OccupyTogether

Creating Sacred Space at your local Occupation


This document was drafted by members of the Occupy Boston Faith and Spirituality Group, as a contribution to the greater Occupy Movement: a resource to those who wish to establish a Sacred Space at their local occupation. We have summarized what we’ve learned and developed through our process here in Boston. Please feel free to share, modify, and use the contents of this document for any non-commercial purpose related to the Occupy Movement. This document will be hosted and updated on the Occupy Boston wiki. Please contact occupybostonspirituality@gmail.com with any questions/comments/etc. There is also a Facebook page, “Occupy Together - Sacred Space Hosts” which was established to help us connect and share ideas.

Thank you for the work you are doing. “We are the ones we were waiting for.”


Table of Contents
Introduction (what and why)
Occupy Boston Faith and Spirituality Group Mission Statement
materials/elements of space
Communication Systems
Scheduling
Sacred Space Host
Sacred Space Guidelines
Faith and Spirituality Group Meeting - Regular Agenda Items
Regular GA announcement
Faith & Spirituality Notebook Contents

Other Considerations
Other regular things to do



Introduction (what and why)


We are being moved to establish and maintain a Sacred Space (meditation space, quiet space, call it what you may) on the grounds of our local occupations in order to help keep all those nearby rooted in a place of love and compassion. This Occupy movement is uniting the most incredible diversity of individuals across the far (and very far) ends of the artificial and inadequate political spectrum, brought together by a common discontent with the status quo. With all of the intense emotions that fly around such a volatile community, and under the gravity of our collective predicament, people appreciate having a comfortable and calming beautiful place to decompress, sit, meditate, pray, cry, chant, stretch, lay down or read a mystical or sacred text (or engage in any number of other practices) in order to reconnect with their source of divine energy, as they understand it. Additionally, those who pick up the mantle of caretakers of this space are engaging in a continual practice of mindfulness, service and compassion in action. They are then able to carry this calming and joyful energy out into the greater population of the Occupy community and help to deflate and transmute tense and possibly violent situations with calm, compassion, and reason.

To appreciate these efforts through a cosmic lens: The Occupy movement can be viewed as a punctuation or catalyst of a rapid transformation which has been underway for some time. This has been foretold and informed by the ancient prophecies and wisdoms of many indigenous and mystical traditions. We are now charged with a heightened responsibility of being conscious of our thoughts and actions. Everything we think and do has an affect on those around us and in turn influences the path we will take as a human family. We are entering deeper into a time frame which can be understood as a choice point, where our thoughts and intentions have an increasing impact with a decreasing response time. We have a choice, right now, between existing in a state of Fear, or remaining grounded in a state of Love - and this will be the key deciding factor determining our shared route towards ultimate Unity with the whole of our species; a path which leads us either through a revolution of consciousness, or to an end of mutual destruction. Things are flowing faster and faster as we are reaching that choice point, and the nature of our thoughts and actions in this time will determine how well we make it through the surging river running past us.

According to wisdom provided in a quote commonly attributed to the Hopi, (but which may come from elders of another indigenous nation):


"There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate."

We are the ones we've been waiting for.” Let us celebrate.

Those that wish to see us fail do so by seeding division, hatred, and anger; all which are rooted in fear. One radically profound thing we can do to foil this trickery is to establish a Sacred Space for us all to come together and generate an expanding field of Universal Love.

May these words resonate, evolve, and spread through our collective consciousness.

In Lak'ech A La K'in (I am another yourself!)
Occupy Boston Faith and Spirituality Group


Below you will find a list of logistical considerations and suggestions developed through the establishment of a Sacred Space over two weeks at Occupy Boston. This is intended to serve as a living document and resource for all those in the Occupy movement and beyond, who wish to establish a Sacred Space as a service to their community, and by extension, our species and planet.


Occupy Boston Faith and Spirituality Group - Mission Statement:


The Occupy Boston Faith and Spirituality Group seeks to establish an atmosphere of inclusiveness and peace in the environment of Occupy Boston. Its members are committed to welcoming all individuals, while promoting and cultivating the diversity that exists between various religious, faith, and spiritual traditions. Through the establishment of the Sacred Space tent, the group provides participants with a place to decompress in the midst of a chaotic and sometimes stressful atmosphere. Its members are here to serve participants in roles such as facilitators, spiritual guides and mediators. Through the scheduling of workshops, ceremonies, spiritual practices and religious services, the group not only seeks to provide participants with vital opportunities for spiritual growth but it also hopes to cultivate increased awareness and participation in Occupy Boston on the part of the local spiritual community. All are welcome in the group and encouraged to join in the community that we've established at Dewey Square!


materials/elements of space:

