Second Quarter 2012 Report

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The shape of this past quarter consists of many smaller events leading up to our huge Summer Solstice event. The Summer Solstice was very exciting for all of us and we prepared for it all through the quarter.

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The first event was on Earth Day (April 21st), when Brandon, Shelley, Sequoia, and I took a trip to visit Hank Burroughs, the leader of the topical community I've joined called West Coast Ecovillage/CELSS Planners. We learned a lot about him: for instance, in addition to his small-scale indoor food-growing experiments as a step toward building Closed Ecological Life-Support Systems, he also helps run a family woodworking company, and his wife is also a customer for the patented needlepoint frames they produce. After having lunch under the framework for a large geodesic dome in Hank's backyard, we met up with my parents to enjoy the Earth Day festivities at the Oregon Garden in our friend Gus's hometown of Silverton. Meanwhile, Hank decided to get more involved with the SolSeed Movement, signing up as a Member by Declaration and accepting an invitation to our Solstice unconference retreat.

In late May, Eric decided to try recruiting potential new SolSeed members through a new Meetup in his home city of Ottawa. He held three Starfarers' Gatherings, following the pattern of the Weekly Service Calls, exploring how new members react to different formats, versions and settings for the services. More recently, having been greatly inspired by Paul Krafel's movie The Upward Spiral and his book Seeing Nature, Eric has started taking trips to study living hillsides and watercourses around Ottawa. These Seeing Nature Excursions are currently working toward reforesting an old field by watering young seedlings during summer droughts.

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The Solstice celebration itself actually included two back-to-back events: Sol 2012, a traditional three-day unconference retreat held at the same seaside location as Sol 2009, and YayLifeTri, a brand-new event for SolSeed, celebrating evolution through the metaphor of a mini-triathlon. Eric provided both the central question we chose for Sol 2012, "What is the religious equivalent of the Scientific Method?" and the idea for the triathlon, which has been a tradition in his family for several years.

Everyone brought a unique perspective to Sol 2012. Brandon started us off by asking how to judge a religion by its fruits, then took us through a discussion of various definitions of religion. I showed off my fledgling webcomic, Flight in a Cage, partly as a window into my concerns about the unintended consequences of large-scale human endeavors. Shelley encouraged us to imagine our dreams for the future. Hank shared his love of geodesic domes with us in two hands-on dome-building activities, as well as bringing us into a brainstorming session for a CELSS-themed computer game. Lion Kimbro encouraged us to reconnect with our desires, both for ourselves and for how other people behave. Paul and Alysia Krafel asked us to discuss personal spiritual experiences that lead to religiousness. Eric used his business-analytics skills to distill the concepts we discussed into a graphical outline for the first draft of a Religious Method.

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YayLifeTri was a family event tailored to the small children who participated. After splashing through the shallows of Vancouver Lake as "sea creatures," we "evolved" into land-based runners and then "developed technology" by getting on our bikes, then finished off the event with lunch and chocolate fondue. Next year we hope to begin scaling up the triathlon into a big, public community event.

In all the excitement of planning these events, our big book project was somewhat neglected and had to be marked "red" on our One-Page Plan for the quarter. It will serve as one of only two major focus areas for the third quarter (as opposed to our usual four or five), with the other one being a reimagining of the One-Page Plan itself as a longer-term series of planned projects that frees us from the agony of trying and failing to work on everything at once. This, too, was Eric's idea. Thanks again, Eric! (If we can find five more people like him, then we can go back to working on more projects in parallel.)

Thanks for reading!
Ben Sibelman

P.S. The Sanders family brought new life into the world! Ren Leo Sanders was born on July 15th at 4:50 AM; he weighed 7 pounds 13 ounces. Feel free to send congratulations to Brandon and Shelley!

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