Starting your own local GW Chapter

David Trammel's picture

In the 9/21/16 ADR post comment section, "David By The Lake" asked:

"Those who've started organizational chapters (and John, of course), I've made one previous attempt to do so (it fizzled), but very much would like to organize a Green (Wizard) (Party) chapter/lodge in my area. For better or worse, I'm in a smaller town (2nd largest city in the county, but only ~12k), which presents any number of challenges. My questions would be -- 1) how did you go about getting your local organization up and running, and 2) what kinds of issues or projects do you focus on? What I'd like to see my locality develop would be an organization that would have political elements (perhaps associated with the state Green party, or perhaps not, but definitely involved at the city/county level) as well as ecological or retrovational elements. I'd appreciate any thoughts, suggestions, guidance, or experiences that any would care to share. I'm hoping to make another run for city council with the next spring election and even if that doesn't work out, I have another year and half left on my final term on the city Plan Commission -- and I'd like to put that time to good use. Thanks in advance!"


Since this is a question that will come up as time goes by, I thought we would start a sticky thread here for advice and suggestions on what people who have created local chapters of Green Wizardry have found works for them and what doesn't work.

Well here's another approach

This Portland program teaches millennials how to grow up

“Our mission is to teach people to feel empowered,” said Rachel Weinstein, a psychotherapist who launched the effort with friend Katie Brunelle to “fill the gaps” that people may have missed along the road to adulthood.

“We are targeting millennials who grew up in the recession,” she said.

That generation is known for delaying typically adult trappings such as marriage, home ownership and steady careers in much greater numbers than their parents. And with classes in home economics pushed aside nationally for a narrower focus on academics, there seems to be room for programs such as The Adulting School to thrive.

I'll just chime in with another suggestion to avoid association with political parties. You can vote for all the Green Party candidates you want--I voted for one this election cycle--but encouraging people to make changes in their own lives is independent of, as JMG would say, who gets to scream orders on the sinking ship. If your area is anything like mine, you'll find that people further right tend to know more of these skills anyway.

Madam Oh's picture

He sounds like the perfect person to organize one.

I agree with avoiding politics or any other topic peripheral to community building toward an "ecotechnic future." Topics that JMG disallows are a pretty good start, but anything that provokes an emotional response in many people is probably best to avoid.

Of course, as we have all experienced, the idea that technological "progress" cannot solve all problems is taboo in most of our daily lives, but because it is a critical starting point for Green Wizardry it is one exception of a controversial topic the group should embrace. But the list of taboos will differ from place to place.

I also agree that even if it is just you and your closest partner that attend the meeting to go ahead anyway, offering the possibility to others as their situation allows them. There are lots of timid lurkers out there who wish nonetheless that they could meet someone with whom they can discuss their concerns.

I think I have been very lucky to have one other person at first, and then two show up. And this is in Tokyo, which however much it is "my neighborhood" that I have walked entirely across, is still the world's most populous city. (Though, the English-speaking portion capable of appreciating ADR probably amounts to no more than a large Midwestern town.) My strategy was to use the regular meetings of an already sympathetic group, whose numbers had been dwindling due to the various factors that influence participation in an era of changing circumstances, as the venue. I asked for permission first, but as the group had always been open to newcomers and had hosted large numbers in the past, there was no problem.

For the first two meetings, I barely mentioned Green Wizardry at all, and we just had a social gathering for the first, and then homestyle entertainment added to the second (it was a great group of people to start off with). For the third I will add a short show-and-tell on nuts and bolts type stuff (three non-refrigeration types of food preservation for the upcoming meeting on Nov. 6).

As a priestess at the shrine where we meet, I get the added bonus of a pulpit for a few minutes, with a brief service that is also a new feature of our revived picnics. The local folk religion is similar to Druidry, so there's no coercion, just celebration. I'll talk a bit about strategies for facing an unpredictable future.

And we might get nobody coming, and I might have to change my approach, but so far so good.

I don’t have a ton of experience with this, but as the founder of the new Pittsburgh group, I’ll give my thoughts.

