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Templates for Awesome Community

I created this document in response to a request for concrete, actionable and

replicable content in the forums for the Authentic Community Leadership course,
Nov 2011.
The stuff in this document is from my own personal experiences in community,
and it includes event invitations, descriptions of gatherings, requests for help and
examples of activities my own personal community has put into place over the
This material is covered under a Creative Commons license. You can use this
document, with attribution, for any non-commercial purpose, and any adaptations
you make to the content must also be available for others to use. Please contact
me for inquiries about other possible licensing and use of this material.

Marcia Baczynski

Table of Contents:
Games for Connecting With Friends
Mailing Lists
Making Connections
Thoughts on Community and Finding Your People
Thursday Night Football (TNF)
Freedom Event (Beloved)
Celebration of What Is
Request for Help
Tips for Avoiding Burnout
Final Notes


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Games for Connecting With Friends

These are games my friends and I play semi-regularly.
What Do You Want? Easy to do over dinner, on a group walk, hanging out.
Play by rapid-fire asking each other "what do you want?" with no commentary,
and just allowing whatever comes up to come up. Can be played in pairs or
groups. Interesting stuff often appears.
Whats Next? On an outing with friends, no one is allowed to make a plan for
what youre going to do, except for in the moment. You start wherever you are to
start. Then someone asks Whats next? Players make suggestions for whats
next based on what authentically grabs their curiosity within eyeshot or earshot.
The group decides together where theyre going next, and resists the urge to
make a plan for whats after that. Only once the previous suggestion feels fully
explored is the question Whats next? asked again. Works best with 2-4 people
when walking around in a city, a park, the woods or at a festival. (I once ended
up at the White House playing this game in Washington, DC.)
Getting Real Card Game I have a deck of these cards that I break out for road
trips and keep lying around the living room. This is the best questions game Ive
found for really getting into juicy relating, although there are a few books and
card games out there.
FC Hot Seat This is different than the Hot Seat in the Authentic World Games
Night Manual, and is the game referenced in the birthday section of this manual.
One person is hot-seated, and the others share, popcorn-style, what they like,
appreciate, or are inspired by about the person in the hot seat, and why that
matters to the person sharing. It is this second part, the why, that creates
connection and intimacy among the group, because it allows all the others to
witness something about both the hot-seated and the hot-seater.
(We once played this for 7 hours straight with no breaks at a New Years
gathering. Even though not everyone knew each other, they were all able to give
profound acknowledgements by the time each person got in the hot seat, simply
from hearing what each person valued about the folks who had previously been
in the hotseat.)

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For at-home gatherings Each person takes off their shoes when they
arrive. They are greeted and introduced to at least one person.
Family Dinner Once or twice a week, we get together with a core group
of about 10 people and make dinner. Half-potluck, half-prepped at the house,
we somehow manage to accommodate a vegetarian, gluten allergies, corn
allergies, nut allergies, and half a dozen other food issues. We meet at
different houses, different people cook each time. We usually eat in a circle
on the floor. Probably because were more interested in seeing each other
than having anything resembling a perfect meal.)
Mascots Im fully in favor of inanimate objects becoming rallying points for
community. Celebrate a plant. Name a stuffed animal. Have fun with them.

Meet Molly. Shes a dinosaur. A dilophosaurus to be exact. Shes good at eye-gazing, holding
space and hunting. She comes to all our events. She has a Facebook page. You can friend her.
Search for Molly Dilo.

Mailing lists
Im on half a dozen Facebook groups that Id consider relevant to my most
important communities. Im on 3 or 4 mailing lists. I have a private Twitter feed for
my 15 closest people to follow. Social media helps.
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Making Connections
When my friend Craig came to New York City for three months, I sent him an
email with 37 names in it. Each of these 37 people were someone I wanted him
to meet. Next to each name was why I wanted him to meet them. Some were
people I thought would benefit from knowing Craig. Others were people I thought
Craig would benefit from knowing. The rest were people I knew he had
something in common with. I starred the names of the people I wanted him to
make extra effort to connect with. At the end of the three months he had met 34
of them.
When my friend Karim went to Las Vegas, I sent a text message to my friend Kye
that said, Meet this guy. Karim extended his trip by two days to hang with Kye.
In both instances, the people involved trusted my judgment on meeting the
people I suggested. Connecting people is a skill that takes time to develop, and
involves being able to keep track of major threads in peoples lives, but the
rewards for the overall community are pretty great. The more intimate
connections that are forged between people, the stronger the community grows.
What I track for:
People who are as community-minded as the folks Id connect them to.
People with high integrity, follow-through, and good boundaries.
People who are up to something in the world. Ideally folks who intimidate
me just slightly.
People who give more than they take.
People who operate from a sense of expansiveness and abundance.
People I find actually interesting to me.
What I dont track for:
Celebrity, money or other status symbols (some of my friends have them,
some of them dont.)
What I think I can get from them (whether stuff or status)
Whether someone needs this.
When Im connecting people, I pay attention to which way I think the energy will
flow (Will friend X be able to help out friend Y?), and on what topics/
perspectives/ ways of being I think theyre likely to connect. I introduce them
based on that, and then I get the fuck out of the way. Its not my job to force a
connection. Either itll emerge or it wont.
As a general rule, I dont bring people into my community who need it. A good
bit of the stability weve had over the years is from everyone having a capacity to
be generous with themselves in some way and to give first.
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Thoughts on Community and Finding Your People

