Regional Druid Candidate Responses 2019

The Regional Druids represent the membership of their region, both solitaries and groves.  They are expected to welcome new members to their region, help prospective and new protogroves with challenges they may face, and stay in contact with the members in their region (often by physically traveling).  They are also in charge of mediating complaints that arise in their region before escalating them to the Member’s Advocate. The Regional Druid is a 2 year term, with no term limit.  They are eligible to run for Chief of the Council of Regional Druids (a voting Mother Grove position) after having served as RD for 1 year.

Candidates:

Bios can be found here.

The list of all questions can be found here.

Summary:

  • Canada East:
Brian Larter
no response received
  • Canada West:
Diane Cacciato
Qualifications:

  • Worked as teacher-librarian for 33 years: strong computer/internet skills, excellent research skills, good networking skills
  • Started & administrated two Druid FB groups for Western Canada
  • Europe:
Rev. Ellie Lazzaro
no response received
  • Heartland:
Laura Cottrell Dave Kleinschimdt Victoria Laughlin-Carares
no response received Qualifications:

  • 6 years of experience as a grove officer.
  • Quite a bit of informal Dedicant Program mentoring and answering questions.
  • Over a decade of work on non-profit boards outside of ADF, starting as a teenager.
  • 6 years running conflict management for a Unitarian Universalist congregation.
  • Easy local access to advice and assistance from 3 ADF priests
  • Flexible work schedule allows him to take time off for RD needs
Qualifications:

  • UU Seminary Student – useful in helping to welcome people and uniting them in a regional community within ADF.
  • Customer service – requires prompt, courteous, and clear communication.
  • Northeast:
Echo Summer-Berson
Qualifications:

  • Training is as a librarian – useful for helping individual members and smaller groups by knowing how and where to find resources.
  • Running Social Media for a UU Church
  • Experience as a resident assistant, club founder and president, peer minister, mentor, and teacher.
  • Northwest:
Michael Riley
no response received
  • Southwest:
Rev Gwernin Grove (GR)
no response received
  • Upper Midwest:
Dale Frampton John Lamb
Qualifications:

  • Leading and managing software engineers
  • Work schedule allows him to take time off for RD needs
no response received

Full Responses:


  • Canada East:

    • Brain Larter

no response received


  • Canada West

    • Diane Cacciato

Questions for all Candidates:

What do you consider the role, responsibilities, and requirements of Regional Druid for Western Canada to entail, and how are you uniquely qualified to fill it? Do you have any “day-job” qualifications for the position, and if so what parts do you use most often/benefit ADF the most?

I think the role of RD for western Canada is a unique one, as, I suspect, we have a larger area with fewer Druids than perhaps any other region, including eastern Canada. I believe that the RD in this region needs to help grow small pockets of ADF Druids by disseminating information to centres that currently have no grove, protogrove, or registered solitaries, most likely through metaphysical shops that are willing to post information. At the moment there is only one protogrove in western Canada and one small group in Vancouver that is in the planning stages of their submission. If we can grow the number of solitaries in western Canada, then we can support them if and when they want to begin a protogrove. Even if an area has solitaries with no wish to be part of a grove, I think it is important to create a network between all ADF members – solitary or grove/protogrove members – to support and answer questions as needed. I do not pretend to have all the answers but with a solid network, someone will have the answers to questions posed. I think that I am qualified to do this as I have strong computer/Internet skills. I worked as a teacher-librarian for 33 years before retiring and I have a Masters in librarianship. I am good at researching the answers to questions, and have a long history of helping people find the answers they need. As an educational professional, I networked with other teacher-librarians all over the world. As a member of ADF, I have started and administrated two FB groups for Druids – ADF and otherwise – in our area on the west coast of Canada.

Describe your leadership style, and why it makes you a good choice for your position.

When I think about how I want to be as a leader, I always think of my father. He was a truly humble man who preferred to lead by example and with a gentle hand. Humility is something that I have been working on and I believe that it is essential in a leader. Leaders without humility do what they do in order to raise themselves up at another’s expense and to personally benefit from their leadership. While I think that makes a poor leader in any situation, in a spiritual/religious organization it is doubly destructive. To act as a spiritual or religious leader is to serve, not to receive, or to receive only from the honour of serving. I know that this is a tall order for anyone, but I believe that it is essential to strive towards this goal.

Why are you seeking this office? Why do you love ADF enough to devote substantial time and energy to the organization, and what do you see as the limits and boundaries you would have to place on your involvement?

