I was going to write something before casting my vote for the new Oregon Country Fair Board of Directors, now with the current Board about to fully endorse the recommendations of an outside consultant, it feels like there is even more at stake.
Before I jump into my perspective, I want to share a quote from a lovely book with many spiritual truths, recently published by a dear astrologer friend of one, Patrice Felton. This quote inspires me to dive deeper into my desire to help shift Fair:
“We can learn from history. The Baby Boomer generation of the late 60’s and 70’s had it partially correct, in that they explored their creativity as artists, screenwriters, authors, promoting love and peace. However, they failed to connect their individual talents to group mindedness and community.”
The existence of the Oregon Country Fair is perhaps one of the only exceptions. Yet, for all our highly organized revelry, I can’t help but feel that we, as a community and family, have not yet reached our true and full potential, and at the political level are missing the mark altogether.
Despite common values of equality and respect for our collective diversity, Fair has never functioned as a democracy. In hindsight, it feels more patriarchal that I ever realized until recently. It feels like we are at a crossroads of “growing up” as an organization/community.
Here “we” are, on the eve of an election for a new Board of Directors, and the word is that the Board of Directors is eager to push through systemic organizational restructuring at the recommendation of an outside consultant.
My biggest question is WHY rush such a huge decision? Why dive, when we are treading in murky water? One of the wisest words of advice from Yogi Bhajan is that you must clean the cup before you add fresh water, otherwise the water will always be dirty.
I understand the fear of the status quo, but acting out of fear will only bring us more of the same systemic failures (while perhaps even thinking that everything is going swimmingly).
It may seem like a pipe dream to radically shift our organization toward a social democracy, but I believe that we need to patiently and proactively question our own assumptions, especially the ones that are no longer benefiting everyone.
When I shared who I plan to vote for, I opted not to give my reasoning, not wanting to further the divide, be disrespectful or hurt anyone’s feelings. But I now think that it would be helpful to explain my thinking. While I appreciate the deep and lifelong commitment of current and past board members, I believe that it is essential that we allow new leaders to emerge in our community. We can’t expect to get different results by electing the same people/political dynamics. My hardest decision was about whether to write in Chewy. I admire Chewy, but I felt that he was running more from fear than hope. Thankfully, he’s assured me that that’s not the case, which I am grateful for.
I’ve honestly tried to stay on the periphery of fair politics, but after witnessing the sad story pole debate from afar, and then the firing of a dedicated caretaker, and now a deep divide between rushing forward with “expert” recommendations versus the fear of the spiraling status quo; I felt like I had to do something. So, I threw my sparkly pink hat in the ring, only to listen to my intuition to know that now is not the time for me to help lead from the board level. Aside from my own fear of getting sucked into the drama, I honestly don’t think that Fair is ready to bring my/our vision of hope and freedom into reality, just yet. We have a lot of work left to do to ensure our communal democracy, before we can truly focus on generational sustainability and celebrating our spiritual sovereignty/oneness.
So, for now, I encourage more reflection, and focus on taking baby steps (like hiring a new ED/GM, restructure personnel committee, and take a look at BUMs/Coordinators roles and authority…to begin). I also truly hope that the newly elected Board of Directors will seriously inquire into how we can create a balanced organizational structure that will actually work for our very unique purpose create a culture that honors our past, present and future.