Woodfolk had their Validation Day party last night and i was a hired gun funologist. Here are some of the attributes which made it a good event:
Multi-generational environment: It is one thing to have kids underfoot at an event, it is another to integrate age groups into the event relatively seamlessly. Of the 6 rooms which were used for this event, two of them were designated for younger persons. The kids room was well occupied with Willow and Gwen and Kaya and Jonah and Link and a smattering of other pre-teens playing with legos and computer games. The teen room was a mostly underutilized space, because the teens did not wish to segregate themselves and were on the dance floor and craft room and generally all over.
Space Transformation: Cloud has done a great job at the last couple of Twin Oaks events making inexpensive dramatic decorations. We asked her in as a ringer to join Deborah, Thea, Emma, Kate, Kassia and others to transform the space. The effects were dramatic. I suggested to Sara on the phone that she keep her room, which had been transformed into the cuddle space, in the new arrangement with night blue velvet blanket complete with stars on it.
Go with the flow: The organizers had designed a central ritual in which participants were encouraged to create amulets with there light and dark sides depicted on them. The theme of the party was alchemy and we were planning on doing a little piece of the transmogrification of this dualist view into a unified identity. We never got there. Towards the end of the open mike Sky asked me if we should still do the central ritual part of the event. I thought not, it was not in the flow of the otherwise hopping party. We ditched it, no one noticed (except the other organizers) the party raged on.
Participant Contribution: This is one Beth taught me. Dont finish decorating the event, so that the first people who show up can contribute. Move them from participants to organizers of the event. It makes it theirs. There are lots of ways to do this, of course. We had an open mike (without a microphone in this small space). Kassia and i ran around and got several people to sign up. Claire was a delegate from earth at an intergalactic conference.
But there was a deeper level of participant contributions. We asked folks to make an amulet for themselves which had representations of their light sides and their dark sides. We provided a flat little wooden medallions and people drew and wrote on them, representing these aspects of their personality. Some people put fears vs strengths, others put what they lacked and where they felt feed, Ezra put green eggs on one side and ham on the other.
The effect was that these were worn conversation starters, where people who knew each other minimally could start a conversation by sharing stories abut their amulets and this already put them into an intimate communication with the other person. I put loneliness as the representation of my dark side. And Thea quipped “but you are never alone”, i replied that my capacity as an organizer to stay out of my fears, does not deconstruct them or eliminate them.