Meet Harmony Tribe

A “Meet Harmony Tribe” (HT) event was held at Sacred Harvest Festival on Wednesday Aug. 11th.  Present for most of the meeting were the members of the HT board, referred to as the “council”, as well as several past and present members, and 3-5 folks interested in Harmony Tribe. Introductions were offered by the Board and those present. Elected chair, (now “president” in the new bylaws) Benjamin Davis summarized what he believes some of the accomplishments of Harmony Tribe were this year. He elaborated regarding the state non profit incorporation filing and new bylaws adoption, by amendment, by the HT board.  The sweeping and fundamental changes were made, Benjamin stated,  “to protect Harmony Tribe members from potential liability”. Other incorporation questions were deferred until the end of the presentation.

Each Board member reviewed their defined duties in turn, and prospective members asked about the process of getting involved.  Examples were given of individuals that contributed through committees or other methods to Harmony Tribe.  It was clarified that a person does not have to be a member to work on a committee. A prospective member asked about communication and response difficulties with Harmony Tribe over the past year.  Registration Director Sean Nilsen assured the meeting that, “All communication issues have been resolved and any information prospective members need to find is on the Harmony Tribe website. ” When asked how prospective new members find out about meetings, locations, times, etc.,  it was explained non-members must directly contact HT via the website, rely on posted past minutes ( May is the last meeting minutes currently posted online),  or join Harmony Tribe to receive current meeting minutes via the membership email list.

This reporter asked about new member meeting notification standards imposed by the new board approved bylaws. Secretary Monique Bernston explained member notification of Board meetings must now only meet the “minimum set by the State of Minnesota“. She further explained the minimum is “five days notice to the membership, but no separate notice at all is required if the last meeting minutes established the next meeting time.”  This is a change from previous bylaws requiring at least seven days notice and a prepublished agenda to ensure potential member involvement in sensitive decisions.  Monique further explained term limits for Board members. “They are established at ten years, which means if I want to be secretary in the eleventh year, I simply can not run for election. I would have to run for another office to continue on the board.”

Asked about the change in interpreting internet privacy  policy by this Board, now applied internally and restricting current members from obtaining a membership list or any member contact information.  Sean Nilssen explained, “It is a privacy issue, and we will not share information even with members, about the HT membership”.  Asked was,  “With an annual meeting and election approaching, how are HT members supposed to know who is eligible to vote or nominate for office? ”  No answer was forth coming from Board members, but member and past chair Jenna Touchette offered, “Well, if you don’t know who to nominate or vote for, you probably shouldn’t be doing it, anyway”.

The meeting ended abruptly with thank you’s because of time constraints and prior commitments by Board Members.

14 thoughts on “Meet Harmony Tribe

  1. Lori Fae says:

    Wow! Nels… great use of passive-aggressive innuendo! I should forward this to my English professor as a great example of bias in reporting (except that she would take off points for your periods being placed outside of the quotes). You would probably still get a B+ though.

    I especially like the fact that you never mentioned any of the amazing things that Harmony Tribe did this year, [redacted]

    [ This comment was written by the provocateur creator of a fake Facebook profile. ]

    You certainly have shown yourself to be a great community builder!

  2. Kathleen says:

    Interesting. A comment had been here, and is now gone. Who is responsible for comment moderation? Did the removed comment violate terms of service?

  3. Jason K says:

    I am a little surprised an article like this would be posted to this website.
    [redacted] But the main issue I see is that the author, for whatever reason, clearly has a bias against Harmony Tribe. It is quite evident, especially with phrases like ‘Benjamin Davis summarized what he believes some of the accomplishments of Harmony Tribe were this year’.
    You are left with little idea of what occurred at the meeting, and only hear about some random questions with which the author, apparently, takes issue. The article should have included examples of Harmony Tribe’s accomplishments, and a more representative sampling of the questions and answers that occurred. [redacted]

  4. Paul says:

    I always have a laugh when people with personal agendas and hate seem to think they can insult the common person with hidden messages within an article of this type. It purely goes against the community principle to bring others down. Why? It can not always be about a particular individual, its about community and team work. It’s about spiritual satisfaction. Things that make us tollerate life better so we can work in our mundane worlds with something to look forward to.

