Evolution, Poetry, Sacred Space

A Love Letter

Dear New York,

How I’ve missed you. I know it’s been a while since I’ve seen your face and I am truly sorry.  You have not been forgotten. There are just other places I need to be right now. I hate to keep you waiting, but we must trust it is in food faith.

Oh, I miss your skin. I miss the way you smell, even before a shower. I miss your intoxicating allure in the evenings; the grunge and the dirt along with the beautiful city lights at night. You’ve always been a true romantic and for that I see potential. Most of all, I miss the way you hold my hand when I am afraid.

But I am never afraid of you. No, you are my inspiration. My muse. And I think of you often, wondering when will we meet again? Perhaps some day on a long awaited vacation? For dinner and a movie? Or maybe a more permanent fixture in the long term we could be together for real.

For now, California may have my soul, but you will always have my heart.

Take care. Stay strong. Eat your veggies and drink some tea for me and may it fill you with warmth and grace to know that even though we are far apart, we will always be together in spirit.

With love,
Sara

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Me Too, Me Too

In light of the recent #metoo phenomenon across the Internet, where woman and men of all kinds are coming forward with their stories on sexual assault and harassment, I thought I would try and tackle this delicate subject, from a warrior perspective.

I’ve heard a lot of stories of how they people have been hurt and taken advantage of; it has taken much of bravery and compassion, to voice these stories, and also to hear these stories.  To validate them, is equally as necessary as telling them.

What I haven’t heard much talk of, is the “NOW WHAT?”.  How do we address and maybe change these cultural norms we have created?

In recent conversations about consent and male/female relations, someone spoke of a situation in a festival environment when a male attendee was being too aggressive with females at the event (tale old as time).  The way the event staff handled the situation, was as such: they took the identified males and the identified females into separate rooms as groups, and had a conversation.  For the men, they spoke of the issue itself, while not calling any individual out, and the conversation concerned how they, as males, can retain their masculinity without alienating the women; without using force to feel heard.  They men didn’t WANT to come off that way, generally, and it was learning experience for most.

The real learning however, came with the females, who spoke instead of the problem, of the solution.  They discussed how they could as a group band together and not allow this kind of behavior to continue, let alone affect them negatively, any longer.  They rallied as warriors. They worked on EMPOWERMENT.  They discussed specific language to use to nip that degrading behavior in the bud before it could become a problem, moving forward.  They took an interesting, and some would say risky approach to an ever-evolving issue, and their methods worked.  The women became incredibly empowered throughout the rest of the weekend, and there were no more issues with either gender taking advantage of power or sex.

(These conversations become even more convoluted with the pronoun discussion.  Not everyone identifies as male or female, and no one should HAVE to identify as anything.  All in all, in your community, we MUST become more aware and respectful of these cultural evolutions. You don’t have to understand it, but you do need to respect that people are pressing the envelope when it comes to sexuality and identity.  These conversations are important.)

I conceptualized this article because, though I have some slight experienced an unwanted advantages – a pat on the ass at a drunken bar, and cat calls on the street –  I have come out mostly unscathed.

My whole life, my family has stressed:  “carry your mace”, “don’t want down the street alone at night,” “be careful when you go to your car,” and always the questions over “how do you feel safe at night when you’re leaving the bar alone” etc.

I was raised to believe that “attitude is everything”.  They say that aggressors prey on the meek.  The weak.

I have intuitively always approached these seemingly “scary” situations as opportunities… to be brave, to be strong and to teach others subconsciously HOW to walk down a dark street alone at night and NOT GET FUCKED WITH.

First of all, YOU LOOK PEOPLE IN THE EYE.  I eye mug every single person on any given block I’m on, constantly.  Not in a paranoid way, but in an inquisitive and slightly magical way that says “hey, I see you, I get it, and it’s great to meet you here on this earth”.  I look people in the eye, with meaning, with a smile and with a maybe slightly crazy approach… maybe, just maybe, I’m just as bat shit crazy as they are?  Nobody fucks with bat shit.

I say hello, and when I am responded to with comments like “oh, baby are you married”. I boldly and loudly go “Nope, but my boyfriend might propose any day now” or some other quick-witted response.   Always with a smile.  Sometimes with a laugh or a genuine “Hey man, you have a great day.  Love those shoes” .

I am aggressive. I am abrasive. I do not shy away.  And I also do not look back.

When someone cat calls me, I smile nod, look them in the eye and KEEP WALKING.  No attention given what-so-ever to the cat call.