When I heard that our current RD for western Canada was planning to step down, it seemed to be a good fit for someone on the west coast to become RD as we have the only protogrove in western Canada on Vancouver Island with another one being planned in Vancouver. I am already the GO for the Garry Oak Protogrove and have met with one member of the group planning the new protogrove so I felt that I would be able to fill the role. ADF has become my spiritual home. I am so grateful to have found the answers to questions that I had long been pondering. I strongly believe in inclusivity and I see that everywhere in ADF. Until the time of the Winter Solstice, my husband and I had a small gift store but we have now closed it, and I have more time to devote to this role. I will say that my husband and I spend time in Italy every year (he is Italian and we have a house in Sicily) but we have good Internet there and my computer skills are strong enough that I will have no trouble keeping in touch with ADF members in western Canada. Because I spend time every year operating as a solitary, I think that while this may look like a limitation, it actually will make me a stronger leader.

How will you promote & grow ADF’s commitment to a culture of consent?

Before I retired, I taught a course called Social Justice which had a large unit on consent as part of the curriculum, so it is a topic I am familiar with. I have already taken the course on consent at the Cherry Hill Seminary and led a discussion on consent culture for pagans at the Vancouver Island Pagan Pride 2018. We (Garry Oak Protogrove) will be part of the organizing committee for the Vancouver Island Pagan Pride 2020 and I intend to ask for a policy on consent for the festival. I would like to start a digital newsletter/blog for ADF members in western Canada. One of the topics covered would be consent. Also, I intend to network with the ADF members in Eastern Canada to create a nationwide policy that fits with Canadian law (this is already underway – huge thank you to the Druids in Eastern Canada).

Share your thoughts on the ADF saying “fast as a speeding oak” and why roots are important to you and to the org going forward.

This one is a personal struggle for me as I tend to go running into things headlong – sometimes with good results, sometimes not so good. Since, however, joining ADF and completing my DP in just a year, I have come to realize that sitting with new information and knowledge for a time helps me to understand things more deeply. Also, it has helped me to better understand those who need more time to process. I think that there is a balance to be had between the super speedy (me) and those who move much more slowly and that each has their place in any organization.

Do you believe in the axiom “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”?

Yes and no. In any organization, the needs of the organization must be paramount if it is to serve the needs of its members. If an organization falls apart, it serves no one. Having said that, if an organization does not serve the individual needs of its members, what is the point to the organization at all? To be productive members of any organization, we must have our own needs met. Ideally, any religious or spiritual organization should support members’ needs for self actualization, but if the needs lower on the pyramid are not met, then self actualization is impossible.

Regarding Solitaries (you may answer these separately or as one response):

  • What efforts will you take to improve outreach & engagement for solitary members?
  • How will you support those solitaries working through the DP by strengthening the mentoring program or establishing a virtual grove?
  • With more solitary ADF members, supporting them in their practice may be the most important tasks we face if we want keep them and get new members. What will you do to fix the Mentor program so it can become a robust source of help for anybody who wishes to join ADF, but who is not local to an operating, healthy, teaching grove?

Western Canada is a huge geographical area – almost 3 million square kilometres. It is impossible to travel this massive area on a regular basis so it must be done virtually. I mentioned above that I would like to start a digital newsletter/blog specifically for the ADF members in western Canada. I have already started using my skills as an educator to make worksheets for our protogrove members working on the DP that are intended to support TWY and I will, as these are finished, offer them to anyone (western Canada or otherwise) who would like a copy. As for a mentor program, my understanding is that there are probably not enough ADF members in western Canada with a completed DP to be able to support others working their way through it. As such, I think it will be important for me to support solitary members in accessing the Mentor program in ADF. I know that, when I first started in ADF, I requested a mentor but didn’t receive an answer. This is not a complaint – I understand everyone is busy. My problem was that I didn’t know who to contact after that. I believe that it will be my job to advocate for the ADF members in western Canada who may not know where to turn for support.

What sorts of efforts and contributions do you plan on making to the organization if you do *not* win this election?

I will continue to be the GO for my protogrove and to support the new protogrove planned in Vancouver in anyway I can.

Regional Druid:

How do plan to maintain contact with the members in your region and make them feel a part of the larger organization?

I think there needs to be a three pronged approach:
1. The use of social media – i.e. FB, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, etc.
2. The use of an email list for those that do not use social media, and
3. The use of snail mail for those than may not have or wish to have access to a computer or Internet

I believe that there should be contact at least 8 times a year, before each holy day, so that members can at the very least have support in their rituals for those days. Also, a regular check in reminds solitary members that there is support available if they need it.

Finally, if I am chosen to be RD, I will strive to do my best to be a humble and careful leader. If I am not, I will happily do what I can to support whomever is chosen to be RD. What is meant to be, will be.


  • Europe:

    • Rev. Ellie Lazzaro

no response received


Heartland:

    • Laura Cottrell (Lynn Ryn)

no response received

    • Dave Kleinschimdt (Thexalon)

If it is easier for you to read as a separate document, Thex has provided the full list of questions here.

