About – BIRCH Formation Notes

Raw notes from the 2006 Dandelion Gathering meeting where BIRCH was formed.
1. Birch meeting set up
Names and places
Grounding by Pandora/grove
Explanation of beginnings of reclaiming and exploration of how coming together/falling apart/transformation/rebirth is essential for growth
Explanation of birch vision by Selchie
Calling in elements and recognition by those aspecting/representing five sacred things
Star charges those people to make sure that those without voice to speak are represented in this meeting/empower them to interrupt meeting to remind us of what needs to be said by the elements/seen by us/heard by us
Invitation to call in allies/deities
What is asking to be present
Etc – logistics; tending, reminder of time as ally; bigger task to do than we have time to do it with
Stay focused, stay brief, notice what others have already said, twinkle pls don’t repeat
5 agreements: if willing twinkle or nodding
We are in sacred space and hold that throughout meeting
We come to this space with open heart and open minds
We let people finish what they are saying (facilitators can interrupt)
We hold each other in respect
We self facilitate ourselves
We encourage twinkling rather than repeating what others have said
Self facilitating: notice when you are about to speak: concise and constructive, are you taking up more space than others, take responsibility for the process
Pandora: let’s take 5 minutes to talk in pairs about hopes and fears about this process come back and call out what has been shared
-birch won’t birth
Birch will become decision making body
Hope strengthen networks in midst of ecological change
Hope take good even if it’s old
Fear we will water down what we have to make it palatable to broader community
Hope we are magnificent enuf to bridge paradox of having body that is functionally decision making in some realms and not in all realms
Hope that delegates can rotate and participate so it feels that eveyroe has opportunity
Hope that we can name w hat needs to be named for sake of process
Hope that spark our creativity to creat new spaces
Hope birch as framework
Fear of usual suspects we are it
Hope we do something whatever it looks
Fear we will talk endlessly
Hope cross pollination with other like minded groups so as not to recreate the wheel
Hope we will do this wHope we will understand ongoing process and not feel rushed to produce something just to do it
Hope to heal some of communities that have fallen apart
I fear all talk and no action
Hope that doesn’t happen
Hope that whatever goes on process gets communicated as clearly and transparently and effectively as possible
Hope to bring energy back to communities and truly share
Hope that what we create/continue create is a model for other spiritual communities
Hope we can continue to come back to what really matters and what brings us together
Hope we can be seen as us ad not them
Fear what brings us together may not be strong enough
Not meeting – how about an “us”-ing
Fear we will all wind up mad at each other
Hope that doesn’t happen
Hope we recognize activism in all its many diverse ways – we are all one/all reclaiming/all one
Reminder of bio-brew magic still bubbling: sweetness/nutrients still working away for us and for the healing of the earth
Moving right along
Star: some have come here perhaps charged by their communities to gived messages to group: now is the time for that
-Macha from Alberta reclaiming: insert their statement here please
Jude representing RTITS:
-elfin webspinner from reclaiming.org/bay area wheel agreed that the site can and should be anything that is needed to support reclaimng worldwide
-nyx from Chicago reclaiming/open yahoo group to all of us – *ask her for address
Chicago Reclaiming says I long for understanding of others * ask her
Ravyn Stanfield rep Portland or teaching cell – bringing request for possibility of creation of something called an egregore ???? some symbolic magicial piece created on astral plan for reclaiming/similar to clan house – people can access wherever/whoever – this magical place to access could come out of this meeting
Jason asked to bring message from Florida reclaiming: where tree roots meet earth and earth meets sky those intersections are where real juice of where Reclaiming comes from: the wild edges
Hawkeye rep Ithaca reclaiming: concern of something that centralizes communication – easies access to events/community/way to bring new people in, in an easy way
Donald: range of responses from original list of questions he sent out over various list serves: solitaries amongst us asked not to be forgotten in this process
Pat from Vancouver – bringing their voices: mixed feelings about formation of BIRCH/some resistance to institutionalized/feeling f structure – jaded from other institutional processes/fear of cliques and power issues , but some need for some sort of structure; seen as portal for inter community exchange; witchcamp is place they go to charge batteries and ripple effect throughout yet just as many folks in reclaiming have not been to wtichcamp and see it as elitist thing they can’t afford to come to
Marcos with sharing from pagan cluster: affirmation that activism is integral part of our tradition and we hope birch will facilitate that/hope that birch will help cluster keep magic as part of their activism/affirm that there is many kinds of diverse/personal activism and that birch can facilitate that understanding and connection
Yarrow rep spiral heart: wants to be sure that resources involve din doing birch are worth expending/twinkles to many kinds of activism
Elaine speaking for concerns of northern California rural folks: ditto solitaries/ditto way to be connected to larger whole/appreciation that Reclaiming is clean and sober space (lots of twinkles), concern for possible shift away from that
Anna rep forming group in northern Ontario new to reclaiming/appreciate ways to connect/tools to facilitate that/can birch help Canadian teachers looking at issues of cross border issues
Grove reiterates clean and sober path coming out of 12 step community
Pandora we don‘t need to be fixed/we want to be connected
Star: European community – growing and thriving/German women’s camp; English camp; all European camp; winter witchcamp in Spain (seeding reclaiming in Spain); lots of reclaiming connections in Europe: how can birch function to help connect different geographic/cultural/magical traditions and ways of doing things
Star: let’s take a moment and focus on what needs BIRCH might serve/what do we need this for?
