Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Reflections on PAPAfest
So as most of you know, Holly and I spent several days in middle-of-nowhere, TN last week at a gathering of friends on a 10-acre cattle ranch. It was called the PAPAfestival...People Against Poverty and Apathy. It was a very enriching experience, discussing Kingdom economics, Christianity and empire, humanure, and other random, but inter-related topics...in 100+ degree temperatures.
About 500 of us gathered from all across the US, Canada, and a there was one token Swede. While it was mainly 20-30 somethings, there was a fairly diverse crowd...families, anarchists, pastors, old hippies, new hippies, tattoos and dreadlocks.
There were only 6 port-o-potties (and 3 composting toilets for the daring...see below for "Poo Town" photo) for all 500 of us. Several of us hypothosized that they would be full by the next morning, but they worked for us up until the end.
Will and Lisa and Ty and Jake and Gwinny welcomed us into their camping circle, shared food with us, and made us feel at home. Will was constantly at the stove, cooking up wonderful stuff that you wouldn't expect to eat while camping. Other great folks from Communality were there like Geoff and Sherry Maddock (who recommended Binding the Strong Man early on in our pilgrimage) and Billy and Maria Kenny...wonderful folks who remind us that Lexington, KY really is a swell place.
We had great conversations around food about the hopefulness of an event like this...people living out the better way of Jesus. And it's true: there was a really great vibe at this event.
Chris and Cassie were of course there...they and their community (Camden House) played a significant role in putting this whole event together. They are wonderful people whom we love from afar (because we usually live on opposing coasts).
Holly was beginning to feel very pregnant. Like she mentioned that it really felt like her belly was growing significantly. That made sleep difficult. The first night (Thursday), the air had a fever that didn't break until about 3 in the morning. This made it very hard to sleep in a tent. I probably got twice as much sleep that night as her...and I probably got 3-4 hours.
The second night we slept in a wet tent. While volunteering a half-mile away, a fast storm rolled in that dumped huge pellets of rain for a couple hours. Our screen was zipped up, but our waterproof shell wasn't...so rain got in everywhere. That night was another miserable (but cooler) night of sleep.
For the third night, we checked into a hotel. We played the pregnancy card and the wet-tent card. No one challenged us.
It's always fun to see Shane (on the right) and on this trip we got to meet Lucky (on the left) in person. We had met Lucky via a Relational Tithe conference call a few weeks back. Lucky is in the army...and has come to see war and violence as contrary to the gospel of Jesus. He is an amazing icon of a person who realizes that he will suffer for the decisions that he is making. He is forfeiting pay, opportunity and will very possibly be thrown in jail upon his next deployment. He was a great guy to get to know and talk with.
Here's his sleeping set-up...
Holly and Darin and I led a couple workshops dealing with topics like 1) Owning your own business and wanting it to do more than make money (more like...making the world a better place), 2) Global ecomonics and the Kingdom of God, 3) Redistribution systems and the Relational Tithe. It was wonderfully collaborative.
A black military helicopter with large guns flew over every day that we were there. I asked Shane (who grew up on this ranch), There some military base close? You see these things often? He replied that the closest one was far away and that, in 20 years of being there, he'd never seen a chopper. Perhaps someone wanted to see if we were some sort of terrorist cell.
It was an amazing weekend of collaboration, hope, synergy (sorry Craig), and the Kingdom of God. No paid staff, no prior experience really, free to all who came.
We're looking forward to the next one...whenever it is.