What do you consider the role, responsibilities, and requirements of Heartland Regional Druid to entail, and how are you uniquely qualified to fill it?

The duties of a regional druid as I see them are, in approximate order:
– Help new groves form within the region.
– Help solitaries in the region develop their own personal practice of ADF druidry and ideally connect them to others in the region.
– Ensure established groves and protogroves are running well, and assist them as needed. This includes working with the Member’s Advocate on conflict management and mediation.
– Promote ADF druidry in the region and assist in public outreach efforts.
– Work with the Council of Regional Druids in the running of ADF as a whole.

As for my qualifications, I don’t know that I would call them all “unique”, but what I bring to the table:
– 6 years of experience as a grove officer.
– Quite a bit of informal Dedicant Program mentoring and answering questions.
– Over a decade of work on non-profit boards outside of ADF, starting as a teenager.
– 6 years running conflict management for a Unitarian Universalist congregation.
– Thanks mostly to an accident of geography, I have easy local access to advice and assistance from 3 ADF priests, and reside at one of the longest-running sites dedicated to ADF druidry.
– My professional situation as an independent contractor allows me a great deal of flexibility as to when and where I do my work. Time off for travel should not be a problem.
– In the area of promoting ADF druidry, I have an extensive background in performing arts.

Do you have any “day-job” qualifications for the position, and if so what parts do you use most often/benefit ADF the most?

I have no formal training that would specifically qualify me for this role. I’ve in the past held management jobs so I am used to responding to personal conflicts and making difficult decisions, and through my previously non-profit work have had training and experience in mediation techniques.

Describe your leadership style, and why it makes you a good choice for your position.

I tend towards being extremely hands-on and leading by example. I do everything I can to avoid asking others to do that which I am unwilling to do myself, and see leadership as something that should be done in the spirit of service to those being led. That doesn’t mean I avoid delegating when there is someone else better able to handle something (although I will be on hand to lend less-skilled support), but it does mean that once I or the group I’m a part of decides on a course of action, I’m going to aim to be in the trenches making sure that happens, even if it would be easier not to do so.

This approach has served me well in the previous roles I have held both in non-profits and within ADF in particular. Its advantages are that it encourages others to step in and take action, and ensures that even if I’m working alone things are still getting done.

Why are you seeking this office? Why do you love ADF enough to devote substantial time and energy to the organization, and what do you see as the limits and boundaries you would have to place on your involvement?

I was unexpectedly nominated for this office, and after some divination and self-reflection and soul-searching decided I could potentially do the job well. I am not invested in winning the office, but I am willing to do it to the best of my ability if that’s what the voters in the Heartland Region want.

The reason I’m proud to support ADF in whatever capacity I am in is that it provides a form of Indo-European neopaganism that treats our religion, our kindreds, and our members with the seriousness they deserve. It is still relatively young, and suffered some serious setbacks over the years, but when I see 50 people showing up to some of our grove’s rites, 100+ people showing up to festival rites, and members being inspired to create and study and explore, we’re clearly doing something right. I see our strengths as having an open door for anyone to walk in or leave freely (something any religion should have but many forms of paganism do not), organized paths of further study for those who want more than an occasional religious experience, and an organization that can and does set boundaries for what it will and will not tolerate from those that would lead it.

My primary limitation right now is finances: The transition from salaried employee to independent contractor has been a kind of challenge I have not faced before. I am doing my utmost to remedy that, not just for the sake of my own well-being but for the sake of freeing me to think more about the work both inside and outside of ADF. Contributions to the regional druid travel funds would help make this less of an issue for whoever ends up in this office.

How will you promote & grow ADF’s commitment to a culture of consent?

In my current role as a grove leader, I try to both demonstrate and encourage using our words to set and discover boundaries and expectations. We need to revise our idea of the Golden Rule from “do unto them what you would have them do to you.” into “If you don’t know for certain what would be welcome right now, ask them.” We need to make it clear to people of all ages and bodies and colors that their decisions about these sorts of things will be respected, honored, and enforced by the leaders of our community. I have in the past and will continue to intervene if I see any signs that these basic personal boundaries are not being respected, and I ask that others step in if I am failing to live up to those standards so that I can correct my actions.

As a regional druid, part of the responsibility would be hearing reports from any grove members who have experienced harm at the hands of their grove leaders or ADF leaders. While I have had friends who have experienced abuses and affronts to their mind and body, and I have attempted to support them as best as I could, I will admit that I have not been in the position of having someone officially report a problem to me. What I can say is that the principles I work from involve taking any such reports extremely seriously, Apollo has taught me to encourage truths to be told no matter how unpleasant, and I believe that no person is irreplaceable in a leadership role should it come to that. I am also aware that some victims of abuse might not feel comfortable speaking to me about it, in which case I would seek out assistance from someone who they would be comfortable working with more directly.