Marcos: some needs – need for connection; need for visibility – vehicle for making reclaiming more visible tradition – would facilitate our activism
Hoping that birch could facilitate training of communities in any number of sways: ho to do fabulous demo/costume advice/consensus training/conflict resolution/
Concern and hope we could find way to communicate quickly thru reclaiming not necessarily depending upon email/www that might collapse
Nyx: in actions/people from other faith communities have actions that are viewed in different light than pagan cluster actions – we s reclaiming should stand in our faith community to partake of respect that is ours to have
Water says; check your posture/keep your heart open/take heart breaths together (right now)
Donald: hears real need to develop other professions in reclaiming besides teachers (farmers/facilitators/homemakers/etc etc) deep concern to have place of informational exchange
Pat: economics of getting together; serious concern – personal money/fuel/etc.
Sustainability of entire process: could dandelion continue and pull together whatever comes out of this/larger get together of BIRCH/WCC/and all other clan/tribe members
Nyx: conversation in Chicago Reclaiming about teachers – personally not sure how teaching works, do core courses need to be vetted/approved and by whom?
AIR: feel breath of ancestors
Copper: over and over again coming up both here and in bay area community: need to share community building skills – how do we create world we want to step into now?
Elfin: growth path in reclaiming not being to leave it
Shel: from a conversation yesterday: marketing arm to put out who we are/conversations about welcoming people in who are drawn to Reclaiming/outreach with welcome committee J
FIRE: flames of transformation burn brightly
Selchie: in Wild Ginger comm. We have as many different understandings of Reclaiming as there are people in the group; hoping birch will encompass that diversity of relationships between us
April c: sees a need and perhaps birch is place to address it; need to strengthen the elders and their role and support them to have training to step into elderhood and cronehood in most helpful ways
Andy: in bunch of communities folks want to start Reclaiming covens/seems to not have structure for covens forming
Ravyn the red: local community land stewardship projects – value we hold and letting local communities figure out how that looks
Chelidion: r has oases of many folks who are authorities/resources/tools and these have not been as well sued as they might have – can we connect ourselves with better way to share these tools/methods of support/bits of excellence we all carry in our home communities
Martin: consider children and families with children, naming vwc process of opening up to all ages
Shel: trust fund for seed money for old age homes
Zoe Redbear: strongly believes local communities are our back bone – focus on local should be important/assumption of top down bringing/develop local grass roots communities – so diverse/recognition of that/nourish that locally
Morgana: Tejas community has been fed thru interaction with other communities- ideas/friendship/network/hope for BIRCH for more of that sharing interaction/open dialog for all communities/learn more from everybody
Share what we have with others
Feral: publications like RQ that arrive in mailbox seem important to Colorado folks
Toni: we need to build in a liver/somehow to get rid of toxins
Marcos: is there an agenda?
