Intimacy in Community with Dave Booda
Inside Community Podcast — Ep. 019
Hear from intimacy nerd Dave Booda, about why intimacy is so important, get new ideas on prompts that can lead towards deeper connection, and discover ways to create a safe container to meet people where they’re at on their intimacy journey.
In this episode
- The importance of sharing from a deeper place (0:00)
- Intentional community (6:11)
- Preventative sharing and community glue (13:13)
- How to get out of the victim mindset? (21:30)
- How to be more intimate in community (25:00)
- How do we create a culture of normal? (28:37)
- Pushing into the hot-button tough conversations (35:16)
- A special message from Daniel Greenberg (41:44)
- Reframing unmet needs as jealousy (45:10)
- Exercises for journaling (52:31)
- Intimacy conversations about gun ownership (59:01)
- The importance of touch and personal liberty (1:04:52)
- How to start a cuddle party? (1:10:08)
- Boundaries and naming our needs (1:15:36)
- How to find a way to be yourself (1:21:45)
About Dave Booda
Dave Booda is a writer, musician, and social entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of Intimacy Fest and hosts The Darkness Experiment. He’s led over 400 workshops on connection, touch, and relationships and has consulted for and facilitated experiences for companies, communities, retreats, and gatherings of all kinds with the intention to inspire authenticity, connection, and group cohesion. He’s published over 200 essays for boodaism.com and played over 1000 shows as a touring singer songwriter. He is a former naval officer and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, currently serving on the board of directors for the Foundation for Intentional Community, while touring and living at different intentional communities in North America.
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Thanks from Rebecca, your podcast host
Dave Booda 0:00
I don’t think we can share that enough. I don’t think it’s like, oh, well, I say I told you that 10 years ago that I go through that, why don’t you remember, you know, it’s like no like that is that’s the layer deeper that if we can share from that place. And if we can remember that that’s important so that we create containers to go back to that place and share on a regular basis, because we don’t just think about it all the time. And we want to help ourselves by creating systems that allow us to do it. Like if we can talk about that with each other. Now that now our the soil is much more fertile, to be able to, like, grow new ideas and relationships and be creative, and
Rebecca Mesritz 0:42
hello, communitarians and welcome back to the inside community podcast. I’m your host, Rebecca medcerts. Are you the kind of person that totally geeked out on connection and intimacy and just loves going deeper and deeper and deeper with the people in your life? Or are you the kind of person where long hugs and eye gazing and a deep sharing of your internal landscape just sends you running in the other direction? Or do you find yourself somewhere in the middle? Maybe you enjoy emotional or intellectual connection, but physical connection is way more challenging, or vice versa. Regardless of where you might fall on the spectrum, if you live or aspire to live in community, or are on a collaborative culture journey of any kind, chances are pretty high that you are going to need to at some point, push into your comfort levels around intimacy and connection. My guest today is a dear friend and a total intimacy nerd, and we’re going to talk about why intimacy is so important. We’re going to get lots of ideas on prompts that lead towards deeper connection and learn how to create a safe container that will really meet people wherever they’re at. So please stick around. We are going to have a few words from our beloved sponsors and then jump right in for an intimate conversation with Dave Booda. koho us is the hub of the cohousing movement, convening individuals and organizations with a shared vision for intentional community living. expert led courses and forums on the cohousing Institute, provide the skills and expertise to build and sustain your community available both live and on demand. Join coho us for the commons a monthly gathering space for the cohousing curious the 10th of every month at 10am Mountain learn firstname.lastname@example.org. For more than 50 years communitarians community seekers and cooperative culture activists have been sharing their stories and helpful community resources and communities magazine. Over the course of the magazine’s history communities has published essays and articles from community all stars future thinkers and wisdom keepers on virtually every topic related to forming, maintaining living in an even leaving community. You can gain access to all back issues in digital form. Plus receive current print or digital issues by subscribing now at Gen hyphen us.net/subscribe. A complete Article Index, community index and issue theme list are all available online. To help you find the inspiration you’re looking for. Dave Booda is a writer, musician and social entrepreneur. He is the co founder of intimacy Fest and hosts the darkness experiment. He’s led over 400 workshops on connection, touch and relationships and has consulted for and facilitated experiences for companies, communities, retreats and gatherings of all kinds with the intention to inspire authenticity, connection and group cohesion. He’s published over 200 essays for buddhism.com and played over 1000 shows as a touring singer songwriter. He is a former naval officer and graduate of the US Naval Academy, currently serving on the board of directors for the foundation for intentional community while touring and living at different intentional communities in North America. Dave Booda, welcome to the Inside community podcast.
Dave Booda 4:33
It’s great to be here.
Rebecca Mesritz 4:34
It’s so lovely to have you live and in person, my my podcasting mentor in many ways. Dave, I I love to start my interviews by asking folks to tell me a little bit about their community and we’ve got some shared community history and you’re sort of on a bit of a journey community journey right now. So I’d love to hear your Yeah, just sort of what your what your vibe is.
Dave Booda 4:59
Community vibes. So I started my community journey, probably 2018, officially by moving to the Emerald village, the community that you started with nine other wonderful folks that’s in San Diego, lived there for five years and didn’t expect to stay actually initially just came for what I thought was like six months because I was talking to other friends in the area about living in community and I was so stoked on it. And it seemed like everybody, you know, wanted to do that, but it just wasn’t that important at that moment. And I was like, Okay, guys, well, I’m gonna go do it. Because I probably should get some experience anyways before I actually do this thing. And so I moved to EVO, and lived in a tiny little eight by 12 room with the door opening in and fit all my stuff in there I was I am still a minimalist, but I was very much minimalist at the time. And it was pretty easy for me to do that. And I just ended up yeah, just loving it, loving the people, the pride, the land, all that it was just a really sweet experience. And so ended up staying for five years. And then last January of 2023. left there. And I’m here in terra lumen with you and some other folks that are performer EVO people. And I’m here for the summer basically building out a sprinter van, which will allow me to travel and be a cliche millennial van lifer. And, and my intention is to go visit different intentional communities and play music on the road lead some workshops, maybe film a documentary, or I don’t know, see what kind of trouble I can get myself into creatively creative trouble. Yeah, so that’s I fully intend to live in some sort of form of potential community for the rest of my life. I’m not interested in anything else. That’s where it’s at.
Rebecca Mesritz 7:01
Yeah, I actually agree with you on that one. I’m also a big fan of intentional community. Well, you know, there’s so much that we could, that we could dive into right off the bat, I think, you know, we have a shared love of human relations. And that was the circle that we were on together at at EVO. And the responsibility of that circle was really kind of crossing gossip, that circle sanctioned gossip was definitely part of it. But no, but attuning to the emotional connections, sometimes the spiritual connections of the people on the land, and really helping to nurture and foster connection and intimacy. And that’s really what I want to talk to you about today. Here. Yeah. And maybe you could just describe for the listeners a little bit about what that is for you. Like, what is what, why, why is that important for you?
