This page is written as a personal introduction to my (Ben Browner’s) intentions & acknowledgements around race, gender, preference & privilege in relation to this gathering:
To begin, straight up, I am a white cis-male with immense privilege, and I alone don’t have all the skills, understanding, or languaging to navigate the racial and societal complexities of our time. My intention for this event production process is to continue asking for help from those further along in their understanding than I, to stay curious; and radically open to learning. I will make mistakes. I will hold myself accountable for them. I will continue waking up. (AND we will continue having fun… ; )
My intention for this gathering, which I carry in service & humility, is to provide the infrastructure & production logistics necessary to support an array of people from different socioeconomic, racial, & gender backgrounds to create a radical event that breaks the mold of previously-held social constructs. Yellow, brown, white, red: all essential colors of the human rainbow, all essential in the co-holding of our emerging collective future…
Festival & conference-like events aren’t usually financially accessible to people of color. Nor would many POC want to participate if they were. These events have historically been White/hetero-normative spaces, full of cultural differences & micro-aggressions for our siblings of color and queerness. This HAS to change, because arts & activism – much less the liberation of all peoples & the Web of Life – are not complete if many different people aren’t welcome to fully participate.
For this event, we’re doing everything we can to create a radically safe, transformative and fun space for our siblings of color, non-binary genders, sexual preferences (and everyone who doesn’t identify as a part of these marginalized communities). We’ve got good mentorship & experience in doing this, but admittedly we don’t have it fully figured out, and are at all times open to feedback about our process.
The following is a still-incomplete list of our plans and ideas, and we humbly and gratefully ask for your help in shaping, altering, and adding to this list:
Leadership Team/Presenters: The first mentors we reached out to were racial equity counselors and peers very well-educated on these issues. Our intention is to create a well-rounded core team and experience for All. Our Facilitation Team and Presenters are well-experienced, diverse, and fantastic.
Financial Accessibility: We’ve been blessed with a grant from the Threshold Foundation to do the work we’re doing, and trust that we’ll receive more funding as the gathering date approaches. These funds are for general support, but a large portion will create scholarships for attendees of lower income. See the “Registration” page for more details.
Group Agreements / Building Trust: The gathering’s Opening Circle on Friday morning will focus a lot on building relationship through authentic relating practices, setting group agreements, and getting to know one another’s stories/passions.
Emotional Support: We’re bringing together an experienced Sanctuary Team to listen to, support, and make restoration possible for those feeling they’ve experienced micro-aggressions, oppression, (or anything else requiring support) while at the event. They’ll be identifiable by their armbands, and there’ll be a Sanctuary Space specifically setup for their purposes.
Camping: We can’t expect many amazing folks from Seattle, Tacoma, and beyond to be able to camp! So we are providing 30 tents & camping pads, setup and ready to go to those who need. We also understand that many folks aren’t experienced with camping, and we’re more than happy to answer questions or give help on site to those who ask.
Transportation: Getting to Vashon is fairly simple through public transit, from both Tacoma and Seattle. We’ll also be linking our website to a robust carpooling application to make setting up rides with other people very easy. Shuttles to and from the Seattle ferry are also likely, but we haven’t yet worked this out.
Physical Accessibility: The entire venue is accommodating to those with altered abilities. It is however a grassy farm, and the MainStage (though very viewable from the top of the amphitheater bowl), is a sloping hill.
**Thank you for reading this. It’s necessary that we take the time to be really explicit about race, gender, preference, and privilege. These aren’t the only issues, but they’re most definitely some of the largest, and I feel committed to keeping the conversation transparent and alive.
***This subject matter, especially written by a white male, may be a lot to take in, and is likely to be triggering for some. I wholeheartedly invite questions, comments, and concerns from anybody around any of this. Please ask a trusted confidant to bring forth your concerns if you don’t feel able to yourself…
In sincerity, ~Ben