I learned to read from Connie Bender in 2000. Reading from the day of the Portland mini forum.

Dear Fair Family,

It’s with mixed feelings that I have decided that I’m not ready to “run” after all (see backstory below…). At the candidates’ forum I shared the obvious fact that my kids (now nearly 13, 10 and 5) require too much of my energy to have enough to truly be able to serve. Yet, upon deeper reflection, my decision comes just as much my need to live my dharma, and not get swept up into the drama of Fair politics.

The current management and governance are clearly a clusterfuck that reflects the flailing patriarchy. Despite the best intentions, the Fair does not currently have leadership that can ensure the organization, and our unique/diverse family values, will be able to thrive for the next 50 years. While I have a passionate vision for what kind of Fair I want my grandchildren to be able to experience, the truth is that the organization needs to focus on creating a thriving egalitarian structure for our community, before we can really focus on sustainability for our beloved environment.

With that conclusion, I still want to do whatever I can to positively influence this critical vote and to stay engaged. So, I would like to use my “platform” to publicly share who I will vote for, and why.  At the mini forum the point was also made that by so many people on the ballot that it would be most helpful for candidates to collectively recommend a slate of board members to vote for (and why), so that once “we” were elected “we’d” be able to actually work together. So, when I woke up in the middle of the night wondering why I somehow had thought that serving on the board was a good idea, I decided to write to my fellow board candidates to ask them who/why they plan to vote for, and why they should get my undecided votes. Based on their responses, and five days of reflection, I’ve finally decided who I’m going to vote for. With 17 candidates and six open positions, it hasn’t been an easy decision process, and in the end, it’s a personal choice based on gut instinct. I believe there are no “right” answers, but given recent controversy, it is imperative that this new board be able to truly lead the Fair out of the past patriarchal politics, and into a bright and sustainable new age.

Before I share who I am going to vote for (and who I hope you will give real consideration), I want to recognize that it does take a lot to put yourself “out there” as a candidates, and I deeply appreciate the volunteer work that everyone has and will contribute to Fair. So, I’m going to share my favorite quotes from their candidate statements, and I loved the fact that every one of these quotes genuinely resonate with me. Regardless of whether I can vote for everyone, I am happy to be Fair Family. 