Now some of you might argue that I’m not teaching a lesson to the predator in that situation, but safety first, my friends.  The lesson can come in obvious time.  If every victimized or approached person was able to be brave, maybe just maybe some of these predators might get the message.  That is NOT how you speak to a lady, or a gentleman.

I hesitated to touch on this, because, no, I have not had any severely threatening experiences. It hasn’t happened to me, whether that be good luck or my unabashed attitude.

My unafraid, and perhaps somewhat idealistic approach, is not backed up without logistics. I still cary my mace.  I still keep my keys between my fingers like a weapon.  I still look around like a crazy person every single step, to make sure I am not being followed or taken off-guard.  I am present.

Most importantly, I AM NOT AFRAID.  Getting out of my car, sometimes the only alone female person in a rough neighborhood in the inner-city, headed to a hip hop concert, I take a deep breath, I look everyone in the eye I pass on the street, LIKE THEY MATTER, and I try and envision a bubble of safety around me in moments where I might feel particularly threatened.

As I often tell myself on road trips, you must see yourself making it safely to your destination, to have any chance of making it safely to begin with.

Keep being brave out there with your stories.  Keep telling them honestly, and letting it be known that WE as HUMANS (not as males, or females) will NOT STAND FOR INJUSTICE ANY LONGER.  We will speak out. We will say #metoo until the message is heard and until absuse is no longer tolerated.  And we WILL continue to talk openly about how to break down these cultural ‘normals’.

What do you do to protect yourself from unwanted attention?

What do you to stay brave in a situation that encounters fear?

How are you actively changing the paradigm?
Love, all ways,
MissConviction.

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Cliche Blog Post

Never a dull moment in a day in the life of… any of us really.  I thought it due time for a little update on my status quo.  So here ya go:

It’s official… I have moved to California to live at a naturist community and am selling granola.  Go figure.

Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you could certainly look at it that way, with a cliche spin.

I have found myself in the Bay Area, living part time at the Lupin Lodge, working for a company who makes high-end crunchy almond snacks, and yes, it is just as glamorous as everyone thinks. And expensive.  But totally doable.  (I’m still working out the kinks.)

Speaking of kinks, just last night I, for the first time in my life, made a skunk spray.  Luckily it wasn’t anywhere near me, but it’s always been a life goal, to see a skunk spray his stuff, and wow, was he just as surprised as I was!  If the skunks weren’t so damn cute, I don’t think it would be as exciting.  (Photos coming soon!)

Between the skunks, the deer, the bees, and all of the exciting naturist wildlife, there are also the fires.  The smell of smoke is often in the air, mixed with the smog, it’s hard to tell the two apart.  And while I know there is great sadness, loss and destruction, with the fires also come rebirth.

I’ve learned recently, that in heavily forested areas, the Natives (before we took their land away of course) used to do controlled burns regularly, to clear out the heavy underbrush, so that when lightening or fire embers struck, there was nothing to burn.  A tree would get singed and that was it.  No kindling.

Unfortunately, controlled burns are illegal now, thanks to the “save the trees” movement, I am told, nobody is allowed to preserve the land on a large level by sacrificing the small plants.  Ironic how that goes. We take the land away, then it gets taken away from us.

“The land doesn’t belong to us, we belong to the land.”

“Home is where the heart is.”

And yes, I’ve clearly drank the cool-aid and am ready to put a flower in my hair and call it a day.  Welcome to the West coast.

One thing to note about California living… it’s ELECTRIC.  The energy in the air, in the people, in the music, in the food.  Everything about it is energizing and educational. I am learning SO MUCH.  I am changing SO MUCH.  And I am giving back as MUCH AS I possibly can.

It’s still a struggle every day, but when isn’t life. I am grateful to be learning the lessons the hard way, and to be sharing my gifts with a new community.  That is a true blessings, to be able to be MYSELF and not feel judged one bit.  WHAT A RELEIF.

I love you all, and hope this update has been anything but typical, despite all the cliches.

Sincerely,

MissCliche.
www.themissconception.com

Evolution, Sacred Space

For the Love of Money

Money and Love – an invocation/prayer

Please note: the following is my attempt to transcribe and make sense of the notes I took at the “For the Love of Money” Worship in Oakland, California on October 8th at the Humanist Hall.  Some of it may not make much much sense, or  there may be fleeting bits of wisdom within the prose below.  I do not expect it to read like a narrative or ‘normal’ blog rather, it is infused with poetry, knowledge and tidbits of information that I am still attempting to digest. Please feel free to ask questions or chime in with your thoughts on the struggle of power concerning love and money. Thanks for reading.