Star: posted on wall (cleverly hidden)
Now move into clarify of intention of BIRCH
Star: needs to facilitate material resources/abundance and sharing of that/landbased community place/youth outreach
Ethnic diversity
Seth: broad reflection on our tradition as it develops
Anna: evangelical of more openness
Elfin: way for more men to learn our gentle ways
Facilitators pass it along to next team:
Ross and April C
Plan for next piece: break into groups of 7/groups that you have some affinity with: we will try to come up with intention for birch in small groups
Request that at end of time group has written 3 sentences or less intention with only one preposition per sentence /perfect punctuation an then share with larger group
20 minutes to do it
First break
Chaotic affinity self identification ensues
EARTH: before doing this/grounding as group again and some connection
Break into small groups
FIRE: process be passionate
AIR: Stay focused
Small groups to report out intention and will be scribed (GET LATER**)
Process of combining similar sentences of different groups intentions as described by April
Intentions read out/Ross notices beauty and harmony and similarity of all the intentions/now it’s time to close this circle by asking elements if have anything to say
Grove with process suggestion: is there small group of people willing to serve larger group/reading all these statements and compiling friendly composite? Additional process suggestion by Star: once these intentions are written up/please go and look at them – if something deeply important indicate with a circle or spiral for yes that’s right on/important to me/whatever
Beth out because it’s 12 o’clock
EARTH: connection is the sacred work of living and this work is supported by the earth
FIRE: asks that process be in alignment with our deepest passions
WATER: know that you are loved and held; keep your heart open
AIR: may we erupt in spontaneous and joyful laughter
So let’s do that right now
Ross invites participation for anyone with more ideas – meet with group over lunch to help synthesize

Birch Session 2 – 2006 at the Dandelion Gathering
Scribe – Copper
1. 2:30
Facilitators: Anna and Selchie
Reaffirmed Sacred Space
Brought in elemental aspecters
Read Agenda:
Consolidate intent:
Small groups with Services and supporting structure
Notes:
Small groups read out consolidated intent:
There were a number of revisions suggested to address concerns:
The final revision read as follows:
The purpose of BIRCH:
Nourish and support individuals, groups and diverse communities,
To facilitate connection and resource sharing with the larger community;
To facilitate communication, reflection and action
Make Reclaiming visible to the rest of the world
The qualities of BIRCH are empowered, accountable, transparent, passionate, evolving, diverse, magical and generous
* Consensus
ONE STAND ASIDE
Some concerns raised were:
Do we need to be more visible? Why? Some answers were to de-stigmatize Witchcraft – the importance to being seen and to show others that other ways of living are possible and that outreach to others is important.
Should we include Reclaiming in the first sentence?
Concerns for further discussion by word smiths:
Reclaiming in first line
Re: resource sharing: pleased consider that Birch may want to own/facilitate the production of some resources (eg RQ, Reclaiming.org) that are too large for one community or where we need a pan-Reclaiming diversity of views in their creation.
FUNCTIONS OF BIRCH
SERVICES: Suggested from the morning meetings: Strengthening the wider community; Gatherings, skills sharing, Networking: Supporting Local communities including individuals, solitaries and families; Sharing resources; Communication, web, email, Print, phone; Fostering welcome and outreach to inter and intra-faith; Detoxifying liver function – strengthening our health and immune system body and organs – addressing toxins.
Additional suggestions from this meeting included; History and lore keeping and Interfaith networking; Power, Privilege and diversity;
DECISIONS: Some issues that have been raised that were decisions no one was empowered to decided included: broad versus quick decision making POU, What is a teacher, core classes and curriculum; taxes; accountability and accessibility; border crossing. Spoke/Witch Camp Council has the background material on this.
SMALL GROUP BREAK OUT TO DISCUSS THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS-
Who needs to be involved in providing these services and making these decisions
What kind of decisions need to be made?
Who will BIRCH report back to? Where and how does it exist and how does it work?
Small groups coming back:
New facilitators: Todd and Raven
Impromptu Spiral danceJ
Each group had one member report visions:
Pods, affinity groups, geographic regions and chakras and to tree of life. 7 to 9 people are the people who make decisions through out the 2 years. Dandelion would meet every 2 years 1 day of which would be Birch which could be any one there plus reps from committees and consensus is held from there.
Members -Any who are passionate and committed without regard for financial need. Traveling web spinners collecting; accountability to earth selves and gods.
Appropriate representation of communities – hire appropriate help when needed. Best practices for communities shared – distributing decisions talk and let people know what happened. Notes published on web. Small board and staff. Only a series of committees
Representation not quite trusted – solitaries? Accountability is important – not able to agree about decision making abilities; may be necessary to have some possible decisions – non punitive. How could BIRCH serve with 501-c to serve local communities.
Representative model with mandate to open to larger community. Groups from which camp or individuals. Quaker model possible
Accountability and empowerment. The large gathering gives access and equal empowerment and decision making power to all.
Membership: what does it mean? How does someone coming to reclaiming feel like it is clear how to become part of reclaiming – Consensus on a need for decisions on some common issues like the core classes and POU. Committee could assess need and then put out question to larger community and then report back to small committee.
Regional groups and interest groups all having equal access
Spokes model was suggested. Questions of accessibility – is it a union or come alone? What does it mean that we come to a large gathering and make it accessible? Pay for everyone? How big do we want for representation? Are there criteria for who is represented? Big decisions could become part of Dandelion and more narrow decisions made by special committees. It would report back to the groups each represent.
One concept was seeing each leaf with a different group poets, teachers, etc so making it special interest groups. All the committees agree on representation and bring the issues back and forth to their committees and the larger group.
Agreed: to contract for more time to 5:30pm
Many groups mentioned representative model as well as issues including regional, financial, solitaries accessibility,
model of body
Larger community access to some decisions
Have a small group empowered to make decisions.
Importance of commonality of two tiered system where some decisions move to the community wide group.
