Quick post before zooming off to class.
1) it’s raining, instead of snowing, here. The dogwood outside the dining hall is covered with these tiny little pods that will become blossoms. It’s really cool.
2) Sent this letter this morning to Mystery-Tribe and the FireDance discussion list.
Michael Wall and Mz. Imani make great points. Let me add a third.
It’s not just about the festival or festivals.
Here in the East Coast, the festivals both grow out of, and contribute
to, a series of locally-based monthly or bi-monthly gatherings for the
tribe. There is a symbiotic relationship between these local drum and
dance circles (held on a monthly, bi-monthly and weekly basis) and the
larger fire circle events. There’s Cambridge (MA) Drum and Dance,
Amherst (MA) Drum and Dance, the New Paltz (NY) Frolics… There are
similar events in the Baltimore area, the DC area, and elsewhere (as I
By the standards of FireDance and its five hundred people or so, these
events look like they are ‘poorly-attended’. Most have forty or fifty
people on the average night, sometimes much fewer. By the standard of
a monthly gathering, though, they are as well attended as the average
Roman Catholic rural parish or typical Mainline Protestant church.
Cambridge Drum and Dance has had up to 150 people in attendance two
nights a month.
Many of you know all of this already.
The point is, my fellow tribers, we shouldn’t get stuck in the mode of
thinking a festival is the only place where we can meet our tribe. We
should get out there, start our little circles — plant them, water
them and fertilize them where and when we can.
Adam spoke of the problems of executive jobs going unfilled, and a need
for organizational leadership.
These powers do not develop in a vacuum. They come with practice and
baby steps. If you would see FireDance return, then you must treat it
as a medieval Christian would treat a cathedral on the rolling plains
of France or a Tibetan sees a white-and-red-walled lamasery on the
slopes of the Himalayas: those vast and mighty complexes, each with
its staff of resident artists, teachers, organizers and leaders, has to
be enriched and watered by an “irrigation system” of smaller local
systems: whether parish churches, or prayer wheels, stupas, and
traveling monks. Islam has its Mecca — but it has its local mosques
as well; “next year in Jerusalem” are parting words at Passover, but
Jews have their own synagogues or temples right where they live.
We as a community must learn scaleability. We must be able to make the
dance and the fire and the rhythm with four people, with twenty people,
with fifty people, with a hundred people, with five hundred people,
with ten thousand people… and yet find the essential kernel of who we
are as a tribe at all the scales of community we can.
Please consider FireDance’s absence this year as your mandate: Your
hometown has what you need to make the rhythm, and the dance, and the
fire, and the Light.
Kindle the Flame, and Guard the Spark.
In some ways it’s awkward, because I’m not currently doing much in my hometown to enlarge and enrich the community, or promote drumming and dancing. Part of this is that I feel I need to keep a low profile in this town and at this school, sometimes. Part of it is that what community is here, is fragmented a fair bit at the moment, and we haven’t figured out how to heal yet. I feel as though some (much?) of this is my fault, and I could do more. I will think on my own words today, and figure out what to do to repair the breaches that gape in my own home and place in the world.
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