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The PRAYER: to live in a world without fear, with love, of the possibility of each moment coming with dignity; being able to say “this is what I need and this is what I have to offer.”

The exchange. Three teachers. Charles Eisenstein, Gigi Coyle and Orland Bishop, at the Humanist Hall.

The intention was to rethink our relationship with money and love, especially concerning how the two are related- and how they should be treated.  And how can we support each other in the relatively-uncharted waters of what to do with money and love?

Today, we are seeding a change in the system.

Money (and power) enter into our love story rather early in life.

When people say, “let’s be realistic,” they usually mean let’s talk about the money. If only we had enough money…

Money and love have both evolved becoming a planetary force.

Who needs my love and money? There is never enough of either in this alchemical transition.

Money so often is thought to dictate what is practical and what is realistic. Money also establishes reality by the kinds of behavior it encourages.  There always seems to be more debt than there is actual money.

We are all in competition for not enough money and in that reality a certain aspect of our nature arises where everyone is self-interested and focused on what they can get, everyone else be damned.

For some time, money and love have been perceived to be in direct opposition to one another, as if to say there is no money in our love arenas, and vice versa – It is a financial compromise and, arguably, one that leads to a sort of suicide of our souls.  We are taught that we have to let go of what we love in order to make money. That we must choose money over being able to do the work our hearts guide us to do.

Money was constructed to be an oppressing force, but the agreements can change, and that is what the purpose of this workshop class was – to dig deeper into the agreements we made years ago, and to discuss how we can evolve those constructs.

Collective trauma is the glue that holds together the structures that keep us apart.

Money and Love can share a common angle: they are both something you can give to others.

Feeding or taking care of someone is often an act of love, a gift.

Money is allowed to be a system of bringing together these gifts and needs.
LONGING is a force that drives our gifts and needs.

We long for the freedom to be generous!!

Love and money originated in the gift – the opening of the self, giving of the self, and an extension of one’s self. Perhaps they originated in the same place, and perhaps the wounds of love and money originated in the same place: when relationships became controlling and subject to domination, and we began to see the world as property, we now see each other as property. Corruption evolved.

Patriarchy is the ownership and objectification of women.  The same happens in reverse in Matriarchy, and men become objects.  You can substitute the genders for each other.  This is a class war going back to the beginning of time.

Before we had money there was barter, and certainly possessions.

“Love existed long before money. Power, too. Barter was the dominating mode before we regarded a hunk of gold as worth exchanging for food, or sex, but love entered into barter, also: When you had to trade skills for skills the negotiation was more intimate – you learned what you had that the other didn’t, and vice versa, and could groom how the
price played into pleasure or penury – and you’d do it for love – but not money!

Love may predate the notion of money entirely. But yes, the wounds of love and money may share a common origin: Fear.  And we are still living in those cultivated evils every day. Points to consider:

Money and our sex lives are our most private matters, not to be discussed. 

It’s not a measure of good health to be well adjusted to an unstable world.

Debt is a connection to a specific person or entity. It may stretch your boundaries unlawfully. 

Gratitude = natural debt.  It need not be repaid. 

We need a return to transparency – for the healing of love and money.

We need to address our fears.

Determining what is good and what is sacred in our lives can often depend on what we fear.  When we avoid our own fear we limit the imagination, inspiration, and intuitive direction of our spiritual guidance that tells us which doors to go through so we can learn what is on the other side.

FEAR = Chemistry. There is a stage in life when we lean in to fear as children. We desire to be in touch with the unknown. We engage in impulses of uncertainty. Needs awaken us. Fear is the gap we strive to transcend. Once we enter into it we have to pull in something new that isn’t given by inheritance. Knowing this feeling requires some measure of trust. Our age helps us transcend that gap.  Our wisdom.

Fear is harmful to powers of creativity beyond the field of our inheritance. By bringing fears into awareness new things become possible. Discussing our fear of money (and love) is the way to change those fears. To transmute them.

Fear might be cultural but the response is human. Fear can override the system:

We spend so much energy on fear that could be spent on love! We focus on the fear of not having freedom, or money or time. The fear of being alone. The fear of pain. The fear of not being successful. The fear of walking down your own path or not walking your own path.

Sacrifice is the longing for the why:  Why do we fear? Why do we love? Why do we need money?  What do we need love so bad?