Dave Booda 8:08
Yeah. As Kyle, as Kyle shinners said, the other night, when we were talking about sort of just overall, being vulnerable and opening up and how he wishes I was better at that. He’s like, Well, Dave, he’s like, urine, you know, you do all this intimacy stuff, you’re like, you know, you have all these tools. And, you know, you do these workshops and festivals, because you need it. And I’m like, Yeah, I know. You know, I, I did not. I mean, I had a wonderful childhood, I grew up in just the most, you know, charmed way I could imagine. And also, I think, which was a function of kind of our upper middle class, socio economic world. People were not people wanted to keep things copacetic you know, convivial, if you will have been, I wanted to throw in that word for you. And, yeah, so there was not like, the hard stuff didn’t get talked about it was you know, my dad owned a oriental rug store, and it was sort of, we swept things under the rug, you know, golly, you know, and, and that, you know, because we wanted to keep the peace, you know, and that was a noble thing, but, but not talking about the hard stuff is harder. And then I got into a relationship in 2012, with a woman who had the exact opposite childhood of me, and grew up in Poland. And if you know anything about Polish people, or just Slavic people in general, they, they don’t pull their difficult conversational punches. You know, they are just straight up honest. And it was incredibly refreshing. And also difficult. I mean, we would, at times, I mean, we would go to like a workshop or a friend of ours and like 10 minutes and it kind of sucked, and she’d be like, okay, Let’s get out of here. I’m like, we’re gonna offend them and be like, Yeah, but you don’t want to be here, right? I’m like, Yeah, I don’t want to be here. She’s like, let’s go. I’m like, so hard. And so yeah, her name is Paola and, and was, yeah, I never thought about it as like, she was such a I mean that she’s certainly I learned a lot from her, but like, starting to see now Oh, like that was she was a real teacher for me in coming out of this, like, let’s not talk about it thing. We worked together, we did a lot of workshops together. But yeah, the short story of it is that I just needed tools, I needed ways to, like, you know, get closer to people, like be more vulnerable, you know, express my emotions, have emotions, to begin with, feel emotions, and have feelings. And so me bring being kind of a scientific brain kind of person, I just had to develop all these frameworks and understand things from a pragmatic place where then I could kind of tell my mind, hey, it’s gonna be okay. This is the reasons why, if we share with this person, all the things about us that are horrible, they might like us more.
Dave Booda 11:14
Doesn’t seem like it will. But you know, here’s some examples of that working, you know?
Dave Booda 11:22
Yeah, I just, it’s, it was I think I really remember I remember it was about 12 years ago, or so I was running like a men’s group thing. And I just had a revelation that it seems so obvious now. And I think it’s obvious to most people in a way, but it was just like, oh, to that sharing, and being vulnerable with each other is gonna make you closer. And it’s just, um, it’s, I mean, I say it now people are probably, like, it was this guy. But yeah, it was just like, wow, that’s, that’s so simple. And, and I could just use that, like, I really, I could, the things about me that I didn’t want to share that I felt insecure about, that I was ashamed about all those things like that actually became like an asset in my mind, because I was like, oh, because I used to be like, the everything’s awesome guy, you know, I would show up to like, you know, groups, and this was like, maybe 1314 years ago. And, you know, there was these these kinds of benefits, like a men’s group, or a different group where people were sharing and there was like, a check in and people were like, how you doing, you know, in homey life, and it’s like, oh, let’s get to me in like, Hey, Dave, how you doing? I’m like, I’m awesome. Everything’s great. And it felt authentic to me at the time, but what I didn’t get was that there was an opportunity there, to connect with people. And then it’s easier to connect with people over the things that you struggle than the ways that are things are awesome. And being awesome, can be vulnerable, too. Don’t get me wrong, like, and not to say that we should all be Debbie downers, but like, I was missing the opportunity. And I didn’t get it for a while. That there was like, you know, that I didn’t get like, I wasn’t I didn’t start listening to Leonard Cohen till later, you know, it was like getting to get the, the opportunity and the brokenness, you know, that we’re all carrying? Yeah,
Rebecca Mesritz 13:13
yeah. You know, there’s, there’s like two sides of this. There’s, there’s the, you know, life and community life with people is going to bring up conflict at some point. And there’s going to be a lot of opportunity to have people push into you and push buttons and give you reasons to get to know each other better. And for you to basically show your you don’t have to tell people what your your downside is, because they’ll tell you what your downside is, they’re more than happy. They saw it as soon as from mile away, and they’re happy to tell you about it. Yeah. And then there’s the other side, which is kind of like the preventative sharing side that I know is something that you really advocate for and are proponent of. And just, you know, as I’m thinking about these moments of vulnerability, and conviviality, as you were saying, and something we talked about before is that, you know, something that’s really big, that we’ve talked about on this show a lot is community glue. And these opportunities for people to come together and build positive experiences with each other so that when those shadow moments come up, when those processi trigger moments come up, you’ve got enough fuel in the tank, enough good energy in the tank that you won’t, your relationships won’t be burned up by talking about tough topics. And so we’ve talked about things that build community glue, you know, potlucks and community dinner community, work party, any kind of party You know, physical touch, things like that is all really, really wonderful, but sometimes doesn’t really bring you to that intimacy of that actually doing work together. And intentionally revealing sides of yourself that you might typically keep very private. Even Even people that are in long term relationships with another person have full sides of themselves that are just their internal landscape. And not to say that there’s necessarily anything wrong with having your own internal landscape. But how do we, you know, what are some ways that that you have found that people can start to open up that sort of hidden inside of them in a way that feels safe? And
Dave Booda 15:53
I needed that structure for sure. Like, if you know, it’s not, there are some people like our friend, Kyle, who, for him vulnerability, and just the letting people in is a little easier. And he just, that’s, you can just have a potluck. And that might happen, you know, I needed something a little more intentional, I needed like more of an explicit invitation, or like, Hey, we’re all doing this, right? This isn’t just me, you know, like, you share, but then I share and then you know, and so what I would do in both my relationships, my long term relationship, romantic relationships, and at EVO, with the community stuff, and workshops, and all that is, is trying to create containers, where, like, hey, the point of what we’re doing here is sharing the things we don’t want to share. And that that really is, I also give, you know, a lot of I really, I learned a lot from authentic relating communities. They do so much with sentence stems and prompts of sharing that I find so useful. So like, an example would be like, something I don’t want to share is, you know, and it’s like, okay, that just speaks right to it. That goes right to the heart of it. I remember I led a retreat for a men’s group, folks that we had been meeting, like, you know, every week or so, for a while, got we knew each other pretty well. And because we were had built that kind of trust, you know, when the exercises, we I said, Alright, great, here’s the exercise, you got five minutes speech, the title of the speech is everything I don’t want you to know about me is the other 20, guys, and just just listed off all the things, and sure enough, afterwards, like we all feel closer to each other, you know, and I think we got to see that maybe there was some themes you like, you know, we’re all insecure about certain things. So I think it becomes a kind of a bomb for us, because then we realize that our problems are not as unique. And that maybe everybody is struggling with certain things, you know. So yeah, so, you know, the first thing is really just to have that be intentional. And to make it a thing that we’re all bought into, you know, and hopefully that that’s, you know, you get people to buy in, in a nice conceptual way, too, right? It’s not like we’re like, oh, tricked. Yeah, we’re all going to share our insecurities right now. But it’s like, hey, like, this would be like, can we all can we all agree that this would be good for us? Do we, you know, what are some reservations? Okay, okay, here, you create, let’s do this instead. Okay, like, great. It’s everybody feel safe and good about doing this idea of sharing things we don’t want to share. Okay, great. You know, let’s make it a container. Okay, get in groups of three, you know, and, you know, person with longest hair and go ahead. Do you have two minutes? What are some things that you typically hide? In my relationship with the aforementioned Polish woman Paola, we used to have like, kind of a monthly routine where we would kind of we’d call it we just like clear on our closet. And and we also had a relatively high stress relationship. I think we were it was my first polyamorous relationship. That was just, uh, at times a train wreck in that something I’m still glad I did. But was it was super hard. And, yeah, it was just it was not, it was not an easy relationship. So we were like, okay, but we really loved each other. And it was when it was great. It was great. So we would do, let’s say, every month we’d get together and we’d say, All right, here’s a prompt that we’re both going to share on again, not one person not hot seat. It’s like we’re both in this. We’re both guilty. We’re both innocent, all that. What’s something you’ve been pretending you know? Like, oh, sit with that and like, oh, you know, bubbling or whatever. I’m in pretending to like, you know, this meat loafer I’ve been whatever, you know, when I was with you When that other guy I was, I was kind of hiding that I’m kind of crashing on him because I was afraid you’d be. you’d react a certain way. Like, okay, great. And thank you, again, because it’s a container, there’s a much less chance of me flying off the hook, you know, flying off the handle and being like, Oh, I can’t believe you said that bad. Because I’m about to share. And then she listens. And there’s like, a, there’s a, you know, there’s a balance there. I think that happens. I mean, and and it’s wasn’t always, you know, it wasn’t always like going further. I mean, the examples we’re giving are, like, you know, pretty deep topics, but something as simple and we would play this game often, which is the what I appreciate about your game. And we just say, hey, kind of in a moment, Vicki, and I do this too, you know, which is like, okay, we’re, there’s something it’s the feel, feeling tone in our relationship right now is like, like, Would you like to play this game? Because what I realized is, in that moment, or in the moments preceding that is that the reason I was feeling that way is because I was playing the opposite game, which is I was collecting in my head, all the things I don’t appreciate about her. And that’s why I was feeling the way I am. So I thought, well, do we want to try something else? You know? And would you like to do that with me? And what that looks like is is, yeah, let’s let’s just go back and forth. What I appreciate about you is, and usually, the first or second one is rough, because it’s like, I don’t appreciate anything about you.
