Villages in the Sky: DIY World Change

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The very first: news & gossip letter November 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — villagesinthesky @ 6:17 am
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Friends and fellow troublemakers!

It’s been awhile since we’ve sent anything out about the progress of Villages in the Sky, but things are kicking back into gear and there’s so much to share! As we write, preparations are being made to travel to East Wind, the community in the Ozarks that’s hosting our first festival, to meet with the members and craft something wild and wonderful that we’ll all be celebrating at the end of June. Already Paxus, Bean, Jason, Andy and others are signed up to travel from Twin Oaks in Virginia to East Wind to plan the next stage of development for VIS in December. And Omas is coming up from Florida to interview for the chief scientist/lead geek job for the project. We’ll be hammering out details around site logistics and basic footprint for the festival and solidifying our on the grounds planning team. If you have interest or input you want to share, email us at villagesinthesky@gmail.com. Now for some exciting updates!

Burning Man

It was a most trying experience, to bring over thirty people to Burning Man to experiment with fun on the Playa. Armed with little propaganda pinwheels, we sent our sexiest scouts through the surrounding camps, finding the fun and luring it back to our camp for dinner on Wednesday. After a particularly exhausting night, our camp slightly diminished in numbers, we had to pull together in order to pull off a successful funological think tank–a brainstorming event of what makes festivals fun and what, in particular, people thought the most important fun things for VIS would be. We’d flirted exceptionally well and anticipated we’d have around 100 guests for dinner that night and we wanted to capture all of that energy and enthusiasm and turn it into another stage in the evolution of VIS.

As the sun set on another dusty day on the Playa, people started filtering into our hastily decorated revival tent in search of food and good times. Our impromptu camp chef had everything just ready to serve and we fed about 80 people, letting them settle into the night over steaming plates of good food. As plates emptied, we started proselytizing: we did a brief introduction to the project, to the idea of funology and then let the room self organize into small groups to talk more in depth about what makes festivals fun and magical and what they’d like to see happen with VIS. Originally, we thought we’d give the small groups about ten minutes to talk, hoping not to lose attention in that span, but after a few minutes it was obvious people were into their conversations and invested in the outcome.

In the meantime, VIS volunteers prepared little dishes of desserts and thirty minutes later, as conversations died down, starting serving fruit and nuts and chocolate all around. In reportbacks from small groups, some funological gems included: aerial stilts, firemen poles galore and zip lines over dance floors in the trees.

Web upgrade

In the beginning there was a content rich but somewhat depressing website, but now we’ve stepped it up a notch to a more easily navigable and somewhat more aesthetically pleasing site. Check out what we’ve done at: http://www.villagesinthesky.org and share suggestions! We will be updating the new site, blog style, so check back every now and again to see what we’re up to in more detail. And we’re still looking for someone who’s interested in and capable of managing our website and web presence. If you think you’re the right kind of super hero and are interested in getting more involved in the body of the project, let us know at villages.in.the.sky@gmail.com!

Salvage

We are trying to create a culture of low impact and light foot print, but our project is heavy in material needs. To align our work with our values, we will be actively scavenging in the months prior to the festival for used materials: pre treated wood, metal, etc. that we’ll need to build our tree houses and wind mills. We are considering two hubs for salvage operations: one in Missouri on site and one in Virginia where many of our core organizers will be. Furthermore, as part of the culture we’re creating with our festival participants, we will be asking folks to bring any useful materials with them and, may be incentivizing salvage in reduced ticket prices. Whatever we can get second or third generation, we’ll be excited to use over virgin materials!

Fundraising
They don’t call it fun-d-raising for nothing–or maybe they do. VIS organizers are beginning to search for foundations and organizations excited to sponsor our VISion for a festival to change the world. We’re hoping to keep costs down using salvaged materials, siting on community land, and being delightfully creative in all aspects of our planning, but there will still be money spent to make this project happen and we’re beginning the tedious adventure of grant writing and identifying fiscal sponsors and individual donors. If you have a knack, a knowledge, or a connection you think might be useful in our efforts to raise money for the project, your support is more than welcome!

Zip Lines
One of the things which we have learned in our many discussions with festival goers and funologists is that zip lines are very popular. One of the things which we learned from our experience at Pilgrim’s Nest (the tree house village at Acorn) is that zip lines need to come first. You need to design your tree houses and platforms around your zip lines and not the other way around. Of course, it is important to make zip lines safe and the harnesses we have been working with at Acorn are nearly fool proof. There is one zip line system at Acorn now, which is pretty high up. The plan is to put in at least one more, which is suitable for younger kids and may have a fixed harness on the line. Pilgrim and Zeke went to a very nice zip line course in West Virginia on their way back to East Wind and were inspired by what they saw there. One fantasy is that the zip lines will provide an on going business for the Ozarks site after the festival has departed.

Community Process
Currently East Wind has approved the Villages in the Sky project to be hosted on their land, with significant construction starting in April 2010 leading up to the festival which is in early June (the exact dates of the festival will be determined in the early December meetings at East Wind). What is hoped is that VIS can become a new project of the FEC – the Federation of Egalitarian Communities because three of the project member supporting communities (East Wind, Acorn and Twin Oaks) are involved. The availability of FEC hours and other support will, for example, help members of Twin Oaks and Acorn who are interested in helping in Missouri, receive labor credits and thus be able to make quota for working on the project.

Okay, I know it, now you’re super excited to see what’s happening and how you fit in. Fortunately, there are tons of ways to get involved. For some of the super powers we are currently seeking, check out our website at: http://villagesinthesky.org/getting-involved/ And as an easy first step, think through your friends, your colleagues and your neighbors and pass along this newsletter or our information to anyone you think might be interested in coming and helping us build our VISion!

With love,
The VIS posse

PS. We are hoping to do this something like weekly, it would be great if other filx wanted to contribute, it could be anything from a little story about your favorite VIS thing that you have participated in (The Testival at Acorn, Burning Man, site prep/review at East Wind, research for renewables, etc). Or it could be something you hope manifests at the event in June.

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