Cascadia Radical Faerie Resource
More than most anyone would possibly want to know about CRFR. Really. Past the first tab, this a lot of hysterical, uh, historical material around reconciling the decentralized, anti-establishment nature of radical faeries with the realities of liability, financial responsibility, and the government.
Cascadia Radical Faerie Resource
Cascadia Radical Faerie Resource is an IRS-registered 501c3 non-profit charitable organization.
Cascadia Radical Faerie Resources, Inc., is a non-profit Oregon corporation created to help with organizational stuff around our gatherings. For those curious, it’s worth noting that — if you read the CRFR bylaws — CRFR has absolutely nothing to do with choosing our QR, nor can CRFR tell him what to do. Our queens registrar are royally empowered by our history and tradition to do what needs to be done to create the gathering they envision. CRFR is but a lovingly built purse, parasol, and kneepad for those QRs who choose to don them. Whatever your choice, we will still respect you on Monday.
This is an informational page about the Cascadia Radical Faerie Resource, a non-profit corporation created to provide, amongst other things, a protective legal structure for the Breitenbush Radical Faerie Gatherings. (Ummmmmm, WHY?!) Please read on?
This site is here so that you can learn more about this organization, its history to date, and how you can become involved. You may also pick up some dish and history along the way (grin)! If you’d like “the facts, m’am”, you should start with the CRFR bylaws. If you’d like context and history, you should pick a link from the related information below, and work your way back to the proposed bylaws.
Please pardon all involved if some of it seems a bit dry. We all have gifts to offer our gatherings, but they can’t all be pretty, fierce, and fabulous! (Actually, we tried writing fierce and fabulous bylaws, but the lawyer said they wouldn’t work … apparently the government has NO sense of fun when it comes to non-profit organizations … sigh.)
CRFR membership has nothing to do with going to gatherings, but much to do with helping ensure we keep having them. If you’re interested in “infrastructure” and community-building, you may want to join with us? Members will be sent meeting notices. Meetings will probably happen just before or after gatherings, so they’ll be easy for as many as possible to attend. If you’ve ever wanted to get “more involved” with the Breitenbush Radical Faerie Gatherings, this is one of many good ways to do it!
If you would like to be a member of Cascadia Radical Faerie Resource, Inc., just check the box the next time you send in your Call to one of the Radical Faerie Gatherings at Breitenbush.
Dear Faerie Brother: This letter was jointly composed by Rosemary For Remembrance, Riversong, and Scotty Dogg, with input from many others, many of whom added their names to the letter. This letter was sent out to all faeries with addresses in the Northwest Faerie Database, along with the Call for the Winter 2001 Breitenbush Radical Faerie Gathering.
“Scotty Dogg’s Open Letter to Favero: following a meeting about the CRFR process in Seattle, Favero asked a number of insightful questions. Scotty Dogg, who has been very involved in the process to date, wrote this Open Letter in response.
BardinBrooks’ “Faeries Inc.” Site (now defunct): Banyan Crow created this site full of insightful questions and comments about the CRFR process and proposal. This page provided perspective on the CRFR process from faeries who were not directly involved in the original meetings and the drafting of the original, proposed bylaws. Banyan Crow and March retired their bardinbrooks.com domain, and this site went away in the process.
Damien’s “Frequently Asked Questions” Page about CRFR: Damien was involved in many of the CRFR meetings, and closely involved in drafting the proposed bylaws. This page attempts to describe the history of the CRFR process to date from the perspective of someone who was directly involved in the original meetings.
Marlin’s “The Mundane as a Sacrament, or, Wingtips are drag too, you know …”: Marlin wrote this letter and distributed it at the 1999 Winter Gathering to inform everyone about CRFR and invite participation. It’s very fun to read, and tidily describes why so many think CRFR is a good idea.
–Say a little prayer for those who have passed, and hug the ones still alive.
The Current CRFR Hoard of Directors
President = Leo Starfucker Sunshine
Secretary = Elderberry
Treasurer = Dancing Bear
Board Member = Will Romanelli
Board Member = Passionflower
The Current Bylaws:
…after [yet] another meeting of several interested faeries, and another meeting with our fabulous dyke-ola lawyer, these bylaws were submitted as our initial bylaws with the State of Oregon. One primary change is that, at Banyan Crow’s request, the bylaws were modified such that any Queen Registrar may decline involvement with CRFR if he chooses to do so.
ARTICLE I: PURPOSE
ARTICLE II: MEMBERS
ARTICLE III: BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ARTICLE IV: COMMITTEES
ARTICLE V: OFFICERS
ARTICLE VI: CORPORATE INDEMNITY
ARTICLE VII: AMENDMENTS TO BYLAWS
Damien’s FAQ about CRFR
The origin story
First off, who wrote this FAQ? Is this some kind of “official” statement from somewhere?
Not at all. It was written by Leo from Portland, known to some as Damien of the faerie list. He was involved in many of the “feybiz” (see below) meetings, was one of three faeries to meet with the attorney who reviewed and rejected the first draft bylaws, and was one of several faeries who helped write the proposed bylaws below. He just wanted to share this information as widely as possible, using the limited means at his disposal. Please understand that the opinions in this FAQ are my own, based on my own experience and perspective. I speak for no one but myself. - – Leo/Damien
Frequently Asked Questions about the formation CRFR, with answers provided by Damien
- What’s a “feybiz” meeting?
- The business meetings of the Northwest Radical Faeries (aka, the “feybiz meetings”) began a few months prior to the Winter 1999 Breitenbush Gathering. Portland faeries called a “business meeting” — in conscious contrast to a circle — to discuss questions and concerns surrounding the purchase of a computer with faerie funds by the then-acting treasurer of the Breitenbush Gatherings.
- How and why was this computer purchased?
