Friday, September 2, 2011

Came and Went

August came...
and then it went.

And a whole lot happened in between. It was a month filled to the max with the whirlwind. Once landing in Machias- there wasn't much time before things got totally insane for the summer work party.
{swimming with tink at 6 mile lake}

{lending a hand at the electronic waste day-- it was an appalling amount of trashed computers etc. gross!}

The work party was super full on this year- with more happening, more people, more meals, more, more, more! than ever before. If you wanna see a more in depth break down of what the month of a 60+ person work party looks like in Machias, Maine- you can check out the blog Go Worker Bees. A couple of these photos are from my camera, but a bunch are also from the talented and lovely Nico.

But, here are just a few things from the month...

{I spent a lot of time in the beginning filling in whatever holes needed filled- which- often looked like teaching folks to make yogurt and granola}

{One thing that was new this year, was weekly full workparty meetings. We were aiming to provide a space for real time feedback about how it was going, and to give project groups a little more autonomy on how they went about their projects. It seems the first two weeks went really well, but at some point we crossed the threshold of manageable numbers, and some of our systems weren't quite equipped. We're since received a lot of feedback from people. Some of it positive, some of it critical--- all things to learn from}

{I lead a experimental mind-mapping workshop about the coal presentation for workparty-ers who are familiar with the poster. Each small group of people created their own mind map over the poster, using what they know about the poster and the lens that they bring. One group looked at the poster just through the story of water. It went pretty well, but could use some changing before I do it again...}

{A favorite beehive game quickly became a favorite workparty game. We spent many pre-sunday meetings, post-dinner-into-the-dark, and random killing time moments to play ninja. It's hella fun... i'll teach you sometime}

{One of the mega projects we took on- was rebuilding the deck that is over the waterfall. It used to be a hydrodam, and when it got turned into a deck--- but no one could use it. A person could easily slip through the railings, and the support beams were far and few between. SO! we ripped it up, and put it back together-- making sure it was done in time to be used as the main dance floor for the blackfly ball this year.}

{two car loads of folks took a little trip up north- to new brunswick canada- for an rally to ban fracking. To spite being late (eep! time change!? ah!!), we got there in time for the end of the rally and were able to exchange some stories from the coal fields of WV to the potential gas fields of Canada. It wasn't as much of a learning opportunity as I would have liked, but I heard some stories and met a lot of outraged folks- who were actively working to protect their drinking water. It mostly just made me want to run back to ohio... but... not yet. soon!}

{Some folks pulled together a little prisoner solidarity session to support climate activist Tim DeChristopher. He was recently sentenced to federal prison for 2 years- after disrupting an (arguably illegal) oil and gas lease auction. Since prisoners can't get sent a poster in the mail (or anything else to provide a little beauty), we sent the completed closed version of the True Cost of Coal to him, on the backs of post cards. A little puzzle to be put together on his wall}

{Food was a major challenge of the workparty- feeding 60 people for 3 meals a day... is kinda hard. I had very little to do with food this summer (which, is pretty heartbreaking for me), but it was amazing to watch all the food roll in. A whole lot of it we bought- but we also got all kinds of friend prices from farms, did lots of harvesting at friendly gardens near by, and other sorts of shoe-string budget gimmicks for cheaper food}

{On a saturday afternoon, some folks put together a library cuddlepuddle reading of the little prince. It's a magical little book, filled with all sorts of deep wisdom- with a childlike whimsical tone.
"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."

You should read it. It's best read with 10 other people, taking turns reading, while hanging out in a library. Or, so I learned this summer at any rate.}

{On rare occasions, we remembered we didn't have to eat outside, and we ate in the park across the street.}

{my mama sent me a package... mailed with lots of love and lots of cool looking stamps}

{of course, there was TONS of baking to do. This year, my workload meant that I didn't have time to bake- so i mostly just deligated it out... but did get to teach some basics before i did that}

{similar to last year, we had skill shares once a week where folks could share different skills with anyone who was interested in learning about them. I only made it to... two? or something the whole work party, but one of them was a reusable menstrual pad workshop. It was really great, and when our time ran out, we headed downstairs to listen in on the workshop about consent.}

{One thing that was really amazing that happened- was we had told the Down East Coastal Conservancy we'd paint a puppet theater for them to use during the blueberry festival. We gathered a team of folks to make it happen-- and this is what they made! Its the most beautiful puppet theater I've even seen-- seems likely it might be the most beautiful one to ever exist.}