So we were asked the question: what part of our civilization has to die because it’s locked in an old paradigm?

Materialistic views of the world are dying. The idea that we are separate is dying.  

We must let go of what is dying, of what we fear. 

Money is loves shadow. 

Sanctify means to give meaning 

Sacred reciprocity has many forms, and money is only one.

Be in the longing.

To be in longing is a source of belonging. 

Trusting doesn’t mean not acting.

The problem is separation. The answer? Connection.

Value exchange binds a community. 

Love is the worlds most natural currency. 

We can make things and concepts more useful and real by creating a context. For example: a chair can be a table, too. Here, we are allowing things to return to their consciousness. What has died can be restored. A thing is dying if we cannot speak to its spirit. We must remember primal intuition of what it means to put meaning into language.

What do we want to say to money?  

What you can do is help your community allow money to flow in a healing direction. Have a vision, then invite money to support that vision. Do an experiment: Offer your work without any expectations for what it is worth and allow your ‘customer’ to determine value. See how the values flow. Allow your store/shop one day to be ‘suggested’ donation and see how much more money you can make when you allow the wealth to come to you without force.  While these concepts are superfluous and a bit of a stretch for some, for others, it is precisely the kind of trust and transparent communication we have been seeking for years.

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This is a call to tribal wisdom: how do we come back to relating to each other so that we can take care of the flow of money and love. 

Time doesn’t go by us – it goes through us when the time is right.

The lands don’t belong to us we belong to the land.

Treat money and love with upmost respect. #InGodWeTrust

All in in all, the workshop for me personally was a nice reminder that even the cold and sterile can be sacred and injected with holy energy.  We do not have to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, rather we can address those mistakes, look at them head on, look at what we’ve learned from them and then persist onward in the direction of our dreams.  I am focusing on not letting money be the barrier holding me back in my life, rather allowing it to be the energy field that carries me forward only when in need.  I have often set up paying my bills in work trade and accepting other forms of payment in the ways of food and services instead of cash.  I encourage you to be open to this new paradigm of money and love and how they are connected at a root level.

If you are interested in my Creative Consultation project, please know that I am trying a new business model out: I want to offer my consultation skills to YOU as a GIFT for your business or challenges in life. The idea is that I truly believe I can provide insight and ideas for how to increase traffic to your business or project. Whether you are starting a new business or organization or beefing up an old concept.  Or if you are having a spiritual/emotional crisis in your life, let’s start with a conversation on what your needs are and how to get you back on track. Then YOU get to decide what my time/ideas are worth and can gift back to me should you feel the need to contribute to this project. Bottom line: I know that I am am a gifted problem solver. USE ME. Message me directly to get started: sara.serendip@gmail.com.

-MissComission

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For more information on sacred communities, visit TAMERA.ORG

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Lost and Found #earthdance

pEvery day there seems to be a new version of ourselves, reinventing old habits into new rituals.  Transmuting old energy that doesn’t serve us anymore.  Adopting new protocols for feeling whole.

I’ve been around the block enough to know what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, and I’m still here to share my fleeting bits of wisdom, should you want to listen. No pressure, as ever.  But I’m here. To hear or share.  Bottom line: no one should have to walk down this road alone.  #groupeffort

Speaking of alone, isn’t it amazing how alone you can feel in a roomful of people?

I’ve been ‘alone’ for a while now, on many levels; and while of course it has been lonely, it’s also been refreshing.  To have the time and space to truly connect with your soul and your purpose.  To feel out all the directions and then pick one and go boldly into it, all alone, is a transformative experience.  I don’t even know how it’s all happened really, and I question if I’m moving in the ‘right’ direction sometimes?  Still, I figure, I’ve come this far, why turn back now? Surely it’s just getting interesting.

When I began this journey, I remember three very distinct moments of my life, right around 2006.

One moment, was when my college roommate informed me that I really had to ‘become’ MissConception on stage in order for the delivery to be affective.  “Sara” couldn’t relay the ‘message’ correctly, but MissConception could spray it loud and clear.

Second moment of rapture, at a Galactic show at Wakarusa and then again at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, KS, I heard a voice in the universe INSISTING that I had to go ‘hip-hop’.  Whatever that meant.  It wasn’t an option. It was a life style.  And I was to make it my own and inject it with all the love and compassion and wisdom and wit I could muster, so that this beautiful art form could once again be seen for the awe-powerful and spiritual commune that it was.  Storytelling and sharing is what our tribal communities were built on.  And we must take that power back and use it to heal.  Challenge accepted.