    As I understand it, and have been seen first hand, the council volunteers its time every month all year long. This is above working their day jobs and they do it with little reward. Their reward seems to be getting back from festival and start planning the next one. They do this for all of us to enjoy because it has meaning individually and spiritually. There is always going to be issues in life and that is just reality. Get over it. Now, this article made it sound like the council had much to hide. The council now even more so is the most transparent it has been. I have heard that from many people and I have experienced it myself. I doubt that some of the replies by the council represented in this article were accurate and question the authors motive behind manipulating the events of the meeting.

    I read some great PNC articles about the festival prior to this one. How can PNC let such an article be published?

    And Harmony Tribe? Do what you do and keep doing it regardless of who is letting you down..Most of us want it and appreciate it. We’re here for you!! If articles like this continue to be posted, I will simply not read PNC anymore. No problem with me. How do you all feel?

  5. montims says:

    As Cara is quoting from the Comment Policy, could I respectfully remind the PNC of its Principle of Unity?
    The PNC believes that good journalism is vital to our future.
    The PNC will at all times aspire to ideals of transparency, balance, and fairness in the pursuit of a
    story. We will not use our positions within the collective to sway opinion in local personal disputes or “Witch Wars”, nor will we let personal ideology or theology erode our impartiality.

    This “article” appears to breach these principles…

  6. caraschulz says:

    Note from PNC-Minnesota:

    Since this is a new News site and there seems to be some confusion about what we are, I thought I would clarify a few things.

    We are a news site. We will have editorial and we will have news. We would love to share community announcements (such as handfastings and Wiccanings and initiations and the like). We would love to cover anything happening in our community. This is our (meaning all of us in the community) News Bureau, but it IS a News Bureau and it will be run as one. Which means it is not a site for only positive propaganda for any person or group.

    Here’s the general categories of what we do:

    “Hard News” – will be covered as unbiased and objectively as possible.

    “Community News” and “Human Interest” stories are usually lighter in nature and will generally be more positive in nature, but not always.

    “Editorial” – is an opinion piece. Could be light or it could be controversial.

    Our mission is not to promote or hurt any person or group. You may, at times, be thrilled with the coverage we provide on a topic, event, or issue because you read it as showing something you like in a positive light. The reverse will also be true. We will cover what is happening and if what happens is positive, that is how it will be presented. If something is less than positive, that is how it will be presented. Just like your hometown TV or Print News.

    To cover the News in such a thriving and vibrant community, we decide internally what’s out there and how or if we can cover it. The Sacred Harvest Festival was a huge undertaking to cover and we are not done with it. We still have many stories to present. We have a list of who is doing what and trying to decide the order.

    In this instance, Nels covered the Meet Harmony Tribe meeting. I am writing a story, based on 5 different interviews with Harmony Tribe Council members, on what changes were made to the festival this year and changes to how the Council functions. For this reason, Nels mentioned it but didn’t give the details because that’s my story and it deserves to be gone into in depth.

    We welcome comments and criticisms that do not violate our Comment Policy, and we would REALLY welcome more reporters, photographers, editorialists. Also feel free to email us as we would be ecstatic to do a weekly Letters to the Editor section!

    I hope this clears up some of the questions that you may have or corrects any assumptions you may have had.

    Cara Schulz

    • Todd Berntson says:

      Hi Cara,

      I want to say that I think everyone is very excited about what you are doing with the PNC and the potential benefit that it will have for the entire community. I also don’t think that everyone expects that every article published to be a positive one. The Gods know that we have faults just like everyone else and that we sometimes do things that don’t reflect positively on our community.

      I think what is a bit bothersome about this particular article is that much of the information presented here is either factually incorrect, or that statements have been taken out of context and presented in a way that implies a different meaning than was actually communicated at the Meet Harmony Tribe workshop.