Here are three blog posts I wrote about community.
How to Create Community in Three Not-So-Easy Steps
Stop Doing It Alone
Where Are Your People Hiding?

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Here's two examples of (rather elaborate, also very playful) ways we've done
"authentic parties.
To me, what's salient about both of these examples is not the level of detail
(which, admittedly, is high), but that the events were really customized around
creating an experience for the birthday people in which they were really held and
seen around something that was hard for them (In Q's case, taking up space and
being the center of attention, in a light and playful way; in Aurash's case,
celebrating sexuality.)
We always play our version of hot seat/ acknowledgement circle which involves
saying something about the person that you like, that impresses you, inspires
you, etc and why that thing matters to you.
For most people's birthdays, a few of us are taking the reigns, and it rarely falls to
the same people every time. It's a collaborative, community effort. We all suss
out information from the birthday person about what theyre wanting (like
detectives!), and we tend to enjoy the planning of the events as much as the
events themselves, as it's an opportunity to get to connect with each other as we
do things like cut Q's eyes out of her masks. (We might have a macabre streak.
Qs Birthday
My dear friend Quetzal had always had the experience of her birthday being sort
of "glossed over" - nothing much happening or expectations not being met
(despite not having much in the way of expectations). So this year, we planned a
rather major event, incorporating many of her favorite things and poking her "in
the love hole" as we say.
To start, her husband took her to brunch at her favorite brunch spot and they
talked about their relationship and he shared a bunch of reasons why he loves
her and why she's great.
This right here would have been already a better birthday than she'd ever had.
But then at the end, he stood up, and handed her a piece of paper written in
"pirate-ese" which was the beginning of a scavenger hunt that lasted all day,
incorporating one-on-one time with her favorite people, acknowledgements,
pirates, masks, puppies, more pirates, earl gray tea (her fave), homemade
chocolates, costumes, a bike makeover, beer ("grog"), gifts, and culminating in a
12 person after party where we gave her an acknowledgement circle she couldn't
wriggle out of in any way, and actually managed to remember.
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My favorite part was when she showed up at the tea house ("to plunder the earl
and lady gray's stores") and 6 people were sitting there in pirate costumes,
wearing masks of Q's face staring back at her. That's what you get when you
worry if it's okay to take up space... a bunch of your friends helping you take up
so much space you can't stand it. (The video of her reaction is hilarious.)
Here is the invitation we sent:
Hi friends,
As (hopefully) you know by now, Quetzal's birthday is this Sunday, but because
Sunday sucks (and is also Folsom Street Fair), we're having a birthday shindig for
her tomorrow, Saturday.
The birthday festivities consist of an all-day scavenger hunt, the details of which are
complicated and thankfully also pretty well finalized after the pow-wow last night
(whoo hooo!). However, there are two parts to the day that everyone is invited to, and
we'd love to have as many as you beautiful people there as possible to either one.
Plus: Pirates!
Part One: Reverse Flash Mob
As part of the (pirate-themed) scavenger hunt, we want as many people as possible
to converge on Om Shan Tea, wearing STRIPES, Pirate themed gear, and masks of
Quetzal's face. And did I mention STRIPES?!
Converge at Om Shan Tea between 2:45pm and 3:05pm, where you will
receive your Quetzal mask.
Quetzal is scheduled to arrive at 3:20pm. There will be celebration. And tea.
Please set your phone alarm to go off at 4:20pm.
When the alarm goes off, everyone will pick up what they are doing
immediately and walk out and scatter.

If you plan on attending this portion of the day, PLEASE rsvp to

Danny at [redacted] (even if you've said you're coming already). This will give her an
accurate headcount for Pat to make the masks and to wrangle what might be a tricky
situation at Om Shan Tea.
And wear stripes.
Part Two: After Party
Whether or not you can make the tea party, you can also stop by Pat's house
anytime after 7:30, where we'll be having a chill, grounding, loving, ridiculous cake
and cuddles after-party. If you come by, bring some nibbles to share or maybe some
beer or wine (food is preferable). We'll be loving up Quetzal with a game of hot seat
(cuz we're hippies like that), massage, and general loveyness. This is the leastplanned, most free-form part of the evening, so bring whatever you'd like to
contribute to an awesome night (music, art, pillows, food, silliness, love, goji berries)
and join us. No RSVP required. Address is [redacted].
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Hope you can be there (and sorry for the late notification... this has been really
complicated to put together! :) )

PS - For folks who want to hang out and play between the tea party and the after
party, make plans to meet up somewhere else after leaving Om Shan Tea BEFORE
Quetzal arrives, so that you can leave and just walk away at 4:20. Also, Pat's place
will be available for hanging out before 7:30 if folks need a place to chill or want to
help decorate/make pretty.