Inclusion of representation as well as people who are passionate
Responsibility of multiple structures
Iroquois long house structure everyone allowed to council as well as a small pod that would serve this assembly.
Concerns with individual involvement because of lack of accountability
Ground up model, local communities want a place to go to say this is what we need.
We have models that already are in place.
Proposal for structure:
Including a big gathering every 2 years that include really big decisions – open to all to come, could only block if you were a rep of a group. Regional groups could send reps. Working groups with particular tasks like teachers, perma-culture. Also an identity group, who is what is and choose how to address it. Then a small and working administrative cell that hold things through time, maybe even paid staff. If people are given responsibility they are given decision making powers and also need to report back on those decisions.
Concerns and responses:
Individuals not represented
Important to have groups represented
How often do the gatherings happen?
Individuals are represented by special interest groups.
Important for solitaries to be a part of the group process and having other groups to be part of BIRCH Important for them to have feedback somewhere.
Where is the liver?
Small group to work on that.
Summarize the levels?
Level 1: Large Gathering addresses large issues.
Level 2: Also at that gathering would be representatives from groups empowered to make decisions
Level 3: Small administrative group
Do smaller decisions get feedback? Yes, from local groups.
Small committees have a way to work with other groups impacted with it?
Communications group would come up with a way to do that.
Preference for decisions to be guidelines more that hard and fast rules. Serving communities not imposing on them.
Levels non-hierarchal better to use branches roots and trunk.
Broke down proposal piece by piece:
Level one: Large Gathering, like Dandelion addresses large issues. Consensus
Level 2: Also at that gathering would be representatives from regional and special interest groups empowered to make decisions. Anyone is free to form one and add people. The Liver Group and Identity group would be formed by members at Dandelion. Consensus
Concerns:
Do those groups have to be at Dandelion? Financial accessibility.
Does Dandelion become all about meetings?
How do we get topics on agenda? NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED later
Spirit reps need to be there
Concerns:
Some criteria for minimum of five or something for group?
Inclusive groups and Liver Groups need to formed here and
Communications group
Power issues; the committees that are charged with forming Dandelion etc be accountable to someone.
Identity issues brought back to large group?
Need to have some way of defining these issues in order to do the larger work.
Can put something in place that is working and then revise.
All of this could be held as provisional. Important.
Level 3: Small administrative group would be charged with looking at making interim decisions and making sure things happen not including making the Dandelion Gathering happening which would be a different group happens. Consensus
Concerns: Larger group needs to decide that?
The committee is important to have group 3 that helps things move on while regional groups from reps.
Dandelion organization group should be separate from admin group.
How many people on the committee?
5 to 8 people.
Separating groups is a concern for coordination.
Concern for separate gatherings being a problem
Deciding the three groups: Papers are posted for people who are interested in being on one of the committees with descriptions of committees; which are: Identity, Liver, and administrative. All interested stand up tomorrow morning and if people have concerns they bring them to people directly.
PROPOSAL
ONE: Large Gatherings, like Dandelion address large issues, issues of our core values and ways of organizing. An example would be revising the Principles of Unity.
At those large gatherings would be representatives from regional and special interest groups empowered to make decisions. Anyone is free to come and be part of the discussion, but only representatives of groups could block a decision.
TWO: Regional groups, working groups that take on specific tasks, and interest groups based on specific interests are encouraged to form and empowered to make the decisions they need to do their work. (Many of these groups already exist.) They are, in general, open to all those interested, but are empowered to set their own membership criteria.
This Council will form and affirm the members of two of these groups:
An Identity Group would look at questions of what it means to identify as/call oneself Reclaiming. How do groups and individuals join? They are empowered to make decisions on these issues that will hold until the next large gathering, at which time they will be reviewed and must be established by consensus (not assumed to be the policies in place which automatically hold unless changed.)
The Healthy Reclaiming Body group would look at issues of conflict resolution and group process, establishing a ‘liver’ to move toxins out of the body, and identifying other missing organs.
While this body will affirm the membership, they are empowered to add others as necessary.
Other groups to be established include Communications, Supporting Local Communities, Outreach/Fostering/Welcoming, Strengthening Wider Community, History and Lore, and others.
THREE: An Administrative Cell will be formed at this gathering, composed of five to eight people affirmed by the gathering and empowered to add others as they see need. They are charged with implementing these decisions, coordinating the work of BIRCH, finding a location and organizers for the next large gathering. They are empowerd to make the decisions they need to carry out their responsibilities.
Form one and add people. The Liver Group and Identity group would be formed by members at Dandelion.
Level 3: Small administrative group would be charged with looking at making interim decisions and making sure things happen not including making the Dandelion Gathering happening which would be a different group happens.

**********