  • Aaron Kenton – “We need transparency in and knowledge of the skills represented by our governing body.”
  • Ann Bennett Rogers – “We need to support recycling and ”pack-it-in/pack-it-out” for all our activities. We need to look at food vouchers and volunteer appreciation considerations.”
  • Cynthia Peachey – “I hold the core values of collaborative relationship, radical tolerance and pragmatic idealism. In this chaotic world, treating each other with compassionate excellence is a revolutionary act. We are needed to shine this light for those around us.”
  • Ellen Singer – “I consider the Fair’s role as a loving and mutually supportive community at least as important as our main event. I’m committed to environmental awareness and stewardship.”
  • Etienne M. Smith – “We are an alternative progressive community who knows that change starts with the individual to the greater community/nation. If energy is an issue, then lets work on reducing ‘our’ footprint.”
  • Jack Makarchuk – “Let’s focus on what makes us strong: reverence for the land, celebrating artfully, and working together to provide an educational experience for our patrons. Outward looking and knowledgeable leadership as well as new voices willing to serve are both critical. Our future is in the hands of all generations working together. We are all teachers and can learn from each other.”
  • Jon Steinhart – “The Fair needs a Board of Directors, not a collection of micromanagers. The Board needs to provide vision, direction, and oversight; it shouldn’t just delegate its responsibilities. A good General Manager is needed, and needs to be supported. We need to model the behavior that we want to see in the outside world. This includes treating our volunteers well; they make this event possible.”
  • Komo F. D. Gustafson III – “These issues, and others, make it abundantly clear that now is the time, more than ever, to focus on solutions and healing. Something I feel we can accomplish, as a family.”
  • Lily Harmon-Gross – “Accountability and integrity are crucial to ensuring our vision lives on for 50 more years. I believe in the Oregon Country Fair and its values. We are family – a dynamic group of people who can work together to resolve our differences and preserve our ideals.”
  • Lisa Parker – “Priority areas include what we want our leadership structure to look like, how best to function as transparently and equitably as possible, how best to manage our growth, and how we will sustain our longevity, as well as things like amplified sound and quiet zones, providing optimal infrastructure to support the work of our volunteers, dealing with our garbage, promoting inclusion and diversity, taking care of the land, being good neighbors, and retaining the core values that we were founded upon while simultaneously embracing change and looking forward into the future.”
  • Lucy Kingsley – “At its heart, the Oregon Country Fair is a philanthropic organization dedicated to fundraising for local community programs supporting basic needs, the arts and social change. We raise these funds by throwing a world class 3 day artisan, food and performance festival. A prime directive for this market place is that the seller of the craft is the maker of the craft. This is an economic as well as a political act.”
  • Shelley Devine – “ It is time to come home to our roots, our family tree, while simultaneously blazing the trail ahead into the future. We are at the crossroads. It serves us to look back and remember that which honors the original and radical impulse that started this. It is imperative that we look forward and envision where we are headed.”
  • Spirit Leatherwood – “Our community is the heart of who we are and what makes us unique. We should hold this close; relying on our core values as our strength. During this political climate, we need to model change, holding inclusiveness and transparency as the cornerstones of trust.”
  • Sue Theolass – “There is a sustaining, transformative, magical energy inherent in what we do far beyond the three-day event. It manifests all through the year in our philanthropy and our programs. What we do together can change the world for the better for us and future generations.”
  • Chewie Burgess – (Write in Candidate) “Now, as we continue our journey forward, yet again we need to facilitate significant change….I feel that with your support and constructive input together we can take back control of OUR Fair through not only implementing but following functional policy for the positive change WE want and need.”

Lastly, I want to say that I respect the commitment and unpaid volunteer work that is required to serve on the Board of Directors, I want to give my sincere appreciation for all the candidates, and our entire Fair Family. 🙂

Peace and Love Always,

Darcy Rose

Reading from the day of the Candidate’s Forum


I had given a lot of thought to serving on the Oregon Country Fair Board of Directors, and how, after more organizational strife than I’m even aware of, the Board could use some new and younger blood to help us transform into the sustainable and benevolent organization that I believe we all desire.

Yet, I now realize that I was too hasty to offer my service. Mostly because my kids are too young still, especially as a newly single mom. I started having serious second thoughts when the first mini forum in Portland was scheduled for after school on a Friday afternoon. My Kindergartener, Teagan, had an epic screaming meltdown when she found out we were going to an adult happy hour instead of the park to see the swifts, as we had planned. Usually my kids are game for hanging out in pubs, but her fit made me wonder whether she would even pull it together to be able to go (thankfully, once her brain starts to function again, she’s always very sweet and apologetic, even if it leaves me feeling depleted). But once we got there, after about fifteen minutes of coloring, I started to get “love notes” asking how long we would be talking and WHY? So, I plied them with cookies and chips. The whole scene brought back childhood memories of our father, Wally, dragging us to Hoedad meetings, and a few Fair board meetings (he ran one year when politics were maybe even more contentious), and us wondering how they could possibly talk so much. On occasion I wondered if he cared as much about us. I know now that he absolutely did, and as an adult I can see how you can feel torn between important causes and impatient kids. It turned out that I let the girls have my laptop until the battery drained and then my phone, hoping that it would last until the end of the very engaging conversation. By the end of the three hour conversation, I was drained, and barely had enough energy to get soup/salad at the deli and tuck the girls into bed. I felt guilty for not wanting to read, which I usually love, and that’s when I seriously started to question myself. My kids LOVE the Fair, and I wouldn’t want them to resent the time/energy that serving on the Board would require. So, even though it means missing out serving during this critical phase, I am choosing to have faith that the new board will be able to serve with as much passion, integrity and creativity as I would have hoped to give.