Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Intentional: I actually am a Pagan Community Organizer

A point of clarification (07-14-2011): I was very politely contacted by someone in the pagan community asking for just some clarification about the 'witch-wars' I made a reference to.  I can 100% understand how the language used below could be understood as me pointing fingers at the OHF for the 'witch-wars' which was in NO WAY my intent.  The language of the post comes out of my frustration when trying to reach out and getting met with various forms of the cold-shoulder or even more maddeningly partial pieces of a story that happened when I was still in middle-school.  I do not think any one person or organization is in anyway to 'blame' for my frustrations.  I'm SO sorry if my post came across as accusatory, that was not the intention.

So... thank you to all of my etsy people for being followers of my blog.  This post is not directed towards you but I hope that you read through it, click on the links and maybe even think about how the ideas and questions raised fit into your life or spiritual community.

I am the Organizer of Central Maryland Pagans Meetup Group (CMP).  I have the amazing support of a truly wonderful Leadership Team and we have all been supremely lucky to have a membership that not only supports the group, but even gives more than needed.  My co-organizer and I went into this venture (over two years ago now) knowing how much it would cost us each every month and we were willing to support this community resource because the MD Pagan community needs it.

So because I'm a 'good-little' pagan community organizer (PCO) I read all the right blogs including the Pagan Newswire Collective (PNC), which is an alliance of volunteers that want to make a louder pagan news voice.  (I can 100% support that mission.)  The PNC reported that a pagan community center in Michigan is potentially going to have to close it's doors because the (substantial) pagan population won't support the center.

Why does this matter?  How does it affect me as a Baltimore PCO?

Because it brings up some interesting questions.  My friend Maria summarizes her concerns pretty succinctly on her blog, It's All Elemental.  If a Pagan Community Center can't work in a heavily pagan metropolis, how could the Open Hearth Foundation (OHF) ever manage to get it sustainable in Washington, DC?

The basic answer is that OHF must get enough community support to keep their doors open.  The answer is more complicated than it should be because this region is SO divided into Baltimore, Washington and Northern Virgina (NoVA) (let alone Frederick, SoMD ect.).  We're really only 45 miles apart but it's beyond difficult to get people to cross the beltways.  It's even difficult for CMP to get people at our gatherings from the northern part of Baltimore.

To be 100% honest, I am not a member of OHF.  Even though I only live 25 miles north of DC, I personally don't have faith that the organization can support my community as I feel like it's going to be DC-centric.  Getting energy and people to cross the Capital Beltway is a real concern of mine.  Wouldn't my money and time be better spent strengthening CMP or supporting Cedar Light Grove or the Willam Blake Lodge?

I understand and applaud the goals of OHF, but unless ALL of DC and NoVA step up they are going to need the support of us Baltimore people, and due to some deep history, we're not all interested.  I'm considering changing my view point... but not yet.

Can this setback be overcome?  I know the younger ones of us are trying.  The Capital Witch Blog has accepted CMP reaching out.  I have met with members of the OHF Board and talked about how to look at the problem.  I have lots of DC and NoVA (as well as Western MD, Southern MD, DE and PA) events on the CMP calendar.  The OHF also has a calendar of events that includes many events in MD. 

But can we change the minds of the older generation?  The ones who still remember and are emotionally invested in the Witch-Wars of the past?  Don't know.  But it'll be a really difficult task for a PCO like me.

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