Third pivotal moment of life-force hit me at the once-in-a-lifetime conscious festival event called Coalescence.  I cannot even begin to tell you all the details, because you frankly don’t have time for such minutia, but between Alex and Allyson Gray, Daniel Pinchbeck, Govinda, Damien Marley, Rabbit in the Moon, The Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center, the magical forest, Professor Nightlife Jones and then my crew of friends that took a chance on something unknown, it became apparently obvious that I was on a path.  A meaningful path collecting wisdom and bits of experiences that would be carried out in all directions and forms across this universe and one day would lead me to my life’s calling (which I still DOUBT, even with ALL THE CLARITY).

Why is it so hard to trust YOURSELF?  

This last weekend I had the privilege of stepping synchronistically into a roll  as producer of an international Prayer for Peace festival called Earthdance.  Tucked away in the South Bay redwoods, a group of charming individuals came together in celebration, ecstatic dance and prayer.   They took a chance on this experience.

Here, at the Lupin Lodge, together we learned about the power of connection and interaction.  We meditated. We danced! We studied the implications of community on conflict and how to mange that, and people explored the values of consent.  We asked the hard questions and had the difficult conversations.


It was amazing to actually SEE consciousness EVOLVING real time.  And it reminded me of that first event Coalescence, where we were a small group, but with great power and intention.

Point being, for the first time, in a long time, after feeling very lost, I found myself in the EXACT place I was supposed to be.  I was doing my life’s work, which filled up my soul and allowed me to serve others with that same energy.

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WHAT A RELEIF!

To actually feel in tune with the ebbs and flows of this powerful and chaotic energetic ocean of life.  It’s taken a lot of trust, and a lot of failure to keep moving forward.

Someone told me just yesterday that a ‘master’ is someone who has made ALL THE MISTAKES.  Bring. It. On.

Ok, just kidding, I’m really rather done with making mistakes.  I still welcome the lessons and value the teachings.

“So what exactly IS IT that I am doing with my life” (…my mother is asking.  Hi Mom!)

It’s what I’ve always done, which is to bring the people I love and cherish together and enable them to commune.  With an intention.  Maybe in prayer or dance?  Maybe just to share a meal?  But clearly, I am a planner, above all else.  Maybe an herbalist?  Certainly a dancer and poet.  Artist, dare I say?

And the plan is to keep chipping away at all of these functions that fill my heart and soul, hopefully making the world an ever so slightly better place.  And I’m going to work towards holding my own space for you all to come and visit someday.

In the meantime, if you need me, hopefully you know where to find me.

Love,
Serendipity

PS You can cop my new EP for just a dollar (or more if you like) on bandcamp by clicking here! Thanks for all your support!

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www.themissconception.com

 

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Burning Man Global Leadership Conference: Sparking a New Citizenship

For many of us, when we think about the muse that is Burning Man, it is already an awe-empowering radical way of life.  On the contrary, maybe for some, the idea of Burning Man is a huge turn-off, due to the seemingly irrelevant time-wasting that takes place once a year at Black Rock City.  Whatever your opinion of this culture and this movement may be, I believe that nothing could begin to encapsulate the magic that took place at the Burning Man Global Leadership Conference in April, 2017, Oakland, CA.  Every doubt in my mind I had about this organization was nipped. Every concern I had about this community was addressed.  And every excitement I conjured up about this mission was accelerated.  Let’s review:

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As a huge proponent and supporter of Burning Man, Burners Without Borders, and the regional Burning network, nothing could have prepared me for the extent of what the Burning community is up to concerning social justice, activism and environmentalism.

Many of us saw the #StandingRock popular opinion of Burning Man, painting Burners as festival maggots who were just showing up to party… but few people saw the infrastructure and composting toilets in the news that Burners Without Borders brought to the table. Everyone sees the party, but who is actively looking for the epic goodness?  Epic goodness is what the GLC had to offer…  Imagine 600 of the world’s most creative, smart, hard working and sincerely kind people all together in one room for a weekend, exchanging ideas and educating each other.  Here are some themes that came out of it, for me personally:

If it’s not fun it’s not sustainable!
Have radical hope
Be in the ‘WE’ mindset
Have clear transparency
Better documentation
Allow for multiple entities to participate in the conversation (whatever the topic may be)

When I first walked into the conference, the activity at hand aside from registration, was packing lost-n-found backpacks with donated personal care items for the homeless.  Participants were encouraged to take the back packs out on the streets and be prepared to merely offer what’s in them to anyone who looks like they might be in need. What a point of contact with the community, and an excellent foot to start off on.

