Beloved 2018

Beloved 2018

Beloved Festival 2018This was Beloved Festival‘s 11th magical year. If you know me at all, you know that 11’s are a big part of my life. From my newsletter (The Eleven) to my birthday (the 11th of May) – 11’s are key. You may have also seen me raise my hand when the question “who’s here for the first time?” gets asked. That’s another story (beginner’s mind…).  So, one thing for me that was fun about Beloved this year is that I’ve been there since the beginning and I also try to approach things as if I’m there for the first time. I was scheming to make a t-shirt with the Beloved logo on one side with the year 11 on it and on the other side the slogan Beloved Virgin (1st year!), but never got around Tuit. Speaking of t-shirts, some of the stage crew wore black t-shirts this year with the word Belivid in bold white letters on them. Striking and potent.

My friend Matthew Burns did an interview with me on the last day of the festival this year. If photography is your thing – Carlton Ward took a great collection of photos this year – check em out (any photos that are published here are from him!). And, Maggie Jane Cech did these beauties!

Beloved Festival 2018 by Maggie Jane Cech

As I mentioned, I’ve been attending Beloved Festival for many years. Each year is different – depending on the site; weather; who I’m camping with; relationship status (I’m single and looking!); who else shows up each year; how easy it is to get in and out of the festival; and 100 other factors. That’s also partly why it’s useful to have a beginner’s mind – ie, not expecting that the experience will mirror past experiences saves you from the frustration you might feel when something has changed. And Beloved Festival always changes as we continue to change, too. My first year going I was 46 and now I’m 57 – ha, my life has significantly changed through that time, of course.  The way Beloved has changed is a little bit structural – the layout of the festival – but the main change this year felt like an invitation or encouragement by the festival organizers for us all to challenge ourselves to go deeper.Beloved2018Logo

Beloved Festival is full of seekers.  People who are passionate about their craft – whether it’s yoga; eating healthy food; personal growth; healthy relationships; learning about and practicing consent culture; music; dance and many other passions are well represented. My sense this year was that there was a question in the air: “Are we doing enough personally and as a group to change the world?” Sub-questions around this are: are we doing enough to end racism?  Is this event doing enough to be inclusive (the attendees are mostly white, and probably middle class, though class issues are not usually raised at the festival). How can we take the amazing lessons we learn at Beloved and bring them into our lives; our relationships and into the world? This is something I was chewing on a lot at Beloved this year – beyond just digesting my experience – how can we take this event and all that it teaches us out into the world?  I know not everyone in the world can attend Beloved – most won’t get a chance to even attend something similar and even if they did, they would probably only take away a relative small amount of the wisdom that is shared there.  For years I’ve imagined a video testimonial/interview booth for people to share their insights during the festival. We’re brought to such a peak state and that would be good to share – I believe it would be a positive influence on the world. This year we were asked to look at our shit – both internal and our actual poop 🙂Beloved Festival by Carlton Ward

These composting toilets were quite incredible (I believe the compost is left on-site and used to fertilize the property where this event is held. The troughs between the private toilets were for men. Perhaps in future there will be herinals for women (like the ones at Oregon Country Faire 🙂Beloved Festival by Carlton Ward

Then, there’s Beloved Festival by night. One change that I was quite happy about was the return of video mapping of the stage. There was just a light dusting of that this year, but it’s quite lovely to behold. See Carlton’s pictures for more of that imagery. Beloved at night is quite special. There is one main stage and most people are either dancing; having food or wandering to and from their campsites. This makes it a great place to drop in with people and for year’s I’ve been talking about the festival being my annual men’s workshop.  Ie, there’s nowhere to go that’s not in the center of things – so, when you meet someone it’s easy to settle into a longer, deeper conversation.

