Frequently Asked Questions about Conclave
- integrating the personal and political with the spiritual
- encouraging dialogue on all aspects of culture and community building
- examining personal, inter-personal, community and global relationships and interactions
- promoting explorations of the many perspectives reflected in our global communities
- facilitating change through experimentation and evaluation of new syntheses in art, science, lifestyle and philosophy as tools for the integration of the personal, the political and the spiritual.
- We engage in this process of new paradigm building in order to insure a cooperative and sustainable future for ourselves, our children and our planet with its diversity of life forms and living systems.
We have an open volunteer Board which makes decisions by consensus. The Board members come from the larger community of Earth Conclave participants and supporters. The Board meets regularly for spiritual and emotional support in our work, and to help plan bi-annual Conclaves and other less regular events like Enclaves (small gatherings of long-term participants), workshop intensives and retreats. The Fall & Spring Conclave events are organized by rotating committees comprised of Board and other community members. Through this yearly cycle of small conferences, workshops and family gatherings, The Earth Conclave examines in-depth the spiritual beliefs and practices of those who see our planet as a divine being worthy of respect and veneration.
Conclave is an old word that means "secret meeting". It also means gathering representatives from other or larger groups to share information in a smaller group and then take it back. This is one of the things we are interested in doing. Bringing people together from different groups, traditions, communities and sharing ideas and asking questions that are then taken back to their "home" group. It is a way to build bridges of communication and develop coalitions in the broader communities.
One of the things that brings all people together is that we share a home, the Earth. The founding members of the Earth Conclave had a strong commitment, both spiritual and political, to the Earth, this planet, this iving biosphere that we are growing and evolving with.
No, we are not associated with Circle Sanctuary® . There are a number of active pagan and environmental groups in the south central Wisconsin area, including The Earth Conclave, most of which are not and may never have been affiliated with Circle Sanctuary. We are independent of Circle, and did not grow out of any Circle events. Circle can be reached at their website: http://www.circlesanctuary.org/
Our brochures usually say:
"The Earth Conclave supports chemical free space for most of its events. Alcohol and other mind altering drugs will have no place at this event. If you do not wish to abstain for a long week-end, this event might not be for you".
Conclaves have not been chem free only because the parks or sites we rent require this. We are chem free at any event we do, and always have been because we choose to be. Please keep in mind that the Conclave does not define chemical use as "bad". There is such a thing as responsible use and some on our board and in this extended community think setting up categories such as good and bad use are part of the problem of abuse and use.
Our policy is simply to establish a safe place for people who seek an alternative space without drugs and alcohol. There are not many events in the Pagan community that do offer chem free space. Drugs are something that are primarily abused in our culture and alcohol is a major problem for lots of folks... So the Conclave offers an alternative. There are other gatherings and events across the country for folks to go to who wish to imbibe. The Executive Council is not a group of people who practice a chemical free existence, we have wine connoisseurs and those who love ale and mead. We also have people who don't use, for reasons of recovery or spiritual/health reason. This diversity within our Council and with the members of our extended communities helps us understand the need for providing space and communication in a chemical-free space...
And "chemical free" space is sought for MANY reasons! There are members of the Pagan community who are in recovery. There are some who want a different picture of use presented to their children. There are also some who feel it creates a spiritually or magical energy that is evident and sometimes not pleasant on a psychic level to those around that. Sometimes it is evident by their behavior and response to the event or the group.
We do not have a long standing western tradition or culture that teaches spiritual chemical mind-altering practices, it's not something most or perhaps even any of us grew up with. So even in the privacy of their own room or tent, the energy, the psychic imprint may still be there. The Conclave can't and won't watch people's tents or rooms, no one will be asked to take a urine test or have a breathalyzer going... But no one is going to stay in their tent and how will they feel if others "sense" their imbibing energy? How will those who are sensitive to the energy feel?
What we hope is that people will make an effort to understand the policy and the process to make a community agreement to honor chemical-free space. Providing a "chem-free" space means that those who do use chemicals responsibly are generously doing a courtesy to those of us who feel set "outside" or excluded when there is alcohol or drugs used as part of the gathering-especially if they are part of a ritual. We depend on the community created at each event to take responsibility for what happens at that event and so far our experience has been good with community unity and responsibility.
As with vegetarianism there is a continuum in definition. For some "chemical-free" space means any substance that alters the "natural" mind or body. That can include drugs, alcohol, coffee, teas, sugars, and chocolate, it can also mean "prescription" drugs such as psychotropics and anti-biotics. The only drug given exception in some definitions is insulin. We are primarily focusing on drugs and alcohol for the overall gathering as this is much simpler to define and more realistic for our community and abilities.
The Conclaves were designed to encourage sharing and getting to know each other. Some of our events do not even offer concurring events during each timeslot, to encourage the entire group to be present and interacting at that time.
Our brochures usually say: All Conclave events are offered on a self determined sliding scale. Each attendee determines what they can afford. The mid range of the fee scale covers the cost of putting on the event, the lower end barely covers the cost of individual attendance. The higher end helps the Conclave offer the lower end and helps secure moneys for work-exchange participants.
