A report by Paul Nelson on his outreach to British Columbia to investigate the possibility of using the Cascadia Poetry Festival as a too for SICA outreach. Paul founded the festival in 2012 and there have been two iterations, the second being this last May at Seattle U and the Subud House in Seattle.
On Saturday, October 18, Bhakti Watts, Chair of Subud Portland drove to Seattle and we drove together to Vancouver, BC, Canada, where the next day we drove with Lucas Hille, Chair of SICA Canada, to Errington, BC. Our plan was to attend an annual gathering of Subud members from around Vancouver Island, from Victoria to Comox and discuss the potential for partnership between the Cascadia Poetry Festival and SICA, with the idea of creating greater awareness in the world of SICA while helping the festival gather momentum and become self-sustaining.
We got an early ferry from Horseshoe Bay Sunday the 19th, and met David Fraser and Kim Goldberg in Nanaimo, on the other side of the Strait of Georgia. We discussed the developments they were overseeing as members of the local organizing committee for the third Cascadia Poetry Festival in Nanaimo in 2015. This is a festival founded by Seattle Poetics LAB, (SPLAB) a non-profit organization I founded in 1993.
David and Kim discussed their participation in Cascadia II, in May 2014, and the remarkable experience they had, in large part, because of the use of the Seattle Subud House as a venue and hospitality center for the fest. The sense of community and the depth of the sharing in the democratic reading, the Living Room, were highlights as I recall. They discussed their recent news of being awarded a grant for $5,000 for the 2015 festival (Apr 30-May 3), use of the Painted Turtle Hostel for lodging (at a considerable discount) and how to get festival attendees from downtown Nanaimo to the events at Vancouver Island University and other logistical issues.
Bhakti and I had met in Portland on September 26 with John Beer, a poet and Associate Professor of English at Portland State University and head of the PSU Creative Writing Program and Kamron Taber, a PSU student and the campus representative for Cascadia Now, a non-profit organization working to develop a sense of Cascadia culture and a sponsor of the second Cascadia Poetry Festival.
After about an hour our party headed north to Errington, and arrived at the Errington War Memorial Hall, where an annual Subud gathering had happened the last 6 years. We gathered with Subud members in a circle, then split up into two groups by gender and did latihan and testing. There was discussion of the role of culture and its definition, some men believing it to be the arts and creativity, and testing was done on that. The real key for me was a test on how it would be for SICA to be involved with the Cascadia Poetry Festival and all men received that it would be positive and half the men got that it would be remarkable, one man mentioning something akin to a sun in his receiving. The men present, in addition to Lucas Hille, myself and Dave Hitchcock, were:
Craig Rogers from Fanny Bay
Howard Pattinson from Comox
Rasjad Coleman from Duncan
In the sharing of the test results, Lucas Hille confided that when first approached about this potential partnership, his impression was that this effort was about me getting my person needs met, but he soon experienced that the effort is much more significant than that. Bhakti did not test on SICA but on personal matters with the women, of whim there about 16.
We shared a meal, discussed the test results and the vision for the collaboration, and Lucas, Bhakti and I each performed either a song or poem and soon we were on our way. We parked the car in the ferry line, walked to the Painted Turtle and got a tour of one of the rooms and one of the common areas where participating poets will be gathering and were quite impressed. We took the short ferry from Nanaimo to Gabriola Island and spent the night at the cabin Lucas has owned for many years, right on the water, with ferries silently criss-crossing until late at night. Lucas asked if I were interested in doing a poetry workshop at his cabin and I would love to do that and give the proceeds after expenses to SICA – Canada. Bhakti felt it would be good to have a place in Nanaimo during the festival to do latihan. This would serve a few purposes. Subud members could have a chance to gather and share latihan, our purpose and engagement in the festival would likely be more focused were this to happen, it would serve as a chance for Subud members on the island to engage with one another and might help revive the small Subud community in Nanaimo. In fact this festival might be used to strengthen already healthy Subud communities in the bioregion, or help revive struggling ones. My vision after Cascadia III in Nanaimo in 2015 is to stage the fest in:
Bothell, WA 2016 (perhaps involving Subud Greater Seattle with an emphasis on the East Side Subud membership;
Portland, OR 2017;
Vancouver, BC 2018;
Arcata, CA 2019.
We also feel that SICA may want to be a sponsor of CPF # (2015) at the Red Cedar level ($1,000) and have a table to pass out Subud and SICA brochures and talk to people about what Subud is. See: http://cascadiapoetryfestival.org/sponsor It would also be helpful if there were gold passes purchased by Subud members starting in February when a crowd-funding campaign will be starting to help raise additional funds for and awareness of the festival.
One last note. Bioregionalism is the effort to reimagine ourselves and the places where we live in ecological terms in harmony with natural systems that contain life. Peter Berg, one of the early users of the term bioregionalism said that the direction of traditional environmentalism was about preventing air and water pollution, protection of human health and a slowing down of the destruction of nature, it was essentially from “the mental perspective of industrial society surrounding nature.” He felt that thinking was backwards and that bioregionalists should focus on knowing the natural features of where they live, how they get their water, urban sustainability and restoration of habitats and ecosystems. His “Green City Program” called for some radical shifts in the way in which we design and live in urban areas and knew that the future was going to require urban sustainability given the massive shift of world population to urban living. I very much resonate with this perspective. – Paul Nelson