October 8, 2015: Online Work Bee

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Thursday Agenda

  • Check in
  • Opening Blessing
  • Project Work
    • Brandon: Find photos of our recent events and send them to Ben
    • Brandon: Email Devera about the Gaia statues … contact the Portland Arts Council about the Gaia statues
    • Brandon: start writing a Gaian perspectives blogpost for Humanistic Paganism
    • Ben: Finish drafting the Summer Newsletter and start looking for photos
    • Ben: Work on the "Gospel According to Ben"
    • Ben: Do more work on the Shiny Green Festival notes
    • Ben: listen to the Lovolution podcast
    • Ben: Work on the hemisphere code
  • Evaluation
  • Closing Blessing

Check In

  • Brandon … I'm working a lot … new job started on Monday
  • Ben … I’m looking forward to finally finishing the darn newsletter

Opening Blessing

As we fulfill our commitment to life and to Gaia, we find that our hearts go where our time and money goes. So we are strengthening our commitment to Gaia and to life by spending this time together. May we find not only resolve, but also effectiveness. -- Blessed Be

Finishing the Summer Newsletter

Summer only just ended, and I'm missing it already. We did so many exciting things, and most of them we won't get to do again for a long while. As we descend into the darker half of the year, at least we can bask in the warmth of our memories. (In the interest of that goal, I'm going to be a little less concise than usual.)

Eric and Brandon recently read two of Daniel Quinn's books, finding inspiration in their description of a New Story ethic that says "this planet is not ours to do with as we please." Eric started thinking about how to feed people while following this ethic, using forested land without "taking over" and replacing the ecosystem wholesale. The solution he started with is a tree-climbing robot that could graft branches of various fruit trees onto high branches of the forest's existing trees. He invented a simple, super-lightweight pneumatic actuator concept for the robot's legs, and built a partial working prototype--but then had to put the project on hold for a while as his family decided to work on moving to a new home across the river from Ottawa, next to a huge forest called Gatineau Park.

Another major distraction for Eric and Michelle was planning for their visit to Portland's smaller urban forest, the Hoyt Arboretum, for the first annual Shiny Green Festival! In addition to us regulars, the largely-outdoor unconference brought together old friends like Keith Lofstrom (who had only attended one previous SolSeed event, way back in 2009), new friends like the Halsteads (who Brandon and Shelley met earlier this year at Pantheacon), and even a couple of Keith's acquaintances who we'd never met before. We hiked around the Arboretum and around Portland, Drummed the Eons at the city's highest point, held a treasure hunt, visited a beach on the river and an outdoor religious sanctuary, discussed many fascinating ideas about the intertwined futures of life and technology--and oh yeah, I presented my Spectacle!

It's called the Hemisphere, and it's simply a big white hemispherical surface (we used a beach ball embedded in a cutout between two big blocks of styrofoam). Doesn't sound very impressive--but combined with a digital projector, it becomes a view of any spherical object you can imagine! We focused on Earth and other celestial bodies (with a starry backdrop projected on the foam), but the possibilities go far beyond that. The Hemisphere is also an open-source software project that will enable anyone to create their own content, particularly if they have a map that they want to quickly and easily turn into an interactive half-globe. That part is at a very early stage, but luckily the NOAA Science on a Sphere project, which inspired me to create the Hemisphere, provides plenty of content on its website that I was able to plug right into my presentation.

We continued the "Shiny Green" theme into our Autumn Equinox celebration, which began at a steampunk-themed restaurant called the Industrial Cafe, then segued to a Pagan Pride festival set amid the oak trees that give Oaks Park its name. After wandering among the vendors selling crystals, ritual masks, seven-inch-high Gaia statues, and even Pagan-themed bumper stickers, we joined a circle of participants for a harvest ritual that included a wonderful spiral dance. We turned back from Green to Shiny by enjoying a couple hours of rides at the neighboring Oaks Amusement Park. Then we returned to the Seed Village, where Brandon and I rounded out the evening with a couple of rounds of an ecology-themed board game called The Reef.

Speaking of Gaia statues, we have some very big news: Devera, the company that distributes Oberon Zell's Millennial Gaia statue, has partnered with us to raise money to make bigger ones! We're now in the planning stages for a Kickstarter campaign that will fund an initial production run of around a hundred 30-inch garden statues, with the goal of placing some of them in public "shrines" where many Portlanders can encounter this inspirational artistic evocation of the New Story. We've had fun coming up with the introductory text and reward levels for the Kickstarter, and are now working on a video that will professionally present the existing statue in all its intricate beauty. I hope you'll join our crowdfunding effort when the campaign starts later this fall!

That's all for now. Looking forward to writing you another newsletter when the light begins to return!


  • Ben … I hope the newsletter isn’t too long
  • Brandon … Fun to look at the pictures from our events

Closing Blessing

We have come together once again to spend the time and effort that our passion calls us to spend in service of our highest aspirations. May we learn to use this passion in service of effective work that makes real progress. May we hasten the Great Birthing. -- Blessed Be

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