Birthday Party Example #2 Aurashs birthday

We wanted to create an experience for Aurash of his sexuality being celebrated,
but also wanted to make sure that everyone was comfortable with the level of
sensuality being engaged in. So we invited his closest friends, his lovers, and a
bunch of people he had crushes on. We created an evening that started out with
a feast of finger food that no one was allowed to feed themselves, a giant puppy
pile, and an acknowledgment circle. We then moved on to my version of spin the
bottle, which involves little slips of paper Id pre-written a bunch of activities on
(many of which involved the birthday boy). Somewhere in there was cake. Later,
the evening turned into a full-blown play party of about 10 people, with lots of
attention on Aurash, and lots of checking in, talking, sharing, sensuality and sex.
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Here is the invitation we sent out for Aurashs birthday:

You are cordially invited to

A sensual feast and make-out party

in honor of

Aurashs 25th Birthday

Saturday, Feb 19th
298 Laidley St
The Details:
Although Aurash knows the gist of what were doing,
please keep the details vague so that it is a surprise for him.
The evening will progress from tame to mild to (possibly) wild.
We want everyone to feel comfortable participating to whatever level feels good to you.
There is no obligation to do anything. Your presence is enough.
Voyeurism is a form of participation.
The intention is love and affection.
Times are approximate, but heres how the evening will unfold...
Arrive on time, stay as long as is fun for you...
Doors open at 7:00
Please arrive by 8:00
8-9:30 Love Aurash up games
(Hot seat, acknowledgment circle, etc)
9:30-11:30 Second-base sensuality
(truth or dare/ spin the bottle/ making out,
above the waist and spanking only, no genitals)
11:30-2 Anything goes
Hang out/puppy pile/ making out
Hot tub available for soaking
Back room available for massage
and/or more sexy play
Please bring:
sweet or savory food that can be eaten with fingers
(berries and cream, chocolate, dumplings, tarts, quartered sandwiches, veggies and dip, etc)
a towel for the hot tub,
any additional sensual treats
(flowers, wine, feathers, massage oil, silk, blindfolds, rope, etc)
We will have safer sex supplies on hand, but you are welcome to bring your own.
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Please wear:
Something you feel sexy and comfortable in.
Please RSVP:
We know that no one RSVPs for things anymore these days,
but it would be very helpful with the planning
if you could let us know if you are coming
as soon as you can, and no later than Feb 17.
Additional Notes:
Please keep the details from Aurash, so that it is a surprise.
In addition, please do not widely discuss this invitation.
If you want to know who is invited, please ask one of the hosts.
If you have any questions, want reassurance,
or need to know anything about the event,
please call one of us.
Special gifts of performance, sensuality, art, music, etc
for Aurash are very welcome.
Contact Marcia or Quetzal
to work out how to fit it into the flow of the evening.
Remember, this is all about love for Aurash
so do show up
and play within your comfort level.
Your presence is what is most wanted and appreciated.

Virtual Hot Seat

Our friend Danny was in Thailand for her 30th birthday. She wanted a hot seat
even though she was far away. So I sent this email to a list of people she asked
to have included
Dear Friends and Family of Danny,
Dannys birthday is tomorrow, but she is far, far away in Thailand. Which means her
birthday is actually starting half a day earlier. She has requested a Virtual Hot Seat
which is a game we play for peoples birthdays here in SF, and she has asked that you all
The way it works is that we all put our attention on Danny, and each of us shares
something about her that we like, admire, appreciate, etc. and why that matters to you (ie,
the difference it makes in your life, the impact it has had, etc.) As we collectively witness
what Danny is to each of us, we all gain a deeper understanding of who Danny is in the
world, and she can see us all see her, together.
Heres how well do it virtually: If possible, please reply today, so that her inbox is filled
with messages when she wakes up tomorrow (aka tonight in North America). Be sure to
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hit Reply All so that we can all see each others replies, and be inspired by who weve
collectively known Danny to be.
If you dont get this in time, or arent able to reply, please respond over the next 2-3 days
anyway. This game will mean a lot to Danny and the more participation the better.
Thanks for playing (and if you have any questions, please reply to me only.)
With love,

Lots of people replied and she was blown away by the mixing of family and
friends sharing their perceptions of her.

