Overview | Who attended | Accomplishments | List of projects
Agenda | Issues discussed | Notes from sessions | Personal accounts  
The organizer | Who was invited | How invitees were selected
Memorable quotes | Photos | Thanks | Summit FAQ
Guide to Organizing and Hosting Summits

Summit FAQ
How were invitees selected?
Why a "summit"?

Why the focus on national organizations?
Why an invitation-only event?
Do you intend to impose doctrine on Pagans?
Will there be another Summit?
Where do we go from here?

How were invitees selected?
I began with the OurFreedom e-mail list, a group of leaders and key individuals in the national movement who have worked together on many national-level projects over the last three to four years. My intention was to start with this group, which has had a track record of successful online cooperation, and widen the circle to include other nationally-focused organizations and individuals.

My criteria for attendees was that they be representatives of an organization which has a national focus or a national audience or that they be individuals who somehow reach a national audience. I also added some people who represented smaller traditions which are often overlooked in the larger community.

When I Ūrst proposed the idea of the Summit, I received close to 200 suggestions for others to invite. From those suggestions, I added to the list those whose names came up repeatedly or those who represented a key constituency. I am particularly indebted to M. Macha NightMare for her many excellent suggestions. The invitation list included over 100 individuals. My goal was to have primarily activists in attendance, with representatives of some worship groups and some Pagan media as well in order to provide balance. It was not my intention to include regionally- or locally-focused groups, since the Summit was intended specifically to address national needs. All in all, those in attendance represented most segments of the national Pagan community.

Also, since I organized the Summit primarily by myself, I felt I had to place an upper limit on the number of people to invite in order to keep the event manageable. It has never been my intention to give some sort of status of "real leadership" to invitees, or in any way to denigrate the work of others. I do not support any statements made to that effect by anyone. This event was a starting point, put together primarily by one person with limited resources. I give my full support to other events within the community which work to achieve our common goals.

It has always been my goal that attendees share their Summit experiences with other members of their organizations and encourage the development of similar strategizing sessions in the regional and local spheres. What we began with this first Summit can have tremendous impact on our community, and we share a commitment to ensuring those working at the local and regional levels are included in the process.
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Why a "summit"?
Rather than a conference or festival where information ispresented through workshops, a "summit" is a series of working meetings directed towards specific goals. All attendees participate, rather than in a workshop structure where there is a single presenter and a passive audience. Summits happen regularly in the mainstream political arena and give government officials a chance to delve into issues in greater depth than mere "state visits" allow.

Many of the people invited to the Summit have worked together repeatedly on national-level projects, but had never all been in the same room at the same time. I wanted to move beyond online discussion (always limited) and into greater depth. I also wanted to move beyond "reacting" to challenges to religious freedom and begin proactive strategizing. This is only possible through focused meeting and discussion.
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Why the focus on national organizations?
The Summit is very much a reflection of my personal skill set and interests. My skills lie in developing consensus in the national sphere, not in the regional, local, or international spheres.

In my view, the Pagan movement is comprised of a series of concentric circles or spheres. At the center of the spheres is the individual Pagan. Enclosing the individual is the local sphere. Enclosing the local sphere is the regional sphere. Enclosing the regional sphere is the national sphere. Enclosing the national sphere is the international sphere. Each sphere is vital for the whole to function well.

The spheres are also a continuum for ritual and administrative focus. At the individual level, the focus is entirely spiritual. There is no need for administration of any kind. The local sphere is also almost entirely spiritually-focused, though administration is needed for the development of ritual groups or for local education or service activities. At the regional level, there is more of a focus on administration (publications, festivals, e-mail lists, conferences, etc). Ritual needs are less because rituals are less frequent for this large body of people. The same idea continues in the national and international spheres, which are almost entirely administrative and organizational (interfaith dialogue, public education efforts, national and international leadership conferences, networking and resource-sharing, etc).


For the Pagan movement to function effectively as a whole in all these spheres, meeting both spiritual and administrative/organizational needs, we need to identify and leverage our resources in each sphere. Each person within Paganism has something to offer in one or more of these spheres. If each of us does her/his part, we will have a truly vibrant and sustainable Pagan movement. Communication (symbolized by the purple arrows) must move through all spheres (from individuals to the international sphere and back again) and exist within each sphere in order for the system to work effectively.

What I have to offer the movement are my organizational and leadership skills, particularly in coalition-building within Paganism and strategic planning for interfacing with the mainstream culture. Rather than try to reach all people in all ways, I focus on doing my small piece for the greater good of the community as a whole. It is my hope that others whose skills lie in other areas will offer their gifts to the community in order to better us all.
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Why an invitation-only event?
There are two reasons: one was to limit the size of the event to something I could comfortably organize by myself (since I do not have a group of local volunteers standing by to help), and the other was to be able to keep the focus on the national sphere. My intention was to broaden the circle of OurFreedom list members without diluting the trust and cohesion we have worked for so long to build. My hope is that others will build on the "summit" concept so that representatives of organizations in every sphere will be able to participate.
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Do you intend to impose doctrine on Pagans?
There was no discussion of beliefs or theology in the Summit. There was never any intention to discuss doctrinal issues or in any way issue statements concerning definitions or Pagan beliefs. The focus of the Summit was on Pagan infrastructure issues (leadership, funding, solidarity, conflict resolution) and on our relations with the mainstream culture (media, government, interfaith dialogue, public service in secular culture), not on issues of belief. Our goal is to organize around shared values and goals, not shared beliefs. The Summit was an example of how we can preserve the integrity of our distinct faith traditions while working collectively toward shared goals. We encourage organizations to provide members with definitions of their particular faith as well as identity on the meta-level as Pagans.
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Will there be another Summit?
I have no plans to organize another national Summit, though I may do so if events warrant. It is also possible that others will organize another national Summit. I plan to compose a "Guide to Organizing and Hosting Summits" which will be available on this site for anyone who wants tips on creating her/his own.

There will certainly be local and regional summits, some of which are now in the planning stages. If you are interested in creating such an event, I encourage you to review the "Guide to Organizing and Hosting Summits" when it becomes available on this site.
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Where do we go from here?
The answer to that question lies largely with individuals. Summit attendees have committed to sharing the insights of the Summit with the larger Pagan community through festivals/conferences, publications, and the Internet. There are a variety of projects planned to build on ideas generated at the Summit. I expect the "ripple effect" of the Summit to be substantial. It has certainly made a profound difference in my understanding of leadership and has "raised the bar" for what standards I expect Pagan organizations to have. We feel very hopeful that this small step will have far-reaching implications for a stronger, more vibrant Pagan community.
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