This work is difficult. It involves telling people who you otherwise liked and respected that they’ve done something wrong, and if necessary taking significant punitive steps towards them. But it must be done if we’re going to create community.

Share your thoughts on the ADF saying “fast as a speeding oak” and why roots are important to you and to the org going forward.

The oak is strong because it does not try to grow too quickly. It is focused, takes its time, and is steady, giving it the chance to adjust what it’s doing as it sorts out through hard experience the best way to grow both root and crown. I have seen this quite directly in the oaks I am growing on my own land. The foundations of ADF – public and private ritual inspired by ancient Indo-European religion, scholarship, high standards in our work, and an avoidance of venerating our leadership too much – are good ones. We should not lose sight of them, and should not aim for the vanity of a giant canopy if the trunk would fall over with a good gust of wind. This principle also suggests that like all trees we must do at least as much unseen work as visible work so that our roots and foundation are capable of supporting the rest.

As for individual ADF folks who have come before me, I aim to honor their wise decisions, undo their mistakes, and hope that through divination and careful discernment I can tell the difference.

Do you believe in the axiom “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”?

It depends on the situation which is the correct course. Even in the film series that this statement was popularized in, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, the very next film in the series (The Search for Spock) focused on how sometimes the opposite is true and the needs of the few or even the one may outweigh the needs of many.

If one or few are being harmed by many, that the few’s need for justice outweighs the desire of those many to avoid punishment or retribution. Likewise, if many are being harmed by few, that need to protect the many from the few outweighs the need of the few to continue doing what they’ve been doing without consequence.

One thing I definitely also factor in is that needs are different from wants. There are many things someone might want that aren’t on the same level as safety, shelter, food, or health. An individual gaining or remaining in a position of power is not something I would consider a need under any circumstances, for any person, including myself.

Regarding Solitaries (you may answer these separately or as one response):

  • What efforts will you take to improve outreach & engagement for solitary members?
  • How will you support those solitaries working through the DP by strengthening the mentoring program or establishing a virtual grove?
  • With more solitary ADF members, supporting them in their practice may be the most important tasks we face if we want keep them and get new members. What will you do to fix the Mentor program so it can become a robust source of help for anybody who wishes to join ADF, but who is not local to an operating, healthy, teaching grove?

I see working with solitary members to be one of the key responsibilities of a regional druid. My goal with members in general is to aid each of them in developing a spiritual practice that works for them and is consistent with the techniques and scholarship that ADF has developed over these several decades. This would likely involve a flurry of contact at the beginning of my term with the 60 or so current solitary members in the Heartland Region, and of course a lot of back-and-forth with new arrivals to the largest “grove” in ADF. As far as the mentoring program goes, I’d expect to be a mentor-of-last-resort for any solitary in my region.

The Heartland Region is home to two long-standing ADF festivals, Summerlands and Wellspring. I would want to see what I could do to help solitaries in particular attend at least part of one of these events, in no small part so they can get to know other ADF people, see and participate in large-scale ritual, and in general get much more connected to the organization in person than a video ritual can do.

One thing I’ve been doing some work on that I think may help our solitary members is providing a more robust pre-Dedicant Program that helps solitary folks get into the practice of ADF druidry without necessarily going through all the steps of the DP by providing more specific instructions than the DP tends to do. I have regularly found on the adf-dedicants email list and FB group questions along the lines of “Well, I’ve signed up, now what?”, and while it is true that the books and the essays will help you develop a depth of understanding, there is no substitute for opening the gates and making offerings. I would rather our new solitary members fumble through Core Order rituals they may not completely understand until it becomes easier and more meaningful than get so bogged down in the books that they don’t end up doing ritual at all.

Lastly, as a regional druid I would be looking for areas where there were enough solitary members close enough together and far enough from other groves to make it worth getting them together and seeing if a study group and/or protogrove would be in order.

What sorts of efforts and contributions do you plan on making to the organization if you do *not* win this election?

If the winner of the election wants me to be their deputy, I am happy to assist them as they direct me. If not, I will continue serving as my grove treasurer, chip in as seems appropriate to the activities of the Bardic Guild and Hellenic Kin, and put more energy into my music and poetry in the hopes that that will help other members in their spiritual work.

How do plan to maintain contact with the members in your region and make them feel a part of the larger organization?

I would expect to be in electronic contact with every single solitary member and senior druid in the region on something like semi-annual basis.

I would be aiming to visit each grove and protogrove in the region at least once during my 2-year term, as well as stopping in to meet in person with study groups that could potentially be interested in forming groves. The exact order and timing of the the trips would of course be subject to host availability, funds, and weather, but I’m generally thinking in terms of an eastern trip covering the portions of NY and PA in the region, a western trip through IN and western OH, and a southern trip through TN, KY, and WV. Long-distance driving is not too difficult for me.