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Below are four examples of community gatherings that I have been a part of. Two
of them, Treehouse and Thursday Night Football (aka TNFs), are regular
community gatherings.
The third is an invitation to a Freedom Event a 12 hour intentional party,
where people can explore freedom from themselves for themselves in the context
of play and mutual support, with minimum rules and structure. Members of our
community host a handful of these events each year in different cities. Themes
have included love (Beloved), commitment (I Do), Conflict, past, present and
future (a 3-day event called The Story of My Life) and The Unknown. I
encourage you to use the invitation here as a template to create your own events
around your own themes.
The fourth is was from the gathering that my boyfriend and I had to celebrate
what is around our 1.5 year mark of being together (in part because we had a
very unusual start to our relationship.)
Although none of these documents were originally written for outside audiences,
they have provided a framework for relating within the communities they grew out
of. Use and adapt them to your own purposes.
A note on creating gatherings: It is very helpful to have a clear intention of
what you want to create before worrying about any of the details. What kind of
vibe and what kinds of activities do you want to have the gathering include? I
always start with what I want the flavor of the event to be, and what I want it to
fulfill for me and for the other people who participate in the event. Having this
clear intention allows for folks to choose in or out powerfully, and mixing it up
allows for different folks to choose different events.
Some examples:
"Chill, mellow, connected, sharing, talking, with wine in front of the fire"
Cooking together, catching up, sharing what's got us excited these days"
A big networking hoo-ha with all the most awesome people I know
A sensual, sexy gathering with people I feel safe to be expressed with
An over-the-top costume party for my creative friends to express themselves
Craft night for Valentines day, and a space to bitch about love lost
Woo-woo energy work, movement, expansion, breathing, release, aaah
A low-key, grounding, loving, ridiculous cake and cuddles after-party
Even just having a few words to wrap up what you want the experience to be can
be enough to give an event structure and intention.
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By Aurash Pourmand
We are treehouse.
We are a group of friends that intentionally create a space where we feel
permission and safety to acknowledge and explore whats between us.
We want...
A home filled with people who see us and are seen by us.
A practice of community outside of the context of workshops or any business
A space we can go to ongoingly and be in community together with people we
feel aligned with and met by.
A space to check in and anchor, love and play, go deep and get creative, or just
have fun.
A safe space to explore earnestly & honestly what comes up when were with
each other.
A community space with a combination of structured group time and organic free
time, where we know our friends will be there, and we can invite awesome
people into.
Read the entire charter, including values, ways of playing, and agreements here:

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By Kye Brackett
It started simply enough when one Thursday night Dave Sidoni (Sid) and I
decided to catch up, sit around and watch Friends. Sid, being newly divorced
and newly in shape stood up in front of my window and said, I just want to be
naked in front of this windowhmmm, an interesting thought. Well I thought, as
a host, I always want my guests to have what they wantso in this case whats a
host to do? So, I got naked and told him, dude, since the host is naked, knock
yourself out.
What ensued was an awesome evening of naked Friends watching, popcorn
eating, wine drinking and intermittent why I hate my ex-wife conversations.
When prime time was over and Sid left, I realized how cool it would be to have
people over more often just to hang out and watch television. Where they were
free to whatever they wanted to, just like at an event, except NOT be an event,
just hanging out. At the time Must See TV was big and Friends was the lead
in show. So, friends hanging out, watching TV, with no other agenda except
watching TV and creating an environment where you have the freedom express
yourself however youre moved to seemed perfect.
So I invited people, via email, to come over on Thursday night anytime after 8
p.m. for Thursday Night Friends and bring all the things you wished to eat,
drink, smoke, or experience.
There was no real agenda, just hanging out, and the only rules were: Acceptance
of everyone in attendance was a required rule not to be negotiated, and you had
to take your shoes offand that rule was for no other reason than my belief that
people get comfortable easily when they take their shoes off. A side benefit of
the shoes off thing that I didnt expect was that it seemed to put everyone on
equal footing (so to speak), less posturing. I also made it a point to personally
greet every single person that came in. Interestingly enough, if I was not
available to answer the door, whoever answered my door seemed to take it upon
themselves to be me basically, by welcoming the person(s) with all the warmth
that I sought to invoke.
Initially, a faithful few of us (about 8 of us) gathered around 8 and just watched
TV, then around 8:30, more people showed up and around 9 even more people
showed up. Then, an interesting thing occurredthe act of everyone greeting
each other, giving hugs and catching up started getting in the way of watching
TV. So around 10 it made sense to turn the TV off and just talk and play. By the
time everyone left I was just thrilled by simply having friends in my home with me
on a Thursday night.
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As it started to catch on, my friend Daryl Dizon wrote me an email asking about
TNF, his trendy little LA abbreviation of it, which I kinda liked, so I kept it and
Thursday Night Friends then became TNF.
Previously, Monday nights were the great hang night as all the football lovers and
me often hung out in this Santa Monica bar watching football.
Now you should know that I aint no football lover, but I do love to hang out with
my peeps when they are watching football, because I rather envied the
camaraderie and the drunken silliness that accompany Monday Night Football.
As I was watching the game one Monday Night, I noticed the Monday Night
Football graphics which had the first letter of each word capitalized: MNF. I found
the MNF/TNF similarity kinda funny and I also started to think about how the 2
events were kinda similar. As the term rolled around in my mind, I couldnt help
but giggle. It just somehow seemed perfect. So Thursday Night Friends then
(Its just like Monday Night Football
except the programming is different).
What really made Thursday Night Football distinct was
1) My commitment as a HOST to provide a SPACE for people to have what they
wanted, and me acting on my intention that all my friends know each other.
2) An accepting environment. Which was very challenging sometimes because I
didnt necessarily know the people that my friends were bringing around. So, in
order for me to ask acceptance of others, I had to BE accepting of others.
3) Letting go of all attachments about how the evening was supposed to be,
who was gonna be there, would people have a good time, etc. I simply lived into
the knowledge that each gathering was different and unique and perfect.
Sometimes it was 40 people, sometimes only me and one other person. Once it
was all guys and another night it was all black people, on another night it was me
and all girls and still other nights I found myself in the company of more people
that I DIDNT know than people I DID know.
Now, years later I realize that TNF is not so much a party as it is a commitment of
a host to provide a space of acceptance, love, discovery and passion. With no
attachments to anything and all the while constantly causing people to choose
courageous acceptance through trust, love and empowerment.
One of the coolest things Id ever heard regarding TNF was a report from a friend
whod come to TNF just prior to going to work on a cruise ship. Months after hed
been there, another (totally unrelated) friend went out on that same ship and ran
into these Brits whod worked on the ship and were about to disembark and
vacation in L.A.. My friend asked them what they wanted to do while in LA and
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they said, go to Disneyland, eat at Roscoes Chicken and Waffles and go to

