A record breaking evening it was! 8 gallons of tea, which by all estimations is 150 cups. All the regulars showed up, and many newcomers, led by eager tea-sipping friends and the barrage of craigslist ads placed in the free section every month since the beginning of November. People were so happy and so sad. Tuesday Tea has become such a norm here that many people have come to rely upon it as a place to connect with friends, new and old, as a place where ideas and troubles can be shared, and as a place to escape the constant hum of Humboldt’s evening-time social scene, which is driven in large part by alcohol and drugs.
Partly because of experiences in Arcata, the Free Tea Party has held in high regards the idea of hosting a substance free atmosphere. It is not just because I like to create an alternative atmosphere wherever I serve tea, but because I strongly believe in the late Ken Kesey’s words when he said that we can have that heightened experience of life without drugs. I believe that the action of sipping tea is the physical representation of several ideals: creating meaningful personal connections, building a healthy community, finding a certain sense of inner peace, and sharing valuable knowledge and ideas. And hopefully the sum of these parts can help create a better world. This is the path of FTP, and it is not tied to drug use.
Unfortunately this last Tuesday Tea Party ended up with more drugs and alcohol that I would have hoped. I wasn’t too concerned when a few people had slipped some whiskey in their tea, as it was the last scheduled tea party, which meant it was kind of a going away party for Edna and I. However, as the night progressed, and it got more and more hectic, people kept asking me to sip their tea, and I would. Not expecting whiskey, and not wanting whiskey made my taste buds shudder and made me a little upset that this many people were sipping whiskey.
However, the tipping point in some of my frustrations was the next day when I was informed that not only were several people on magic mushrooms, but a friend actually sold some to a random guy in front of my bus. I am absolutely blown away that people would bring obviously unwanted energy to a tea party – and a friend at that. It is not only the ideals and the path of FTP that were threatened, but also the fact that FTP operates on a ground up, grass-roots level where police can hassle us or shut us down for the smallest thing.
To bring drugs into the scene makes me feel like those people don’t want free tea parties, or appreciate free tea parties, especially since everyone knows I host substance free events. I can’t ever be too concerned with whether or not people come to a tea party on drugs or alcohol, as I don’t have any control over it, but what I can be concerned with is whether or not people are doing or selling drugs within the vicinity of a tea party. If people are doing these things, I will ask them to stop, or else they will be asked to leave. And I don’t want to exclude anyone, so please, come without drugs and alcohol.