  • Victoria Laughlin-Carares

What do you consider the role, responsibilities, and requirements of [the office you are running for] to entail, and how are you uniquely qualified to fill it?

I see the role of the Regional Druid to be one of the first points of contact within a region. The RD welcomes new members, both solitaries and grove members, to the region. I also see the RD as a mediator between groves if necessary. The Regional Druid should be a person that can also unite the region as a community within ADF.

I consider myself to be a very welcoming person, and so I will do my best to welcome all new members to the region. Since I am a solitary, I will act as a point person for other solitaries within the Heartland region. I am also attending a Unitarian Universalist seminary to become an ordained minister in that tradition. The skills I am learning will be helpful in mediating conflict between groves and bringing people together in community.

Do you have any “day-job” qualifications for the position, and if so what parts do you use most often/benefit ADF the most?

I have done customer service at my jobs in the past, which required prompt, courteous, and clear communication. This is an obvious asset to ADF. My seminary training will also be useful in helping to welcome people and uniting them in a regional community within ADF.

Describe your leadership style, and why it makes you a good choice for your position.
My training in seminary is preparing me to become a faith leader in the future. I am learning that true leadership is relational; that is, the focus should be on the relationship between the leader and the ordinary member, not on enriching the member’s life at the expense of myself or vice versa. In other words, one could say this form of leadership is reciprocal, which mirrors our relationship with the Kindreds.

Why are you seeking this office? Why do you love ADF enough to devote substantial time and energy to the organization, and what do you see as the limits and boundaries you would have to place on your involvement?

I am seeking the position of Heartland Regional Druid because I want to make a difference on some level within ADF. I feel that leading the Heartland region would be a great opportunity for me as an individual to demonstrate my ability to meet the needs of those in the region and to demonstrate my capacity to lead a group of people. ADF is the foundation of my spiritual life. I was an ADF member before I found a Unitarian Universalist church. I want to see the organization grow and meet the spiritual needs of its members.

I would not be able to mediate conflicts where someone’s life may be at risk. I feel those would be best left for those higher up in ADF leadership. I also would not be able to visit groves in person since I am disabled. Instead, I plan to visit groves virtually using a platform such as Zoom or Facebook video chat.

How will you promote & grow ADF’s commitment to a culture of consent?

I personally am committed to a culture of consent. I will take seriously any complaints regarding consent and deal with them in what I deem an appropriate manner. I will also inform new members about our culture of consent and point them towards resources to learn more.

Share your thoughts on the ADF saying “fast as a speeding oak” and why roots are important to you and to the org going forward.

“Fast as a speeding oak,” to me, implies slow, careful growth that is well-tended. However, if we move too slowly, ADF may get left behind in the dizzying array of technology that is now available and will be available to us in the future. An oak tree must have strong roots to grow–the same is true of ADF. We must continuously attend to our roots in order to grow into the future. Strengthening our roots via outreach to current members and constant attention to our Pagan roots is needed.

Do you believe in the axiom “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”?

To a point. If the needs of the many aren’t the best for the organization as a whole, then I feel the needs of the few should take precedence. I also believe that each relationship that I will have as Heartland Regional Druid must be carefully cultivated in order to enrich both parties–in this way, the needs of each individual are most important.

Regarding Solitaries (you may answer these separately or as one response):
What efforts will you take to improve outreach & engagement for solitary members?

As Heartland RD, I will host a chat either once or twice a month on the ADF IRC channel or via Discord, whichever is best for our needs, for Heartland solitaries. I will also make myself available as a resource for solitary members in the region to chat about anything–whether ADF related or not. Since I am a solitary myself, I feel I will be able to relate to them better than someone who has always been a member of a grove.

How will you support those solitaries working through the DP by strengthening the mentoring program or establishing a virtual grove?

I would check in with solitaries working on the DP and determine if the creation of a virtual Heartland grove for those working on the DP is needed or desired. Having completed my DP in 2013, I would be happy to be a resource for solitaries working on the program.

With more solitary ADF members, supporting them in their practice may be the most important tasks we face if we want keep them and get new members. What will you do to fix the Mentor program so it can become a robust source of help for anybody who wishes to join ADF, but who is not local to an operating, healthy, teaching grove?

If elected to the Heartland Regional Druid position, I would check in with the Preceptor to see if anyone has requested a mentor but cannot get to a grove due to either distance or disability. In the case of disability, I would ask the local grove if anyone can help with transportation and facilitate a connection. In the case of distance, I would encourage checking in with other solitaries via the ADF IRC chat and the Facebook DP Study Group (if the student is on Facebook). This could also be an instance where the creation of a virtual Heartland grove would be helpful.

What sorts of efforts and contributions do you plan on making to the organization if you do *not* win this election?

