Looking at the geographical breakdown of members, the only places where there would be more than a handful of members in the same area would be either Southern or Northern California.
I picked Northern California to start with. I don't know exactly why, except for that it somehow felt like it would work best there. And maybe it would be more educational to experiment with organizing a meeting outside my own local area, which is Los Angeles.
I picked June 24th as the date. Again, not for any big reason, other than it was about one month in the future, and somebody had mentioned being busy the week-end before.
I sent out a message to the about 15 NCN members I had on the list for Northern California, including also a couple of other likeminded people who weren't actually on the list.
We set up a mailing list temporarily to make it easier to discuss the meeting. Not that there really was much discussion. Hank Levin offered his house in San Rafael. Several people answered that it was a great idea and that the 24th was fine. One would be out of town, one would rather not drive that far, some never answered.
After we had set the date Hank remembered that he had a performance he needed to perform at that evening, so we put our meeting a bit earlier in the day than first planned, cutting it a bit short, but then inviting people to come to the show afterwards.
Joachim and I were planning to go from the beginning. We were deciding between Joachim flying us up, taking a regular flight, or driving. Since we had several stops to make on the way, and particularly since my wife decided after a while to go too with the kids, we settled on renting a minivan.
The trip was naturally somewhat tiring. We put over 1000 miles on the van over the weekend, with me driving most of the way. But also there were quite a few magical events along the way that overall made it very enjoyable.
On the way up we stopped only once for gas, in San Luis Obispo. A strange thing there was that on the way out of the bathroom I ran into two different Danish people at the same time. My wife and I are from Denmark, but we very rarely meet Danish people. Now suddenly at the same time two different people start talking Danish to us at the same time. At first we thought they were together, but no, they were both as surprised as we were. One tourist and one American girl who had been an exchange student in Denmark.
The trip was taking longer than the 6 hours we expected. In part because we got out the door a little late, in part because I took the 101 freeway, rather than the 5 which is the quickest (but most boring).
In downtown San Francisco we needed to pick up Kerstin, Joachim's sister. It still looked like we could just barely make the 3 o'clock time for the meeting in San Rafael. However, we had not counted on June 24th being the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. Many parts of downtown San Francisco were cordoned off because there was going to be some kind of big celebration and President Clinton was going to be visiting.
We enjoyed the coincidence of the day I picked for our New Civilization meeting being the anniversary of the United Nations. But more than that. Not being very familiar with San Francisco we got lost in the detours. And mysteriously we ended up having gone in circles around the United Nations Plaza several times. Maybe that isn't so coincidental after all.
We finally asked a guy on the street for directions to the Golden Gate bridge. He not only gave us directions, but when he realized it would be a little complicated, he jumped into his big truck and spent 20 minutes driving in front of us all the way there to show us the way, several times jumping out of his truck when there was a detour, explaining how we would do it differently.
Well, finally across the bridge and quickly in San Rafael, about 45 minutes late. It is very hot here, must be about 100F, much hotter than it was down in L.A.
I had planned to arrive early, before everybody else, to get things organized, to put out books, make name tags, be on top of things. But maybe it was better this way. Everybody else were already there, had started on the potluck, and were getting to know each other. Didn't seem appropriate for me to give a big formal speech, but a low key kind of thing amongst all of us would be more in order.
I did hand out name tags, however, asking, on a sudden hunch, everybody to also put down one word that would represent what they would like in the future. That turned out to work really well, as everybody had picked different words and they complemented each other wonderfully and brought forth a certain shared focus.
There were sixteen people there, including several I didn't know about beforehand.
We went around the circle and each person in turn talked a little bit about who they are. It quickly became apparent that it was a very spiritually oriented crowd. A surprising number were counselors. We already were getting a really nice feel about each other, just by going around the room once.
Next I asked everybody to tell us a bit about their vision for the future, also including what their word was. Again around the room the wonderful visions of the future complement and support each other remarkably.
I had in mind to then end off with a discussion of what we can do to take action, but somehow that didn't really appear to be what needed to happen. The most important thing seemed to be simply to bond together, to establish a connection to the other people, and a sense of a common purpose. We didn't really need to spell it out or put it into a plan or anything.
Overall, this was an extremely enjoying meeting, and an enjoyable trip. The meeting can hopefully be a model for other similar meetings.