In Pittsburgh, we’re a large enough city that I’m trying to use local educational opportunities as much as possible. Although the socialization and discussion of topics from The Archdruid Report are valuable by themselves, I’m trying to add an educational component to the meetings so that people can learn new skills along with any discussions. In October, for example, we’re attending a herb-drying workshop, and I’ve also looked at a composting lecture by a Master Gardeners group and a weatherization presentation by a hardware store. If you (David By The Lake) happen from your background to be especially knowledgeable about home energy issues, for example, I suspect you could organize a Green Wizards lecture series at the local library for people preparing their homes for winter.

In terms of motivation, I personally try not to define success by attendance. For me, victory is keeping the Tower light on. I went in to this with the commitment to host meetings for 6-12 months, even if my wife and I were the only attendees. I wouldn’t make the goal even to realize a return on the time and energy spent on this, but rather would view starting a local GW group as something more akin to a burnt offering to your gods.

At least for me personally, I will generally try to avoid politics, if only because I would want the Tower meetings to be open to anyone interested in the ideas in the Green Wizardry book. For me, the interest-group seems narrow enough already without adding additional political barriers. More broadly, John Michael Greer has recently warned us about how the environmental movement suffered from piggybacking, partisan traps, and purity politics, and one way to avoid such problems is just to stay away from politics. In a different context, JMG also has advocated a “separation of coven and state.” At least for me, a “separation of Tower and state” seems to have its advantages. Others, of course, may disagree.

Good luck to you! May your Tower light shine!

I live in Cortez Colorado a county of 20 some thousand people. I am interested in starting a Green Wizards group here, and would love to hear perspectives on the first steps of such a project, especially in a rural area.

A couple years ago I tried to start a similar project in Fort Collins Colorado, but the social group I was a part of kinda fell apart by virtue of being over inclusive.

Because of the culture in this area I am not sure about using the term 'wizard', I think that it might put off a lot of the very kind of folks I would want to attract... or not, thoughts?

Madam Oh's picture

I toyed with various translations of "green" and "wizard" into Japanese and finally settled on the most common translation of both because they have a positive image in Japan, plus rolling off the tongue well. Ah, yes, and I see you do not mean "Cortez, Mexico," because I was just about to ask you how many people were acquainted in your area with subsistence survival, but I guess the answer is "the tramps camped by the river." In your shoes, my first step would be to become involved socially in whatever groups are available to newcomers and keep quiet about anything controversial, including Green Wizardry until you have a good idea of where they are coming from. But I am very curious to hear how it goes for you. As a teenager I lived in Trinidad, Colorado. "Handyman" might be a non-controversial way to describe your own Green Wizradry.

Well Cortez does have a nice group of Tramps (and hopefully Hobos!) but not much of a river. A pretty small creek really. But there are a few other subsistence groups. There are farms that are well and thoroughly off the grid in the area, Durango, about an hour away, has an influential group of wild crafters who successfully wild craft a large fraction of their nutrition. There is a large near subsistence society in the area, the Ute reservations; though the culture gap there is no small jump. In a couple weeks I will be going to Arizona to herd sheep with the Dine (Navajo), there is little love lost between the Ute and the Dine, but right now I have an in with the Dine, and when out there life is largely pastoral in a harsh harsh climate.

I have a little project that I am starting this fall, I saved up about $100, with which I will be buying nut tree seedlings. I have already made friendships with several of the small organic market farms in the area, and have offered a gift of three seedlings per farm, encouraging the farms to then buy more trees to go with my three tree gift. I am hoping to establish a few nut tree populations. It's a good way to break the ice, and the farmers in the area are already thinking very much on long term sustainability.

In practice there are already a few elder Green Wizards in the area. I am still debating the possible niche for Green Wizardry in this region.

I'm also interested in starting/participating in a Green Wizards group here in the Chicago area. As there's many trains into Chicago I would think there may be enough people interested.


David Trammel's picture

It won't be until May but I will be starting monthly get-togethers here in Saint Louis, in hopes of a chapter here. I'm trying to get another lecture/panel set up for the local Archon sci-fi convention, like Sophie and I held there a couple of years back in October, which might get a few more people involved.