I am currently working on my IP work and plan to eventually complete the Clergy Training Program to serve the Folk of ADF. I also plan to serve as an unofficial resource for solitaries in general, especially those with mental health issues that might find completion of study programs difficult.


  • Northeast:

    • Echo Summer-Berson

General Questions

What do you consider the role, responsibilities, and requirements of [the office you are running for] to entail, and how are you uniquely qualified to fill it?

As a regional druid, I will be on the front line of determining the kinds of experiences the members in my region have with ADF. I will be responsible for welcoming new members to our region and helping them find resources to make connections and get involved in whatever ways they aspire to. Regional druids are also responsible for fostering unity among the existent members of a region and helping to mediate any interpersonal issues that might arise.

Over the past ten years I have worn many hats, including resident assistant, club founder and president, peer minister, mentor, and teacher. These experiences have given me a huge number of skills related to working to accomplish the goals of very different groups of people so that each is satisfying with the result. I truly enjoy the challenges inherent in creating and maintaining active communities, and I look forward to bringing my experience to ADF.

Do you have any “day-job” qualifications for the position, and if so what parts do you use most often/benefit ADF the most?

My most recent training is as a librarian, which included courses on web development in addition to classes on information categorization and storage, grant writing, and other library services. While those skills are helpful for ADF at large, I’ve also found them useful for helping individual members and smaller groups by knowing how and where to find resources. I currently also volunteer for a Unitarian Universalist Church, running their social media and working on public relations, which has given me an added level of comfort with the technologies that we can use to bring our community closer together.

Describe your leadership style, and why it makes you a good choice for your position.

I think of leadership as a process that we’re all going to be engaged in together.  I can’t lead without the rest of the region behind me, so we’re going to have to do this together. I tend to be a pretty collaborative leader, seeking feedback from the people I’m working with before committing to a plan. As a regional druid, I think this this will serve us well because I will be able to bring the many people of our region together. I also tend to be a fairly strategic, establishing goals and plans early on in a project and then following up on each to ensure success. I already have several goals for our region and ways I think we could better come together.

Why are you seeking this office? Why do you love ADF enough to devote substantial time and energy to the organization, and what do you see as the limits and boundaries you would have to place on your involvement?

I’ve been thinking about running for regional druid for several years, and finally feel that I have the experience within ADF that is necessary to hold an elected position. More than anything else about ADF, I believe in our community, and I would be honored to be part of the work of building and maintaining that community. As far as my own boundaries, I will set “office hours” in which I am on the facebook group, answering emails, and generally accessible to whoever needs me. For my own mental health, I think establishing this boundary early on will be essential for preventing my own burnout in the position.

How will you promote & grow ADF’s commitment to a culture of consent?

I plan to take Cherry Hill Seminary’s Pagan Consent Culturecourse this March and April, develop my own workshop on consent, and then offer that workshop in person to groves and festivals in my region and as an online workshop.  In addition, as my protogrove develops its policies and bylaws, I will ensure that we have a consent statement as part of our code of conduct.

Share your thoughts on the ADF saying “fast as a speeding oak” and why roots are important to you and to the org going forward.

I am personally not a fan of the saying “fast as a speeding oak.” I think more often than not, this idiom is used as an excuse for slow progress or poor communication, and I don’t think that that particular usage of “fast as a speeding oak” is compatible with our actual organizational motto, “Why Not Excellence?” That said, to answer the spirit of this question, I do see the importance of strong roots in building an organization, and we should look to those roots to build strength as we progress. However, any arborist will tell you, that sometimes the roots of a tree can rot (with oak being particularly susceptible, even!) and in those cases it is necessary to take steps to isolate that damage.  ADF has weathered several controversies related to our founders and early supporters over the last few years, and we will undoubtedly face more issues related to our members and leaders in the future. It’s important to handle those issues hastily and decisively, just as a forester would in tending for their oak trees, so that the organization can continue to grow and so that it does not stagnate and die.

Do you believe in the axiom “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”?

It depends, but generally yes, I tend to be a utilitarian person interested in creating the greatest good for the largest number of people. However, I think the needs of the marginalizedoverall outweighs the needs of the people who have power. It is much more important to me that people of color, indigenous people, disabled people, and queer people feel safe and welcomed in our group and our public rites than that we preserve the comfort for our more privileged members.

Regarding Solitaries (you may answer these separately or as one response):

What efforts will you take to improve outreach & engagement for solitary members?

As regional druid, my plan is to use our facebook group and email list much more than they currently are to foster community between our solitary and group-affiliated members. My hope is to post a discussion topic each week to generate conversation, as well as hold monthly meetings on Zoom. If there is interest, I would also be open to running group ritual over Zoom that solitaries can attend and get some of the benefits of being with a group.

