It's taken me a few weeks to digest a question I've been living with: "What just happened?" It was a two-and-a-half day whirlwind of positive energy and happiness sprinkling of love, peace and community. An outstanding example of how 2,800 people can come together in sincerely supportive community. It was hectic and overwhelming at times, and joyful and inspiring at others.
"It" was the yearly World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon, instigated by author and world traveler Chris Guillebeau.
As I'm approaching my book launch for Confessions of a Middle-Aged Hippie, I've been sharing with people that we are all hippies at heart. People often turn up their nose and say emphatically, "I'm not a hippie." I smile. I'm talking less about hippie in a lifestyle sense, and more about hippie at a core value sense. Then it struck me. The people who come to WDS are the hippies of this generation.
The WDS credo of "community, adventure and service" is this generation carrying forward the values the hippies birthed back in the '60s. Hippies were considered counterculture revolutionaries who stood for peace, love and changing the world for the better. Radical at the time. WDSers stand for living remarkable lives in a conventional world and being of service, as they lovingly plot their world changing. Hippies were known to live alternative lifestyles. Many WDSers definitely live alternative lifestyles. People from all over the world, (who may even live in many places in the world in one year), converge for this weekend of sharing and connection.
Hippies stood for the very values that are currently part of the popular conversation. Do you live from a place of gratitude, include music and art in your life, and get that being in community and being of service, are fulfilling why we all are here? You are a hippie. Do you meditate, do yoga and continue to do inner transformational work? You are a hippie. Are you a seeker, exploring spirituality and contributing to being a co-creator for a conscious planet? You are a hippie. Or maybe you value organic living and sustainability and are compassionate and show reverence to all living creatures. You are a hippie. At the core of who we are as human beings...we are all hippies.
As I reflected a bit more, I began to see that WDS is a mini return to the "summer of love." The 1967 convergence on the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco of up to 100,000 people, is credited for initiating a major cultural and political shift in the world. It was a revolutionary time indeed, with the energy and excitement of the era translated to the world in many ways, most memorably through the music of the times.
At WDS, music and collective group energy was alive, as we took over the zoo for our love-in opening party. We took over a zoo! 2,800 of us sitting in the open amphitheater Woodstock style, spread out on the grass, dancing, talking and connecting, as we were being entertained by MarchFourth, a colourful marching band whose outfits are a throwback to the Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band attire.
Back in the '60s, we lived sharing music and art when coming together in community. Today, WDSers have the power to spread both the individual and group message and energy to millions of people worldwide in a matter of seconds via technology. And they do. One of my unexpected favourite speakers this year was Jia Jiang whose "rejection therapy" talk demonstrated how powerful and positive stepping outside your comfort zone for fear of being rejected can be, as it often produces the most incredible life affirming results.
For me, the interesting paralleling of the '60s to now, is actually written in the heavens. Back in the mid-'60s, Uranus (planet of revolution, rebellion and sudden change) was conjunct Pluto (planet of transformation, rebirth and breaking with tradition), igniting an inescapable time-release charge of radical transformation in culture and individuals. Before this time, the human potential for enlightenment of "all people" had been reserved for an occasional saint or guru. Back then, this taste of expanded consciousness germinated a cultural seed, giving birth to a new kind of individual. Suddenly it became an expansive possibility for everyone, and hippies were the first to get that. Right-on.
In my understanding of astrology, what happened during the conjunction of Uranus and Pluto in the '60s, would manifest globally as soon as these two planets reached their first square. If you haven't heard, we are in a period where we are experiencing seven exact squares of Uranus and Pluto, starting in 2012 and ending in 2015! Supercharged times of revolutionary and sudden transformational changes at the core of both individuals and institutions. Where have you felt this in your own life?
People often wonder where have all the hippies gone? They became lawyers who sued for protecting air and water quality and for damages from chemical pollution. They began changing the world by starting companies that produced products that were Earth-friendly, ecologically-sound, technologically advanced and socially conscious. I see Portland as a progressive hub of this energy, still alive and flourishing. And it is spreading out into the world at gatherings of people like the World Domination Summit.
An ageless example of what WDS stands for, was the talk given by 84-year-old Bob Moore, founder of "Bob's Red Mill", as his deep understanding of the value of working in community was reflected in his "Put people before profit. Share with those who helped you build it." This consciousness allowed this visionary Aquarian, to give the company to his employees, handing it over to them on his 81st birthday. Cool.
For those of us who were at WDS who actually lived in the '60s and got to be part of this shift in consciousness, it is incredible to see, what was known to a relative few worldwide back then, is now alive and part of the big earth shifts. Consciousness and spirituality are embraced as part of who we are. Yoga is done by millions of men and women everywhere daily, and meditation is encouraged for inner peace, which is the only place world peace can emanate from. Creativity is the new keyword in education and business and life. Connection and person-to-person sharing are still alive, even in a technological world that is often credited with creating isolation.
This is the real reason people come to Portland each July, to meet face to face with amazing people they want to connect with. WDS is a strong and powerful community. It is a growing community. It is for people of all ages, all ethnicities, from all walks of life. It is a love-in, a peace-in and a groovy way to spend a few days in absolutely, awesomely inspiring company. Power to the people. Until next year's return to the "summer of love." Peace Out.
Love to hear what "hippie values" you live in your life!
Visit me at: www.beverleygolden.com
Images of MarchFourth and Bob Moore, courtesy of Armosa Studios