- The acting treasurer felt it would be easier to maintain the Breitenbush Gathering checking account with a computer. Also, he felt it could be used to help generate photo directories, and other materials for the Northwest Faeries. He discussed the purchase with several other faeries over a long period of time, none of whom opposed the idea; however, no circle was ever called, nor was the purchase consensed to in any formal manner. About $2,500 was spent on this computer, and its peripheral products.
- Why was no circle ever called to agree to this purchase?
- Because there is no formal structure behind the Northwest Faeries and the Breitenbush Gatherings. There never has been. It’s a database (many praises to RavOn SistrWumn and Quercus!), a bunch of wonderful people, some good luck, a lot of hard work, nearly twenty years of history (the first Breitenbush Gathering was in 1981), and a big dose of faerie magick.
In other words, there was no circle to “call”. This gathering has lived on as a slightly madcap, and often chaotic, “rotating benevolent monarchy” of faeries who care enough to get involved as Queen Registrar of a particular gathering, always handing it on at the end.
For the near twenty year history of this gathering, the checkbook passed from Queen Registrar to Queen Registrar after each gathering. Each QR kept his own books. But, in 1997, the QR was unable to maintain the checkbook himself, and asked another faerie to act as his treasurer. From that gathering forward, the same faerie kept the checkbook, acting as treasurer of all subsequent gatherings until Winter 2000.
Then, the QR’s of the Winter 2000 gathering chose to collect their own funds and keep their own books. As a result, for a period of time, the Breitenbush Gathering funds were held in two different bank accounts. They’ve since been reconsolidated into a single account, and the acting treasurer has chosen to no longer act in that role. The funds are once again held by the Queen Registrar of the upcoming gathering.
- What came of these first feybiz meetings, starting back in the Fall of 1998?
- Many strong feelings were aired, by mostly Portland area faeries, about the use of Breitenbush Gathering funds to purchase a computer. Opinions were expressed both for and against the purchase. Out of these discussions, consensus arose that it would be a good thing if something happened to address the following concerns:
- How could we, the Northwest Faeries, be more fiscally accountable?
What could we do to ensure greater continuity between gatherings?
and, What could we do to protect our Queen Registrars from having unlimited personal financial liability for problems arising during their gathering?
- A two page letter full of information was distributed by Marlin, and a feybiz circle was called at the Winter 1999 Breitenbush Gathering, to encourage discussion of these things. This circle was sparsely attended, and only a few faeries asked to be kept informed. Those who did were added to the mailing list for feybiz meeting announcements and minutes.
- What happened then?
- A series of ten or so feybiz meetings happened in Portland over the following year, to discuss how to address these concerns. Many possibilities were discussed. Consensus slowly formed that a non-profit corporation should be created, with a coordinating circle (the “board of directors”, in legal terms) tasked to do everything necessary to support the Queen Registrars in continuing the gatherings. A set of bylaws was drafted, then discarded after discussion with an attorney. A second set of bylaws was drafted, under the advice of an attorney. About ten additional faeries from Seattle and San Francisco were added, without asking or being asked, to the feybiz mailing list, in hopes they would spread the word and get involved with the process. After much (much …) more discussion over several meetings, this second set of bylaws was consensed to by the feybiz meeting group.
The proposed bylaws can be read by clicking here.
- How many people were attending these meetings?
- As many as twenty, and as few as six, faeries showed up for each of these meetings. Over the course of the meetings, about fifty different faeries attended at one point or another. Over the course of the meetings, seven former Queen Registrars added their voices to the consensus process, in general support of what the meetings were trying to accomplish. Currently, there are over forty faeries on the mailing list for these meetings (if you’d like to be added, click here).
- Okay, so bylaws were written … then what happened?
- The proposed bylaws were made available on request (prior drafts had already been distributed) to everyone on the feybiz meeting mailing list. A notice was sent out, stating that unless faeries requested another meeting within 30 days, the bylaws would be considered “final”, and the next steps could be considered. A faerie in Seattle requested another meeting be held to answer questions being asked by Seattle faeries.
The Seattle meeting was held in November 1999. Many concerns were expressed about the bylaws and the manner in which the feybiz meetings had been organized. Efforts have been made since to answer these questions, including an extensive letter written by Scotty Dogg to Favero, and many individual conversations. However, no further meetings have happened, and nothing further has been done.
- What is the “Cascadia Radical Faerie Resource”?
- “Cascadia Radical Faerie Resource” is the name of the as-yet-unformed non-profit corporation. This name was proposed by Gentle Knight of Portland, and consensed by all faeries present at a feybiz meeting at which this was raised as an agenda item.
- Why did all but one of these meetings happen in Portland? Why didn’t anyone contact Me?
- At almost every feybiz meeting, faeries wondered and worried that the entire effort was being led by a small percentage of the total faeries listed in the Northwest Faerie Database (the database to which the Breitenbush Gathering calls are sent twice each year), almost all of whom were in Portland (though, a faerie from Olympia drove down for several meetings, a faerie from California flew up for one, and a faerie in Washington DC was in telephone and email contact a few times). Except for the original letter and circle at the Winter 1999 Breitenbush Gathering, word of the meetings spread largely by word of mouth, mostly in Portland, and some in Seattle.
Meeting notices and minutes were only sent to those who’d asked for them, because the cost of sending out notices by mail (about $500 to send a letter to the full Northwest Faerie Database) was prohibitive. It was also unclear how we could maintain a consensus-process without having everyone together to listen to each other and actively participate in the process.
So, the faeries involved tried to “get the word out” as best they could under the circumstances. We proceeded feeling we were working on behalf of everyone, much as a spontaneous group of us at each gathering put together the talent show for all to enjoy, and one or two of us step forward and work very hard as Queen Registrar to coordinate an entire gathering.
- Has anything happened yet?
Scotty Dogg’s Open Letter to Favero
Answering some CRFR questions
History of this Letter
Favero asked a series of excellent questions after reading the proposed bylaws of the Cascadia Radical Faerie Resource. Scotty Dogg provided thorough answers, based on his own perspective as an active participant in the meetings.