How can we know what your individual circumstances are? Someone could be earning $30,000 a year but be supporting 3 children, a sick aunt and paying back student loans. That would mean they have less "disposable" income. While someone else earns $16,000 a year, lives in a coop and enjoys a very rich life with disposable income. The mainstream culture has given us a structure that defines people by their earned income and not by the reality of their financial lives. And it does not recognize or validate other life structures. Lesbian and gay "families" often can't acknowledge the real members of the family they support and some families may not be the defined "nuclear" family of the media.
You are the best judge of your circumstances and they are in truth NONE of our business. There must be a place were our communities learn to trust each other and our own realities. So to sum it up, we ask you to make the individual call and you do not need to justify it to us in any way.
The Conclave does try to offer Scholarship & Work-exchange options: We have a commitment to provide events that are has affordable as we can make them. If we can't offer an event in the range that you can afford, this is a possible option. Each person accepted for work exchange/scholarship will be asked to pay a minimum fee to help defray costs.
Depending on donations made to the Work Exchange / Scholarship fund, some partial work exchanges or scholarships may be available. Work exchanges are preferable to scholarships, and because of finances, the number is usually pretty limited. Applications are in the form of a letter of request. We ask you to please include an explanation of your situation. If approved, we'll let you know what work is available. We try to organize things so everyone gets to enjoy and participate in the majority of the scheduled events of the Conclave. If there is any work you cannot or would choose not to do, please include that in your letter.
Send requests via email through the Contact page with the Work Exchange/Scholarship in the subject line.
If you wish to support the Conclave, you can make tax-deductible donations to our on-going scholarship fund or to support future events.
Our conferences are not to provide the base for our annual budget. The Conclave does not own property or have a hired staff, and those are also not driving forces for the organization. Our events are as close to our costs as we can make them. We have no grants or sponsoring groups or individuals and our Executive Council (board) is all volunteer. The events are organized by the members of the Executive Council and interested individuals who wish to be on an event committee. All profits are used to support the running and maintenance of the Earth Conclave. We have printing, postage, website, computer, phone, government fees and event expenses.
As a non-profit organization we believe that our finances are relatively public. We list all of our expenses and the mass income at the end of each event. Sometimes we misjudged our slush and we pass the hat to make up the difference. The information that we WILL NOT disclose are the specific amounts that individuals paid for their registration or who has been granted a scholarship or work-exchange position.
The Conclave also provides a copy of the Board Manual at each event for people to look at. This manual contains an Annual Report for each year the Conclave has existed. As well as our policies, by-laws, articles of Incorporation, etc.
The Executive Council is made up of 3 to 9 members. The decision-making process is "Consensus" We use Martha's Rules, a form of modified consensus developed at Martha's Coop in Madison WI. Members of the Council are spread over multiple states and we meet 2 to 4 times a year. We seldom have official meetings at our events, since we are busy playing, organizing and being with the "Conclave Community" of that event. During the other times we communicate via e-mail, phone and letter.
A Basic Adaptation of an effective Alternative Decision-Making Process
These rules were developed at Martha's Co-op in Madison WI, when the members became dissatisfied with Robert's Rules of Order as a method for making decisions. Martha's Rules are a five step procedure for discussing issues and making decisions in fairly large group meetings.
The guiding principle was:
"Every decision we make is something we have to work with, and so it seems essential to us that we understand and have a commitment to the things we decide. We recognize that consensus decision-making, while it generates high-quality decisions, takes a lot of time and energy. Some decisions are simply not worth the effort. So, we developed a way to test whether an issue was important enough to warrant taking the extra time to develop consensus while the decision was being discussed."
As a non-profit, most states require that this be a "matter of public record". We display our information at our events and our by-laws and Articles of Incorporation are displayed elsewhere in this site.
If you are interested in establishing you own non-profit group, do lots of research. Contact the Secretary of State office and ask how you can obtain copies of non-profits in your area. You might also be able to contact other states. Then look around and find the organizations that are similar to what you hope to create. Talk to them and also read their materials carefully.
Though we have things that we do at each event, the Conclave is not a "tradition". The Conclave is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to bringing together people of many different traditions and beliefs. Our board is also made up of people from different paths as are the folks who attend our gatherings. Individuals from all traditions whether they have roots in Paganism, Native Cultures or main stream society are welcome to attend.
We have Unitarian Conclavers, Gardnerian Conclavers, Dianic Conclavers, Shamanic Conclavers, Reclaiming Conclavers and many more... People attend who have been part of the "pagan" community for over 20 years and others who just "discovered" it. Others attend who have no idea what "paganism" means and are simply searching for spiritual or environmental community.
The Earth Conclave is not a membership organization. We do not have membership fees or standing. However, we are interested in the feedback and ideas of the folks who attend our events. Each event is ended with something we call "The Feedback Committee". That is were the members of the Executive Council and perhaps some of the committee members sit and listen to the feedback, praise, suggestions, concerns and ideas of the participants in one large group. Not only specific to that event, but also for future events and the Conclave in general.
Having said that "we do not have members", those who come to a Conclave event often consider themselves members of the broader Conclave Community. We also invite feedback in the form of letters, e-mail and by attending our Council Meetings. It is appreciated if comments and concerns are done in a reproducible format so it can be shared with the entire Executive Council accurately.
Right now, you can find us on Facebook or join our Facebook Group. We will soon have an email list signup as well. If you prefer to receive postal mail, please send a letter to our Kenosha PO box, or an email, and we will arrange for that to happen!