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The conference was then set up like most conferences are, with speakers and break-out sessions.  To give you an understanding of the depth of these sessions, a few of the stand out topics of the
GLC break-out sessions were:

•Operation Acculturation: Project Citizenship
•Radical Transformation in Reactionary Times
•Making in the Service of Art, Innovation and Social Good
•Environmental Sustainability and “the Man”
•Defending Decommodification: Intellectual Property Basics
•Scaling Sustainability: from the Playa to the Planet
•Compassionate Response to Community in Bereavent
•Government and Organizational Evolution
•Participation or Politics: How Burner Citizens Handle Communal Effort in a Partisan World
•Supporting Conflict Resolution From Start to Finish
•Design Thinking: Transform Ideas into Action
•Co-Creating Socially Conscious Real Estate Development
•Consent Culture and Community: How are you building it?

My very first (and favorite) session I attended presented by Kostume Jim (Jim Glaser, founder of Kostume Kult) was entitled: Activism! Organize and Mobilize.   The focus was on bringing the burn to the rest of the world with an activist approach, using cacophony society tactics such as enticing/scaring congressmen into doing what’s right using via theatrical gorilla performances (i.e.: Billionaires for Bush Performance Artists collective).  The Occupy movement came out of this sort of work.  Jim emphasized that burner activists are not alone, that this is a place where sociology meets art and that this is an artistic messaging movement start to get the word out.   If you have never heard of the cacophony society, read up!

SO, how do we bring about more activism with ease? Ground rules:

1 With efficiency and flexibility
2 Speech first, discussion after
3 Make it a community project
4 Non-Partisan- establishment types (Bernie types vs anarchists)
5 Non-argumentative
6 NO political correctness
7 Keep it ethical

A tangible example of an event/activity Jim is trying to head up is assisting inner city people IDs so they can vote.  It’s unconstitutional to have a voters tax, and by making people have Drivers License’s to vote we are violating that freedom.  Another idea: create a Fare Force…  “an activist hive mind project where we conceptualize media stunts, act them out and then try to make them go viral. Cacophony for causes,” Jim says. We are talking about mixing cacophony society and experimental marketing, and then taking that content from those events and showing the world via video and social media.  What crazy and interesting messages can we do at bigger protests?  “Focus on millenials and counter fake news,” Jim says.  Jim and his team are also working on a cause-connectivity app, sort of a tinder of social causes.   And they are always looking for leaders/volunteers to move this movement.

In another talk, Cory Mervis who used to work for Donald Trump spoke about how to reach people just like him. It was a powerful conversation about radical inclusion, a principle we all cherish.  Harley k Dubois, the Chief transition officer talked about what “it” is, the magical thing we all are here to “get” and transformational experiences, which we are all here to create.  We have quite a network, and quite a mission, and how we have quite the task of spreading this goodness.

There are over 286 regional burner sanctioned events arounds the world, but burning is not just limited to Burning Man.  The 10 principles are a way of life, a participation in creating our own world.  And according to Harley, “We are the adults in the room… we aren’t the hipster stoners in the green room, we are the producers of the world.  Burning Man has become mainstream, and grown, we haven’t sold out, we have arrived, and we are here to own that space.”

We heard from Christopher Breedlove many times throughout the weekend about BWB: Burners Without Borders, a community driven non-profit group of self-etsbalished burners who saw a need and wanted to do something about that need in their local communities in the name of burning.  As I mentioned before, BWB showed up at Standing Rock and built compostable toilets in a time of great need.  BWB is also working with international refugees to design solar powered lighting systems that lead refugees where they need to go upon arrival to foreign countries. Another exciting project, turning shipping containers into tool libraries in third world countries where underprivileged communities can rent the tools they need to fix their homes/cities and civic issues.  This is a program designed to empower these communities to be radically self-reliant, and the shipping containers are a huge hit.

BWB has 22 active chapters, 81 working projects and 22 partner organizations. In 2016 there were 2,186 volunteers, 14,322 hours, over 47k raised.  Three types of projects: 1 Homeless outreach, 2 Food collection and distribution , 3 Intentional park beach cleanup. Any one can start a working group in any city and add to this movement.  BWB is cultural sensitive, while also pushing the envelope when it comes to the Burner world.  BWB is that container of those who want to do the work. Corpus christy picked up 16,000 lbs of trash. Chicago’s Chididorod raised $15,000 for BWB projects.  You can join the Heartland BWB chapter here.  Or look on Facebook for your local chapter.