-structure: In Boston we built a solid semi-permanent structure with 2x4s and tarps. We are in the process of designing a more robust and easily constructed/deconstructed structure using PVC, with the possibility of being winterized. These plans will be made available in the near future.
-pallets covered with plywood/corrugated plastic to provide a platform off of the ground (away from cold/water)
-tarps (to cover the ground, if no pallets)
-blankets (lots) for padding
-sitting pillows
-tapestries
-prayer flags and other beautiful fabrics
-yoga mats (for yoga and as padding)
-those foam puzzle piece things!
-LED tea candles (best not to have open flames!)
-incense and incense burner
-ritualized sound instruments (chimes, drums, singing bowls, gongs, etc...)
-pieces of wood covered in decorative cloth to serve as altars in center of room (easy to pick up/clean)
-assortment of sacred objects and books (provided organically by community)
-bookshelf to keep books off of ground, with translucent plastic bag to cover when intense rain
-sealable box to keep items in (when taking down altar to clean, etc)
-calendar of events! (weekly on large piece of cardboard facing out so passersby can see it)
-inspiring spiritual quotes relevant to resistance/activism
-indicate direction of Mecca and keep that corner clear!
*a note about religious icons and symbols: In Boston we decided that all expressions of the Goddesses/Gods, prophets, avatars, Ascended Masters, Saints, enlightened beings and magical/sacred symbols and totems would get along just fine together on the altars. We also used the symbol of the Flower of Life on the roof/tarp of our structure (towards the sky!), as a universal symbol of creation and the Sacred (Sacred Geometry).



Communication Systems


It's a good idea to establish a Facebook/Google group or mailing list to connect all parties concerned with matters of Faith and Spirituality at the occupation. This is a great way to incubate ideas and funnel resources and people to the space. It is also good to have an email address for the group that others can use to communicate with the planning collective. In the case of a facebook group, there is an email address that will post to the group, which is useful. Otherwise, a more traditional list-serve or google group would be sufficient, as long as people not on the list can send to the list (moderation may also be another element that has to be considered). The on-the-ground collective will gather contact info for planning meeting attendees and they will be invited to the online planning group. It is also very important to have a point person (or two) with regular access to the online planning group. This person's number should be available to the on-the-ground collective and especially the Sacred Space Hosts so that they can call to synchronize calendars and communicate other updates.

Scheduling:

They key here is having communication between the online collective and the fluid and ever-changing on-the ground collective present at the occupation, as they may not have regular internet access. At the very least, there must be daily communication between the online and on-the-ground collectives in order to synchronize calenders (so that everyone knows what's going on and to minimize double-booking) and to share other updates/needs/etc. A group document or iCalendar shared by the online group will serve to help populate scheduling for the sacred space on that end. Additionally, a physical calendar on site will be filled in by people making their own offerings. This may lead to double-booking, but in order to minimize this issue, we must be sure to synchronize the calendars on a daily basis. The events calendar for the sacred space should be updated regularly with a manager of the main website of the occupation.

Sacred Space Host


Making sure the space always has a host is a most important challenge to organizing a sacred space. Someone needs to be here, not only for safety purposes, but to maintain a positive energy and welcoming atmosphere. Remember to constantly ask people if they would like to be a host, pass the sign-up sheet around at daily meeting, and bring it up during regular group announcement at the GA. A given host should call the next person on the list if they are late, and find someone to replace them if they do not show up. It is a good idea to have an "on call" list of people that may be able to fill in a gap if the need be. There should always be a host in the sacred space.

1. BE THERE.

All kinds of stuff can happen, so it’s very important simply for someone to be there and take
responsibility for the space. As we know, anything could change radically at our campsite any
day. They could tell us to pack up all of a sudden, so we would need someone to make sure all
the lovely books and sacred items in the tent are saved. Whoever is signed up as host during
the night should sleep in the tent. They should be aware that they may have to get up
suddenly to assist someone or alert safety crews of a disturbance.

2. Act as liaison between the Faith and Spirituality Group and other groups.

3. Remind people of sacred space guidelines: especially no food, shoes, smoking or stressful discussion

4. Be available to people at the tent

a. People who wish to pray/mediate/rest/whatever―Really, this is the primary
purpose for which the space was created. You might be surprised just how many people use
our space for meditation, prayer, and reflection. Welcome them in! If they look confused,
explain what the tent is and why it was made, and invite them to reflect, pray, or meditate as
they wish. Also, point them to the literature spread out in the tent.

b. Curious passersby―Lots of people walk in from the street or while they tour the camp site on their lunch break. Welcome them in, too! In no small way, the sacred space tent acts as an outreach center for Occupy Boston, showing people that this is a movement with a soul – one that not only shouts and marches but also sings and sits and reflects. Looking at the tent, people can see the depth to which we aspire in this movement. Represent it! Also, don’t hesitate to allow tourists of the campsite to take pictures of our sacred space, provided they are not disrupting the activities inside. It is one of the most picturesque parts of the camp and makes for great publicity for our cause.

d. Possible worship/workshop facilitators―Some visitors to the tent come because they are looking for someone to talk to about giving a workshop or leading a meditation session or worship service. Point them to the sign-up sheets at the back entrance of the tent and encourage them to write in their event in one of the empty slots. Also, it would be a good idea to take note of the person’s name, the event they want to run, and the date and time and relay this information to the contact person with the online planning collective, so they can put it on the Faith and Spirituality Group schedule.