There is so much incredible intention put into this festival. Everything possible is thought of. In the first few years some of the systems didn’t work so well, but now just about everything works beautifully. I’ll include some improvement areas down below, but here I just want to say HUGE kudos to the staff and many many artists who make Beloved such an incredibly beautiful place to inhabit for a few days. Just about everywhere you look artists like Nature and his crew came early to manifest beautiful interpretations of nature using the natural art materials found nearby. Making installations like this: Beloved Festival by Carlton Ward

I’ve written about my visits to Beloved Festival in the past. (that’s a link to my 2010 write-up if your curious about the changes over the years 🙂  This year felt a lot deeper to me than in years past, but that might also be partly where I’m at right now in my own life. Here are a few major highlights from this year.

  1. Mornings in the woods with campmates => Sharanam Anandama => Solsara practice daily. That’s quite a combo and I’ve been trying to make it happen on every Beloved day for years. Usually I get to 2/3’s. But this year I was able to catch a little of both each day. Solsara happens in Portland and Eugene regularly – a great, accessible personal growth practice (featuring Carrie and Larry!)
  2. Sara Tone and friends and how they called in the directions and opened and closed the festival. This felt like the most profound opening and closing ceremonies I can remember. People seemed more focused and attentive than I can remember them – and Sara Tone and Michael Meade both shared few but profound wisdom with all of us – setting the tone for the festival ahead. The magic of facing towards the mountains in each direction – Tahoma, Wy’East, Shasta and Fuji (with a deviation to focus on Pele on the Big Island this year which was new…) was powerful! We also sing together “medicine for the mountain” and Sara Tone calls out all of the native tribes that were or are based in each area before we sing – it’s very profound and powerful. If I can find video of this, I would be glad to share it, here.
  3. Seeing the master guitarist and songwriter, Peter Rowan on the Tree stage was a big highlight for me. Peter’s been such a big part of my life over the years – performing on Old and In the Way and in so many other arrangements that his voice resonates deep in my soul
  4. Seeing old friends. This year had a special aspect to it for me – I feel like a lot of people I hadn’t seen in 2-3 years decided to return and visit again. That was special as I also notice that many in my tribe that used to camp together have stopped attending festivals more and more – so, it’s hard to have that posse feeling when that happens.  I also enjoyed making some new friends – Patty and Mike from Connecticut – who flew across the country to attend their first Beloved! (get in touch, ya’all!).
  5. Whoever started the creation of the vulnerable signs and parade (vulnerability rally) – that was a beautiful effort and reminds me of something that happened at WDS this year. I’m referring to this talk by Yes, Yes, Marsha.
  6. The music – so much great world music. I’m not sure how long this will stay up, but here’s this year’s line-up. I don’t usually attend festivals on who’s playing – I’m generally pretty happy with organizers’ choices and this year felt like an incredible offering. Angélique Kidjo playing Talking Heads Remain in Light?  Over the top fun! Ayla Nereo?  Wonderful!
  7. Sound: generally better over the years and this year was probably the easiest on my ears. That said, it’s often still way too loud – Blackalicious, for instance, was too loud for human consumption. Please – it never needs to be that loud. My friend suggests walking out into the audience with a decibel meter and seeing what the levels are.  Thanks.
  8. Most of the lighting at Beloved is glorious. And, there are bright lights that come out towards the audience at the Purple dome – I wish those would be turned off or turned down, or out of audience eyes. Also, the blaring headlight bright lights that shined out onto the audience from the main stage – I don’t like those at all. They are jarring and I don’t like the trend of the way these are being used at festivals.
  9. The art: particularly the natural installations I mentioned above – but also all the lighting and fabrics and thought put into making the festival grounds beautiful, festive and sacred.  The alters on either side of the main stage were breathtaking and a great reminder of how to mix the divine with a festival.
  10. More photos by Melissa Robin, and Andrew Paul
  11. th Beloved! – Spotify Playlist of this year’s artists! 
Beloved Festival by Carlton Ward

Alter to left of mainstage

I’ll probably add to the list of highlights as I think of them. Here are a few improvements I’d like to make for Beloved Festival’s 12th year.  The festival already does so much right it’s hard to even consider posing some suggestions, but after 20 years as a software tester I think it’s part of my DNA to share bugs with the hope that developers will improve the software 🙂