Dear Sweet Favero,
It was good to see you again at the Breitenbush re-entry heartcircle! As promised, here are some thoughts on the proposed faerie non-profit corporation. This letter has taken longer to prepare than I expected (my apologies!) and it’s of greater length than I originally intended. Nevertheless there is still much left unsaid, so I hope we can soon speak in person.
I look forward to having dinner with you in the next few weeks in order to discuss this in more detail. As soon as I know the exact dates that I’ll be in Seattle, I’ll give you a call. I would welcome other faeries who are interested / concerned about the faerie nonprofit to join us for dinner & dialogue — please pass the invitation along as appropriate!
Here are the questions you asked, followed by replies:
1. How will financial liability be limited by incorporating?
Currently, the Queen Registrar (QR) and others who make the gathering happen face several different sources of financial liability. To keep this short, I will mention only three: contract liability, tort liability and tax liability.
Twice each year, the QR signs a legally-binding contract with Breitenbush which requires her to pay around $33,000 for a closed camp, meals & amenities (this figure is based on attendance of 160, the number at the last Fae2K). A $24,000 minimum must be paid whether any fairies show up or not. As things now stand, the QR is personally, individually responsible for honoring this contract. 
The problems which would be posed if there was a registration shortfall (or any other crisis in which the QR was not able to pay the full amount) are not hypothetical. In the past, several gatherings were under-attended to the point where the QR was required to make up the difference out-of-pocket. Of these, the most dramatic example is probably the first summer Breitenbush (summer ’92), which came up seventeen hundred dollars short. The agreement with Breitenbush, with Rebecca as the contact, was successful only in the fact that we had a great time. The gathering fell short on finances, and Breitenbush was on the verge of filing suit against Elderberry, when an “angel” stepped in the following year and paid the difference.
Incorporation changes the legal situation here: if the QR were to sign the Breitenbush contract not as an individual, but as a representative of “Cascadia Radical Faerie Resource, a not-for-profit corporation,” Breitenbush & other creditors would be entitled to the assets of the corporation if a shortfall occurred (in practice, this would mean all the money in the Faerie bank account), but creditors would no longer be entitled to the QRs personal assets. This is a significant difference!
Now that the Gathering is well-established, some people do not think it possible that there could ever be a financial shortfall again. But in fact, I can envision a number of scenarios which would leave the QR without enough funds. The responsible thing is to work and hope for the best, but plan for the worst.
A second risk that QRs now face is a liability lawsuit. Personally, I believe that this risk is quite a bit smaller than the chance of financial shortfall, but no one can say it’s impossible (the times that we live in, sadly, become more litigious each day).
As things presently stand, if such a suit were to be brought, the gathering organizers (particularly the QR) would very likely be named in suit along with Breitenbush. If the plaintiff wins, the Breitenbush Community will be somewhat shielded by its insurance policy (up to the amount of the coverage), but no one will protect the QR — her portion of the award (and legal fees) would come from personal assets. (Depending on the suit and how wealthy the QR happens to be, this could easily mean total bankruptcy.) A particularly sad aspect is that many QRs could not even afford a lawyer at the beginning of suit, making their chances of defending against it much lower.
If the QR were a representative of a corporation, the corporation could be sued, but its officers and representatives would not be individually (financially) liable. Again, a significant difference! I should say here that liability protection for individuals through incorporation is not perfect — depending on the circumstances a good lawyer might find several different ways to chip away at it — but in general this sort of protection has stood the test of time. (People who have tried to sue the officers of large corporations for environmental damage have found that these laws work far too well!) And any liability protection would be better than what we have now — none.
A third legal risk, now held mostly by the faerie bank account signers (QRs and others who handle money are also somewhat at risk), is tax audit. About $75,000 a year now flows through the faerie bank account. Since we don’t yet qualify for a corporate account, we now have a joint personal checking account with Dan Jones (Katie), and Bill Line (SisterWumn) as signatories; hence, the social security numbers of those individuals are attached to the faerie bank account and the Breitenbush moneys. Also, some QRs have private accounts where they keep gathering funds; when this is the case, the QR’s social security number becomes attached to a chunk of the money.
All of this money looks as if it comes from an income-producing business, as far as the IRS and state tax agencies are concerned. Without non-profit status, if any of the people who handle faerie funds were audited, they would be asked to cough up a substantial amount of back-taxes (you and I both “know” that they don’t “really” owe tax on this money–but the IRS doesn’t!). There has been sufficient concern about the possibility of an audit that Breitenbush funds are now kept in a non-interest-bearing account (so that the bank won’t have to file a tax report on the interest each year with IRS). If we could “safely” keep the funds in an account which pays interest, there would be enough interest income each year to pay for nearly one scholarship. More important, I don’t think that it’s fair to ask anyone to hide funds from the IRS and risk all sorts of legal headaches. It is not a coincidence that Bill and Katie have taken the lead in forming this corporation–I haven’t asked them about this explicitly, but I believe that they think that after the corporation forms they will most likely be out of a job. Despite this, they still support incorporation.
If faeries wait to incorporate until after we get into a tax mess, then incorporation might well be viewed with suspicion–as a creative way of dodging a tax bill. Again, it will be far easier to be pro-active than to run damage-control after problems arise.
2. How will it be determined that a consensus/majority of faeries support incorporation?
First, the proposed corporation is open to any faerie who shows up and says “I’m interested; I want to be involved.” Or, quoting directly from the proposed bylaws:
Section 2. Qualifications. A person shall become a
member of the corporation by providing contact
information to the Secretary, indicating thereby
that they want to be placed on the mailing list for
business meetings and be a member of the corporation.
No one has yet suggested a formal procedure for validation (would you like to propose one?), but I can talk about how I suppose it might happen. The group of faeries meeting to discuss business concerns, incorporation, and bylaws already has a mailing list of about 44 faeries who have asked to be kept informed of meeting times & agendas. Last summer we made a consensus decision to test the new bylaws–so even though the working-group hasn’t incorporated yet, for almost a year it has been following most of the rules (including notice requirements) set forth in the proposed bylaws.
