Islands’ Village Faire and ‘On Peace’ – Friday Harbor, WA

Tea Camp

25 gallons of free tea!!! That means 500 cups of tea in one weekend! I think that’s a new record. I even got to try out my new parabolic solar water heater that I finished building there at the fair. It didn’t work quite as well as I had hoped, but it got my water hot enough for tea in a little over an hour and a half. It still needs some more experimentation. My dear friend Tea also set up a hair-cutting station in our side zone, which made it Tea and Free Tea (People jokingly asked if Tea was really in jail when they saw the “FREE TEA” sign).

I had been away from the Islands for longer than I ever had since I moved there when I was six. It is amazing how great it is to see people you grew up around, even if you didn’t really know or care for them. Spending time among people is what builds bonds, knowingly or not, wantonly or not, which is why it was so great to see everyone who is part of the Island community – my community. Even though I am a nomad, I know that I can go back to this place anytime and it is still home.

Tea giving me a haircut

On another note about communities and the characters therein, I also realized how amazing it is to see all the different characters in my community that fill the archetypes for characters in other communities I visit. Not every community has every type of person, but you can be sure that there are certain roles that almost every community has, and it is fun to link in my mind people from my hometown community with people I meet in other communities. It is perhaps this recognition of character types (not to generalize or say that the similarities are rigid or exact) that makes me feel like I already know so many of the strangers that I meet along the way.

Even though I grew up here on San Juan, there are always more people to meet, which was great this weekend. The side zone that the tea bus has created this and last year is a good break from the central activities and music, which brings people by casually and often.  It is also fun to share the Free Tea Party with people who know me as a certain person when I left the Island, but has evolved into who I am now, eight years after I moved away.

Tea Zone

It was a weekend of mixed emotions, knowing that this was a great celebration for local people, goods, and music, but also knowing that it was going to be the last on this piece of property with it being turned into a housing development. What started out as a good idea from the San Juan Community Home Trust for affordable housing with solar panels and on site natural waste water treatment, many people believe has turned sour. For latest developments (pun intended) on this matter from the SJCHT, please see their news page here. It is not my place to say whether this is a good or bad things, as there are merits in both developing affordable housing and keeping a beautiful homestead and community gathering area intact.

On Peace:
I figured that with the picture above being the photo for this blog entry, I might as well write up a short piece on peace. I usually try not to be too blatant with messages of such. It seems to be more effective to show rather than tell. When we try to tell someone that peace is the right way, they are less likely to listen. But when they see that peace is the right way, it is obvious. On another note, I don’t wish to convince people that peace is their path, only that it is my path and the path of the Free Tea Party, and written below is why. While talking about peace we must also remember that peace isn’t just a political term used on a national and international context, it is also can be on a personal level (inner peace), family level, and community level.

Solar hot water heater

It is always a wonder how someone can not want peace. Who wouldn’t want to feel comfortable with who they are (inner peace)? Who wouldn’t want to be able to communicate effectively with their family and friends? Who wouldn’t want all peoples and nations to interact without violence?

I guess I ask these questions not only to you, but to myself as well. My answers – There must be people out there who would rather punch someone for bumping into them on the street than accept a simple apology. There must be people out there who would rather make a buck than think of someone else’s life.

Why do these kinds of people exists? One answer is that studies have shown people who have grown up with less frontal lobe development (from lack of freedom, always being told what to do, etc) are more likely to be violent or lash out without using the benefits of the frontal lobe (rational thought, ability to read people and social interactions – i.e. the ability to make good decisions). Certain misbehaviors can also be linked to traumatic and unpleasant events and upbringings. Going deeper, we can also look at things like herd mentality. When looking at the trials of the Nazis, one finds that many people allowed themselves to commit atrocities not only because it was ordered, but because it was accepted. We all make up stories and reasons in our head as to why what were doing is right, even if we deep down know it is wrong.

Yet, I also believe that there are people who are not peaceful on purpose. Often times people consider money, power, family, and other things over peace.  Is it more moral to use violent means to feed your starving family than to let them starve, if those are your only options? I can’t answer that. And because these type of situations are few and far between, I am not going to address them. But, what I will address is putting money or power over peace.

Edna on the ferry

I do think that many people who want power have created a story in their head that they are going to bring about peace or goodness for many people (including themselves and their family). However, I think oftentimes this story can get warped. I’ve seen the power of money turn people I know into ego-trippers. I’ve seen people who make a lot of money get inebriated with the idea that they can make more and more and be in charge of more people and never stop, even at the limits they set for themselves earlier on – limits which seem to gradually get farther and farther along down the road of selfishness the more money that is made. What does this have to do with peace? It is the same with people in political and economic power. When profits and power seems so real and pleasurable, people will disregard their workers, citizens, environment, and even other countries workers, citizens, and environments.

It is only in inequity (or a perception of inequity) that non-peaceful means of communication and interaction exist.

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