      One example of this is Nels’ assertion that complaints were made by the participants about our poor communication. In fact, no one who attended that workshop complained of this. Rather, two participants (Mar and Michelle) complimented us on how fast we responded to their emails. They further stated that our responsiveness was much faster than in years past and thanked us again. The statement attributed to Sean that “All communication issues have been resolved” is also factually incorrect.

      This article leaves the impression that people came to the meeting and complained about how unresponsive we were and that we stated that those issues have been resolved. Anyone who attended that meeting, with the exception of Nels, would give a very different story of what actually happened compared to what was reported.

      There are many, many more examples like this in his article. Harmony Tribe is meeting tonight to put together a letter detailing the inaccuracies in this article. We will forward this to you once it is complete.

      I have read other articles posted by Nels and they seem to be very good. In this instance, though, it appears that his personal opinions about the direction that Harmony Tribe is moving is impeding his ability to be objective and accurate when it comes to reporting about Harmony Tribe. Perhaps the best solution is to simply employ his talents on other subjects.

      Thank you for all you do!

      Many Blessings.


  7. montims says:

    Cara – thank you for clarifying the PNC’s definition of news.

    I regret that it is hard for this reader (and possibly also others) to tell, when an article is filed as a news item, whether that article is “Hard News” or “Community News”, and thereby to judge whether the article will be unbiased and objective or not.

    Maybe y’all could consider indicating this in your postings, to avoid any future misunderstandings?

  8. Mark Digatono says:

    I for one am not surprised by the article. [redacted]
    If this is an opinion article it needs to be labeled as such, it should in my opinion not be labeled as community or hard news. Were it more clearly labeled as an opinion piece I could ignore it since the authors opinion to me is as relevant as screen doors are to a submarine.

    Since the author is also one of the editors I fully expect this comment to be killed. [redacted]

    *Editor’s note – The article is not an editorial, which is why it was not noted as such. All comments are welcome as long as they abide by the Comment Policy.

    Thank you,
    Cara Schulz

  9. Michelle says:

    If anyone is concerned about the writer’s so called bias. I would say there is need for your own investigation. Why is it that there are so many opinions about what has been written, when there are so few who actually understand what the actual issues are? If a person reads the article with no expectation of what they want it to say , or what light it may shed, or without “inside “ information.. to me it seems like an article written about key points at a meeting and that is all. The only way I see innuendo — is if you know some of the history..and we all know history is never tainted. It is all about what we know, or think we know. Just as in many other areas of peoples lives — they want to complain after the fact – and not investigate, get educated and get involved before the decisions are made. This article touches on subjects that have changed with in HT Council, and reviews a couple of the areas in which these changes have effected the community.

    These are my experiences and what I remember of the meeting.
    I did bring up the fact that I had been trying to reach people on The Council via the website for TWO years to try and get involved with ritual planning, art work, and possibly workshops for children. I was not able to log in to the Forum ( which later was explained away as the forum was not kept up on.) I wrote emails via the Contact us portion of website….. and was never responded to. — What was said is that the communication issues will be taken care of , and there is to anyone’s knowledge no future issues with communications foreseen. – There was also a mention of new website that is in the works at this time…which was mentioned to be better. Which was correctly stated in the article.

    – I also extended my extreme gratefulness to Registration for their prompt communications when it came to my situation with registration.

    I brought up that I specifically needed clarification on whether or not I needed to be a paid member to be on a committee…This was clarified that I do not need to be a member to be on a committee. — In conjunction with this question I asked how do I know who to contact regarding my interest in committees..etc. We were told to use Contact Us section of web site.. Which was correctly stated in the article.

    As to notice of meetings…again correctly stated in the article.. notice will be sent within the amount of time agreed upon according to by laws..and if noted in previous minutes no further notice is “needed”..we are able to see meeting minutes via the website…

    No comment on Membership statements, as I was in and out with children.

    As to the Incorporation/Bylaws changes – I expressed my gratitude that they were officially done.