Instead of mailing just to the small list, I suppose that prior to incorporation we might do a mass mailing to all 1200 faeries on the Breitenbush Gathering mailing list. In it, plans for incorporation would be briefly described, and the Fae2K/business web site mentioned (which contains a copy of the proposed bylaws). The letter would offer to mail a copy of the draft bylaws to any faerie upon request (not all faeries have web access). It would also offer membership in the corporation (in the event that incorporation takes place) and describe how to become a member. There would then be a comment period, followed by a final meeting at which the decision to incorporate would be made (if there is sufficient interest among Seattle faeries, there could be two final pre-incorporation meetings: one in Seattle, one in Portland. Similarly, if faeries anywhere else want to have meetings about this and participate, great.)
Continuing to speak personally , my hopes are twofold: first that the process will be as inclusive as possible (I sincerely believe that consensus decisions produce the best and wisest policy–tempered by collective wisdom from the decision-making group); but second that we will act swiftly. While these two hopes may seem to be at cross-purposes, my reasons are for wanting fast action are pragmatic–the working group is very burned out. I would be willing to explain why in more detail later; for now I will just say that the most important and central feature of the way in which we have been working–consensus decision-making–is also exhausting (except in very experienced groups). [Does this mean that we should drop it and go for an “easier” method, like majority vote? In my view, this would be the worst choice we could make! Consensus decision-making has been at the very core of our faerie traditions (for over 20 years); this, and the tradition of heart-circle, are two of the most important elements that distinguish us from the outside world-in synergistic combination, they move us toward making faerie space loving, inclusive, and safe. I believe that the only way to maintain our integrity is to do the hard work, and learn to make decisions better using consensus (while conserving our energy). This is a subject that I hope to write more about in the future.]
3. What additional financial costs are expected because of incorporation?
Mass mailing to all faeries on the Breitenbush list: printing costs $50 + postage (0.33 * 1200) = $446. One-time legal fees (paid to Cynthia Cumfer); I suppose these will be under $1000. (Because she’s a dyke and a friend of Leo’s, she’s charging us 1/3 of her usual rate.) A one-time fee to the state of $20. A $10 yearly maintenance fee. Possibly some minor bank fees to change the bank account over to a non-profit, corporate, interest-bearing account.
The bylaws require that notices be sent out to all members twice a year for semi-annual meetings, various kinds of special meetings, proposed amendments to the bylaws, etc. How much it will cost to send out all these notices depends on how many faeries are interested enough to join. For example, if 15% of the people on the Breitenbush mailing list decided to join, this would mean around 180 members. ~180 * 0.33 (postage) = ~$60 per mailing. If three full mailings go out each year to members (that’s two general meetings and one special meeting–a reasonable guess), then the yearly mailing costs of the corporation would average around $180 (~2/3 of a Breitenbush scholarship) .
From the proposed bylaws: “Directors shall not receive salaries for their Board services, but may be reimbursed for expenses related to Board service.”
To sum up, the additional financial costs expected because of incorporation depend on how many people decide to join and (ultimately) what the Board decides to do. If I had to take a wild ballpark guess, I would suppose that $1500 in one-time (start-up) costs, and $250 per year annual budget would be reasonable figures.
4. The stated purpose in the incorporation papers is vague. What is the specific purpose of incorporating? (What is meant by support as it appears in the proposed bylaws, article 1., paragraph 2?)
The primary purposes of incorporation are to establish a corporate identity which can legally and collectively hold the group’s funds (now held by individuals); provide limitations on personal liability for gathering organizers (in contract & tort); and establish clear tax status (i.e., officially establish that Gathering funds are not “business income,” and should not be taxed). All of these purposes support the Gathering.
A secondary benefit: incorporation will provide continuity and stability for the Breitenbush Gathering. In my view, support for the gathering will mean designating a pool of supportive, experienced people that the Queen Registrar can call on for help and advice–if she needs it.
Some past QRs have commented that they did not have much in the way of a support network; others have asked for a QRs “handbook” or advice manual . Past QRs would be asked to contribute to such a beast. Many would volunteer to be on-call as consultants and advisors.
Most QRs have a big enough network of friends, including past BBush queens, that they have all the ready-made support that they need. But problems have arisen in the past when an inexperienced faerie who is isolated from the mainstream (and from faerie “elders”) took on the role of QR. This has happened several times, with mixed results. Several QRs suddenly quit when the realization hit them that a big, complex job lay ahead (this has happened as late as 3 months before the Gathering!). A more fortuitous outcome occurs when an inexperienced QR decides not to quit if she becomes overwhelmed, but instead asks an experienced co-queen to help with logistics. A third possibility is that QRs with very different styles will work together from the start and negotiate some division of labor (e.g. logistics & ritual). The Breitenbush gathering has had more than a few unusual pairings among QRs, such as the partnership between Lupin (logistics QR) and Jaycinth (ritual QR). 
In addition to continuity and stability, it is expected that the corporation will provide a sense of history (archives) to the Gathering.
How else might the corporation provide support for the Gathering? By making sure that there always is a Queen Registrar, so that if an unplanned vacancy occurs the gathering can go forward!
What happens if the queen registrar gets sick or resigns in late October, when the call for winter gathering is due to go out? (As I said, this has happened several times in real-life.) Without a small group of designated people whose “job” it is to care when this happens, the vacancy can persist for a long time without anyone noticing (especially if the QR resigns without first calling for help).
