Sunday, June 06, 2010

Meetinghouse Benefit


:: multnomah friends benefit concert ::

Elizabeth Fischer's Program Committee worked in the wings on this for several months. Lindsey lined up the bands, orchestrated a meal. Facebook was a primary outlet for news of this benefit, along with the Multnomah Friends newsletter.

Seeing some empty seats, we at first wondered if the event had been promoted sufficiently. The car hitting Lindsey had ripple effects, cut into her schedule. However, the chairs filled. A few more had to be added.

Crystal, our emcee and member of the KBOO community, took a poll as to about how many of us knew one another (about four average), plus passed out paper so we could diagram our interconnections.

With about 45 present, we netted about $450, which was in keeping with the $10 requested donation. Thanks to a matching donation from a benefactor, the total funds raised was $1,422.

After the conversation and a vegan-organic meal (with a robust chicken soup option), some tea, coffee, and cookies (apple cobbler), we adjourned upstairs for the acoustic portion of the program.

One of the best and most effective parts of the evening was when the two speakers from Sisters of the Road traded stories about what's happening in Old Town. The dire straits we're going through have resulted in an overwhelming demand for direct services. People want mail, basic grooming items, as well as food and shelter. These resources are being denied to citizens and non-citizens alike on ideological grounds.

The camping and sidewalk laws are becoming more strict, as fewer people take control of public spaces and their governance.

Those accepting state funds to apply bandaid solutions must as a result somewhat surrender their critical voices as participants in democracy (like NPR). Not being private sector, they don't enjoy the rights of corporate personhood, such as the big businesses do.

Sisters, being privately funded as a restaurant and coffee shop, is closer to having a free voice than most, and so addresses many issues more directly than other agencies feel able to.

Walking Home was doing a last performance at least for awhile, and drew a lot of friends. Their sound was fantastic, even though one girl had a sore throat. She felt safe letting us know, and sang brilliantly anyway. They both used cellos adroitly -- percussively as well as for strings. Their guitar was strong too. You could call these folk songs, at least one from a coal town union worker. Some were original.

Rachael Taylor Brown performed a sweetly macabre set, which the audience truly got and appreciated. She gave some funny insights regarding superheros having grumpy relatives, with a segue back to the saints, who used to more dominate the literature, before Marvel came along. She sang about St. Zoe, treated badly, and warned Fox-watching Americans against returning to the days of public executions. She sang for the deceased Joe.

Rachael played the somewhat out-of-tune piano expertly. Her male accompaniment and instrumentalist was great at harmonizing while her sister, a known figure on the Portland opera scene, joined in on a couple of choruses.

Lindsey Walker took us out with Meal Tickets and Hugs, new for this occasion. She followed with a new love song, then Fear of Flying, ending with Freedom Train. The summer night sky had finally darkened. Sonya, Harriet, Elizabeth and other Friends worked hard as stagehands during setup and teardown.

Lindsey had cooked up a storm at the Blue House earlier, biking her food to the meetinghouse with Trey's trailer. Mom, Tara, Liana and I went to the meetinghouse by 75 bus and came home with Deb, who'd been napping, exhausted from some workshop.

At the very start of the program, Lindsey announced that Tara would be giving a physics lecture. The audience wanted to know more, and the topic was narrowed to Kinematics. A venue was negotiated on the fly for later, where some of us later took in a problem from rocket science, having to do with how much higher a capsule would go against gravity even after the fuel had been spent.

I captured some of this performance with my cigarette-case sized camera (we used the classroom with the Dymaxion Map in it).

Quakers appreciate simplicity and plain speech, both conducive to truth-telling and getting the problems well defined. The Q&A with the audience was most enlightening to all present. No one was wasting anyone else's time, in my experience.

Dr. Nick Consoletti was able to take a few moments out to join us. He's excited by some of the new ferment at PSU (more later).

Hello to John Driscoll etc. (the architect and cross-country cyclist). Thanks to Deb for logging some workshop hours with Tara, who still suffers the after effects of getting hit by that car (in a crosswalk, light in her favor).

I'm not having romantic feelings towards such vehicles. Don't let them fool you with the stereotype: that every North American is car crazy. Only most of them are.