Rebecca Mesritz 21:30
Nothing, you can just get out,
Dave Booda 21:33
like passive aggressive, who’s just like, Well, I appreciate that you did one dish today. And again, we wouldn’t actually say that, but that’s what happened in our brains, I’m sure. And, yeah, and it’s like, oh, but you know, you squeezed that first one out, and then it kind of unlock something and you’re like, oh, and then it’s like, it’s like creativity, you know, like, or you start, you just put your paintbrush to the, to the, you know, and then it’s like, oh, oh, I got an idea. You know what I this, I like this, I’ll paint today, you know, and it’s like, oh, starting the appreciation, momentum. And then all of a sudden, by the third or fourth one, you’re actually like, Oh, I got lots of ideas. Oh my God, there’s so many things that appreciate you, oh, my God, I’m feeling better. This is great. You know, and,
Rebecca Mesritz 22:16
and I’m not in victim anymore. So I’m like, Yeah, we’re
Dave Booda 22:20
appreciated, which is feels great. You know, people were like, you know, you’re there. And you’re like, oh, fuck, I’m crying Jesus, what’s going on here? So yeah, it’s, you know, little things like that. But but just, you know, coming up with structures that are balancing out our very human tendencies to make ourselves victims vilify the other person, you know, just just be jerks. Because that’s what we do is we’re humans. And so a lot of that stuff that Powell and I came up with, you know, from 2012, to 2016, on in a romantic relationship. That was all the stuff that I brought to evil and anything we did, Eva was very inspired by our relationship and us needing to work through being a freshly minted polyamorous couple and all sorts of difficult things. And so there’s no minting process. There’s no like, there’s no. Committee or to get a badge, you get wounds, and that’s your stamp. But, um, yeah. And so the there was, that’s the general thing. Yeah.
Rebecca Mesritz 23:21
So you know, it’s interesting, because I think about people, like, I’m going to say, people like us, I’m going to put us in a category together and say, people like them, not them. But us people like this. And I’m sure there’s a lot of listeners out there who are also like us, and that they really love, intimacy and connection, they really geek out on kind of talking. And for myself, I know that I learned I had a tough conversation last night, where a dear sister my, you know, dear dearest sister, just sat me down and really shared some places where, you know, my, my mental health and how my mental health has been sort of has been quite off of late, and how that’s affecting her and not to make me wrong or shameful. But just having like, a really candid conversation about this is this is affecting me, and how this is affecting me. And actually, through this conversation with her, I learned a lot. I mean, it just in my own sharing, and in my own response, I learned a lot about how I feel about my mental health and the places where I have been, for example, withholding my love or withholding my attention or not making myself available because I’m feeling kind of wounded right now. And so there are people in this world who I would say, like us, who learn that way, learn that way about themselves, and actually really enjoy and aspired. to being more connected and intimate with the people around them. What I would be afraid to do or hesitant to do is assume that all people that want to live in community operate that way. And I think a lot of people who live in who want to live in community recognize that maybe like your former self, who didn’t have any training, and that maybe they’re feeling called to be in community because they want to have more intimacy, but it’s also very triggering for them are very difficult. And maybe that’s, you know, something, you know, they’re autistic, or they have some other type of thing going on that is not neurotypical and makes it difficult to have those kind of react interactions like that, or culturally, socially, you know, I’m thinking about our dear friend, Eric Parsons, who, you know, we would have these moments of deep connection, and he would just be like, peace out. I can’t, I can’t like I don’t want to I don’t this is sometimes sometimes sometimes he would. Sometimes he would. And he definitely over the years. Got more more into it. But for some people, it’s really a struggle. And I know that you talked a little bit about creating a safe container, and how do you feel objections? I would love to hear just a little bit more about how people who are in community or aspiring to community can create inclusive containers where everybody feels feels safe. Safe? Yeah, share.
Dave Booda 26:34
That’s great. Well mentioned some great question. That’s great. That’s great question. thoughtful question. And shout out to your sister to who I feel like gets a lot of a shout out on the show. And appropriately, so she’s a wonderful person, and also like a sweet like, partner to you, and lots of ways. So yeah, I’ll give us an example. I’ll say first, that I love that I can kind of talk about polyamory and like play parties. Because when I joined the fic board a year ago, like, you know, okay, I’m part of like a organization now. And I just hadn’t been part of organizations for awhile, and I didn’t realize that like, oh, like, I can be, like, open about my weirdness. And that was, so that was just nice. Normally, like, if I was doing a regular podcast interview, I wouldn’t like, bring up sex party examples, but it’s a relevant example. So yeah, so they’re in a play party community that that I’m a part of. And I’ve been kind of organizing for many years, there’s a guy in it, who is definitely neuro atypical. And he, I think, is coming into the understanding of that for himself and, and unable to articulate it. And, and we, there was some things where he was making a few people uncomfortable, but I also noticed that he, he was very hit a lot of integrity. So if he understood something he would, he would really, he, once he understood what the need was, and what was there, he’d be great, which to me is a great sign. It’s like, okay, we can work with that. And I sat down with them. And, and I was like, and he’s also I think he’s like six feet tall. And he’s like, big and hairy. And I was like, you know, we could talk about the the neurotypical thing, and all that, but also want to acknowledge that, like, you’re Russian, and we’re in Southern California. And so this, like, culture is also really important here. You know, like, So, are you on the spectrum? Or are you just Russian? And this certainly we and we joked about it, but it’s probably true, because, you know, we haven’t we have certain assumptions being upper middle class people in the West Coast, basically, California issue and you’re in we’re in Oregon now, but it’s kind of extension of California culture in a way. And sorry, sorry, Oregonians Newsflash, y’all moved here from California. But, you know, it’s like, so it’s, so what we consider normal is just what we’re used to, it isn’t necessarily normal. So that’s a good place to start. You know, it’s just like, we don’t want to pathologize people who are different, because they might just be normal in their own world. Right. So I don’t
Rebecca Mesritz 29:25
want to pathologize anyone. This is part of it. It’s part of what I’ve learned from being in relationship with someone who’s autistic is, you know, when she talks about owner neurotypicals, like, there’s a word for us. You know, I mean, I don’t consider myself neurotypical because I got my own host of things going on. But I recognize, but I recognize that I’m also not autistic, and this sort of where’s the middle ground, like, you know, not just for autistic people, but for everyone you know, for anyone that’s coming in to a community where they might feel like they’re the other, you know, there’s a level of vulnerability that’s going to be difficult to, to cross over, you know, without similar shared, you know, history culture, ideas about what normal is? Sure, then how do we, how do we create a culture where they don’t feel like they need to pretend or mask or do something that’s really unusual for them? Like, what about the rest of us, maybe we should all be pretending and masking and doing something that’s unusual for us instead of meet in the middle. So
Dave Booda 30:34
that’s what I’m saying. So it’s like it, I think, to sometimes you do have just a way that your group is, and it may be that you all grew up in privileged, you know, whatever thing and that’s fine. And there’s something wrong with being like, Hey, this is just what works for our group. And that, but it’s another thing to say, Oh, this is this is just a healthy way of doing it. And your way is not not, you know, and so, I think it’s about parsing out those and again, still maybe choosing that like, Hmm, like, we do need the ability to sit down and have these difficult conversations in this certain way that we kind of prefer. And without that, that it’s kind of unworkable, you know, and that’s okay, but not saying like, okay, it’s just like, we’ve done human being right. And you’ve done human thing wrong. And here we are. And I’m sorry, you know, and so, yeah, that that’s, that’s why I mentioned the culture thing. And, yeah, there’s just different ways. I mean, that’s, there’s a, I want to give a shout out to this wonderful podcast called The Autistic culture, a culture of autism, or autistic, I forget, it’s my friend Angela Lauria, and in her and her podcast partner do this show. And it’s, it’s, it’s about how it’s seeing autism through the lens of more of a culture than disorder, right. And it’s just then then they go through in each episode is like, they talk about like, Eminem is autistic. You know, Disney is autistic are these things like, we love these things we love have a lot of elements in them that are that and it’s just, again, about reframing it from this is a disorder. This is different. It doesn’t mean it’s, we should not, you know, say a times that doesn’t work. It’s okay. Like, but it’s just different in the same way that someone who’s like, you know, from Russia, and is going to have some friction when they moved to Southern California, where everybody’s like, everything’s great. No Love and Light, everything’s fine. This guy’s like, What are you talking about? Like, why would you just tell me if I’m doing something offensive? Like, that’s not cool. And so, yeah, so that just, that’s been a learning thing for me and kind of parsing that out. I think you’re which I forget what your original question was.