Thursday Night Football. Ya gotta love that.
TNF is undoubtedly one of my greatest creations, and one that would never have
come into being had I not had such an incredible community of friends to create it
with, through and for. We should all be proud of this one, cause we ALL did it. It
has provided a space for all of us to reconnect after experiencing a Freedom
event, to share your great news, to share your friends, to meet new ones, to play
music and dance, to create, to study, to learn and most of all to act on our desire
to continually choose each other.
Thank you all for allowing me this gift in my lifetime.

Kye Brackett
February 10, 2004
Marcias note: TNFs eventually spread to other cities, but to avoid the confusion of having the
same name for events happening in different places but being announced on the same mailing
lists, we made up different names for these events. Eventually the names grew to include Kung
Fu Night, Monster Truck Pull, Caribbean Nascar, Wednesday Night Water Polo, and WWE
Smackdown. Rarely, if ever, were actual sports involved.

Marcia and Kye (plus 25 or so folks on the hike with us, off screen)

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Freedom Event
Beloved was an intentional 12-hour Freedom Event I created to explore our relationships to love
and the limitations we place on it. Below is the invitation / charter, plus the agreements for the
event. These are not the do what you want / dont do what you dont want events Decker and
Bryan talk about, but theyre not dissimilar. The invitation sets the tone and theme of the event,
but pay particular attention to the agreements, as they are what set up the container for really
playing full-out with few restrictions. A clearing call is the phone call I have with each participant
before the event to talk about how they want to engage with the event theme, to answer any
questions and to make sure each person is fully on board with the agreements. At the event,
there is no leader, only participants, so all this stuff is handled ahead of time.