I wish this idea were just speculative, but it’s not. Riversong told a riveting story about the time he found out that he was QR — he called a friend to ask why the call for winter gathering was a month late, and was told “Unless you do it, there probably won’t be a winter Gathering!” When it’s November and you find you have a week to become the Queen Registrar — now that’s baptism by fire! [this answer will be continued in question #5]
5. Will the role of the Queen Registrar change? If so, how?
Nothing about the way that the QR comes forward to assume the position will change. In any situation short of crisis, the Board absolutely does not choose the QR. Further, it is explicit that the Board must fully delegate its power to the QR in all matters relating to gatherings. Here is what the proposed bylaws say about the Queen Registrar(s):
Section 5. Delegation of Authority for the Purpose of
Nothing in these bylaws shall be construed to limit
the power and affirmative responsibility of the Board
to delegate all necessary authority for the creation of
gatherings to such persons who step forward, in the
traditional manner, to assume such responsibility. Persons
acting with authority delegated under this section shall
be deemed officers of the corporation for the purposes
of Article VI: Corporate Indemnity.
But consider the situation just described in question 4 — the QR suddenly resigns in late October. Here a crisis exists, and the Board has a responsibility: its job is to be aware of what’s happening with the Gathering — to give a shit and to do something. In a case like this, Board members would probably have an emergency meeting; they would ask around very quickly and find someone willing to take over for the QR who resigned, so that the Gathering could go forward.
Elderberry, who has been QR for two gatherings, wrote: “The role of the QR will only change in that the burden of liability will no longer be shouldered by the individual(s) who sign the contract.” To this I would add that the QRs role will not change, but there will be more support available for queens who request it.
But for the sake of argument, let’s consider a worst-case scenario: for some reason the Board has become packed with five former QRs who collude ignore the bylaws and interfere with a gathering . Of course, all five would have to agree in full consensus to do this (which is very, very unlikely).
Under the proposed bylaws, meetings to choose Board members are held every six months (terms are staggered and last for two years). Board members are chosen by consensus of the full membership. If someone feels that an entire five-person board has interfered with a gathering, the odds are remarkably good that they will be able to walk into the next meeting (in less than six months) and knock one (maybe even two) members right off that board — since the Board is chosen by consensus, our disgruntled faerie can do this by himself, even it he doesn’t have any friends. (Just be careful — one of the hazards of deposing a faerie leader is that you may be asked to prove that you can do better!) If even one member of the board is replaced by someone who thinks differently, a consensus to repeat the mistake will no longer be possible. 
6. Will the duties/role/power of the corporation extend beyond the Breitenbush gathering to other events?
The draft bylaws do not describe any other duties/role/power for the corporation beyond providing support for the Gathering. Neither is it prohibited from engaging in other activities.
To examine this question, I will wax philosophical: “What is the nature of power?” (I mean, in this particular context.) You gain power over things because you “own” them (right?). You gain power over events when you are the initiator; over projects when you take them on; over events and situations when you understand them from inside-out.
It is ridiculous to suppose that the Cascadia Radical Faerie Resource would have duties, a role, or power over other Radical Faeries; or be in any way responsible for events that we did not initiate or organize.
Nomenus incorporated in 1981, and it was one of the very first groups of faeries to do so. Yet today the members of Nomenus are still a tiny fraction of all Radical Faeries, and no one imagines that Nomenus “runs” the Faeries! (I suppose that trying to do such an absurd thing would be like herding cats!) Nomenus is still only responsible for the gatherings that it produces (Beltane and the Nomenus Spiritual Gathering), and for the land that it owns at Wolf Creek.
If the Cascadia Radical Faerie Resource at some point in the future decides to host other events (in addition to the Breitenbush gathering), buy land, or do something else that is now unforeseen, I have confidence that such a decision will be made by faeries that you and I trust, who will work by consensus. My confidence is not blind — consensus decisions, by nature, tend to be evolutionary, not revolutionary. As for Board members that both you and I trust — the Board itself is chosen by consensus (in a meeting in which any faerie can participate). If you, I, or any other faerie blocks consensus during selection of the board, the person who is blocked will not be able to serve.
7. Will Breitenbush (or other events) become a ‘members only’ event?
Absolutely not. This has never been suggested or contemplated. Only the corporation has members, and entry to this is completely transparent — just show up, and you’re in.
The corporation will focus on financial and business affairs relating to the Breitenbush Gathering. What does it mean to be a member? First of all, you have declared yourself interested in the business affairs of the faeries, and want information about semi-annual meetings, proposed amendments to the bylaws, etc. (This sounds obvious, but early on in this process we found that many [most?] faeries who attend the Breitenbush Gathering did not want the responsibility of automatically being made part of the corporation . So — anyone can join, but they need to actively declare membership.) Members participate in the consensus process for choosing five members of the Board of Directors.
What else does it mean to be a member? Members and non-members alike are encouraged to attend board meetings and committee meetings. In case of any kind of unusual or “unexpected” meeting, there are special notice requirements, so that people who might want to participate in the meeting will not be caught unaware. From the bylaws:
Meetings of the Board of Directors shall be open to all
In accordance with our tradition of open meetings, the
Secretary shall keep a list of members who have stated
that they wish to be contacted when special meetings are
held; these members shall be given notice by the same
method and at approximately the same time as Board
Similar notice requirements occur in two other sections of the Bylaws.
8. What effect will creating a legal organization have on a group that by nature is unorganized?
This is hard to predict, but I like to think that the proposed organization is a pretty good match to the way that we already do things. The group will probably be fairly small. QRs will still come forth spontaneously to claim their position. Today we have an unorganized circle of people who care about the Gathering; after incorporation we will have a loosely-organized group of people who care about the Gathering, and five of them will serve on a Board.
Elderberry writes: “It will save our ass if and when an unforeseen incident occurs and the QR is named along with Breitenbush in a liability claim or criminal action.” Whether incorporation has an effect on the faeries — or not — corporate identity, liability limitation, and clear tax status offer considerable benefits.
If you carefully read the proposed bylaws, you might conclude that they suffer from an excess of openness. This was not by accident: openness and inclusivity are core values shared by members of the working group. It’s reasonable to ask whether we have emphasized these values to the point of burdening the corporation with an unworkable decision-making process. (In the past, many decisions were made without full input from concerned parties just because no one knew that a matter was up for consideration.) Whether the present (disorganized) process can survive in so much sunshine is a legitimate question.