Rebecca Mesritz 32:52
Back to Yeah, just coming back to you know, how to actually create those safe containers where people from diverse backgrounds, diverse abilities can show up, feel held and safe in the tough conversations.
Dave Booda 33:09
So yeah, I think it’s it’s a dance between you can I think you want to accommodate, but I don’t think I think that that can also go too far. Our friend Eric is a good example, actually. Because I don’t know if this may be after you guys left. But I, he shared a meeting, or I realized that he was like, you know, I don’t mind sharing this stuff. But I just don’t like doing in a big group. And I was like, Oh, we can solve for that. That’s easy. Getting groups of three, go ahead. And he was much more comfortable in a small group. Yeah. So I was like, Oh, perfect. And that was always in my mind, every every thing when facilitate when he was there. Not if he had an unreasonable request. He said, Well, I want to share, but only if bluntly, and it’s like, hey, you know, I’m not going to go like there’s a work ability to, to accommodating people, but when it’s, you know, relatively easy, like, great. And again, I think, you know, some people like Eric are giving voice to something that other people feel to it’s not that everybody else in the room was just like, over the moon about sharing in front of 15 people, you know, and so, oftentimes, they’re representing something that is workable for other people, but they actually have a preference to not do that, too. So I think, I think, you know, individualizing and talking to people like what about this works for you? And how can I how can we accommodate this? You know, I, again, I think you can take that too far. And you can lose the potency of something if you’re if you’re trying to make everybody feel perfect and accommodate for every single thing. But it’s really good to start with that question and go, like, let’s hear what it is because actually, it may be really easy, or maybe very doable. And if you don’t ask the question for fear of, well, if they say something that I might have to say that’s not workable, then that’s not as good you want to ask and fight I know what people need, you know, what their preference would be like, if you could, if this one, this meeting, and this little group processing thing that we’re doing was just like, your jam? Or if this could be more toward what you like to do, you know, what would that look like? Yeah, I don’t know.
Rebecca Mesritz 35:16
So, you know, I think one of the things that that helped EVO coming into, into being was that we had a culture among the the 10, founders of basically a process work that we did together through our, through our spiritual mentor. And a lot of what that was was very deep personal sharing about our personal processes. And I think that there that’s, that’s one side of this is sort of the, you know, what am I going through right now? What are my shadows? What am I working on? What am I trying to grow through and being able to be in a place where you can receive feedback or reflection around those things. The other the other side of this, which is one of the things I really want to talk to you about is, is starting to push into some of the other kind of hot button, tough conversations. And I think, particularly for forming communities, this can be really important, because as you’re coming together with a group, you might have a lot of harmony around how you relate your desire for personal growth, your the things that you enjoy doing together, like, oh, yeah, we all enjoy gardening and good food, and we like to cook together and cuddle, okay, great. And then you get into the sort of brass tacks of the structure of your community. And this is something we ran into even starting EVO, we’d all been playing together and partying together and having so much fun and doing all this great stuff together. But then we sat down to talk about some tougher topics like guns, or sex and sexuality and community, you know, some of these other things that is more about your values. And in some case, your morals or your ethics, then it is about whatever your personal growth points are. And I’m wondering, you know, I just want to start to frame this conversation in a direction of how can we support people? How can people be supported and having conversations around those kinds of topics where their values and their beliefs about things might be really different?
Dave Booda 37:40
Well, I think it’s, it’s a great question, first of all.
Dave Booda 37:48
You know, we talked about this, and we mentioned this, like, an hour ago, we’re talking about this, but it I think it’s, it’s good to start with that, that friction is normal. That friction means you’re not in a cult, where everybody’s being brainwashed to believe the same thing. That diversity of opinion, and values and even morals is what creates resilience. It’s like, you know, there’s a reason why like, genetically incest is a bad idea. It’s like we want diversity, it makes it makes a stronger organization. And I think it’s good to start with that. And also realize that especially if you’re coming from a not having lived in community much or having grown up in community or if you’re coming from a standard kind of nucular family individualist culture, like almost all of us are, we’re used to that kind of being like, like, that’s just like, Why do I have to deal with this? Like, can’t Can I just kick this person out of my house and just go back to my family? Know, I don’t know, like, where Amazon solve this problem for me, Jeff Bezos come in sell me something.
Rebecca Mesritz 39:02
Dave Booda 39:05
we’re used to that. We’re used to being avoided that you know, because we have, we can buy autonomy, or we can, you know, create more privacy or we can do all these things. That’s fine. I’m not I mean, I’m you can hear probably a little bit of judgment in my voice about it. But at the same time, it’s like it is what it is like, that’s the advantage the advantages of not living in community is you get to do things your way and tell people they don’t like it, they can fuck off, you know? Well, you can’t do that and community and that’s okay. You know, it’s like that saying, you know, if you want to go faster, go alone and go to farther go together. Right. And that’s written on the walls of communities all over the country and and so, to start from that, like, oh, here we are, we disagree. We’re having disagreements that feel like their relationship, ending disagreements that are fundamentally just like impasse. There’s nothing we can do. Like that’s that’s the point. Like, that’s, that’s okay. If you weren’t having those conversations, then I think it’s time to do a little like, you know, cult checkup. You know? Like, if you’re not disagreeing on anything ever, in the fundamental way that seems like it’s gonna break up everything who’s being brainwashed? You know, when look, look around, is there a charismatic leader, Dave? Influencing everybody and making everybody cuddle all the time? I don’t know to be careful that I got that’s me, by the way, I’m sorry. But so that’s, that’s a that’s a good place to start. Because it’s like, oh, great, we just take a breath like this is not a problem. Yes, it’s not a problem, something that I learned in the polyamory world is like, when you feel jealousy in a relationship, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with relationship. It’s like jealousy is normal. You can, it’s just means that also, there’s some unmet needs there. It’s like, it’s okay to be jealous. Great, you know? So it’s okay to have those differences that feel like their relationship ending. And you just like, take a breath, like, okay, got it. This is what makes us more resilient. This is what makes us stronger. This is why we’re here. You know, and, I mean, we’ve talked a lot about the community here. And I’ve said this many times with both Evo and here is that I love the diversity of, of the owners, and the folks here and what you all bring, it’s all essential, essential, and like, if you took one of you out, there’ll be a big gaping hole in the values and the morality and what you carry. And, and I think that just if that’s actually just held and remembered, most of this is not that hard.
Rebecca Mesritz 41:44
Hey there, friends. This is the part of the podcast where I usually take a little break, and ask you to consider making a donation to the show. But for this episode, I have a special message from Daniel Greenberg, the new co director of the fic. So please stay tuned and hear what he has to say. And we’ll meet you back in a few minutes.
