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  • Gifts and Thank You’s – Editorial

    Photo: vec.ca

    Gifts, they are on most of our minds this time of year.  We anguish over giving them and receiving them, who needs one, who might give us one, why we give them.  It is residue from that dominant holiday in our culture, at least the anguish is.  Most of the gifts we really appreciate are the ones given from the heart, and specific to ourselves and the receiver.  There is a strong alternative movement against all the commercialism.  Give some cookies, or a hand-made necklace, a poem, hand-made card, or a special artifact of nature.  Give something really personal, these things often have more meaning.

    Thank you.  Our thank you conversations are the flip side of gifts.  We always say thank you, but we can’t help but betray what we feel most often.  The enlightened honor that old saying, “It’s the thought that counts.” and really endeavor to feel it.  It doesn’t matter if we already have two, or don’t need want or like it.  It may even feel like an obligation or burden.  Why did we not think of them and have a gift?  Whatever we feel, as we accept it, we also know most times the giver instinctively senses our reaction, and it falls into a couple of categories.  We loved it and appreciate it, we are ambivalent and it is a little awkward, or they sense our subtle dread at the responsibility of accepting it.  However it takes place, we complete the gift-thank you ritual and keep moving, it is that busy time of year.

    Twin Cities Pagans

    How can we avoid the stress of this time of gifts and thank you’s?   What got me thinking about this was the ending of the Paganistan weekly. What a gift.  JRob took the task of building a network of people, and a place to share personal and community events, applied his love and vision of a better community, and just ran with it.  The list, Twin Cities Pagans had been around since year 2000.  I found the post when JRob got involved , message # 649, Aug 18th, 2008:

    Blessings All,
    I couldn’t find a place which listed the area Pagan events in one calendar, so I asked Robin and he said I could use the calendar from this group to keep track of events.  So if you want to keep up on local Pagan events, check this group’s calendar.  I’m on a bunch of local groups and I continually add things as I find them.
    Oh, and I also updated the links section. But I’m not calling dibs.  I hope that other people also feel free to add things.

    Many Blessings, Jrob

    Continue reading

    Empowerment Training Day for OccupyMPLS

    Tuesday, Dec 6th, OccupyMpls sponsored Empowerment Training Day at Walker Church in S. Mpls. It was a day to focus on skill sharing. training, and discussion around the core issues facing OccupyMpls. It was designed to build a respectful and empowering culture within the movement.

    Afternoon round table discussions

    I participated for a few hours in both the morning and the afternoon. The event had a full schedule from 8am – 5pm.  I arrived about 10am to a room of about 60 people. Starhawk was going over the principals of meeting facilitation and consensus process.  Many present had some experience with these subjects before, and so the depth of the discussion during the presentation was directed at the particular problems facilitating a ‘general assembly’ presented to occupy organizers.

    About 10.25 am the meeting was interrupted by an announcement the Plaza security had ‘raided’ the camp earlier that morning as about 8.30am and had taken all unattended items from the Plaza. Several county commissioners phone numbers, who were reported to be meeting Tuesday, distributed and calls were made in rotation as the workshop training continued.

    The importance of incorporating core values into the consensus, and general assembly processes was emphasized, as well as the need to select the best decision-making process for each issue the group faced. Consensus Process is not needed for many movement decisions, just the major ones where core values are being defined.

    I returned after lunch when open group meetings, now about fifty with many new people, were in progress. Five topics were under discussion at smaller round tables :

    1. Direct Action Strategy
    2. Visioning
    3. General Assemblies
    4. Guideline for “New Norms”
    5. Diversity within the Movement

    Each group kept notes on its discussion with the aim of discovering insights, and gleaning items for later general assembly proposal and consideration. Every fifteen minutes or so, the groups paused and people rotated among them as they felt called. I participated in the visioning, direct action, and diversity groups. At the end of the session, spokespersons from each group summarized the discussion and outlined items that deserved further work to integrate the ideas within OccupyMPLS.  A contact person and email  was established for each work group and a sign-up for messaging within each group was posted.

    Continue reading

    Starhawk to support Occupy Minnesota Dec 5-6th – Interview

    Starhawk

    StarhawkPagan authorReclaiming Tradition co-founder, and social justice activist will be visiting the Twin Cities in support of the Occupy Minnesota movement next Monday and Tuesday, December 5-6th. Starhawk will be appearing Monday, December 5th at Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Ave S, on the West Bank, Minneapolis from 5-7pm offering a meeting facilitation training session. The Occupy General Assembly begins after  at 7pm at the Occupy Minneapolis site, 300 S. 6th St, Mpls, MN.   This is a fairly spontaneous trip and further details of Tuesday’s schedule and further training opportunities will be updated.

    I interviewed Starhawk by phone this morning about Pagans and the Occupy movement.

    What do you see as your role for the Occupy movement in Minnesota?

    My role with the Occupy groups has been trying to plug-in around training and meeting facilitation. That is where I have the greatest contribution to make, and I have seen the biggest need. Everyone suddenly decided to go out for large consensus in the park, but most people don’t have any training or experience with meeting facilitation. General Assemblies are not the easiest place to start in facilitating a meeting! I have many years of experience with consensus and with different forms of meetings and group process and with democratic and horizontally structured group organizing. I think this type of group is very familiar to us in the Pagan community.