Another speaker, Ryan Wisling gave a talk on the Permaculture action network, Permaculture action days and their involvement with artists who are interweaving their art and social action concerning the environment, artists like The Polish Ambassador, The Elephant Revival and Rising Appalachia, pairing carbon farming and sustainability with their musical events.  He also told us about the approved Tiny home village initiative  in Denver, Co for the homeless.

Saturday’s sessions began with a presentation about Catharsis on the Mall, a DC Burner event in November on the National Mall, full of healing and education.  Check out this video about what amazing work they are doing:

The same group of gentleman presenting Catharsis on the Mall were all wearing red hats, FREEDOM HATS, which community member Halcyon describes here:

Katalunda Dee gave a break-out session about Respect 101: Defining and Understanding the Language of Race and Privilege and the US, asking the difficult questions such as why is burning man so homogenous?  “Privilege is invisible if you have it.”  We are a word-of-mouth community, and we tend to bring people we are comfortable with people who are like us and share our values and our comfort levels.  We learned about the Empathy gap: distance between something bad and how much you care about it.  As a group we talked about micro-aggression: low level statements made from place of privilege that we may see as innocent but can be offensive. The presentation stressed that freedom of speech means you’re free to say what you like but you are not free from consequences.  The goal was to heighten our cultural awareness just by having the discussion, and the emphasis we took away was education!  Our mission should be educating outside communities who may not be familiar with the burner concept and lifestyle, but who may still be able to benefit from our goals and mission.  Outside reading suggestions included:
Kimberlee Crenshaw- Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics and Violence Against Women of Color.
Also: Racial bias in perceptions of others pain by Sophie Trawler, Kelly M Hoffman, Adam Waltz.
Lastly, the well known: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy Macintosh

Maryanne Goodell, Founding Board Member and Chief Engagement Officer of the Burning Man Project, spoke about her goals to take burner principles out into the world.   “We are the connective tissue,” she says.  “We are a platform for social change”.  She said it is important to make eye contact when talking with anybody, in or outside the burner community and empathize.  She also announced that the 2015 annual report is now available online: http://annualreport2015.burningman.org #transparency

Mark Hammond, a burner who Ran for Utah legislator in 2016 shared his story on coming from Mormonism to Burnerism to Political activism. Barry Ivan Silber’s intro cued us to his remixing thinking a tool: Toloposogo.  That means when looking at an issue, use the Tolosposogo to analyze any situation: Where are we going TO, LOoking where we are, POssibility actions we can take, SOlutions, GO take steps to action, O=obstacles analysis.

These were just a few of the sessions I happened to attend that moved me.  There was SO much more happening. Post convention, Mia Quaflirello published this article about several women leaders from the GLC we should all know. We were surrounded by brilliance, and I personally was blown away.

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Something I learned during the convention, is that the word “Radical” means forming the root.  It is our mission as Burners to change the root.  To nurture the root.  To always be pushing the envelope, pushing ourselves and our societies to be better and more humane.  Thank you GLC for the opportunity to learn and grow as a human and as a burner.  We’re off to a great start!

Sincerely,
MissConnection

PS, if you want more, check out this guy’s video recap here:

 

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Global Leadership Conference 2017
www.burningman.org

Uncategorized

Citizen Lobbyist Training

I attended a Citizen Lobbyist Training in Topeka, Kansas on Tuesday, March 14th, and walked away with several skills I felt useful to share with you here.  This particular training was a precursor to a Mental Health Advocacy Day at the Capital.  

The goals for the day were to:
• To learn specific tools about preparing for a meeting and communicating with these legislators on advocacy day.
• To establish a relationship with KS Representatives and Senators and maintain communications with them in the future.
• To receive action alerts on key legislative issues
• Organizing and participating in local meetings with elected officials to address these specific mental health issues

The training started off with an emphasis on developing our stories.  The theory is that real stories change hearts and minds, and that there is hope in telling a story of recovery or change.  Emphasis was put on not overwhelming anyone with too much information, and to always ASK at the end for the legislators support. A ‘story’ consists of an introduction, what happened, what helped, how you are different today, what is the need or problem, what will help others, and the ASK.

