The past week has been filled with some fun tea parties, from Laguna Beach to San Clemente to Santa Ana. I’ve been trying to fulfill my promise to myself to serve tea more often (at least once/week) amongst all my duties and (good) distractions at The Ecology Center. It’s been good to get drawn so nicely into a place, and participate in the vision there, but I keep coming back to the need to fulfill my path and vision.
Thursday, July 3rd was Laguna Beach’s monthly First Thursday Art Walk, where shops and galleries open up for a crowd of folks wandering the streets. I love showing up and serving tea at art walks because people are open to new experiences at events like these. To top it off, Edna and I had the help of two of the best tea helpers around – Ally and our friend visiting from San Juan Island, Amanda. We found a great spot amongst the busy-ness of downtown Laguna Beach. The evening was a wonderful collection of folks, from known friends to new ones. A great live band was playing on the street, which convinced us to dance on the sidewalk. We were blessed with the voice of a fellow named Trice from Las Vegas, who sang a beautiful variety of songs – one of which so perfectly fit the tone of the conversation and tea party vibe, that we all requested a way to get a copy from him.
The next day was the 4th of July. We had meant to arrive early at T Street (a surf/beach spot that we could serve tea at and watch the San Clemente fireworks), but when we arrived in early afternoon, there was no way we could find parking amongst the madness. We tried the San Clemente Pier with the same results. Finally we found parking, but it wasn’t a space we could serve tea. I was totally dismayed by the hours of searching for parking, and the overall vibe of excessive alcohol consumption, trash, and debauchery. I almost called it quits and left.
In a last attempt to make do with the circumstance, I decided that we should just set up a rug, cushions, and more in a patch of grass along the main sidewalk to and from the beach. Along with the help of Ally and Amanda, and other wonderful local friends Jeff and Mari, we created a nice little tea zone.
The overall experience was a mixed bag of good and bad. It was really nice for me to see the simplicity of serving tea, even without the bus, as having a positive effect on tea-sippers. People were receptive, thankful, inspired, and happy. On another note, the level of disrespect and ridiculous behavior from many folks there for the fireworks was absolutely astonishing. There was a fight. There were many, many folks yelling, “’Murika, F*ck yeah!” as they guzzled beer – at least one of them throwing a beer can at the tea zone. One woman wore a shirt that kind of summed up the mindset: “Let’s get Red, White, and Wasted.” I couldn’t believe how many people actually showed up to be a part of this, and not to mention to bring their kids there. Yet, once again, despite the amount of energy it takes to serve tea at a place like this, the people who showed up for tea, and took the tea zone as a place of respite, made it all worth it.
On Monday July 7th, Edna and I were invited to Saddleback College in Mission Viejo to serve some tea and give a lecture to an anthropology class. My lecture was a historical look at the evolution of resource sharing in human history from gifting and sharing, to reciprocal altruism, to debt, barter, money, and all the way to taking or benefitting from other people’s needs or misfortunes. We all sipped tea while talking. Spending a lot of time over the years talking about, reading about, and practicing a gift economy, and other alternative economies prepared me for formulating a lecture on the subject. For the couple weeks leading up to this lecture, I spent a bit of time researching and solidifying this course of history, how it relates to the world today, as well as to the tea bus. The lecture went super well and people were receptive, inspired, and eager to talk more about it. I feel like this opportunity has only solidified my desire to learn more and share that knowledge with others through teaching and potentially writing.
Yesterday Ally, Edna, and I drove up to Santa Ana to serve tea at the Farmers’ Market. A new friend Kerri, who runs the market, asked us to come and make tea for the people. I’ve had differing reactions and perspectives from Market managers, but being invited to a market is refreshing. Kerri lined up a spot for us amongst an intersection of the market, which was a perfect place. The market is fairly new, so the first half was a little slow. As things picked up, more people came by for tea. Overall, I was actually a little surprised how few people stopped by for tea. But the people who did stop by, were excited, inspired, and we had some great conversations. There were also photos being taken for the next issue of Natural OC – a new eco-publication in Orange County – as well as for Nest Magazine. Keep your eyes on our In The News Page or on Facebook for links to these.
It has been pretty incredible for the tea bus to operate in a place like Orange County. Despite the reputation that this place has, so many people love the tea bus. Everywhere we go people know us, and are excited to interact. Thank you, Orange County!