    I also expressed that now we have a place to start from if we see there may be changes needed in the future ( according to consensus ). I will only say that… There was several years of work done previously that would have been easily integrated in to the current bylaws instead of being trashed— if anyone would have investigated. This seems to be a sore spot with many involved.

    There have been many people’s time spent in so many numerous ways to make this festival happen. There have been hours of planning, phone calls, foot work , sweat, meetings, errand running, but let us not forget there have also been tears…sometimes tears of frustration, of disappointment, of general anxiety…..but also tears of joy. Joy and remembrance that this festival is only happening because of the COMMUNITY as a whole. The Harmony Tribe Council — is NOT – Harmony Tribe.

    There have been very important concepts of what the original intent of Harmony Tribe was all about that have been lost– and actually never fully realized because of insecurity, lack of respect, and ladder climbing…which is interesting because one of the main reasons, we did not have “Corporate Positions “ in the beginning was because of the “illusion “of power and what it does to people. Through all of the issues a festival was put on …and in the beginning when all was said and done I think every person agreed that with out each other it would not have happened. As in a family there were disagreements, hurt feelings, but also honesty… the end we got through it.
    This does NOT mean there was never room for improvement, or at all to say that it was all working just fine. Change happens, change is GOOD. Change of an entire intent is a completely different matter. I am hopeful that the festival will continue, and Harmony Tribe will grow and mature into whatever it is meant to.

    The point is this meeting was not about meeting Harmony Tribe. I am not sure of what the agenda was or if there was an agenda..There were brief introductions given and an explanation of duties, I asked a few questions, others asked a few questions, and it seems to me the meeting ended up being taken in a direction that was needed – in that there are questions that people have.

    The issue to me is that I was trying to represent a person who had no history with anyone involved with HT Council, and never worked with in the organization…these were the points I brought up..communications, and what is this organization all about.
    This is how a new person would look at it… What are they about, how do they work together, how do I get involved…In order to make a decision on whether or not I want to join and organization, I would want to check out a few meetings, and talk to some people and then make a decision.
    Some have said the group is more transparent than ever.. I disagree.

    All in all —

    Thank you to everyone who has a hand in putting the festival together currently and in the past.

    I look forward to going again…because in reality…it is what you make it.

  10. Mark Digatono says:

    Cara, my apologies. I was in hindsight rather scathing of the author. I do respect the work that PNC is doing, and your work as well.
    I have personal issue with the author. That should not have been addressed here. I will in the future do my best to abide by the rules regarding comments.

  11. Patrick McHague says:

    I have been involved in the Pagan community, both in the Twin Cities and more actively up here in Duluth – and this article, and the comments just made me laugh out loud -all of them.

    All I really know about Harmony Tribe is that they have a fesival every year and I have never been to it – what the hell kind of power do people get from that? So I get that I am not “invested” in this debate, and I don’t know all the ins and outs of the organization, but I have put on events and the only power you get, irregardless of your title, is a whole load of work and not a lot of thanks usually – but you sure get a boatload of criticism. To get hung up on what you call a persons role is really silly. I have had groups where there is no leadership structure and you still get people who try to control whats going on and who does what. Stick with the people who AREN’T name calling and you will know who the real adults are. Find the people who are able to admit their issues and work on them productively and you will know the people who are continuing to grow.

    It sounds like they did some work on their bylaws and people do or don’t agree with the changes. Let them. If they don’t like it that much, they can go have their own group someplace else and should probably quit complaining about it – been there, done that. If they are annoyed just a little, they should get involved and work towards the change they want to see – and double involved if they already like what they see. What burns my butt is when people sit back and critique without being involved – you know that syaing that goes like “if you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem” yeah – it’s true. So how many of you people who have commented on this article are members and actively involved?

    I’ve been around for some of the big clashes throughout the pagan history of MN and putting this level of energy towards conflict just ain’t worth it folks, which is why I hang back and just watch and laugh and shake my head at how invested people get over this stuff.

    Go clean a park or tend your garden or spend time with your kids – it will be much more rewarding in the long run than debating politics.

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