  1. The new composting toilets are world-class. I’m not sure where to put more of them, but a couple more either where they are currently, or one more bank behind medical wouldn’t hurt.  Also, Herinals like at OCF would be a nice addition.
  2. I arrived on Thursday for early entry and spent about an hour on a hillside slowly moving towards a parking spot. I’m not sure what the solution is, but I’ve had easier entries in the past. I was parking and camping in the Far Mosque area (hard parking) and if there had been a couple more traffic people I believe I would have been parked quicker. There seemed to be an issue with people coming out while people were coming in, plus only one person was moderating a long line-up of cars.  Anyway, not sure the solution here, but imagine it can be improved.
  3. Having the Purple Star Dome where it was made workshops there hard to follow due to sound from the main stage. Again, not sure where the best location would be..
  4. I missed the Grove stage (sound healing) all together this year – having that so far from the main area .. hmmm.  How about @ the Gazebo?

I’ll add to this list as I think of things, but the improvements for Beloved Festival are probably well-known by the organizers and are nothing like the ones I’ve written up for Strummit.  Overall, this year’s Beloved Festival is something I’m still chewing on, and digesting. I still haven’t taken my wristlet off which is usually a sign to me that something was remarkable 🙂  In fact, Beloved is the one festival which I see people leaving their wristlets on for a year or more – which tells you something.  Early Bird tickets usually go on sale for Beloved in the Spring – join their email list and perhaps we’ll share a dance there next year! Also, there’s a somewhat active FB group if you’d like to hear about other events and connect with other Beloveds throughout the year.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your feedback/comments to me, or below.

Albert Kaufman

PS – did I mention I found a new place to dance (face altered by Maitrea)?  Oh, and I skipped the word LOVE. Love is a big part of this festival – add in love. Loved the food. Loved the rain (fresh air). Loved the people I camped with. Loved the ride to the festival. Loved the ride home. Love thinking about Beloved. That.

PPS – The Economist weighed in this year.

Beloved Festival by Carlton Ward

Guest Post: At the Root: Trees Rule

At the Root: Trees Rule

By Guest Blogger: Eileen Stark, Portland, Oregon

     Although the region’s unique wetlands and grasslands carry the greatest diversity of species, it is the forests that dominate and most distinctly characterize the Pacific Northwest. Structurally complex, dense, and immense ecosystems, forests sustain trees that substantially outgrow and outlive other plants and tolerate temperature variation and soil differences better. When the first European settlers arrived, conifers covered nearly the entire landscape of western British Columbia and Washington, and northwestern Oregon–from coast to Cascade crest–including the Puget Trough and parts of the Georgia Basin and Willamette Valley.Real Gardens Grow Natives
     These conifers (and other dominant species) are known as keystone species because of their strong and often unique effects on their ecosystem. Though they are greatly outnumbered by smaller plants in the forest, their contributions are mammoth. Cool, wet winters and mild, dry summers, along with rich soils, have made for optimum evergreen growing conditions.
     Conifers are able to photosynthesize during much of the year and are essential for watershed stabilization. Some species are the most massive on earth, often growing over 200 feet tall and living for more than 500 years. Worldwide, conifers represent the largest terrestrial “carbon sink,” where carbon is packed away in plant tissue above and below ground. The wettest forests–those on the west side of coastal mountain ranges–were once especially complex, with lush layering and much variation in tree age. Logging has eliminated much of the original, most productive old-growth forests, and massive clearcutting has resulted in severe fragmentation. Today, much forested land is “second growth” that has followed logging and wildfire.
     Garry oak (or Oregon White oak) ecosystems, where these oaks grow naturally, have become rare, with only a very small percentage remaining. The loss of these unique ecosystems puts all the species that rely on them in jeopardy, and indeed, some species have already been lost, while many of the remaining are at risk. If you live on land that was once part of a Garry oak ecosystem and are starting with a blank slate, consider planting Garry oaks and associated species like madrone (Arbutus menziesii), oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor), tall Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium), and baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa). If your site is too small for large trees, grow the smaller associated species in a meadowlike garden or rock garden. Spring ephemerals include white fawn lily (Erythronium oregonum), Henderson’s shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii), and camas (Camassia quamash). Mid-bloomers include tiger lily (Lilium columbianum), nodding onion (Allium cernuum), stonecrop (Sedum spp.), harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), and western columbine (Aquilegia formosa); for late blooms try yarrow (Achillea millefolium var. occidentalis), showy fleabane (Erigeron speciosus), and goldenrod (Solidago canadensis).
     Most yards can support more trees, whether evergreen or deciduous, than they do. If you have the space, grow large trees–the oaks, the pines, the firs–that are quintessential to our region and will help replace some of the habitat that has been lost to development and logging. Just one Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) will provide dense shelter and nesting sites for various birds and small mammals, bark that can be used as nesting material, food for seed-eating birds and browsing mammals, and, as the trees mature, cavities for roosting and cavity-nesting birds.
     In urban areas, street trees that grow in parking strips could be native species (as well as the other plants you grow there). Some good choices for narrow parking strips (not less than 4 feet wide) include cascara (Rhamnus purshiana), Douglas maple (Acer glabrum), and black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii), and for wider strips (greater than 6 feet wide) and without overhead utility wires, Garry oak (Quercus garryana), and Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia). Always check with your city’s urban forestry office before planting.
Excerpt from Real Gardens Grow Natives: Design, Plant, & Enjoy a Healthy Northwest Garden by Eileen M. Stark (Mountaineers Books, 2014)