e. People wishing to sleep in the sacred space tent―We decided as a group that no more than three people should sleep in the tent, including the host, and only between the hours of midnight and 8:30 am. We want to keep the space available for anyone that wants to use it at any hour of the day or night. If someone is in distress, of course, we shouldn't turn them away. This will be at the discretion of the host. However, if the host finds that someone is taking away space needed by people who wish to use the space for meditation or reflection, then they may kindly refer them to Logistics, who could help them find another place to sleep.

f. Reporters― If you feel up to it, this is a great chance to give a voice to this movement and to represent its spiritual core. This is, of course, up to the host.

5. Take care of the sacred space tent, meaning…
a. Clean and reorganize the space, each morning and as needed. Shake out the blankets, sweep the floor as needed, rearrange signs that may have blown around, dust and re-arrange the altars.
b. At the end of each day (i.e. when you go to sleep), turn off the electronic candles (no need to waste energy), pick up the books and other things that might blow away or that you are afraid might get wet, and put them in the red tub and green box.
c. On a windy day, make sure things (books, carpets, little trinkets, etc.) don’t blow away.
d. Ensure the structural integrity of the space. Seek assistance from logistics as needed.

6. Other things to know about stuff in the tent
a. The red tub―This is where most of the stuff goes when you pack up the tent for the night. Also, on a rainy night or a particularly rainy day, please pack up some of the carpets and put them into or on top of the tub. And put the tub in the center of the tent, in order to keep them dry. Use your discretion as to when this is necessary.
b. The green box―This is where some of the smaller stuff goes, like the electronic candles, pens, etc. The Faith and Spirituality Notebook (with contact numbers) is kept in the green box.

7. Each day at 6:30 pm, whoever is the host should contact the online liaison to synchronize calendars and share other updates. Whoever has been designated to deliver evening GA announcements will want to check this updated calendar before they do so!




Sacred Space Guidelines

the Faith and Spirituality Group has adopted the following guidelines for use of the Sacred Space these guidelines are posted at both entrances to the space

Respect others and the space
Remove shoes
Finish food outside
Be mindful when speaking: words carry vibration so please keep it positive!
Minimize conversations (unless otherwise agreed) and limit cellphone use/texting, etc.
Bring items to help co-create this sacred space!
(tapestries, pieces of nature, incense, photos, totems, other beautiful/sacred objects)
Do not leave personal items in the space. Anything left is to be considered an offering to the space.
*So as to provide access to the space, no more than 3 people, including host, should sleep in the space, and only between the hours of midnight and 8:30 am, or at the discretion of the Host.



Faith and Spirituality Group Meeting - Regular Agenda Items


Daily Meetings at Noon
30 second moment of silence
introductions/go-arounds (pass around contact sheet - in back of F&S notebook)
review notes from last meeting - open action items, what did/didn't get done?
new proposals (scheduling, events, improvements, logistics, etc.)
synchronize schedule with offsite scheduling (designate someone to call/connect with online planning group)
pass around Sacred Space Host schedule sign-up sheet - ask for on-call hosts, too.
plan nightly GA announcements
30 second moment of silence



Regular GA announcement

Each day, someone from the F&S group should make a group announcement including the following:

Intro to F&S group: keeping the movement rooted in Love
Welcome everyone to share the space, to sit, meditate, pray, sing, stretch, chant whatever you do to reconnect and find balance.
Review tonight's and tomorrow's schedule
Invite others to offer workshops/teachings/discussions
meeting each day at noon to plan for caring and improvement of space
help needed! - Hosts to care for space and keep watch for the community
plug Facebook group/mailing list for online communication (people are watching online!)
blessings



Faith & Spirituality Notebook, Contents:

Notebook kept in a box in the space

Sacred Space Host position description, call list and sign-up sheet (in 3 hour blocks, 24 hours a day)
Past meeting agendas, attendance, notes and action items
Group contact list (new people sign up at each meeting!)


Other considerations:


Make sure that from day 1 we use open and inclusive language (not favoring any one particular spiritual path)
Constantly invite the community at Occupy to enjoy, co-create and contribute to the space.
The planning collective will have to decide whether people can store their stuff or sleep in the Sacred Space (in Boston, we decided that people should not store their personal belongings there, and that no more than 3 people, including the Host, should sleep in the space, and only between the hours of midnight and 8:30 am.)



Other regular things to do:


Engage in outreach to faith and spirituality communities, both to bring in people and workshops/services
Document the sacred space! Pictures! Blogs! Media! Twitter! Put out the word about the good work we are doing.
Add new folks on the physical contact list (passed around at daily meetings) to the online group.
The events calendar for the sacred space should be updated regularly with a manager of the main website of the occupation. This is something that can be done by a member of the online planning collective.

[this is the end of the first draft of this document - let's keep it growing!]