To my coastal tribe;
As I write these words – these symbols with multiple meanings – I sit in my heart and breathe into my feeling of connection, with the intention of that feeling resonating within you. I invite you, as you read these words, to also sit in your heart and to feel the space between the letters. It is essential now that we all play to our gifts. I see one of mine as writing and I decided to share some words of gratitude and perception with you.
With experiences like Tribal Convergence, it only becomes more obvious to me the ridiculousness of expectations. Right after the first night I realized that there was no point in having any expectations for this truly unique journey. I entered the week trapped in my mind and left it singing from my heart. Participating in a truly open, heart centered, loving, and supportive experience blew open my idea of what was possible within a community over such a short period of time. Tribal Convergence gave me a direct understanding, through experience, of what it is that holds community together. My deepest desire is to grow this experience into a true living example of an urban tribe.
The first four days of evening councils (covering urban village building, enlightened sexuality, and conflict resolution) were a total re-frame of my views on what it takes to build community. Each council discussion was facilitated by one or two individuals who provided the context for the topic. The facilitators helped with the overall direction of the discussion, and in some instances, led profound group activities. What had the greatest impact on me was the high level of collective wisdom which emerged through the open ‘popcorn’ style of contribution from the circle. Normally one who likes to talk a lot, this opportunity to listen and receive was extremely humbling for me. There were times when I felt the urge to share, and did, however I also noticed many times when I refrained, what I wanted to share was mentioned by someone else. The councils were not to necessarily ‘make decisions’; they were to open dialogue around three foundational topics which support a resilient community.
I began the week with the notion that we would be discussing logistical strategies related to living in an eco-village. How are we going to grow our food? Is it better to live out of earthships or geodesic domes? Should we generate our power from solar panels? I quickly realized that our topics went one layer deeper than that and were designed to address essential areas of relating to one another that are totally ignored within our society. What does it mean to be a community? How do we support the five pillars (unborn, children, adults, elders, and the dying) of community? What does it mean to be in right relationship? How do we fulfill our deep human need for touch without crossing boundaries? How can we develop the level of intimacy and safety within our relationships that we so desperately crave? How do we consciously address inevitable conflict? How do we get to a place within ourselves that allows us to be humble enough to openly receive criticism? We are mirrors of each other and when we gather in community and drop our egos, we enter into a conscious agreement to help each other learn and grow. We need others to show us our blind spots.
While there are no definitive answers to the questions we explored, the open circle discussion provided each individual the opportunity to share stories, lessons, and experiences with the collective. All contributions were appreciated and each individual was allowed to take from it whatever they needed. Creating and maintaining the loving, open, honest, and trusting space free from any condemning was the true reason for the success of each council. One of the ways this was done was through encouraging each person not only to speak from their heart but to also listen from their heart. Everyone present contributed to this nurturing space and it allowed me to step into a place where I could truly open my heart in ways I had never yet imagined. I should add that having the opportunity to dance to some incredible music every night also helped with this opening. A tribe isn’t a tribe if they don’t sing and dance together.
The evening councils were a perfect primer for the much more intimate experience from Friday to Sunday at the Squamish Valley Campground. We wanted to put into practice what we had collectively cultivated during the week by living together for the weekend with the intention of co-creating a beautiful garden as a gift for the campground. Would we enjoy working together on creating a garden? Was this something we craved deeply, or would we find that we wanted nothing to do with it? Spending the weekend cooking, cleaning, sharing stories around the campfire, dancing, laughing, getting our hands dirty, working up a sweat in the sun, eating an incredible bounty of food together, sharing and receiving each other’s creative gifts, and coming together in community, as a tribe with a common goal, was by far one of the most fulfilling experiences I have ever participated in. None of it felt like work to me. Everyone jumped at the opportunity to give their gifts – to share their passion and talents. Even the supposed ‘grunt’ work was a joy. It’s easy to enjoy whatever you are doing when you are surrounded by family, sharing stories, connecting with the Earth, playing in collective song, and eating delicious fruit. When we collaborate on a collective project and co-create in community we can accomplish superhuman feats in no time at all. This experience has shown me the energy and fulfillment that arises from within people when they are provided a space to create through their own gifts.
Saturday night was by far the most awe inspiring and humbling experience of the whole week. We started the evening off with a metamorphosis exercise of sorts. Each of us was to embody anything we felt called to, be it an animal, a plant, an element – anything. Through this creative re-enactment we were to share with the group any words that happened to arise through us as a conduit for their hidden wisdom. This emergent council of non-human wisdom created space for incredible perspectives and insight from the cougars, fire, the bears, trees, Mama Gaia, Grandfather Moon, and water to name a few. Stepping out of our human shoes and taking on the form of others helped us to remember our deep connection to all of nature and the importance of being mature stewards of this beautiful planet.
Following the council we began the talent show. I was yet again hit by a wave of humility as I witnessed one beautiful, creative, heartfelt gift after another. There was so much talent in that dome it was hard to even believe. Between singing, playing (many) instruments, reciting ten minutes of poetry, telling jokes, and beatboxing I was blown away by the collective creativity of the group. Each individual was encouraged and supported to share their gifts and the entertainment went far beyond the caliber of our normally purchased nightly entertainment. It was uniquely them. Each act was a one of a kind performance by a one of a kind person. The gifts that were given through our creativities at the talent show met a need we all crave and yet goes unmet day in and day out. It was a shared direct experience that no amount of bought entertainment can meet. You knew the performer and the performer knew you on a level not seen by many.
The Tribal Convergence demonstrated a living example of the glue that holds community together. It is a supportive, loving, nurturing space created by the collective creativities of each part of the whole. It is the felt presence of shared direct experience. It is woven from the unique and sacred gifts of every individual in full blossom. It is a deep longing we all feel yet cannot always identify. It is a sense of fulfillment and belonging so rarely met. It is a home we all desire to return to.
The grandest illusion of our time is that of independence. Money only provides us with a veil of independence; we still depend completely on others for our basic needs, even if we purchase those needs. The only difference is that we are dependent on strangers. Community brings us back into reconnection with the living reality of our interdependencies with other human beings and by extension all of nature.
Shine your light. Give your gifts. Openly receive from others. Share in song and story. Laugh. Dance. Love. Together.
May this find you in happiness and joy,