Last Saturday I co-produced the quarterly Evolver Bay Area convergence/festival/think tank – HiveMind. I spent three years developing the format, since in the Bay Area, there are about 300 Evolver-related events every single night. I needed to find what the niche was here, and my former co-Sporeganizer Torie Beedle suggested we do an Evolver version of Maker Faire, where you could learn everything from meditation 101 to esoteric spiritual practices, urban homesteading skills to digital art techniques, alternative energy to intentional communities. These are the sorts of practices that the Evolver Network promotes and teaches across the world in our 60 Spores. More and more we also foster collaborations across organizations who specialize in specific areas, by participating in coalitions that foster food sovereignty, social justice, environmental action, etc. In this way we focus on the individual as well as systemic transformation. The second main focus of HiveMind is building a coalition of organizations in the Bay Area that support each other in their missions.
Between the local Evolver Spore and taking on the role of The Evolver Network‘s executive director since last October, I have been working very hard at learning business skills. Upping my event production and promotion skills, number crunching business models that support collective ownership and what I’ve been calling Permaculture finance, and studying an area I feel is grossly abused by dominator culture – marketing. I also had to hold a lot of space interpersonally through the leadership transition TEN underwent, while collectively coming up with a global decentralized governance model that would allow appropriate representation and participation.
This summer I’ve been feeling unbelievably burned out. Like you feel after Burning Man when you’re physically spent and your neurotransmitters are toasted. The HiveMind last Saturday, which had the theme of Relationships, reconnected me with the core of my motivations for doing this work… how important and real it is, and why it’s worth everything I’ve been overextending myself for. (Thankfully I feel the overextending part is done now.)
Jon Symes from the Pachamama Alliance gave a mini intro to their Awakening the Dreamer Symposium, talking about how we’re in relation with all of life and spirit here. Hearing him talk was like a direct transmission back to a state of interconnection… which is something I feel everyone around me longing for, whether they know how to ask for it or not. We’re collaborating with them locally on August 24th, and exploring how we might connect our international networks. (Link to Aug 24th event:http://www.uptous.org/event/2128/awakening-the-dreamer-symposium-at-place)
We did a leadership panel with Jon Symes, Zachary Norris from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and myself, discussing themes of social justice, community leadership and responsibility. It was a beautiful microcosm of awareness and action and diverse communities coming together with shared presence.
There were many more presenters, community healing ritual, etc. We tested out our guilds model for HiveMind acting as a grassroots think tank, and within the short span of 30 minutes we identified the spread of issues and potentials the technology and urban farming guilds might address through the event. One of our HiveMind core team people is Lindsey Morriss, who has worked with Barbara Marx Hubbard’s Evolutionary Circles. It was beautiful to see her experience with holistic systems come through powerfully in her facilitation.
The event itself was dialed, finally! Everyone seemed to have a great time and have deep authentic connections with people. That level of real-ness is hard to come by in the altered fairy land of a transformational festival, the stiffness of some professional conferences, and a disconnect I haven’t been able to put my finger on with festivals like Green Fest or Earth Day. The people who came as vendors and healers were all medicine people in their own right and helped hold the container. From what I heard, they all connected with each other and traded – we had a fair amount of alternative economy happening within the space!
HiveMind is now produced by a 5-person collective, and I am unbelievably grateful to work with Lindsey Uluwehimailani Morriss, Alisha Morton, Erich Lindemann and Ryan Hoffman on this. Having 5 people there meant we could all enjoy the presentations and trade off and take care of each other. I finally got to do the networking that’s probably the best use of my capacity at these events, rather than zooming around making sure all the details are clicking together.
If you haven’t yet been to PLACE for Sustainable Living, I recommend checking it out… they are acing a permaculture demonstration site embedded within their surrounding community. They have maker spaces for artists, a bike shop, beautiful gardens, and a wonderful puppeteer and gonzo mastermind, Jonathan Youtt.
The main shift I’m feeling at the moment is just around being able to talk directly again. I’ve been redesigning the whole messaging for the Evolver Network, shifting it off of this weird psychedelic sensationalist spectacle vibe and into closer relation with what’s actually happening in the local communities, which is grounded, magical, deep and deeply informed and integrative. At some point in the past year I became completely overwhelmed, dealing with so many people and international communications that I couldn’t connect with my own voice and body… it was such a headload to ground out the communications and procedures infrastructure that the network needed, that I couldn’t see through all the details. Also, being responsible for reflecting the voice of many in my own official writings for the network, was a lot of pressure!
Something about last Saturday’s HiveMind allowed me to drop back into my own personal context, connect authentically with relationships with fellow organization leaders and cultural teachers etc. I feel back in my body and my own two feet after spending a lot of time in the astral thinking thinking thinking, international video conference call after video conference call. Thank God / Spaghetti Monster / Admiral Rainbow Jellyfish / the Infinite-Sided Polygon for that! Thank you to all the presenters and producers and healers and vendors and musicians and artists who came to HiveMind.
Our next HiveMind is themed Media and will take place November 1. It’s a collaboration with Maya Zuckerman of TransmediaSF. Some of our goals moving forward are: To bring in sponsorship for the event. For example, we’d like to have a company sponsor the healing zone, so attendees can receive healing they need without having to worry about the money exchange. We’re also moving into outreaching beyond our immediate social circles to bring attendees to the event who might be more unfamiliar with holistic healing, permaculture, or social justice awareness. We have the event model dialed, we just need to scale it up now. I estimate we’ll have another year of 1-day events before we’re able to do a big 3-day festival.
Other Evolver Spores are starting to pick up the HiveMind model for a city-wide convergence as well. You can stay in tune with the Evolver Network via our Facebook and webpage – http://evolvernetwork.org/ . To stay in touch with Evolver Bay Area or to participate locally, email [email protected] and let us know how you’d like to play.