As I have stated before, I hope that it can — I believe that open meetings and consensus decision-making lie at the very heart of our faerie tradition; these are far too important to be considered “expendable.” But I have no illusion that we will be able to use consensus to make decisions about real issues, such as money and people, with ease. This decision-making method requires maturity and thoughtful reflection from each individual. That’s a tall order, but I’ve seen it done in other communities. We will have to first educate ourselves, and then help faeries grow into this.
9. What effect will having a group, that by nature is unorganized, have on a legal organization?
This is a great question! Can the office of Secretary of State (which registers non-profit corporations) withstand the effects of Faerie Dust?? Tune in next week!. . . But seriously. . .
There will be a few “basic minimum” bits of legal housekeeping that the organization will be expected to keep with. The most basic is that we need to file annual statements (a simple one-page form — this exists mostly to keep make sure that the organization’s address is up-to-date), pay a $10 annual fee, and possibly keep a copy of amendments to our bylaws current with the Secretary of State.
The good news here is that the basic minimum housekeeping is simple enough that if there is even oneresponsible person in the organization, he can take care of it each year.
We will want to follow our own bylaws. This means that there needs to be a responsible Secretary, who reminds the Board to schedule meetings with enough lead time to get notices out — and then actually puts them in the mail.
Queen Registrars are by nature marvels of organization among chaos — the role of the QR remains unchanged. QRs will be expected to do what they’ve always done, in spite of being part of “a group that by nature is unorganized.” (I’m not making fun of the question. It’s true!)
Aside from this, a key question is “Are faeries responsible enough to work together — in a business context — using consensus?” Consensus decision-making requires that all participants use self restraint, and maintain the ability to step away from personal concerns to look at a broader picture. Learning to make decisions quickly with consensus is difficult, and takes practice. Whether we can master this — and teach each other — is hard to predict. I hope that we can. The only way to find out is to do the experiment.
10. What are the expected benefits and incentives of membership in the corporation?
It’s likely that a fairly small number of faeries will want to be involved with the corporation. There are not many “perks” in membership for individuals. I see it mostly as a channel for people who want to help put on the gathering and give back energy to the faeries.
Most faeries who show up and vote at annual meetings will probably attend from a sense of “civic responsibility.”
The advantages to the group as a whole, however, are substantial, as are the advantages to potential Queen Registrars, officers, and others who want to serve the group. Incorporation will mean that they do not put personal assets at risk.
% % %
The decision to incorporate as a non-profit is not rocket science. Nonprofit incorporation is the usual choice made by groups in all parts of the world which have not-for-profit incorporation laws (most countries have them).
This is the standard legal choice for any non-profit group that organizes parties, camp-outs, or gatherings. Tens of thousands of churches (and church camps) are incorporated as non-profit organizations. Other examples: the YMCA (including Camp Westwind, where the Wings and Waves faerie gathering was held); the Boy Scouts; Triangle Recreation Camp, etc. etc. All of these groups have chosen to incorporate for pretty much the same reasons: to establish a legal owner for collectively-held property, to limit liability, and establish clear tax status. The benefits for our group would be similar.
% % %
One final thing: we would not be the first subset of “The Radical Faeries” (whatever that name means legally 😀 to start a nonprofit: Short Mountain was first, followed by Nomenus. Also: Kawashaway Sanctuary (Minnesota), and now Faerie Camp Destiny (Vermont). At the moment, I believe that Zuni Mountain Sanctuary (New Mexico) and Destiny are using the Nomenus umbrella, but there are plans for separate incorporation for both of them. Starland is a new non-profit faerie venture (with land near Yucca Valley, CA). In England, Edward Carpenter Community faeries have long had non-profit status, as have similar groups in Australia and (I think) Eurofaeries in the Netherlands. Sister organizations, such as the Billy Club, have been incorporated as non-profits for years.
Sweet Favero, I hope that this has been helpful. I plan to wait two or three days (to give you time to read this), then snail-mail a disk and hardcopy to Brooks-Bardin for their web site. Please share this with everyone who has questions about the proposed non-profit.
I look forward soon to seeing you in person!
Big puppydog hugs,
 The BBush contract has several levels of fees, with one fixed amount to close the camp, and other per capita fees which causes the total price to vary with the number of faeries who attend. Thus, when under-attended gatherings have occurred in the past, the QR was not held responsible for the entire contract total, but for a substantial lesser amount. The exact amount that would be due if this happens again is not the main point; if an under-attended gathering occurs (for whatever reason), a very substantial chunk of change will be due — an amount that most of us cannot possibly afford to pay out of pocket!
 Remember, everything I just said in the last paragraph is merely Scotty’s opinion–unlike the bylaws and other collective decisions mentioned earlier, it is not backed by any sort of consensus.
 Mailing costs could be cut substantially if e-mail is used for notices, but I think that the faeries should be very conservative about depending on e-mail for important correspondence! For one thing, e-mail addresses in the Breitenbush database are much less reliable than postal addresses. This is because snail mail for the Breitenbush Gathering is marked “Address Service Requested,” so the post office sends us notice (in many cases) when faeries change their address–but no one tells us when a faerie gets a new e-mail address at work, or changes their ISP!
I would like to congratulate the recent Queens (Michael & Steven) for a beautiful mix of new technology (web site, e-mail) and old technology (postal mailings, word-of-mouth) — together they added up to truly-appropriate technology! Other gatherings ran into problems by assuming that it was safe to depend on e-mail to deliver the main call [if the faerie had an e-mail address listed]; but Michael & Steven showed us how new technology can be used very effectively to supplement [not replace] traditional ways of communicating.
 Real attempts have been made at the latter: Bill Line put together a “QR box,” with sample calls from each gathering, past Breitenbush contracts, etc.; and both Rosemary and Riversong were working on Breitenbush Gathering archives last time I checked.
