Monday, December 27, 2010

Moon Over Tent City

Mandatory Meeting
The Wednesday meeting happened at TC3 at 6:30pm as usual. It was not raining or terribly cold and so we were somewhat comfortably gathered around, on foot and in camp chairs. Thankfully, the smokers were not all bottled-necked at the entrance as they were last week. Ah, but the meeting went on for a very long time as there were many voices of dissent and discussion about most issues and people needing to be heard. Roger has been doing an excellent job of leading the meetings and so we were not waiting on process, but rather on the voice of the people. Once, it was put to the vote whether or not we should end the meeting and the majority voted to extend it. And so on it went. I was nominated to be EC (executive committee), but declined the position. I don't have 30 hours a week the position requires right now, but I'd like to try the position sometime before I leave camp. Perhaps there will be another chance? It's a fascinating experience, these camp meetings. It's the closest thing I've ever seen to a true democracy, with many voices talking and many wills clashing and few things being agreed upon and popularity winning the vote this week and order winning the vote next week. Constant flux. A true reflection of the people in the state.

Tent City 3 Tour
A friend visited after the meeting, came to see the camp, spend some time in it. Knowing he'd be outside, standing around, talking, he wore long johns. He even toyed with the idea of spending the night, but was he really ready to sleep on milk crates in a community tent? Well, maybe he'll come back in a few weeks, with an inflatable mattress, maybe. It didn't take more than a few steps to get engaged in conversation, first with one person then another. We had six long conversations in two hours. "I'll give you the scoop," said the first. And he did, he gave us the scoop, on how to survive Tent City. It's an art form. Everyone's got a trick or a piece of advice. "You need to stay warm." "Keep your head down." "Eat fruit." "Don't talk at the meetings." "Steer clear of the drama."

Artist Collaboration #4
On Thursday, Darren, the TC3 kitchen coordinator, met with graphic designer/installation artist, Sam Trout, for the fourth artist conversation. We met at Tent City, took a quick tour of the camp, then drove to the bagel shop. I led the way and Sam followed with Darren in his car. Once we were settled with coffee, the conversation began. It started with the simple stuff about who they were then fell on their mutual interest in drawing. From there it went to musical tastes then delved into personal histories. It went further and further until they arrived at the frozen moment, that picture of life beyond which Darren wasn't able to move. Vehicle--coma--accident--she never came back--everything ripped away from me. And there they were, two artists sitting at a table, offering one another advice on how to move beyond life's obstacles, sharing stories of pain and healing. "I ran away.""I learned to meditate." I don't know if they will produce anything or agree to a goal, but I know it was worth the time of their pairing and meeting to get here. "Here's my story. Tell me your story." Sometimes that is enough.

Later in the day, I connected with Chris Wilson about the recording. We decided to work in my little studio in Fremont which will keep things convenient. Chris says although his equipment is semi-portable, it can't be used for field recordings. If I want to record anything at TC3, the wind or rain on the tarps, I'll have to rent equipment. We talked about the scope of the recording project. Chris was helpful in determining what would best be captured on video and what could be produced as audio. He spends most of his time recording classical music. I'm thankful Josie connected us and hopeful the artists will have something for him on Thursday.

Prayer Wheel
Still later, I met with Stu about the prayer wheels. We sat around discussing nothing for a long time then went to look at the 30-pound, handmade, Tibetan prayer wheel in front of Planet Earth Yoga in Fremont. Stu says he has access to the press at Pratt and that he can press the "song" into a copper plate and bend that into a prayer wheel. Sounds good. Let's do it!

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