Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Greetings from FGC Gathering

I don't have a workshop anymore, so I have this lovely time of access to the computers (of which there are four, often in high demand every other moment of the day)

I have discovered that workshops, as currently enacted, don't really work for me. I'm not sure what to do about this, as I do really like getting to know a smaller group of people, and, well, learning about something I'm interested in.

what doesn't work for me is perhaps mostly the similarity (usually/often) to a college class (perhaps a seminar). I wasnt' a huge fan of college, and I'm pretty glad to be done with it. I wonder, in my frustration about the extent to which academia is intertwined with quaker culture - could you even be a liberal quaker if you, say, couldn't read? (or even didn't, much?) It seems like you SHOULD be able to, if it's about God, certainly the illiterate have their measures of light, no greater or lesser, on average, than college professors and lawyers and authors. But still, I can't quite picture it.

In any case, I'm thinking about whether some alternate form of workshop would "work" for me, and what's more, would the same form work better for some other people? and what's more, if both those things are affirmatives, is it up to me to create such a thing (or space for it) for next year's gathering??

I fantasize of a workshop held completely outside (there is one now) with some activites - like biking or swimming (my favorite things, and best spiritual practices, often) and extensive worship sharing (and maybe "threshing") I don't consider myself an expert on anything, and feel called to something that isnt' so much about expertise, but about what everyone brings. I think my greatest interest lies in really developing quaker environmental witness. which exists, but remains smallish and sidelines-y (in my opinion)

I'm not really (okay, not at ALL) the sort of person who leads workshops. I'm not organized, and I'm historically often cripplingly shy, and I lack "clerking" skills (I am working with middle schoolers and have actually been chided by a few of them for my lack of strictness and direction with them!)

I'm also not generally a person who takes on big projects alone, but I'm not at all sure that I can find someone who would be interested on working on such a thing with me. (I guess that's one reason I'm putting this out here)


what to do?



Judielaine said...

I can't speak to the conference workshops, but i can say that i observed that the book group in San Francisco read aloud to each other. It was not a discussion group as i image one, but i noticed it did mean some folks who did have problems that would make reading a challenge (not necessarily illiteracy) found the group accessible, even if they had to "pass" when their turn to read came.

It is a compassionate response to the reading issue, that i've values since i realized it.

earthfreak said...

wow, thanks!

I had actually been thinking that if we had readings we could take turns reading aloud (short things) - perhaps on a volunteer basis. Not that I expect anyone who is actually functionally illiterate to sign up, but interesting things happen when you move toward accomodating all - even if all aren't there.

Martin Kelley said...

Hi Pam,
I agree that often seem to expect that everyone has higher degrees or actually liked school. I appreciate things like the bicycling workshop (is there one this year?) because it recognizes that not everyone wants to spend every morning sitting in a room for three hours reading books and roleplaying. I personally can talk Quakerism 24/7 but I would be very scared of any spiritual body made up of people like me!

Kenneth said...

I'm sorry you picked a workshop that didn't work (groan) for you, but there are really all sorts of workshops. There were at least two singing workshops, a fiber one, and I think there was a toning one as well. I didn't really pay attention to the list once I saw the workshop that I took. Some years I don't take a workshop: I try to focus on doing the one or two things that called to me from the advance program.

I love your questions about literacy and general educational orientation. I've led "head," "heart," and "hand" workshops. They call for some similar skills and also some very different ones. People approach them in very different ways, as well.

And my experience leading information-heavy workshops or courses for monthly meetings is that while lots of Quakers take a fairly intellectual approach, the vast majority who sign up for a workshop or a "Quakerism 101" course don't do much, if any, reading for it, even when that's part of the course description. I've learned to work around that, and I no longer have any "required" reading, only "suggested" resources; I also go heavy on pamphlets.

earthfreak said...


thanks for commenting, I didn't notice for a while, as I think I recently deleted a spam comment from this thread so the "count" didn't change.. oops

It was actually a singing workshop that I took (and dropped). They teach singing in college too :)

THe first time I came to Gathering I took a workshop that was much like a vastly extended "noon sing" with Peter and Annie. I did like it quite a bit, but now the call to be outside is too strong. I have also taken the FCUN workshop, which worked pretty well for me, and the sweatlodge workshop, which did as well (though I support FGC in suspending sweatlodge activities indefinitely - It was an amazing experience, but there are also concerns that I think must be addressed, and I'd love to see us do that)

Robin M. said...

The first time I saw an FGC Gathering advance program, I'm sure there was a workshop called Meeting for Bicycling, but I didn't see anything quite like it this year. There were a couple that seemed more like massage or other bodywork workshops. One Friend I know took John Calvi's workshop because it promised laughter and relaxation and he thought he could use a whole week of that.

I would think it would be very obvious to have a workshop that involved mostly hiking and worship sharing, maybe some disciplined walking meditation. It could even be called "Walking Cheerfully Over the Earth." Has it already been done in years past? I'm certainly not the person to organize that but somewhere out there is a Quaker who knows or could find some good places to walk in River Falls.