 All such examples illustrate the fact that a Breitenbush gathering only appears effortless on the surface — fact is, it happens because of a lot of hard prep-work! Almost all of this work is done in advance: the contract & dealing with Breitenbush; sending the call; keeping faeries informed throughout registration; keeping records & finances; scholarships; scheduling main events; answering inquiries; cabin assignments; confirmation letters.
 A recent case in which there was friction between the QRs and someone else involved with the gathering lends support to creation of a non-profit organization with a board run by consensus. If you were QR and disagreed with a decision about the best way to manage the Gathering, would you prefer to: (A) Deal with a single individual, whose decision cannot be appealed as a practical matter?, or (B) Deal with a 5-person board, where decisions are made by consensus? If I wanted a decision that was not made arbitrarily, I would rather deal with the board!
 Even if it were desirable to make every faerie who goes to Breitenbush an automatic member of the corporation, it would be legally unwise to do so, according to our attorney, Cynthia Cumfer. Oregon law provides that membership must be specific and well-defined, and that members must voluntarily join non-profit corporations. Memberships which are subsidiary to some other activity must be approached with great caution; and memberships which automatically “draft” a group of people are flatly illegal (thus, the basis for such corporations becomes legally invalid). The example that Cumfer gives is a neighborhood association which decides to incorporate as a non-profit. Bylaws which state “The members of this corporation shall be all residents who live in Bridge City on Main Street between First and Grand” would be illegal. In this example the requirement has been met that members be well-defined, but the bylaws still fail because membership is too passive — it’s simply assigned according to street address, without voluntary action taken by individuals in order to join.
The Mundane as a Sacrament, or,
Wingtips are drag too, you know…
History of this Letter
As written by Marlin, at request of faes listed below, for the purpose of sharing my and our hearts about a need, and to invite your participation.
The Mundane as a Sacrament
Wingtips are drag, too, you know …
Radical Faeries, wearing dresses, following their spirit, breaking convention, are breaking the convention that they must break conventions. A fae group is exploring setting up a non-profit corporation to be a legal umbrella for the faerie brothers who create the spirit-place of Breitenbush Faerie Gatherings, and to be a resource for other Fae community activities such as the American Ridge Gathering, Men Dancing Naked, phae phone lines, directories, and so on.
Eeeek! A corporation? Faeries? How could this be?
This discussion started when faeries from Portland and Olympia met to discuss the use of fae funds for the purchase of a computer. Since the computer was already purchased, well, it was quite a discussion. But many important topics and questions have come out of it. Questions like,
– When a Queen Registrar reserves Breitenbush Hot Springs for our 5-day retreat, she is putting her own resources on the line by committing to see that Breitenbush receives about 35 thousand dollars. Queen Rs we’ve known have said this is daunting at best, and anxiety-provoking at worst. This situation almost cost a QR four grand, except she was rescued by a fae angel. How can we make this less of a burden?
– A whole lotta money passes through the Little Red Purse to make our Gatherings happen. We’re using it the same way we would if we were a non-profit corporation, but the IRS may not see it that way. The Keepers of the Red Purse (Katie & RavOn Sistrwumn) hold our bank accounts , and their resources, reputations, and credit ratings would be on the line if Tax Daddy decides they need a spanking. Could we avoid this kind of problem? [note, this has changed since Marlin wrote this, and funds are once again held by the upcoming QR … though the point remains the same]
– The society we live in relies on the legal system to resolve disputes. Our gatherings haven’t needed to defend ourselves in court, and we hope we never will, but, again, the Queen’s scepter only goes so far. Can we give the Queen some legal protection against lawsuits, personal injury cases, injunctions, and other adversities?
– Each Queen Registrar is on her own for so many aspects of the gathering. With the funds available, she tries to provide scholarships to as many of our brothers as have need. There are limited funds, she puts a lot of thought into this, does her best, and sometimes takes some heat if others disagree with her decisions. Is there a way we can support her in this, and help the process be consistent and equitable from gathering to gathering?
In my mind, these questions are about protecting the fae brothers who take on the service of organizing and creating our Breitenbush Retreat, and providing a structure so that the funds we all contribute are used to promote and enrich our community. With some discussion, we think a tax-exempt corporation provides the benefits we’re seeking. It would be a legal entity that could get insurance for the situations described above, recognized by the IRS, and having 501(3)(c) status. A structure to take care of Mundane details so the Queen doesn’t need to worry her pretty little head when she’s creating a fabulous gathering.
The S word! He used the S word!
Structure, bylaws, officers… Maybe even committees. Some of those things would be required by the state of Oregon, and others might be added to help serve our needs. Generally, the feeling in the group is to create the minimum structure the law allows. And we also discussed that we may need more than the minimum in order to have an organization that works well for us, and that a minimal organization may not mean a minimal word-count in our bylaws. Do we need a way to embody the experience and wisdom of former Queen Registrars? What are the processes we’ll use in deciding what events are funded and when?
Oh, so it’s a control thing?
For the money, yes, but on a broad level. We’d like to make our common fae funds more secure by providing oversight that is accountable to the faerie community, while imposing little or no restraint on the Queen Registrar’s authority and creativity in producing the gathering or on other events. We’re already collecting and spending money in order to have gatherings, provide seed money for directories and events and such, and this shouldn’t change much.
What’s happened so far?
Besides the other discussion that’s taken place, we’ve drafted up a set of by-laws based on the ones used by Nomenus (though most desire a slimmer organization). It creates a board of directors that consists of those who attend the business meetings, a coordinating circle, and executive officers. We have a five-fingered form of consensus that we’ve been using in our discussion that we think works well, allowing those who need to block, to block, yet also providing an opportunity to express reservations about a decision without blocking.
Cynthia Cumfer wrote a book, “The Oregon Non-Profit Corporation Handbook” and she happens to be a friend of faedom. Damien (Leo) has relayed that she is willing to work with us at a reduced rate if we use language from her sample documents and bylaws.