    What particular experiences and perspectives might Pagans bring to the Occupy Movement?

    What Pagans bring is first, most of us have experience working collaboratively in circles or small groups. That is a form of organizing. We have a basic approach to life, spirituality, to the world, that doesn’t depend on an external authority, No, we are our own authority. Secondly most Pagans learn about energy and awareness, and that is really key in preparing for action and holding and maintaining non-violence in the face of violence. Facilitating a meeting is a lot of watching the energy and moving with the energy. Thirdly, I think we bring an ethic that we are supposed to take care of the Earth, and take care of our people. We are all interconnected. We have to live our lives and shape our society based on those values. That is why the Occupy movement is really exciting.

    Occupy Minnesota March

    Continue reading

    Sacred Path Center – Update – Interview with CJ Stone, Board spokesman

    The Sacred Paths Center (SPC)  Board met for their regularly scheduled meeting last night, however all scheduled business was tabled to focus on the financial affairs of the Center. A board quorum was present, and several Board members contributed to the discussion by phone.  The SPC website now has installed a fund-raising thermometer to depict their progress toward the immediate $7500 goal, of which half will be matched by other donations. They are currently at 20% of this goal.

    *NOTE.  The Sacred Paths Center is continually updating their website with fund raising progress and new events.  Please check their website for updates on their current situation !

     

     

    CJ Stone, Board member, has been delegated spokesman for the Sacred Paths Center. I was able to interview him last night,  Friday July 8th, after the Board meeting.

    What is the financial status of the SPC?

    CJ Stone, Board Member, spokesman:

    The immediate needs to keep the doors temporarily open were covered. The Center needs 7500 dollars to continue to operate through this month. The Board has decided that 12,000 was what we needed by midnight of July 30th or we will close the facility. If we can secure that 12k dollars, we can pay our bills to zero and have a positive balance to keep the center open and by able to steer the Center in a direction that will be financially viable.

    What changes would make it viable? Continue reading

    Crystal Blanton – National Guest at Sacred Harvest Festival – Interview

    Author Crystal Blanton

    I had the opportunity to interview Crystal Blanton about her appearance as featured guest at this years Sacred Harvest Festival presented by Harmony Tribe, inc.  Blanton’s first book, Bridging the Gap, was published in 2010 with Megalithic/ Immanion Press. Her new work, ” Shades of Faith; Minority Voices in Paganism”  is forthcoming. Included at bottom is the content of her main workshop offerings at Sacred Harvest Festival.

    What do you hope to offer our community at SHF?

    The scope of the work that I do is centered around group dynamics and learning how to navigate some of these dynamics in our community. To help with promoting healthier spiritual experiences for people. I take a lot of that material from being a counselor in my day life.  I take the skill I use in my everyday job and bring them over to our spiritual community. Many spiritual communities have already done this, it is just we haven’t gotten to that place yet in the Pagan community.  I will bring a lot of tools and skills around how to navigate certain group dynamics, how to create more communicative communities, how to navigate conflict and disruptions that can happen in any community dynamic. We’ll cover how to learn and pass on these concepts and tools after the workshops. To create a general sense of optimism in adding these tools that can help to enhance our community at large. That is what I hope to bring to the festival. Continue reading

    Pagans in Prison – Wiccan Minister in Minnesota

    George A Edgar, Wiccan Minister and Pagan Prison Religious Volunteer at three Minnesota Correctional Institutions;  Stillwater, Faribault, and Shakopee

    How are these decisions about religious civil rights for Pagans in prison made ?

    The important decisions about what inmates can have or do in their religious practice are made by those that are least qualified and educated to do so. If you are pulled over for speeding it is the police officer who decides if you get a ticket, not a judge, a specialist in the law. If you say, ” I am on my way to minister to inmates”, they might just say, “Have a nice day”, and let you go. That has happened to me!  It is the same in the prison system, it is the guards and the chaplains who decide what goes on. When you get to the upper echelon, the Warden or the Department of Corrections, and they get excited, you tend to see draconian measures because they don’t want any headaches. They see things very practically, and the Pagans represent a slippery slope. They had to cave into the Native Americans. They allow outdoor ritual, the sweat lodge, the use of tobacco, now what if the Druids want that too? If you can get three or four guys together and a religious volunteer, you become a legitimate religious group. All of a sudden you may have thirty outdoor rituals a week, with special guards and space requirements. Where is the funding, where are the extra staff? They just don’t want the headache. They want to stop this as best they can.

    Continue reading

    Recall Petitions – Resolution Efforts in WI 10th District

    Local Resolutions of support for Wisconsin worker rights, and petition efforts for the recall of  Sheila Harsdorf, Wi. 10th Senate District Republican Senator are taking place across the district. The 10th District (map) runs from Burnett county in the North, to Pierce county in the South, and extends along the I94 corridor to Menomonie.  This includes towns; Grantsburg, Frederick, Luck,  St. Croix Falls, Amery, New Richmond, Clear Lake, Hudson, River Falls, Prescott, Baldwin, and Ellsworth.

    Events are listed and information about aiding these efforts through recallharsdorf.com, and the AFT – Wisconsin, local coordinator:

    Continue reading

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