How will you support those solitaries working through the DP by strengthening the mentoring program or establishing a virtual grove?

I currently run weekly check-ins for people working through the dedicant documentation requirements, and plan to continue doing that into the future, though the details may shift and change as the group I’m serving shifts and changes.

With more solitary ADF members, supporting them in their practice may be the most important tasks we face if we want keep them and get new members. What will you do to fix the Mentor program so it can become a robust source of help for anybody who wishes to join ADF, but who is not local to an operating, healthy, teaching grove?

I’m not certain that I am a good person to answer this question yet. I can continue doing the things I am doing in terms of offering courses and check-ins for folks who need a little more support. Specifically in terms of the mentor program, I would hope that any changes would be a group effort undertaken by people who had both utilized and not utilized the program as it is so that we could develop something better.

What sorts of efforts and contributions do you plan on making to the organization if you do *not* win this election?

Most of the things I plan to do in the future related to ADF are things that I plan to do regardless of whether or not I win this election. I will still try to do more work with solitaries. I will still try to make our organization more accessible to queer people and people of disabilities. I will still be running my dedicant check-ins and adding more classes. What will change is the number of people I am able to do this work for, with me potentially being able to help an even greater number of people as the Northeast Regional Druid.

Regional Druid Questions

How do plan to maintain contact with the members in your region and make them feel a part of the larger organization?

I have a few ideas for this.  First, I would like to see more conversation happening within our region, both through our online resources and in person. I plan to utilize facebook, zoom, and our email list to begin this process. I also hope to run monthly town hall style meetings to check in with as many folks in the region as are able to attend. If there is sufficient interest and offers to help, I will also host virtual rituals for anyone in the region who wishes to attend.

Second, I would like to use our commitment to community service to foster greater camaraderie in the region, by having themed community service projects for anyone in the region to participate in.  Quarterly community service projects are already required of our groves, and being able to participate in those projects from home may help our solitary members feel better connected to the region and groves feel better connected to one another.

Third, if communication picks up, I would love to put together a regional e-newsletter to share the things going on in our region.  From exciting projects being accomplished to ordinations to events, I think there’s a lot of news happening in our region that would be really exciting to hear about!

Finally, I hope to connect with members of ADF’s subgroups so that as people mention things they are interested in doing or learning I have the right connections to help people achieve their goals.  I think a lot can be said for joining our SIGs, Kins, and Guilds.  Involvement in those groups can do a lot to help a member of ADF feel a sense of unity with the larger organization, and as regional druid, I think helping foster those connections is one of the best ways I can help the people of the Northeast Region feel like an important part of our international organization.

  • Northwest:

    • Michael Riley

no response received

  • Southwest:

    • Rev Gwernin Grove (GR)

no response received

  • Upper Midwest :

    • Dale Frampton

Dale’s Responses to Questions for all Candidates:
What do you consider the role, responsibilities, and requirements of the Upper Midwest Regional Druid to entail, and how are you uniquely qualified to fill it?

The Regional Druid’s role is to support the ADF members within their region. They help connect members in their region to other resources within ADF, represent their region on the Council of Regional Druids, and may assist in settling disputes. I wouldn’t say that I’m uniquely qualified, but that I have fulfilled many of those functions for my local and statewide community. I have been a Grove Organizer for 5 years, and have served on the Board of Directors for another pagan church in Wisconsin for two years.

Do you have any “day-job” qualifications for the position, and if so what parts do you use most often/benefit ADF the most?

In my day-job I’m a software engineering manager, and a software engineer. Leading and managing engineers is different from leading those within an all-volunteer organization. My position does afford me a fair amount of latitude for taking vacation time and I’ve utilized much of that to attend and host pagan related events.

Describe your leadership style, and why it makes you a good choice for your position.

In my work environment, I take a relatively hands-off leadership style. Working within the pagan community, a slightly more hands-on approach is needed to help overcome all the distractions that people have in their lives. I enjoy leading people to their own discoveries rather than just giving answers, especially with spiritual matters, as there are few, if any, absolute answers or truths.

Why are you seeking this office? Why do you love ADF enough to devote substantial time and energy to the organization, and what do you see as the limits and boundaries you would have to place on your involvement?

One of the first good connections I’ve had in ADF was through Amy Castner, our current Regional Druid. Over the years we’ve become friends and I’ve gone to her for advice or just for someone to bounce ideas off of. With her leaving, there is a void that perhaps I can begin to fill and provide me the opportunity to give back to someone else, the opportunities that she has given to me. I spent a bit over 20 years practicing and exploring modern paganism before I found ADF. During much of that time I felt out of place in the various modern pagan religions that I explored; however, when I found ADF, their beliefs and practices felt natural to me. Just after I passed 6 months in ADF, I formed a local protogrove and have been holding regular semi-public rituals since. As far as limits, I do have a family and personal goals, and so there are limits to my available time. However, I’m not quite sure how to quantify what they are.