As we undertake this, we’re in the process of understanding what the state of Oregon requires. Bylaws, certainly. A board of directors? President, secretary, treasurer. Membership? There are plenty of details to master. Whatever we create will be a living organization, its bylaws can be changed, processes vamped and revamped.
We will set the date for our next business meeting during an information meeting at Breitenbush. Fae-Portland has been at the center of the discussion so far and we want to open this process to whoever can join us. You’re invited to share your concerns and desires, in person or in writing. Keep in touch by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or writing Marlin, P.O. Box 19334, Portland, OR 97280. I’ll forward your comments to the group.
Who’s been involved?
Gentle [K]Night, Dancing Otter, SkyRose, Scotty-Dog, Swamp Witch, Dragonfly, Joni Mitchell, 8Ball-In-My-Back-Pocket, Anaconda, and Marlin were at the meeting where this letter was discussed.
Katie, RavOn Sistrwumn, Snow Swan, Roy, Riversong… have been at previous meetings, and many others. (Sorry, I didn’t check previous meeting’s minutes to find all the fab faes who have been working on this…)
And this letter [website], it’s, like, absolutely definitive, right?
Everyone has a different perspective on this process, please ask one of the participants if you have questions. Many people reviewed and contributed to this letter. Please recognize that it is my imperfect attempt to provide a balanced view of the direction of our discussions.
Dear Faerie Brother...
A letter to the community about CRFR formation
October 3, 2001
Dear Faerie Brother,
Since 1982, each winter, Radical Faeries have gathered at Breitenbush in sacred meadows, soaked together in warm pools, laughed and cried together in Heart Circles, made love in February snow. In nine summers we have also splashed in Devil’s Hole and played in sunlit forests.
All the faeries whose names appear below have been involved in producing one or more gatherings. All of us love the gatherings and care deeply about their future. In a spirit of openness we are writing to everyone in the Northwest Faerie Database to describe a way to strengthen the Breitenbush gatherings and provide for their future. As faeries, we share in a 23-year history of open process and consensus decision making; in keeping with that tradition, we call for your participation.
Over the past four years, there have been intermittent discussions in Portland, Seattle, and at two gatherings about the possibility of forming a non-profit corporation. Some faerie organizations have been incorporated as non-profits for years: Short Mountain was first in the 1970’s, followed by Nomenus in 1982.
Kawashaway Sanctuary in Minnesota, Faerie Camp Destiny in Vermont, Zuni Mountain Sanctuary in New Mexico, and Starland in California have all recently incorporated or plan to do so soon. Sister organizations, such as the Billy Club in California, have had non-profit status for years.
Non-profit status is popular and important because many legal advantages flow from it:
- creation of a legal organization that can hold the group’s funds (which amount to about $70,000 a year, presently held in personal accounts),
- limitations on personal liability for gathering organizers (especially the Queen Registrars), who now face legal risks both from liability lawsuits and for shortfalls in income,
- clear non-taxable status for gathering funds (as is, the IRS could, at any time, rule that these funds are taxable income and create serious financial and legal problems for present and past Queen Registrars),
- once tax-exempt status has been obtained, the opportunity for any of us to make tax-deductible donations to help other faeries attend gatherings.
Putting on a gathering puts a massive burden on the Queen Registrar(s), and one that sometimes can be overwhelming. As a result, several gatherings have come very close to not happening at all. We expect that the new structure will provide increased continuity and stability for the gatherings, since it will create a pool
of supportive, experienced Faeries whom Queen Registrars can call on for help and advice—if they need it.
All the discussions that have taken place have emphasized that the freedom of Queen Registrars to create gatherings will not change (there will be no interference or “micro-management” from the organization), and that QR’s must continue to be self-selecting, as they always have been.
The work done so far has created proposed by-laws for the corporation, which is tentatively named Cascadia Radical Faerie Resource. The remaining steps are to discuss and ratify the by-laws; write Articles of Incorporation; get both of them reviewed for conformity to Oregon law; file the Articles with the Oregon Secretary of State; and, at some point in the future, file for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status with the IRS.
If you are interested in finding out more about the work that has been done so far, please contact Rosemary in one of the following ways:
- send a post card or letter to CRFR, c/o Steve Muchnick, #### ****** Ave., San Francisco, CA 941##-####;
- send email to ****@****.net (note the spelling after the “@” sign); or
- call Rosemary at ###-###-#### (home) or ###-###-#### (cell) between 11:00 am and 11:00 pm.
Please indicate you’re interested in plans for the organization and whether you would like the available written materials sent to you on paper or by email. Note that Rosemary will not be available to answer inquiries October 22 – November 15.
The work so far has been done collectively, with decisions made by consensus. We know that achieving consensus can be difficult, and using it in a group not thoroughly trained in the process can be (and has been) exhausting. Achieving consensus requires insight, compromise, and restraint from all participants.
Most important of all is a sense of community; respect, openness and love are the “glue” that holds that community together.
Though consensus is difficult, it offers great rewards. Since each person possesses part of the greater truth, the created whole best approximates that truth. We believe in the collective wisdom that flows from a community working as one. The work that lies ahead requires love, wisdom and trust. If you feel called to be part of it, we ask that you bring to it trust in each other, thoughtful reflection, and a clear heart.
With Faerie Love from all of us,
Rosemary for Remembrance | Riversong | Whitewater
Scotty Dog | Katie Eagle Singer | Stardust
Peppermint | Uncle Markie | Lupin
Swamp Lily | Quercus | RainbowMan
RavON Sistrwmn | Elderberry | Damien
[Actual signatures appear here on the letter sent out with the printed Call]
IRS Federal Employer Identification Number
Our Federal Employer Identification Number is 47-0880070. In the past, the Internal Revenue Service has requested this number when faeries take a tax deduction for their contributions to our organization.
And, for a trip down memory lane, a photo from the 1984 Winter Gathering…
Say a little prayer for those who have passed, and hug the ones still alive.