We were given examples of emails to send legislators when setting up the initial meeting, which exhibited: a subject line, a salutation, stating the issue and position, making it personal (optional), adding story or talking points (optional), making the ASK (either on the specific support, or asking for a meeting), a thank you and a closing.

Example:

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We developed our 30 second elector speeches, which again included the introduction, issue and position, why it’s personal, the need or problem, what will help others, and the ASK. A similar model of a phone call was also demonstrated.

Example:

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When preparing for the actual meeting of the legislator, we first developed our tool preps for the meeting, which included a briefing sheet, stating the issue, the ASK, the need and talking points plus solution, and committee members and sponsors to references. The backgrounder on the particular legislator that you are meeting with is also key in making sure you are knowledgeable about the work.  Lastly, we developed meeting scrips as a jump off point for practicing how the meeting might go beforehand, which helped tremendously with confidence levels.

By the end of the training, I felt confident enough to reach out to my legislator, Representative Abe Rafie, district 48, and I set up a meeting.  We sat down for 15 minutes the following afternoon and had a wonderful conversation about health care and his intentions to represent his community moving forward.  Why I did not stick with the script verbatim, the practice and preparation gave me the language and knowledge to draw upon during the meeting.

Example of a script with  Legislator Abraham Rafie: Welcome

Lead:  Hello, I’m Sara Glass and I’m a constituent from Overland Park .  I am a representative of Poetry for Personal Power, a non profit organization dedicated to health care advocacy, messaging and peer support.

Legislator: Pleasure to have you here…

Lead:  First of all, thank you for your time. I greatly appreciate the work you have done concerning abortion regulations and crisis intervention. I’m glad to see that means a lot to you.

Legislator: Appreciate your comments… why are you here?

Lead:  I’m here because I want to ask you to protect mental health services and increase the mental health budget.  Expanding Medicaid kancare, mental health 20/20 restoring the $20 million cut in grant funding.

More families than ever are seeking help from mental health centers. But with budget cuts, people can’t get the mental health services they need.  9% of Kansans are uninsured and 53% of individuals served by community based mental health coalition are uninsured. That is a terrifying thing to be uninsured.

Specifically when children can’t get help for mental health conditions, they often fall behind in school and families struggle. When adults can’t get treatment, costs shift to jails, emergency rooms and hospitals.  More than 1/10 youth and 1/17 adults live with a serious mental illness.  You and I both know that mental health care is an investment in our future health and productivity.

Legislator: I’ve always  been in support of mental health, but it’s going to be a tight budget this year and there are serious revenue shortfalls.  We’ve got to get spending under control.

Lead:  Statistics say you will actually save money in the long run as far as keeping people healthy if you put preventative healthcare in the forefront of the healthcare system, priority wise.  We can keep people out of the emergency room and hospitals if we address these critical mental health issues NOW rather than wait until they are an even bigger problem.

Your support would mean a lot to me and my family. Many of us have been victims of addiction and depression.  Having a safe place to go and someone to talk to about these issues would have made all of our lives much easier when I reflect back on the trauma I have seen… elaboration on story here…..

Legislator: Thank you for sharing your story. It is stories like yours that help illustrate the need for mental health care.

Lead:  Preserving mental funding will mean that mental health services are there when people need them and it is an investment in health and productivity.

The people of our state need your vote to protect mental health care.  Can we count on your support in expanding Medicare and Mental health 20/20 legislative ?

Legislator: You’ve made some excellent points today and I’ll keep them in mind as we’re working on the budget. I know how important mental health services are.

Lead:  Thank you so much representative. I appreciate you taking the time to hear about these issues.

Legislator: It was a pleasure to meet with you.

Lead: We’d like to leave you wth this fact sheet of your files.

 

END SCRIPT

I have since then followed up with a thank you note and followed Rep. Rafie on social media, as to keep up with what he is doing in the future.

The training was followed by actual practice at the Mental Health Advocacy Day at the capital, and this was a great experience for my first real attempt at political advocacy.  Poetry for Personal Power had a table and passed out information, and we learned about other organizations as well all working to better the mental health situation in Kansas.

I was asked to perform a spoken word piece at the rally during the day, which you can watch below:

I want to give a big thank you to the Kansas Mental Health Coalition and everyone involved with the training and advocacy day.  I cannot stress enough how empowering this training was.  If you would like information on future trainings, email me directly at Sara.serendip@gmail.com, and keep your eyes on the KS Mental Health Coalition website.  (There are also trainings in Missouri too, just let me know if you want more information)!

-MissComposed