It's time to send out the essay canceling the annual Witches' Ball for once and for all. The staff and our core volunteers have known about this since January, but it's time to officially tell this to the general membership.
I wrote the essay today as my Equinox Ritual and I'll send it along to Snakemoon for publication in the April newsletter.
I'll take out the Endnotes prior to publication of the essay. These will morph and go into the book Herding Cats at a later time.
I'm still not happy with the opening. Once I found my (essay) writing voice, I discovered that brevity was suddenly a challenge. I think it was Pascal, (yes?), who apologised to his friend for writing too long a letter. He was busy, he said, and didn't have time to make it shorter. So true, so true.
Below are some Endnotes that are much too snarky for the Essay. The Essay celebrates the end of an era and is a love letter to our volunteers. It has to have a very high tone.
The book will bluntly tell the truth, using humor. So, wth a little re-writing and a lot more funny, these comments can go into the book.
Challenges and Problem Children:
Over the years I've heard certain types say they didn't like the $15 - $25 ticket price for a charity fundraiser - and this talk comes from people who will pay that for a CD or a movie without thinking!
I've been a Vendor for over 10 years now, and I've seen certain types of Pagans drop $60.00 for a crystal or $200 for a new cloak whenever they feel like it and then bitch about not having money in the next breath. Until a lot more of these types grow up, the Pagan community won't have the support we need to do effective charity work.
The Humane Society's 2005 Fur Ball costs $175.00 a ticket. That's what ticket prices for a charity event look like in the real world.
It costs a lot to do this sort of work. We spend a thousands dollars every year to rent a hall, pay the DJ, host the website, and buy the required insurance. Advertising and decorating come last on that list, as we work to keep costs down. It's amazing how often certain people criticize the cost of these events and how they are strangely silent when we ask them where they think all this money is supposed to come from.
Sharing power is not the issue for responsible Pagan Organizers, but
finding good people, who can be relied upon, is. Four secrets to
staging successful events are:
a) Choosing good people work with,
b) Communicating clearly as to needs, job descriptions, and expectations.
c) Dealing with conflict in healthy, respectful ways
d) Setting boundaries and letting people go (kindly and firmly) when you have to.
There is something about certain Committees that attracts particular types of people. I've seen this energy in action at conventions and fundraisers, in theatre work, at faires and festivals and at Pagan events. As Terry Pratchett says, "It bodes".
I'll tell you a secret: All (sane) Organizers have a prayer they use when working with volunteers. They use it daily when working with Decorating Committees. It goes like this:
The Volunteer Prayer
Deliver us from Divas
and airy, fairy
with no common sense,
and from all those
who lack the ability
to follow through
on a project.
Send us instead
some fun loving
those who understand
and Good Intentions
do not take the place
and Hard Work.
Let them care enough
to put the work first,
and their ego’s last.
May they know how to laugh,
And exhibit grace
and, please Goddess,
to show up
We said that prayer a lot.
Did “Problem Children” still walk in the door?
Sure they did.
And they soon found out from the staff that we don’t play that game. (1)
My friend Kaye calls this “The Law of Self Selection". Since our people are good humored, professional and organized, the Divas (2) had to take their drama and trauma elsewhere. We blessed them, released them, and got on with the job at hand.
“They Say? What Say They? Let Them Say”
If you are going to do this work you should know that certain people will criticize your efforts from the sidelines, without ever knowing what it takes to produce your event, and without offering to work on it or help fund it, themselves.
At FCE we choose to abide by the adage that “Criticism is easier than Craftsmanship." We listen to people who show commen sense, are willing to work hard and can play well with others. We prefer to work with people are who are talented and responsible. This saves both tempers and time.
Birds of a Feather:
If you ever choose to work with us you should know this:
We love: People who are honest and thoughtful and those who do their emotional homework. We adore people who can laugh and work hard at the same time. We support those who have good boundries and those who are kind to other people, kids and animals.
We will not support: Lying, whining, blaming, unkindness, Witch Wars, gossip, would-be Gurus, rudeness, flakyness, credulity, cruelty and shortsightedness or any attempt to use this sacred Path as an excuse for poor behavior.
Some people in the Earthwise community do not choose to support Pagan organizations and/or Pagan charity events. Others do not support the work of groups not directly their own. That’s their choice.
Making it sleezy:
We might get more attendees if we're willing to take some of the advice we received over the years and radically change the event. All we have to do is serve lots of alcohol, refuse to let families bring their kids, make it sleazy instead of sexy and fantastic, ban our non-Pagan supporters as “too mundane”, & offer tickets for $5 to $10 and give nothing to charity. This would let certain people dress up and show off but there would be no community outreach and no education. We would not raise money for anything but ourselves. Thanks, but no thanks.