Speaker 3 42:10
Hey, everyone, my name is Daniel Greenberg. And I’m so excited to join the fic as co director. Every year close to half a million people visit icx.org seeking community through our free online directory, as well as our bookstore programs, forums, and other valuable resources. That’s truly amazing, and makes us and hopefully you very happy. And we’re still a nonprofit, and we need your support. With the decline of course registrations in the post COVID economy, we’re now in the position of needing to raise $45,000 to make it through 2023. The good news is we’re poised to take a quantum leap in our engagement with our networks and the world. Imagine a North American communities council meeting at regional and international gatherings. Imagine expanded networks and groups and more resources, courses and events to bring a greater sense of community and belonging to millions. It’s all possible. But to get from here to there, we need your financial help today to support our small, dedicated team that works tirelessly behind the scenes to make it all happen. The threat of closing our virtual doors after 36 years is real. Please good ic.org/donate today and give what you can to ensure our online directory will remain free and updated. And so we can continue offering unique and helpful resources to everyone who envisions a more just resilient and cooperative world. That’s icx.org/donate In case you missed it, please contribute today. Thank you.
Rebecca Mesritz 43:51
catice is not your everyday architecture firm. Their interest and regenerative and community supportive design has cultivated an expertise in intentional and cohousing communities, with the focus on rich and healthy human experiences. Design Excellence and pragmatism are at the core of their work, as is an ethic of service to the client and natural or urban environments. Cactus is a leader in sustainable design, Zero Energy homes, passive house and delightful neighborhoods. They are experts in grassroots community engagement and apply attention sophisticated design and creative solutions to every project. If it’s worth building, it’s worth building it well find caddis on Facebook and Instagram. And it Catus pc.com That’s CADDIS pc.com
Rebecca Mesritz 44:50
So you said something really interesting to me, which maybe you’ve said before and I never heard it, but it just hit really deeply right now around Jealousy being sort of this symbol of a bastion of unmet needs, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with it. I like this idea of when there’s things going wrong, in your opinion are things that are not as you would want them and community, you know, similar to the socio kradic idea of of using objections, as as fodder for creating better ideas, and really being willing to look at the things that we don’t like so that we can get as information as information and sort of similar to this idea of jealousy being the symbol of the unmet need is, wow, you know, can we take these places where we’re uncomfortable or something’s not not right, and reframe it as what what need is not being met right now. And I’m thinking about this, as it relates to boundaries, and the containers that we create, you know, I know, we kind of chatted a little bit about this in our pre interview, but, you know, there’s so many times where I feel for myself for myself, and I know as well for other people, but definitely for myself, where sometimes I’m a very boundary person, this is boundaries are not a place that I typically struggle, but I still find myself as a person who was raised as a sis woman, you know, Jen, you know, raised as a woman, have this aspect of like, not really wanting to name my boundary, sometimes for fear that it’s going to affect the others. opinion of me, or I don’t want to say I don’t want to say what my unmet need is, because I don’t want to make someone feel bad for not meeting my needs, or, you know, there’s, it’s, it can be really complicated. It’s not as simple as okay, we’re just gonna sit down and talk about what our unmet needs are, there’s, there’s sort of this peeling back, sometimes as we talk about boundaries, or unmet needs, or things that we want to see happen or desires. That feel very tangled in our social relations. So I might not want to speak to the fact that I’m not happy with the situation because I don’t want the other person to feel bad for not making me happy or feel like they did something wrong. And then I might, because of that lack of willingness to share, then I don’t share, I don’t share, I don’t share all the while building resentment till it comes out, you know, six months later. All that to say, you know, Paint me a Picture, paint us a picture of what some ways to kind of an untangle that knot might might look like and ungroup.
Dave Booda 48:11
So my friend Reid Mihalko, has a phrase that he’s loved. He says it’s simple, but it’s not easy. So I’m gonna make it sound really simple, but it’s not easy. You know, if I could it, since we are recording this, and I do have a recording of what you just said, like, I could copy and paste that last two minutes of what you said. And if you shared that, it would be great. And the amount of times I’ve, I’ve called up a friend and said, This is what’s going on bla bla bla, I’m sharing vulnerably with them. And I’m wanting to correct a situation with a partner, the amount of times they’ve been like, Hmm, you should just say that. I’m like, Cool. Thanks. Again, it’s like I the amount of times I’ve, you know, I still forget this, but it’s like the the, the epiphany of this isn’t like there, what you’re describing is a complex scenario, there isn’t an easy answer for it. And we would like there to be because we would like to avoid all the messiness of everything you just described, which is a very common human experience to have all those. And what you’re describing is, everybody goes through that. That is what it’s like to have to be a human is to struggle with that I want I don’t want to make you feel bad. I don’t want to make you feel rejected. i I want to be feel resentment. If I say yes to something I’m not yes to great like, and it’s like, we, I don’t think we can share that enough. I don’t think it’s like, oh, well, I said, I told you that 10 years ago that I go through that Why didn’t you remember, you know, it’s like no like that is that’s the layer deeper that if we can share from that place, and if we can And remember that that’s important so that we create containers to go back to that place and share on a regular basis, because we don’t just think about it all the time. And we want to help ourselves by creating systems that allow us to do it. Like if we can talk about that with each other. Now that now our soil is much more fertile, to be able to, like grow new ideas and relationships and be creative and all that, but it sounds like that’s, I think, the simple answer to it. It’s just like, we have to, like, we have to let people in and let them know that that’s what’s going on for us, and then invite that in, you know, an exchange, like, what’s going on for you, or lets, you know, hopefully, you know, and most of the time, when we open up to people, they open up to us, we shouldn’t do it as a coercion course of thing, but it’s just what happens oftentimes. And we can go one step further and create a container. So this is, this is an opportunity to open up, do you want to do this? What do you think this is what it looked like? Good. Put a timer for like a half an hour and then have some cookies afterwards? Like, what do you say? And they’re already smelling the cookies you want to get? They want to get the cookies in the oven. That’s important. Yeah, and I emphasize that bias, that’s really important. And I’m sure I’ve done it over the years where I kind of just rope people into that, but it’s like, Would you like to do this? Like, you don’t have to? Yes, fine. But like, Can I invite you into this conversation that’s gonna be might be kind of uncomfortable. And, but here are the benefits. And I, you know, I’ll share, I’ll start, you don’t have to start. I’ll start, I’ll start the thing, you know. And that’s usually how I wrote Vicki. And like, she’s like, I’m like, you want to do this? And she’s like, No, I’m like, Well, I’ll start. And then I’ll do it. And she was like, you want to share now? And she’s like, No, I was like, well, I’ll go again. Okay, here’s another thing and then decline. Alright, I’ll share. And because it’s yeah, like, it’s, it’s a it’s, it’s, it’s, you know, there’s a there’s a there’s a it helps both people when when you can share, and it’s there whether somebody feels ready to share their or not. So that’s my short answer to that.
Rebecca Mesritz 52:06
Yeah. I mean, is it something that you feel like people can do? I guess, this would be great for people and, you know, relationship, you know, do with one other person or do in a small group do in a community? I mean, it seems like that would be a very,
Dave Booda 52:24
yeah, it’s the exact same
Rebecca Mesritz 52:26
structure that how would you structure that as like a group conversation
Dave Booda 52:30
in the community? Yeah.