 

Spring 2016 – Saving Time – Use Facebook Less

Spring Cleaning: How to use Facebook less.

Happy Spring. Like many, I find myself using Facebook at lot of time when I have other things to do.  My simple hack is to have Facebook open on one browser and the rest of my productivity tools (Hello, WordPress) open on another. This has led to using Facebook a whole lot less. Many of us learned to use Facebook for marketing our businesses back when it was free and reach was a real thing. Now that you have to pay to play, and even that is an unreliable indicator of any kind of usefulness, that which Facebook is useful for has shifted. I still do think that Facebook is useful – especially for networking and keeping in touch with others. Organizing things also goes pretty well – groups, events – still are great ways to gather people for a cause.  Try putting Facebook in it’s own browser and having the rest of your world happening on another and see what you think – I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

2.6.18 – Update: I took Facecrack off my phone (as well as Instagram) = this has led to about 70% decrease in my use of Facecrack – I highly recommend this move! 

In other news, it was quite a weekend. I attended the first ever Cultivation Classic.

Cultivation Classic

Spring into Cultivation Classic

According to Jeremy Plumb, one of the organizers: “This competition welcomes growers who can demonstrate a commitment to organic production methods, moving toward a regenerative approach,” said Jeremy Plumb, owner of Newcleus Nurseries and Farma dispensary in Portland. “This competition regards the quality of the process used, as well as the quality of the product.

I learned a ton. I met great people. My Congressman, Earl Blumenauer was there. I’m still tickled by how incredible the event was – really great speakers; good food; people dedicated to organic; good music. I can’t wait till the next one.  Here’s info about the winning strains

Then, there’s global warming. You just can’t escape it.  We just had the warmest April in Portland’s history. I still believe the answer is lessening the number of people on the planet, gradually.  I can’t believe how little the topic of human population growth in regards to climate change is discussed. I had a talk with a friend this past weekend who was arguing that US populatin growth is just fine. We’re the fastest growing population of any developed country and our consumption levels are over the top – so, hello warmest month ever, we’ve been expecting you.

I’ve been inspired, lately, to make more content and to share more of my thinking with the world. So, that’s what this is about. Thanks to Tim Ferris and Seth Godin and Michael Katz, some of the people who put out great content on a regular basis. I hope to fit into this tradition 🙂  I used to write a whole lot more – my newsletters used to be little tomes and as the trend has changed to shorter format, so have I.

That’s it for today. Have a great Spring! I hope life is treating you well. Feel free to leave comments below and to share this post on the social network of your choice!

AlbertCultivation Classic

More pictures of the event here.

