Thursday, March 10, 2005

Pagans on Public Television

Last Wednesday Ten Full Circle volunteers went out into the night to help raise money for Public Television. (1)

The folks at the PBS station invited us as a Pagan group to come to their San Jose studio and help take pledges on the air. When we got there they trained us (it takes 5 minutes) fed us pizza, coffee and juice and then set us loose on an unsuspecting public.

We have a core group of volunteers here at FCE, and many of us already knew each other from working other events, PantheaCon, etc. I made sure that everyone who came knew at least one other person there so they would have someone to talk to. I wanted them all to have a really good time so I picked a group that would have things in commen, plus I choose people with a good sense of humor who I knew would get along - that's our usual MO for volunteers, anyway, but these people have that in spades. This night, our volunteers also got to meet other "ordinary" Pagans they didn't already know, and they liked that. Good. It's sometimes hard for us to find one another.

We all made it a point to be friendly to the other eight volunteers, none of whom were Pagan, so it was an easy, good time for all.

I met someone new that night, as well. My friend Farrell (a dog walking buddy) brought her long time friend MaryJane along. Farrell knows my friend Clare Sage from San Jose Metaphysical who sold the store to Michael who helped us put on MUSE Camp and the first Witches' Ball who teaches classes in the Craft, which Farrell took a few years ago, before we met at the dog park...and this is how we play the Pagan Version of Six Degrees of Separation. (2)

MaryJane has studied the Native American path for over 30 years now, along with her husband who was born into that culture. She told me that she attends California PowWows every weekend during the season, and I've asked her to start listing any PowWows that are open to all on our FCE Calendar. She has agreed to do so. In fact, she has already listed one for next weekend. Our readers will like that.

The PBS gig was more fun than I had expected. When we weren't working the phones, we were kidding each other and chatting. I sat at the table with the gals I met at PantheaCon who were working the Ink Witch booth, with Sabrina, the artist. (In fact, they gave me sanctuary in their booth from a guy who wouldn't leave me alone. He found out that I handled the Pagan Voting Project and then went on a wild political rant at my table. He was going to keep others from coming to the table, so I glided gently away, leaving the table in the capable hands of my long time partner, Token. Token is a Christian Humanist and uses this as her Craft name when she hangs out with us Pagans. It's surprising just how many people don't get that joke.

Once clear of the booth, I spent my free time shopping in the Ink Witch booth until he went away. Bless them for hiding me. Of course, I bought some lovely prints, as well. Sabrina does fine work and I have one of her Raven pieces. It now hangs in the Full Circle office and people often stop to admire it.

I met two gals named Tina and Andrea in Sabrina's booth that day. They are lovely couple, and very out and open about being Pagan. They both do animal rescue, as I do, so we had a lot to talk about. They (and Sabrina) donated 3 prints for the Pagan garage sale in May, which was very kind of them. I went to Andrea's and Tina's house a few weeks ago to pick these out, and met their kids and their many pets. It's a beautiful home, full of love, and I enjoyed being there.

When this opportunity at KTEH came up I thought it might be nice for these two to meet some other (responsible, sane) Pagans and I invited them to join us. I'm glad I did, as everyone liked them.

I had asked our Full Circle crew to dress carefully as we were about to have the aforementioned 15 seconds on TV. (No political t-shirts or rude sayings, please!) They all looked great. The styles ranged from Hawaiian shirts and fantasy t-shirts to classy street clothes and subtle "I'm Pagan if you know what you're looking for, and I'm an artist if you don't" sorts of clothes.

I wore deep brown blouse and a black vest, intending to blend in. I wanted to sit in the back so that the others could go on camera and the studio folks complied with my request. Unfortunately, that also meant that I ended up on front of a bright violet background, which made me stand out a bit. So much for avoiding the spotlight.

I also wore a WitsEnd button that said: "Sing the Hedgehog Song!" The studio crew liked it. Well, it's no surprise that PBS employees read the DiscWorld books.

It was really nice to have that kind of time with Pagan friends. So often we Pagan Doers find ourselves in in ritual, running around at a Convention or working hard on some charity event. This time, the work was a skate and we got lots of time to visit. Often as not, they had us in the Break Room between sets, and when we weren't working the phones we got to listen to Celtic music, so everyone went away happy and very glad they'd come.

As for the PBS station staff, they loved us. Our people are professional and good on the phone and the ones I invited take (and give) direction very well. Most of us have done some sort of customer service or work with people, and it showed. The studio Director made a point of thanking us and it was obvious that the crew liked us, as well. Score one for the nice Pagans.

We've been invited back. I'll ask the gang if they want to do it again in April or September.

In the meantime, I've sent this note to our volunteers:

Thank you all for coming last night. You did a great job on the phones.
Everyone was great company, too. You folks are hardworking, friendly to
all, and professional and we appreciate it very much. You made us proud.

As a 10 person team, Full Circle help KTEH raise $6,266 dollars during Glenn Miller, and $18,675 during Celtic Woman, which makes the total $24,941 raised for public television.

Excellent work!

Best Regards,

Full Circle Events

(1) From a short list I keep of people who are a) reliable, b) fun and c) live nearby.

(2) The notion of six degrees of separation grew out of work conducted by the social psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s. Milgram decided to investigate the so-called "small-world problem," the theory that everyone on the planet is connected by just a handful of intermediaries. In Milgram's experiments, a few hundred people grom Boston and Omaha attempted to get a letter to a target. In this case, a complete stranger in Boston. But they could only send the letter to a personal friend whom they thought was somehow closer to the target than they were.
When Milgram looked at the letters that reached the target, he found that they had changed hands only about six times. This finding has since been enshrined in the notion that everyone can be connected by a chain of roughly six people.

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