Rebecca Mesritz 52:33
What are some exercises or something that,
Dave Booda 52:35
you know, I mean, most of the exercises I make up like the switch and close with the center’s exercise. So I have some things in the past, but like, what I’m thinking about right now is like, when I think about these conversations, I always think about journaling, you know, because journaling is so honest, hopefully, if you’ve not honest in your journal, they then journal more, because that’s a good way to make sure you’re honest in your journal, but like, you got a journal with a lock on it, no one’s gonna read it. You write in that, and you can be totally honest. Cool. So what we’re going for without it being feeling pressure is other people seeing what you write in your journal, maybe not literally, maybe literally, maybe what we do is we, we write we take take a half an hour and a group exercise and journal about what’s happening. And we know because it would be an honor, that’s conceptual, the other way we know what’s gonna happen next is we’re going to pass it to the person to our right, or something, you know. But like, that’s, it’s just like, there are a myriad of ways to get at that experience. Hey, we’re gonna just give it all give everybody five minutes to share, share, and I think a good facilitator will is important. I don’t want to underscore that this is like I’m saying it’s easy, but a good facilitator is going to help is going to keep people out of like a story that spins out. And in that, like, how are you feeling like how did that make you feel like okay, the president like what’s here in for you right now, you might be feeling things because you’re thinking about things in the past, but talk about what’s happening right now. And giving people a chance to share but I think I think the the the idea of like, if we could all just see each other’s journals. That sounds like horrible because there is such a preciousness and a privacy to our journals. So I’m not saying we should invade each other’s bedrooms. But if if that if we could make that accessible through sharing, and it’s powerful to share it to so it’s like, you know, okay, I might write it down and give to that person but like, maybe another, a spicier way to do it is to share it is to actually say it, or to read it. Maybe it’s easy to write it and then read it maybe you know Mmm. Maybe it’s cute if you get up and share, but that and then there’s also two minutes for people to ask questions. Not passive aggressive questions that make you feel bad, but like questions like, okay, okay, guys, what we’re going to do in this group is we’re going to be like, we’re going to be like, curious from our hearts about what’s going on with this person. And how can we, how can we what kind of a question can we ask? Or maybe, maybe we maybe if it’s a group that that has the potential to kind of go bad, maybe you give them a prompt, okay? The only thing like the sentence stem is like, could you share, but could you share more about how you felt when blank? Yeah, pretty, pretty hard to go step on a landmine with that, that prompt. And again, if somebody’s like, goes off to the facilitators, like, Excuse me, John, remember the sentence stem? Could you feel could you share more with you about how you felt with blank? Okay, thanks. Can you share about how you felt with you know, seeing your roses die in the garden the other day or whatever?
Rebecca Mesritz 56:00
So I like, what I like about some of these conversations, it’s sort of in my mind is like, you know, partially? What’s the benefit? How do you describe what the benefit of this level of intimacy might be to someone who doesn’t inherently value intimacy?
Dave Booda 56:21
Sure. That’s a great question. I mean, the last few times, I was saying that to be cheeky. Because I haven’t thought about that. It really, it’s like, it’s so obvious to me, in a sense, all the benefits, of course, because intimacy is great value intimacy. Yeah. So but that’s really sweet. What are the benefit? What’s the benefit to that? Well, I’ll start by saying that, the, if you don’t do it, pain, pain sucks. Pain and suffering. Because, especially if you’re in relationship with somebody, which either living in community with people or in a romantic relationship, but that person is in your life, in a way parents and other one, they’re in your life, period, end of story. Even after they die, they’re still in your life. And so avoidance of pain is a nice one to start with, you know, I mean, not sure I might get all excited about the high, like, you know, we could be so close and we can love each other and it’s great. But on some level, it’s like, doing nothing is not nothing neutral, it doing nothing is is you’re going to have to deal with the riffs and, and relationship riffs are like dogshit. Like, they don’t just sort of go away after a while, and they get worse and worse and worse and worse. And I’ve experienced that, in my own family. And I’ve experienced that I’ve seen in my life, I’ve seen that play out where a little rift, little fucking thing that could have been nipped in the bud turns into like a 30 year Cold War. I mean, it is, it is to say it’s tragic, is just the understatement of the year. It’s and, and so if anything, there’s like a, okay, this is a good investment. You know, I mean, when I think about if someone was like really concerned about money, I’m like, Alright. You know, think about, think about all the ways you’ve had to spend money to, because you’re, because your relationships suffered. Whether it’s, you know, you’re having to borrow things, instead of, you can’t borrow something from your neighbor, you need to buy, I need to buy all my own stuff, because I don’t trust this person anymore. You know, we, there’s, there’s, there’s a lot of things, but I would start with like, okay, like, there’s pain and suffering here. If we don’t do it.
Rebecca Mesritz 59:01
I’m just thinking, you know, there’s been these moments, I might have even talked about this at some point on the on the show, but in the early days of, of evil before evil was even an evil before we bought land or anything like that. We had had some conversations about firearms, and, and some of these kind of practices we employed as we had this conversation because there were some very visceral reactions to how we talked about gun ownership and keeping guns on the land and if that was okay, or not, okay. I’m just thinking about that moment. Now that, you know, yes, these kinds of intimacy conversations can be very valuable when you’re talking about interpersonal issues, but as you’re talking about, again, values, how the community is going to be structured will people We’ll be permitted to be nude. You know, this is for some people, people like to be naked, you know, people like to be able to be out in their garden and doing their thing and don’t want to be told otherwise, for other people. That is, you know, put that away, I don’t want my kids to see you in that way, you know, like, whatever that looks like. So being able to have these conversations about things where people feel really safe to share. Well, this is my actual concern. My concern is that if we have guns on the property, one of the kids might get shot, like somebody could get injured. There’s lots and lots of data out there that says, people that own guns have a much higher likelihood of getting shot, right? So how do we address that right now, and sort of having a really neutral space where people feel safe to share their actual fears or actual concerns, helps to kind of uncover those underlying reasons behind objections that are not just like, well, I just don’t like it. You know, I just don’t want that here. It’s like, okay, let’s go. Let’s go a little deeper and see if similar to I don’t want to come share, because I just don’t, I don’t value intimacy. Okay. Well, let’s, let’s talk about that a little bit. Like, why don’t you want to share? Oh, because you don’t want to share in front of a group of 15 people. Now we’re, you know, we’re starting to be able to meet people where they’re at, and, and address those needs on a case by case basis, which feels really beautiful.