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers
within yourself that you have built against it."
- Rumi
The way we love is imprinted on us from an early age, by our parents, our
community and our culture. Yet the varieties of love are, perhaps, infinite. The
Greeks had many words for love: Eros (passionate, erotic and/or romantic love),
Agape (brotherly love), Philia (loyalty and friendly love). Psychologists have
delineated love along lines of intimacy, passion and commitment. Love can be
inwardly directed, toward the best parts of oneself, toward the disowned parts, to
the scared parts, or the triumphant parts. Love can be outwardly directed, toward
a lover, a friend, one's community, the world, cosmic oneness. Love can be wild,
misguided, certain, calm or any of a million other adjectives.
This is an event designed to give you an opportunity to recreate your relationship
to love. By exploring love from a variety of directions, we will seek and find the
barriers within ourselves we have built against love.
"Learning to love differently is hard,
love with the hands wide open, love
with the doors banging on their hinges....
it hurts to thwart the reflexes of grab, of
clutch: to let go again and again."
-Marge Piercy
How does one love in the face of conflict? How does one let go? How, in the
midst of insecurity, fear, self-doubt, feelings of unworthiness, cluelessness,
invisibility, shame, guilt, and need, do you learn to love differently, more
expansively, more richly? How can you let more love in? How can you be more
loving to yourself? How do you express love more fully?
Find out.
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Saturday, March 5, 2011
San Francisco
"Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won't adhere to any rules. The most any of us
can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of raving to honor and obey,
maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of
the question. The words "make" and "stay" become inappropriate. My love for
you has no strings attached. I love you for free."
-Tom Robbins
[added as an attachment to the invitation email]
BELOVED will be held on Saturday, March 5th, from 3pm-2:30am at Shangri-Ooo-La-La, 298
Laidley St in San Francisco.
Doors open at 2pm. Please arrive and be ready to go before 3pm. There is plenty of street
parking available.
This is a closed event, by invitation only. If there is someone you would like to invite, please
contact me. In a handful of cases, I may have left off a significant other because I didn't have their
email address. If you think this happened to you, please ask.
Space is limited and clearing calls take a while, so please RSVP and schedule your clearing call
as early as you can (details below).
We are requesting a $10-20 donation for this event.
As with the majority of Freedomcommunity Events, "BELOVED" will function under a set of
agreements entered into by all participants. These agreements will be discussed in your clearing
calls and in the opening circle that will kick off the Event. We will be recreating many of the
commonly used structures that have been found to create an environment of free expression
within an intentional community.
1. Genuine Presence.
We will agree to be remain present to ourselves, others, and our experience. We will agree to
speak our minds, live our truths and not to avoid or step over issues that come up. During the
event, all doors will remain open within the event space at all times. We agree to be present for
the entire event.
2. Self-Reliance.
We will commit to asking for what we want and refusing what we do not.
We will each commit to taking final responsibility for our own emotions and needs during the
event. We will also each commit to letting others take final responsibility for their own emotions
and needs (real or perceived), and not to take that responsibility for them. While requests for help
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are as encouraged as any other request, negligent self-care should be avoided. We agree to
bring any and all supplies we need for the duration of the event ahead of time.
3. Communication and expectations
All guests agree not to impose expectations and obligations upon others in this space beyond
those we have agreed to here. If there is something you want from someone else, it is your
responsibility to make a request, and you MUST be open to the response (whatever it may be)
from the other person (if they say yes, great! If they say no, they've said no, and that's OK,
unless the other person is open to further conversation).
If you choose to make a request around something you want, you are agreeing in advance to
accept a "no" from the other party without any imposition of pressure or expectation (otherwise
you are imposing unspoken obligations upon others, and that is something we are trying to
transcend in this space). While you may have feelings related to other people's choices, those
feelings are your responsibility.
Furthermore, we agree that this is not a space where comfort will prioritized over active merrymaking. Requests and negotiations are delightful, but please note that Shhhhh! People are
sleeping! is in no way a request.
4. Property and Stuff
We agree not to impose uninvited or without asking on each other's person or property. We agree
to leave the campground better than we found it by cleaning up at the end of the event, and
helping to return the space to its usual condition.
5. Closed Container.
We will agree to turn off time-keeping devices and all forms of communication with the outside
world for the duration of the event (cell phones, internet, television, radio, video games, etc.) If
you would like to use a device like an iPod or computer during the event, the clock should be
covered and the internet access should be disabled. During the event, we are in the event,
present with the other participants, not distracted by the outside world or by how long it will be
until the event ends. (We will set an alarm, so that we know when the event is over.)
6. Opening/Closing Circles.
We agree to be present for the opening circle at the start time of the event and to remain through
the end of the event. We agree that if we cannot be on time or make arrangements regarding
unforeseen circumstances that we should be fairly considered to be opting out of the event.
7. Privacy
To help create an atmosphere of safe exploration we are all agreeing to not spread information
about our housemates' experiences without specific permission. We offer each other this
discretion to give dignity to each person's right to choose what they share about themselves with
others. When we talk about our time together with those who weren't with us we will focus on
describing our own experiences and leave out the names and details that aren't ours to share.
All participants must agree or object to the above in a clearing conversation with Marcia before
the event begins. The purpose of this conversation is to check in, answer your questions and to
make sure that all of the participants are engaged and ready to contribute positively to the space.
Please try to schedule this conversation as soon as possible using this link: [deleted]
The earlier you can schedule this conversation, the better for us all, preventing a last-minute

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Celebration of What Is
The casual anniversary celebration for Marcia and Aurash. About 20 people
Hi there, friends!
You are invited
to help
Marcia and Aurash
Celebrate What Is
We're both very good at loving people
But neither of us are very good at allowing for and trusting that we're being loved back.
As we arrive at one and a half years together,
please join us for an afternoon celebration of What Is between us.
We're both a little blind, you see,
So we'd like to each share with you a little of what we've found with each other
And hear your reflections of what you see between us, how we've grown and what we are together.
And make a little declaration of our relationship as it is to our community
So that we can see it better.
We hope you'll join us for a low-key, laid-back affair,
Saturday, June 18th
at Holly Park in San Francisco
(near the Alemany Farmer's Market, just south of Bernal Hill)
Light snacks, sparkling cider and wine will be served.
Kids and dogs are welcome.

