Monday, June 26, 2006


I'm off tonight. Taking the train to Portland to visit some friends, then down to Tacoma at the end of this week for FGC Gathering.

I've been dreading it a little bit, leaving my hectic life to the wolves for a bit, I leave in 12 hours and I'm not packed yet. It will be an interesting time.

I have been disappointed with Gathering, I am coming to realize. There are wonderful things about it, but difficult things as well. I'm not sure if it's just that it's so darn big, or what, but I rarely feel really spiritually grounded there. The food in the dining hall is far from simple, we use a lot of resources, paper napkins, gas, electricity, water. I bring these things up to people and often hear something along the lines of "but it's hard to do it another way" - wow, I think, is this what we've come to? quakers who, as a body, don't want to do anything "hard"???

I'm not claiming to be any better. I'm pretty lazy myself, let alone cowardly. I just would like to see us live up to our light, though I don't know how to spur a grand movement....

I am excited to meet some fellow bloggers for the first time, and about various other things this trip - I love the pacific northwest! I haven't been to gathering since is was in Johnstown - how long ago was that??

See some of you there.



Plain Foolish said...

It's likely too late for this suggestion to do any good, as you're already leaving - have a safe and happy trip! - but has anyone considered making service "family style"? i.e. meals are served on tables for about 8 people (most commercial dining tables in cafeterias are designed theoretically for 8 per section.) So when food is served, you set a particular time for everybody to eat together, or else you make specific seatings and everybody signs up for one seating. Seats are unassigned to encourage mingling. Then each table gets, say, one bowl of rice, one bowl of chickpea stew, a stuffed eggplant, one bowl of salad, one beet pie, and a pitcher of water. Each person is requested to bring a canteen kit including one plate, one bowl, a cup, a napkin, and cutlery. Some folks might bring extras (possibly labelled with name and address) for sharing, in case someone mistakenly arrives without. (I personally strongly recommend stainless steel for ease of transport, ease of cleaning, fact that I found my stainless steel set in a thrift store, etc.)

As dinner ends, have a few volunteers set up a couple tables at each end of the hall, with a triple-dip washing set up - one table with a waste bucket at the end for scraps, then one tub filled with soapy water for washing, a second tub for rinsing, and a final tub with a little bit of bleach in the water for de-germing. Each person washes their own gear, and the clean-up crew only has the serving dishes to worry about. This is the system used by a large historic club, the Society for Creative Anachronism, at least out East. (I understand that Europe and the West may do things somewhat differently, due to differences in how events are thrown.) In my experience, one table might have someone who hates eggplant, but it might be balanced out by someone else who loves it, and doesn't like salad. If an entire table is unbalanced in some way (say a whole group of eggplant lovers sit together), they'll often offer to take that pesky leftovers problem away from another table or the kitchen, since everyone's getting food off the *serving dishes*. If an entire table hates something, they may look to see if another table is eating it. One major advantage to this system (aside from cutting down on plastic and paper use, cutting down on the kitchen's time in apportioning food, and making it easier to just think of serving tables, rather than each individual person) is that the whole table gets drawn together as a group. "Hey, EF, could you pass the chickpeas? They were great, weren't they?" "Sure, PF. Hey, is that stuff in the eggplant vegan, do you know?" And conversation ensues.

verbalchameleon said...

Ohhh! I am jealous. I have not yet been to Gathering (so can't yet be disappointed in the ways you have). This may well have been my first FGC, but alas, it filled up too quickly--before I knew if I could get off of work. Maybe next year! Anyway, have fun--or, if you get this later, I hope it was good.

Liz Opp said...


I was hoping that a few Friends, especially from Northern Yearly Meeting, would step forward to serve as a sort of "Seeking Simplicity Committee" for the 2007 Gathering. I think the Gathering Committee could still use that sort of perspective as the tangible work gets underway.

The concern for simplicity was brought up just two or three years ago, when NYM was considering inviting FGC to bring the Gathering back to the midwest.

I for one have not forgotten that concern. I have mentioned it to the new Conference Coordinator of FGC, and already we have come up with an alternative way of the Workshops Committee to review workshop proposals--rather than duplicating them and printing them and mailing them so that everyone on the committee would have the same format, same page numbers, etc.

Also, I have been spending some time thinking how to reduce the number of papers that are put into each Gathering attender's registration packet.

But what I'm currently excited about is having looked up information on the internet about the new student center that UW-River Falls is building, and where much of our activities in 2007 will take place. Apparently, there is a fair amount of green technology and environmental sustainability that is being put into place into this particular building.

I'm sure it won't be perfect, but I'm hopeful it will be better than it's been. Note, for example, the use of rainwater (I think it is) for flushing toilets.

So let me know if you want to be part of a "Seeking Simplicity Committee," and I can let the Gathering co-clerks know that there's interest!

Well, back to playing catch-up after my own 2-1/2 weeks away...

Liz, The Good Raised Up

earthfreak said...


I would love to serve on (/create) such a committee!

I just realized that I don't have your email address, but will try to contact you more directly soon.