Dave Booda 1:01:31
I want to reference something that was said here on your podcast with Dave Hanson, that I just thought summarized, the opportunity of community so much, and so beautiful it is is this idea that what we get to do with the opportunity that we do we get at intentional communities is to solve the, or create micro solutions for macro problems, you know, in the world. So guns are a great example. Like, clearly we haven’t worked out a gun solution in America. But when you EVO did, like, I never heard one peep about people being upset about guns, I think for the most part, it got resolved. I’m assuming I moved there about seven years after you started, but and so it’s like, that’s beautiful. That’s awesome. We I thought I thought we did. I thought we did a great job with COVID. Yeah, you know, and we had the whole spectrum, not the whole spectrum. We had a pretty good sized, pretty good spectrum of beliefs and morals around COVID, and vaccines and all that stuff, for sure. You know, and, I mean, I boy, I was that was, that was the some of the most beautiful, committed time, though that year. I mean, God, I mean, we, I can say this now, I think, but it’s just like we, we intentionally, like, didn’t tell people how good our lives were like, because we were not, we were like, boy, if people knew, we’re killing it over here, and having a blast, they’re gonna go crazy, you know, they’re, they’re gonna bring upset, we’re gonna make him feel bad. We don’t want to do that. And part of that was that we kind of landed the COVID plane in like, a couple months. And it took maybe the larger culture, maybe like a year to land it in terms of like, understanding it. And, again, COVID also changed. So I’m not saying that our conclusion on like, May of 2020 is the same with May and 2021. But it’s like, you know, we just we had and we had, sometimes more than one meeting a week about it. You remember that? Like, we we met, like, every week, and iterated and iterated and heard everybody and Okay, good. Oh, this is your opinion. We had a committee of like, three people was like, Amy, Jose, and Kyle that were like our health department. We like, you know, pop up health department. Okay, great. And they were just doing research all the time, because that’s what they do. And that was great. And I could trust them. Because I know, like, oh, you know, like, Amy got it. i And I love having someone in the community that I actually feel like, I don’t have to do that research, because like she’s done for me. And so we were able to solve that problem. I think we were able to solve the gun problem for us. I do think it wouldn’t be crazy to look at that solution. Go maybe that’s that little middle ground. Anything you guys found, maybe everybody else could do that as well. But the reason we could do it is that there was enough goodwill, those bank accounts weren’t empty. Because those conversations are withdrawal. They’re hard, you know. And if you’re coming into a meeting, and your bank account is overdrawn, it doesn’t matter. You can have all the techniques in the world you can have the best facilities in the world that shits gonna go badly, you know? And so the thing you know, I’ve I’m always harping on it’s like filling bank accounts. I think the conflict takes care of itself if the bank account is an if you have a good relationship bank account. But yeah, like
Rebecca Mesritz 1:04:52
kind of respect for each other. I mean, we despite our very different. I mean, on some level, you can look at EVO as a was a monoculture, but there in truth was a lot of diversity of thought of belief of moral approach. You know, I mean, very, very widespread from, you know, I mean, just even in the, like, spectrum of sex and sexuality, you know, like, monogamous Christian, you know, or, or Jewish, like practicing religious people who have a very one very straight way of looking at things versus polyamorous, more open, more expressive, more inclusive around ideas of sexuality. And yet, inside of all of that, we were able to, to coexist, and we had a deep level of respect for each other, and a deep honoring, I guess, a desire, I guess one of the shared values would be, yeah, a belief in personal liberty like you do, you just don’t tell me how to do me. And, like, if there’s something that arises where things feel in conflict, having those containers that felt like a good place for people to share and talk about that, I think is a win. Sure, I want to touch on one thing before we wrap up, which I know is something that you kind of geek out on. And it’s touch. And like how, you know, we’ve talked a lot about this, like sort of emotional connection, and, you know, talking on tough topics and things like that all very important. But I do feel like there’s a piece of your wisdom that’s really around physical intimacy, as well, and the importance of, of touch and that type of connection. And, you know, kind of coming back to some of the things we talked about earlier, where that’s really uncomfortable for some people. And I definitely want to talk about that as well. Like, how do how, how do we start to think about, you know, touch positivity, safety, consent, boundaries, you know, like holding that container a little bit. Because I do, I mean, in my experience, I enjoy touch. Sometimes I don’t always enjoy touch, it definitely doesn’t like, Get off of me. Um, but I also recognize that there is a certain magic that came in our SoCal community, because people were very touch positive. And people up here in Southern Oregon, northern Northern California has a great white north or whatever this is, as you would call it. But people who were up here, a lot of people in this in this community that were in the greater Williams community or Southern Oregon community are not as as touchy feely, not as likely to just start massaging each other and being in that. And not to say that one’s better or one’s worse, although I think we both have an opinion about which one’s better. But yeah, I mean, I just want to hear from you a little bit about the importance of touch. Yeah. And how to sort of frame that inside of communities in a way that can feel really safe and like it’s giving. Yeah,
Dave Booda 1:08:10
not important at all touch. My Can we all just not touch each other? Yeah, no, I’m a very touchy person. I remember. Back in my Naval Academy days, this is an example of not touched culture. So just to sort of highlight how weird it is. A lot of times I’m ton of recalling this I, I went to a concert. This guy, Mike Eriko, was like very small, independent artist, and I’ve just loved his music. And I took my, you know, college, Naval Academy roommates along with me, and you know, we’re just like, I went up to Matt for the show. And I was like, Oh, my God, Mike was so great. And he’s just like a hippie from New York, you know, and, and I was like, yeah, anyways, like, that was great. And he said, thanks. And then and then he gave me a hug. And again, this sounds so stupid now, because I’m like, I don’t remember the last time I shook someone’s hand at this point, but like, and my roommates were like, afterwards, they’re like, Oh, dude, really? Like you hugged him? I’m like, and it was weird. It was weird back then. Right? Like, it just is weird. In American culture, with escalating touch, and there’s going to be this, you know,
Rebecca Mesritz 1:09:18
non related adult male, right, right. Right, embracing
Dave Booda 1:09:23
where to go to be gay, you know, like, and it’s like, okay, so. So that’s awkward. It’s okay. That’s just where we’re at. How do we, you know, again, how do we create some containers for that? I just, it’s like there’s anything that’s not happening naturally. Just needs intention, and effort and commitment. And I say commitment. I don’t mean like, oh my god, huge thing. It just needs like, if the river is going one way, it’s and you wanted to move, like you’re gonna pull some dirt and put it in the banks and like that’s, it’s just not going to happen unless there’s concern effort and a priority given to it. And if it’s not going to happen, then fine. Let it not happen. Don’t sweat it. Okay? You know, so it’s like, okay, so we want to we want to do this, we want to put intention to this. I mean, that’s, like, you guys are smart. Like, you could you could totally figure that out if you want to do it. It’s if you if you said, That’s my project. Yeah. What do we start with? Do we start with like, you know, naked? Spooning? No, let me start with like, a hand massage. Or we start with like, just, you know, like, if we, if we’re used to, like, maybe hugging people, and then we hug, you know, like, try a 22nd Hug, you know, when there’s like, studies about releasing oxytocin and all this cool stuff that happens when you hug someone for a long time, but like, yeah, just go for that, like, does
Rebecca Mesritz 1:10:47
it send you into sheer panic? Right? Exactly.
Dave Booda 1:10:51
Hopefully, and hopefully, but again, that’s you, you’re creating, you’re creating an informed consent, right? So you do these things, you know, let me do this 20 minute hug a 22nd Hug experiment with a random, you know, like, at random? No, it’s like, Hey, there’s this thing, can we try this and again, with with your sister, whoever, like, find the number, that makes sense. It’s like, we’re just trying to expand, where we’re at, we’re not trying to be somewhere, like weird. Other touchy people are, we’re just trying to, like, grow a little bit and not send anybody into a panic, because then they go three steps backward. And we want we don’t want that. You know, I think that there’s also something to be said for. Like, what we think about touching massage, we typically think of like, kind of a more like a yin, soft way of doing, which I love, and I’m all about it. But I think there’s actually also just beautiful, touching interaction that can happen. On the other end of the spectrum, you know, maybe more typically male or whatever, Yang thing. And it’s like, wrestling is great, like wrestling is touch. You know, I had to wrestle my 100 pound dog yesterday, because he was getting all aggressive. And as much as I was bummed that he was getting aggressive. That actually feels good on some I like it, you know, and hope he doesn’t be a jerk anymore. But it’s like, wrestling is great. I mean, no, Kyle, and I wrestle with each other a lot. Right? And it can I think that that is often a block for men, because they feel like, Oh, I can’t, I can’t touch because if I’m like touching, like, and that means something about me. You know, it’s like, you know, like, whatever, you know, beat each other’s chests, you know, like, I love getting massaged by men and men are strong, like, great. You know? I don’t know, I mean, so I think finding, you know, seeing that there’s a there’s a spectrum of how we can interact physically. Understanding that part of the reason we don’t do it is because in our culture, we think that touch it means sex and touch escalates to sex, always. And so if I touch someone, that means I’m gonna have to have sex with them. And if it’s a man, that means I’m gay, and if it’s a woman, that means I want to cheat on my husband, wife or whatever it’s like, okay, great. So that’s just there. Like, it’s okay. Like, again, friend of mine who started the Cuddle Party thing. 20 years ago, did it in New York City in 2004. And, you know, he got a group of adults together that were it he created, the conditions and the set of rules where they could cuddle with each other, and then go home. And it was nonsexual event. And he was very clear about that. And it never was a sexual event. I mean, he there was a container and facilitators. And it made national news and he it was like the talk of the town. New Yorkers are getting together and cuddling with each other. Holy shit, everybody. And that just shows where we’re at. You know, I mean, that was around the time, Janet Jackson showed a nipple and the fucking country went crazy. Cool. That’s where we’re at guys. Like, it’s alright. We’re still kind of Puritans from the 1600s. And we’re working with it. But let’s take it slow. You know, like, let’s, let’s, let’s see, if we have an intention to expand it. I think that’s a great idea. I think it’s needed. It’s, it’s, you know, as someone who yap yap yap talks a lot, I find when I can connect to people through touch, it’s just so much more effective, and builds the kind of trust and relating that I like, and conviviality. And so, I know you use the word conviviality a lot. That’s why I think it’s fun and I didn’t I’ve only heard it through you. I think so that’s why I keep bringing it up. Anyways. So yeah, so I like I think, but it has to be like we have to, we have to start with an intention and a priority. And a container for that makes sense. And not trying to blow up people’s nervous systems. Like start slow. I love hand massages. I think foot massages are great. Just like real low hanging fruit. Yeah, for the most part on like how to touch people when not Starting with like breast massage or something, you know, we’re not like, you know, and it’s like, no, just and again, just like. And again, if you set a container for like, Okay, we’re going to try is like a little 10 Second hug, saying, so here we are in our community meeting before we, before we start, let’s all just, you know, mingle around and hug someone, but you know, do it for at least three breaths or something, whatever. It doesn’t have to be like, linear time in your mind as you’re hugging someone. But yeah, like, try that. And that’s an invitation. So if you don’t want to do that, don’t do it. Chill, hang out, just breathe on your own hug yourself, fuck, I don’t know, whatever.