How will you promote & grow ADF’s commitment to a culture of consent?

I think the best way to promote and show a commitment to that culture is to lead by example. The work within ADF towards a culture of consent the past couple years was an eye-opening experience for me, but one that I stand behind. People are entitled to their dignity, their personal space and to be able to interact in ways that are comfortable to them. It’s not for others to dictate how interactions must occur. I think that an offshoot of consent culture is also creating a culture where people shouldn’t be made to feel shame for their limitations or their lifestyle choices. In my personal interactions, I think it’s just as important to ask consent to hug people, as it is to let ritual attendees know that there are valid acceptable alternatives to drinking alcoholic waters of life.

Share your thoughts on the ADF saying “fast as a speeding oak” and why roots are important to you and to the org going forward.

There is value in growing and changing slowly so that stable roots can form. I have seen pagan organizations confronted with significant growth that leads to them imploding because the organization wasn’t able to hold on to its values in the face of so much new growth. I do believe that growth should be deliberate, and that growing solely for the sake of growth is shortsighted. That said, failure to continue to grow and failing to bring in new members will result in the organization shrinking. As each generation reaches out to explore paganism and finds their way to ADF, we need to make sure that we remain relevant. We are a living breathing tradition, and while it’s important to know where we came from, I think we need to deliberately look towards the needs of the present and future world, along with our current and future members. It may be challenging to strike a balance, but I believe that such a balance is possible if we approach the problem with caring and integrity.

Do you believe in the axiom “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”?

There’s a time and a place for considering both the needs of the many and the needs of the few. Leadership, for example, is a case where the needs of the leader may need to take a back seat to those of the people that they serve. On the other hand, the needs of the few, such as minority members, may need to be elevated above the many, so that they feel comfortable and can have good spiritual experiences. None of this is absolute, and the simplicity of the statement belies the complexity of the decisions that go into weighing each individual situation.

Regarding Solitaries (you may answer these separately or as one response):

  • What efforts will you take to improve outreach & engagement for solitary members?
  • How will you support those solitaries working through the DP by strengthening the mentoring program or establishing a virtual grove?
  • With more solitary ADF members, supporting them in their practice may be the most important tasks we face if we want keep them and get new members. What will you do to fix the Mentor program so it can become a robust source of help for anybody who wishes to join ADF, but who is not local to an operating, healthy, teaching grove?

To date, my focus has been primarily on working with my local community and outreach efforts with the groves and protogroves in the neighboring states. Early on in my ADF adventure, I formed a local protogrove to provide worship opportunities for my community. While I don’t have a true solitary experience, my local community and protogrove only have a few other ADF members. I have experienced the challenges of wanting to feel connected to the larger organization and have addressed that by attending what regional gatherings I could. This isn’t always an option for members, and so I think the first part of reaching out to Solitaries in my region would be to ask them what their needs are and see if we can brainstorm ideas and, as a region, collectively work towards improving the opportunities for Solitaries.

Regarding the Dedicant Path, I’ve experienced how difficult it is to try to arrange regular Dedicant Path work with a local protogrove. While I have no ideas on how to improve the mentoring program, I will commit to working towards becoming a mentor for the DP. In that way, I can assist those working on the Dedicant Path, and get an inside view to the challenges that mentors and mentees both face.

What sorts of efforts and contributions do you plan on making to the organization if you do *not* win this election?

My commitment to ADF preceded running for this position and will continue regardless of the outcome of this election. I’ve assisted organizing two of the past four Upper Midwest Regional Retreats, and have facilitated semi-public high-day celebrations for the past five years. I will continue to serve my local community, along with reaching out to others within my state to make sure they know they have a place to celebrate, if they choose, or to place them in contact within any resources I may know of.

Regional Druid:
How do plan to maintain contact with the members in your region and make them feel a part of the larger organization?

When I started as a Grove Organizer there were no other groves or protogrove in Wisconsin. I saw it as my responsibility to reach out to the new ADF members in my state, who were not significantly closer to the groves and protogroves in a neighboring state, and offer what support to them that I could. I see being Regional Druid as an extension of those activities that I had started doing as a Grove Organizer. While connecting them to the larger ADF organization is important, I think it is equally, if not more important, to build connections within the region. To that end, I would like to continue the tradition of the Upper Midwest Regional retreat, as long as there continues to be local grove or protogrove support for the planning of it. The previous four retreats have made it possible for people within Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to meet one another and be able to share their experiences in a way that would have otherwise not happened. Finally, it is difficult to commit to any specific amount of travel, but I would like to make a concerted effort to travel to other parts of the region for events. Meeting people in person adds a level of depth to connections that is more difficult to manage through textual conversations.

  • John Lamb

no response received

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