{Sometimes, Erin tickles me. alot.}

{Another major project we started was created a wheel chair lift on the outside of the Grange- to make the upstairs accessible to more folks! It's not done yet, but it's well on the way. It is a pretty major undertaking to do- and included DAYS and DAYS of welding work by our lovely maintainANT matt- resulting in this wild rail-ish system being put up. The electric isn't on yet to make it fully go, but it's close! It's so exciting! In a county with an majorly aging population, this project means a whole lot.}

{one day, i was supposed to be rolling posters with some folks upstairs- when i learned *GASP* some of them had not ever seen a coal presentation. It seems unjust to ask people to roll posters when they didn't know what was happening on it- so we took a detour and spent most the afternoon work chunk talking about it instead. Cole captured a moment of me sharing the story. Which- happens to be why I joined up with the bees in the first place, and is my favorite thing to do...}

{another of my favorite things to do- is bake bread. it fills me in a way thats kinda hard to explain. but i really love it. A couple times during the workparty, I was able to get up extra early to help bake tons of amazing bread with good friends. So heartwarming}

{A major highlight was seeing my friend Bobb Hatt- who biked all the way here from Columbus! By himself! whattt!?! I didn't actually get to hang with him that much- but it felt really great to have someone who really knows me around. Plus, I got to do some painting with him. It was a pretty crazy painting project- the local healthfood store paid us to paint the side of their building- which mostly we used scaffolding for- but there was one section that we had to use a 3 story extension ladder to get to... it was really fun to be up on the very top, reaching as far as possible to get the tiles... but also totally insanely scary. eep! Do not fret, we tamed that dragon!}

{we also rolled a million and three posters-- we had large groups of people hunkering in the upstairs of the grange rolling away for days.}

The workparty ended up being more challenging for me than i had expected. Its made me think about a lot of things- but the top 3 themes that I keep finding myself chewing over are choice, expectations, and what it means to contribute.

I've come to understand the 1st two to be integrally connected (actually they are all pretty connected to each other). And... there's too much to say in a blog post. But, I've been thinking about it alot. One of the most challenging things for me (personally) this summer was understanding my role and how I was or was not contributing to a larger picture (and to myself?). A while back (in the midst of it all), i was encouraged to write about it (on my blog!). So... here goes.

What the heck does it mean to contribute anyway??

I think one of the things that I struggled with most this summer, was understanding my role and how I made meaning out of it. Unlike last summer, this years workparty was filled with lots of little pieces of work for me, none of it making a complete picture- work that I've come to call- the whirlwind. This often left me feeling like I wasn't really doing that much, like I was just doing things without much purpose or intention, or that what I was doing really wasn't very significant (this is mostly where it rams directly into choice and expectations).

While it often felt that way- I feel pretty confident it's not true and that the work I was doing was significant. And maybe the reason it felt like it wasn't was because the way i was seeing my contribution to the larger work. The whirlwind has a way of sucking up all your time and spitting you out- feeling a little lost and confused about what you just did (and in my case, strongly noting the things you didn't do). And doing the little pieces to a large puzzle often means that my work didn't have a finish line, a crossed off to-do list, or something I could look at and feel accomplished.

That is very challenging for me. However, a completed (color coded, prioritized) to-do list isn't the only was to contribute to something. When working with so many different people, things don't always clearly land on one persons plate or the other- but often fall into that gray area in between. Collaborating. Sometimes, contributing might just look like doing the background work- be that the dishes, the phone calls and emails, or just nonstop answering questions- it all makes the big machine go.

The whirlwind--- it doesn't feel that rewarding, sometimes- but like all other pieces to a puzzle- its an incredible valuable way to contribute.

(wait- did i answer the question about what it means to contribute? hmm...)

Of course, there is also what it all lead up to--- the BLACKFLY BALL!!! AHHH!!

some highlight photos, post ball madness, and more to come! (whats the goal? to get them up before i hit the road in less than a week- for an sure-to-be-epic 10 weeks traveling through out the midwest! think I can do it? we'll see...)

{erin- helping me change my bandages. i wrecked my bicycle and was left with some pretty tender road rash etc. But, i'm being well taken care of and a 3 days in- its healing really fast.}

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