NextDoor.com – The Future Is Here

NextDoor.com – A Great New Way to Meet Your Neighbors and Build Community

nextdoor.com

If you’ve been anywhere near me in the last year or two, or have been reading my newsletter, you’ll know I’ve been doing my best to spread the word about NextDoor.com.

I have been a fan of local all my life. I love the idea of the 20 minute neighborhood – being able to walk to everything you need in 20 minutes – which leads to less car use and having a lighter impact on the Earth. It leads to a lot of other benefits, as well. Not being in a car means you use other modes of transportation such as walking, biking and roller-skating. And while you’re out you end up meeting your neighbors and catching up – sometimes learning important news that you wouldn’t find out any other way. Knowing who lives around you also creates safety as everyone can keep an eye on things. This is what life used to be like in village days of yore. We’ve lost much of this familiarity as the United States has developed suburbs and we’ve designed our world to fit the car rather than what’s best for our thriving.

Enter the internet and social media platform, nextdoor.com. Nextdoor is a combination of social media worlds that many of us are familiar with (particularly, Facebook). Once you’ve signed up (which is a simple process where you, a real person, living at a real address are verified) you suddenly land in the neighborhood you live in on-line. There’s a newsfeed where you can see what your neighbors have posted, and you can also view the feed of your surrounding neighborhoods. For me, that’s North Richmond, Portland, Oregon = 200+ members, and the greater area about 2,000 members. I can connect to the people on my block, or to all the people in about a mile radius around me.

What I’ve seen so far is a mixture of things. People use NextDoor to offer each other extra of what they have (fruit was popular last Summer), kind of like Freecycle, which I helped jumpstart in 2003. The conversations are about everything from people seeking recommendations for home improvements; bodyworkers; tech support; local events; to neighborhood-watch type notifications about break-ins; missing pets and the like.  There’s also a fair bit of discussion about how our neighborhoods are developing. Currently, in the neighborhood I live in there has been an increase in old houses being torn down to be replaced by much larger scale buildings and that’s led to a lot of discussion of where we’re headed as a neighborhood and city.  These type of discussions used to happen on community discussion lists and at neighborhood council meetings, but this new forum provides an opportunity to use collaborative technology at the neighborhood level.  Without ads! Then, there are the yardsales and notices from the City and other odds and ends – things for sale; re-posts of Craigs List ads; homes for sale or rent; and new groups forming (the first of these I have seen is a local singles group).

There are many reasons why I am so gung-ho about Nextdoor.com. As someone who has been involved in high-tech for years, I am always excited when I see something come along that will help on a local level. I see this as that – a way for us all to get closer – to build community resilience through locals being in each others’ lives more. To make local bonds rather than keeping up networks that take a lot of fossil fuel to maintain. NextDoor also dovetails with another passion of mine: Farm My Yard. Farm My Yard is an effort to connect homeowners who have sunny yards with those who have urban farming skills and would like to grow food, but are lacking the space to do it. I also see Farm My Yard as a possible youth employment/business opportunity. In my dream I see teenagers using the Farm My Yard agreements and walking their neighborhoods to find a few yards to farm. This can and does lead to real income; vegetables for all; and less trips to the grocery store for everyone.

Farm My Yard

So, for me, it’s all coming together – and, I hope, we’re coming together. I see these types of developments leading to something fantastic in the future. Nextdoor.com is not perfect yet – it doesn’t always correctly identify neighborhood boundaries; the tech support can be iffy; disputes are left up to neighborhood “leaders” who sometimes make questionable calls; and I’m sure there are other imperfections, as well. That said, for now, this is one horse I am betting on! And, I recommend, if you’re not a member yet that you give it a try and see what you find. If you have comments, please leave them below.

For a better world,

Albert Kaufman
February 21, 2015

Update: 6.25.18Here’s a new article about Nextdoor by yours truly – about How to use it effectively for neighborhood change

March 4, 2015 NYT Article

9.24.15 – My neighbors pulled together via a great conversation on Nextdoor.com to preserve some giant trees and build community at the same time in Portland, Oregon, The United States.

2015-09-22 09.46.51

 

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