. You could remind them that along with squatter’s rights there is the less known, but equally important, squatter’s duty (in return for those rights) and that is cleaning up behind yourself. I took it one step further (where it was possible) and picked up other’s mess in an effort to leave the area I had been squatting in a better state than I found it. If talking to these individuals isn’t always possible or advisable then leave a note, but not in the form of leaving what would probably just add to the trash. Instead of putting the message on paper perhaps you could write it on a rock (artfully with a plant based ink) and place it where it can’t likely be missed. If there are (and it seems there are) many different locations where squatters camp then make one for each camping area. Even if only a few of the squatters adhere to the message that’s that much less trash you’ll have to deal with. Then again you never know; the word could get around to all the campers in the area and they may all become good neighbors and stop leaving a mess behind. Have faith in humanity even if you can’t find faith in a deity. If you or your group has a PayPal account I can contribute to I’ll gladly make a small donation to help with the cost of the ink or put it toward trash bags (whatever). I greatly appreciate the work you do though I may not always show it or always agree.

  2. It was difficult for me to find anything on spring counsel for rainbow gathering. Is this the only place to receive any information about a set location?

  3. It was difficult for me to find anything on spring counsel for rainbow gathering. Is this the only place to receive any information about a set location?

    1. The details on spring council/counsel/circle generally don't get sorted out until a few days to a week before the council starts. It will be in or near the consensus states. Since the council/counsql/circe starts June 10, actual directions won't be available until June at the earliest. Once the information is available, it will be distributed at all points of communication including this blog, various Facebook groups, email lists, etc.


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