Friday, May 30, 2008


"Are you a story teller?" she asks me on the dance floor.

"Yes" i reply over the enticing performance of the Goddess Alchemy Project.

She takes my hand and leads me off the floor. We weave thru the crowd at Portland's impressive Village Building Convergence evening show. We find a spot to sit, between the eco-friendly building supplies and the progressive bookstore.

She begins breathlessly, "At Burning Man, my friends and i were doing an aerial performance at the center camp stage and after our show you came up and said you had an important story to tell us.” Her eyes seek confirmation from me. ‘Is this you? Are you the right guy?’ I nod for her to continue, I did not remember saying it was an ‘important’ story, but never one for modesty, i certainly could have.

“That was such an amazing story, about the princess and the three secrets. It was a turning point for me and my life and i never thought i would see you again and i just moved to Portland. And here you are.” i had to explain to Tara that i was not actually living in here. And i was quite touched by the impact the story had had on her.

Last fall, Sabrina could not understand why I went around Burning Man telling the same small set of stories. Besides my need for practice to getting better, it is interactions like this one, sometimes months and years later – that feed the soul (and yes the ego) of this wanna-be bard.

Below is the video which convinced Rob Jones to go to Burning Man "i dont want Hitler angry with me."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Changing the way people think

One of the reasons i love Abigail is that she does amazing work. Specifically, she runs SWAT - the sexual wellness advocacy team at University of Oregon in Eugene. This innovative program uses students work with interactive workshops and peer theatre work to present to other student groups about sexual assault and how to avoid it.
It is edgy, oft uncomfortable work as they do skits of acquaintance rape where the audience gets to interview the perpetrator, their friend who is convinced they have not done anything wrong and other characters who make this charged scenario more complicated. There are few places which are doing such innovative and experimental work and every school should be.

While in Eugene recently, Abigail and i did an Honest Seduction workshop together, which went pretty well. We were competing with a rare sunny day in Eugene and a folk music festival and still managed to get a room full of people, mostly because Abigail has a fan club in town.

But what was most fun and exciting about the visit was i got to do a presentation to her SWAT class and brainstorm about the next generation of what their work might look like. I presented the basic concepts we are working with in the honest seduction work.

I tried out my new Huxley rant. That this great author best known for Brave New World actually wrote (in my opinion) a better and more important book called Island. But what is fascinating about these two stories, the first dystopian and the second utopian, is that he two cultures Huxley uses the same tools: Sleep learning, mood altering drugs, social stratification, cohesive rituals. So it is, in my thinking with seduction.

Classical seduction (the pickup artist - "power over" type) has developed a tremendous number of tools over time. Honest seduction has much to learn from these pros. Specifically, if you change the intent with which you approach a new relationship, most of these classical tools are actually appropriate: humor, story telling, focused attention, fashion and scent, seductive attitudes and more.

What was most exciting about the SWAT worskhop was the prospect of adding Honest Seduction content to their work on stopping sexual violence. The thinking is that it is not enuf to be critical of what is wrong, there is a need to propose what kinds of behavior should replace it. "How to pick up girls* and keep them: An introduction to Honest Seduction" was a name for a new workshop (where the * was "boys, transgenders, etc"). My propogandist, revolutionary heart beats faster at the prospect.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What makes it all worthwhile

"Do you remember me ?" she asks smiling
"Vaguely." i answer truthfully, i often tell people "no" because i dont remember lots of people and give lots of workshops where they walk away with more of a sense of me than the other way around.

"We talked at Twin Oaks a number of years ago when i was a visitor. We had lunch together and i still remember and refer to the conversation."

Her name is Jen. She is a cross-pollinator. She has embraced an activist and i would argue a memeticists life style since visiting Twin Oaks after she finished her studies at Cornell. She lives at Tryon Life Farms where Sky and Kassia are staying for the summer.

And she gives some credit to me for her trajectory into this life. She works now to bring diverse networks of activists together at a person to person level, rather than a top to top approach.

It is reminders like this that have tremendous positive influence on me. That people are walking away influenced, activated and engadged. I once wrote to the Canadian rock performer Bruce Cockburn:

I don't measure our success in the number of progressive pieces of
legislation passed or nuclear reactors stopped or other campaigns won
- tho there have been a gratifying few. For me personally, it is
about the lives changed, about the people who because of our work see
the world differently and are now working for the many, rather than
just for themselves. If you look at things the same way, then you
can take partial credit for one more success - me.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ganas Nights

Hawina, Corb, Angie, Willow and i all went up to Tarrytown, New York this weekend did a craft fair where we (principally Hawina and i) sold hammocks and hanging chairs. On the way up, we stopped at Ganas on Staten Island and spent the night, both to break up the drive and to visit this unique and interesting community.

On our second night there, the lovely and talented Susan Patrice showed up. Susan is actaully the person who helped build my relationship with Ganas. She was living there when i first visited and we had a wonderful romantic connection which has morphed over the years into a rich if iratic friendship. Part of my love for Susan comes from her stunning organizing capacity. She makes stuff happen. Often without the appropriate skills or resources herself, she still is able to convert good ideas into functioning stuff you can point at and kick with your foot. From urban gardens in Savannah, to overhauled institutional food systems for children in Ashville, to artists workshops and more.

At one point early in our relationship i came to visit Susan in NYC and we emerged from the subway station and boldly strolled down the street. After about 5 blocks i asked "Where are we going ?" she started laughing. "i was following you." The nature of who we are is to charge off boldly, sometimes the destination is secondary.

So Susan is thinking of returning to Ganas. Her daughter, Gracie, is likely going off to school in LA, leaving Susan free to return to the city life and more importantly community again.

I also briefly reconnected with Andy and Katie, who are youth activist superstars in my book. Katie is studying Chinese Medicine in nyc, with the intention of returning to China to study it there for a year or so. They both are conversational in Chinese which is slightly mind bending for me. They also have strong politics, did amazing work at East Wind while they were there witht he nut butters biz and are good conversation.