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Request for Help

This is a letter I sent to my community not very long ago when some seriously
messed up stuff went down with an ex of mine. I had been trying to manage the
situation on my own for a long time, until it came to a head. This is how I asked
for help from my community when I realized that it had gotten way beyond what I
could control.
Dear friends,
This is a really hard letter to write, and I ask that you forgive me in advance for
any missteps I make in this. This is totally new territory, and I suppose "etiquette"
might be a bit much to ask, but I'm really don't like airing my dirty laundry publicly.
However at least three people whose judgment I trust have encouraged me not to
be silent about this, so here I am. Some of you know some of this already. A few
of you know most of it. Many of you might not know any of this. I'm going to start
with facts, add my interpretations, tell you what I know and then ask for help. Cuz
I sure do need it right now.
In April of 2008, I started dating a woman named [redacted]. The first year of our
relationship was fun and lovely (albeit partly long-distance). After I moved here in
November, 2008, we things started getting more serious. Over the course of a
year, and a lot of soul searching, I realized that my life goals were not the same
as hers (primarily around having children). During that time, our relationship
deteriorated. In November of 2009, it became clear to me that I didn't want to
have kids, which was a deal-breaker for a primary relationship for her. For a few
more months, we kept having a sort of secondary relationship, trying to stay in
connection with each other. In April, 2010, after a few months of trying to work
out a relationship, I broke up with her. In July of 2010, we had a large falling out.
After that we remained in loose contact, but infrequently. In March of this year, I
stopped speaking to her and up until this past Friday night, had not spoken to
[redacted] at all through any form of communication.
These are the facts.
The part that I hadn't shared, and didn't even tell my closest friends until this past
March when I broke off all contact with [redacted], is that over the course of this
time, she had and has become more and more emotionally unstable and abusive
toward me.
In April of 2010, [redacted] and I had a conversation about it, where she admitted
that she was being abusive toward me, and we tried (but failed) to change the
patterns that had developed around us. (Around this time, as a requirement for
continuing to have any sort of relationship with me, she began seeing a therapist.
I have no idea if she still is in therapy.)

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[redacted] has a documented history of mental illness, and also has

demonstrated a tendency toward violence that she has struggled to keep under
control directed at people in addition to me.
Between April of 2010 and March of 2011, she had shown up at my house
unannounced on two separate occasions, appearing altered and angry, making
demands and issuing accusations that were bewildering to me. During this same
time period, she would frequently text bomb me after social events demanding to
know why I did this or that to her (about things that, in my world, were not about
her in the slightest.)
During this time, I became insomniac, frightened in my own home, waking up to
any noise from outside because I was afraid it might be her. On at least one
occasion since March, she has threatened to come over to my house and her
girlfriend talked her down. (This part is hearsay). I have been concerned for my
physical safety, for the safety of my property, and the safety of the people closest
to me since April of 2010.
Not having much experience with bad breakups and trying to "be an adult about
it" during this time period, I tried to handle it myself and keep my friends from
being put into the middle of things. I have since come to believe (as of March
2011) that this is not just a normal bad breakup, and I have been dealing with a
mentally unstable person with violent tendencies who takes all sorts of
unpredictable things very personally.
On Friday night, at [shared community space], she physically assaulted me, after
telling me I was not welcome at there, throwing a full cup of water at me and
attempting to hit me while her girlfriend held her back. I had had no interaction
with her the entire night prior to this, and in fact had been trying to keep my
distance from her. I had not spoken to her at all since March.
So. Here we are.
Several friends have encouraged me to get a restraining order. I'm not doing so
at this time, but I'm looking into what my options are. Mostly I am just furiously
pissed off that no matter how much distance I try to put between us, or space I try
to give her, or however much I take on myself, there seems to be no way for this
to be handled in an adult fashion. This is entirely new territory for me.
Here's what I know:
I am seriously shaken up by the incident at [shared community space]. I

am angry, afraid, pissed off, furious. I don't know if I'm safe there, or
anywhere I might run into her.
I am utterly at a loss at what the "adult" thing to do in this situation is, as
I've tried everything I can think of.
I need support, but I don't know what, other than feeling safe and
protected by the people around me.
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I really don't wish any harm on [redacted]. I just want to not feel so fucking

unsafe and threatened by her.

Some things to know:
I took a number of precautions for my safety and to prevent contact from

her back in March and most of them remain in place, including moving
where the spare key was kept, changing to door code to the garage,
blocking her phone number, filtering her email, unfriending her from all
of my social media accounts, etc. I am also now moving, so soon I will
not be in the same physical location anymore.
My core group of friends has been in the loop about this only since March.
In an effort to avoid gossip, I've tried to keep it to a fairly small group.
The assault on Friday has me re-thinking "avoiding gossip" as being an
important goal, to say the least. :-/
I have only seen her three times since March, all in public places. We
have not spoken all all since March until Friday (the exchange was
something like me: "What the fuck is your problem?" her: "That I didn't
hit you.")
Although it's true I've been busy, the real reason I backed off from [shared
community space] so much is that I did not want to have this drama
brought into that space. I miss the community, but I don't feel safe
there. (Now I know, for good reason.) I feel horrible that this has
happened, and I know I need to have a conversation with the [shared
community space] folks about how to handle this (which will be done in
a separate email).
I don't believe this is a situation where people just have different
perspectives and we can reason it through. This is *really* hard for me
to accept and I'm really struggling with it. I really want the best for her,
and I have no idea how to make a win/win here, despite my best
I don't want to back down and just concede any space she happens to be
in to her anymore. I've done that for a year and a half now, and it
doesn't seem to be helping. I miss my friends and my communities.
Requests for support:
Those of you who know my new address, please do not give it, or any

other information about my life, goings on, etc, to [redacted] or her

Please don't directly approach or attack [redacted] about this. 1) I don't
wish her harm and 2) I don't want to provoke her. (I am still scared of
what she might do.)
Please help me figure out what to do about mixed social spaces, and
support me in creating safety for myself.
If you have experience with restraining orders and know how that works,
please drop me a note. I'm gathering information about this.
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Please don't gossip-monger about this. At the same time, I keep being

reminded that abuse persists in silence. So please DO share

information about this when and if it is appropriate and for the highest
good. (This makes me so nervous, but I trust y'all's judgement.) If there
is a concern for someone else's safety, BY ALL MEANS, SHARE THIS
Please realize that I'm pretty fragile around this, and the attack on Friday
is bringing up all sorts of feelings. I am sad, angry and PISSED OFF.
Words of encouragement, support, appreciate, etc, are very
appreciated, especially if I don't have to respond.
Aurash has to be with me through this, so any love you have to throw his
way is good too.
If you have questions, feel free to ask, but please understand if I don't
have the capacity to answer.
Thank you for being a friend to me, and I'm sorry for not sharing this with you
sooner. If I've been particularly weird in the past year and a half, there's a pretty
good chance it was related to this, especially if it was a social thing. I'm sure I'm
missing some things in this email, but this is what I've got for now.
Thank you for reading.

Note: This situation has been handled as well as can be expected. No restraining
order was filed, the people who run the shared community space have instituted
some restrictions on her activities there that I feel are reasonable, and most
importantly, people know whats going on so that if an issue arises in the future, I
feel safe and protected. Im including this as an example of handling a really
difficult situation that arose within my own community, from a relationship that I
pursued. I appreciate concerns that folks may have about this situation; however,
I prefer not to address questions about it outside of my own circle of friends.
Thank you for respecting my personal space around this issue.

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Tips on Avoiding Burnout

Give what feels good to give.

Obligation sucks. Lead from desire instead.
Underpromise and overdeliver.
When in doubt, say no. You can always change your mind to a yes later.
Create each activity or event from what inspires you right now. Not from
habit or because you always do it.
Eat meals together as often as possible.
Empower others to lead and contribute, by pointing out opportunities,
asking for help and inviting new people to get involved.
Just because youve done it before, doesnt mean youre responsible to do
it again.
Adopt the attitude of If the community wants it, the community will create
it. Then support people in creating what they want to see. Dont take it on
Remember, its a process, not a product.
Make friends with other leaders.
Actively practice gratitude for whats working, and appreciate the people
around you for what they contribute.
Take breaks.
Take care of yourself.
Cultivate mutual support. Put attention on people who both want to help
and are good at asking for help (or actively trying to get better at it.)
Get more support than you think you need.
Bring it back to whether it inspires you.
If youre bored, change the game.
Cultivate diversity.
Be willing to let it all go.

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Final Notes
There are a million different ways to be in a community and a million different
kinds of activities you can engage in. Living in and engaging with community is
an art form, one that is not always easy but that can be tremendously rewarding.
Community is messy. Sometimes people dont show up to events. Sometimes
people feel left out. Sometimes shit happens.
My own personal leadership philosophy is all about benevolent dictatorship while
empowering others to create their own benevolent dictatorships, so we can all
play together. This works well for some people, and not for others. I am not
proposing that I have a one-size-fits-all solution here. Im simply offering up some
things that have worked and have been (mostly) fun over the past 8 or 10 years
of actively engaging in community in my own life. I hope you find some inspiration
in these pages to play, connect, have fun, create intimacy, and share
experiences with people you like and/or love.

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