Rebecca Mesritz 1:15:36
Well, there’s something in all of that, too. To me that like kind of comes back to the beginning of our conversation around, you know, boundaries and naming, you know, both what we want or where we feel like our needs aren’t being met. Like, it sort of ties into all of that, because, in my mind, I’m thinking, you know, touch should be pleasurable. Like, what’s the reason for that? Well, because it feels good. It feels good to have someone like, my, my friendly love from Eva was just up here visiting and just like, she sit next to me, and just like with her fingernails, like really gently, like tickle my forearm. And I mean, we’ve been intimate friends, dear sisters, for so long that it’s, we don’t even I don’t even think it’s not something where she’d have to say like, Would you mind if I touched your arm right now? Sure, you know, we’ve built that. That feeling of closeness and intimacy, where we can do things to each other that feel pleasurable. And of course, there’s no, there’s not a sexual thing, like just a couple of girlfriends doing that. And I feel that way, also about, you know, you are Kyle, like men in my life, that we built this sort of pathway towards intimacy and pleasure that are not about sex and sexuality. It’s just like, we’re friends, like, we like each other, and we want to make each other feel good. And this reinforcing, when we do touch each other, and massage each other or scratch each other’s back or whatever that thing is, it’s kind of reinforcing that bond that like oxytocin or whatever, then that thing is, like, we’re getting that, that need met that I do believe all people have a need for that kind of feeling of like the reinforcing and the validating of that bond and that connection. And so the place where I see this being a little bit trickier, you know, is around as a community, or as a group of people are at the beginning stages of that. And, you know, honoring what might feel good, or what might not feel good, and what might feel dangerous, particularly, you know, there’s a lot between women and men. Sure, and predation. And me too, and all of those things, you know, and so, I think that some of these conversations that were talking about earlier, you know, really having those intentional mindful conversations, to say, hey, let’s talk about what what kind of touch we would like or what kind of things we would we would want people to ask permission for what kind of thing like if you ever want to come up and just like, rub my shoulders? I will. I will never, never, I pretty much never say no.
Dave Booda 1:18:23
And I’ve got that in my head about, you know, truth, everybody, but about you. And I do that. Yeah, absolutely. Not, because I do that to every woman I right approach, because I know that about you. Yeah,
Rebecca Mesritz 1:18:35
you know, yeah, so I like the idea of some of these intimacy conversations we were having earlier. Even coming back to let’s talk about touching our community and what would feel good for people and, you know, I love the idea of more people being in that bubble of, you know, we’re not afraid to like be the monkeys that are like picking on each other.
Dave Booda 1:18:55
No, you like, listen, like if you know, being intentional, being in an intentional community, you’re just gonna have to understand that you’re going to be a weirdo sometimes, like, it’s sort of like a good example is like I’m a singer and taking a lot of Voice Lessons over the years like vocal teachers are goofballs. Like you can’t sit all day and be like lalala lalala lalala rubber it’s the goofiest shit ever. And they’re all They’re all like fun, goofy people. That’s just like, that’s the nature of being a vocal coach is you’re just you kind of are goofy, and what it means to live in community. And unnecessarily but like it yeah, like your people are gonna look at you funny. Sometimes they’re like, oh, man, given some long hugs over there, like, oh, oh, he’s misogyny. Oh, but that’s not his life. And again, it’s like, okay, cool. Well, that’s yeah, I mean, do I do I try to be sensitive of other people in the supermarket? Yeah, I do. The same time. It’s just like, yeah, no, I get it, you’re projecting an desire for maybe a closeness with other people onto me. And in the form of some, you know, some throwing some shade and, okay, fine. But like, this makes me happy. And you know, this other person likes to do so it’s all good. And their husband’s okay with it. And yeah, sorry. Like, it’s getting over that hump of, of, how can I do this and not and still be seen as and not be seen as weird? At all that thing? Yeah, for sure. Oh, my God. I mean, you know, yeah, it’s just like, I’d love to Bianca’s, you know, the title of her TEDx talk, which is like, 50, you know, 50% more hippy than you’d expect it? Is, but it’s like, yeah, it is. It’s just like, that’s the nature of like, we’re missing that. I mean, it gets like go to Colombia, and like Venezuela, or whatever, people are touching and hugging each other. It’s not like because it really America, founded by Puritans, like, don’t forget this, like, we are not like, what’s normal here. I mean, even Southern California was normal, you know, even even up in this part of Oregon. This is touchier than some other places, like, you know, like, it’s, and it’s like, when we can step back and go, Oh, okay, cool. All that’s happening here is just like this awkward peer pressure. It’s not that I’m breaking some human code about how we’re supposed to relate. It’s just that this is what’s normal around here. And I’m doing some that’s not normal. Okay, fine. You know, maybe go to like, you know, yeah, I love like retreats and festivals as an opportunity to kind of get out of your bubble and experience something and then say, I mean, Burning Man is a classic example of what people do. They go to Burning Man, they dye their hair, they put on weird clothes, and they come back, and they’re like, maybe I don’t want to keep maybe I just want to keep my hair the way it is. And maybe I’m gonna keep this leather pouch on me because it’s very convenient for my cell phone and my phone, and my wallet. You know, and it’s like, okay, cool. You know, like, find the, you know, find those places where you can be not yourself for a second, and then come back and ask yourself, like, maybe I want to be a little bit of a longer hugger, and I’m a large male, maybe I should just check in to make sure that’s not a little like, much for people, because I understand now that like, maybe not everybody has the same experience as me, this is my own life story. Of course, I’m not gonna actually hug people a lot in my life and realizing, Oh, God, it not everybody is like me. But I still like that. So can I find those people? And then when I’m around people like Leila, oh, let’s just let’s just touch each other and go next. This is great. Okay, got it. How can I invite someone who’s maybe on the fence about that, but in a way that they can totally say no, and whatever. And yeah, again, not that I’m not trying to get them in bed. I’m just trying to create a closer relationship. I was at a group relations conference six months ago, is there’s a whole story about that it was it was this very kind of corporate II thing it was it’s this basically this group experiment where they just put a bunch of people in a room and they give no direction for like, the whole day. And then it kind of devolves into chaos. It’s a long story. But, you know, I stood up at one point, and I said, I kind of just made a random thing. I was like, you know, there’s a lot of tension in the room. I was like, I’m feeling a lot of tension and energy right now, one of things I like to do, when I’m doing that is just like, massage people. It is a way that I know, I really mapped by myself that if I give someone a back massage, I can like move, move my energy and feel a little better. So what I mean like a back massage, and again, that was super awkward. Trust me, it was at USD and all these other things. But you know, a couple people raise their hand, I was like, great, and walked over and getting back massage. But I just like, I don’t know that I that I know, that works for me. And I created a way to find a willing participant. And it was nice, you know. But yeah, I mean, it’s just like, I always come back to priority. I mean, this is the thing I thought about so much at EVO, which is like, we have the ability to do this, we know how to do this, what is in the way of this? And I think we just have to we have busy lives, we have so much going on, we have to choose, you know, hopefully not choose between, like our children’s dental care and this but like, you know, there are some less important things that maybe we’re filling our time with, you know, that maybe we could, you know, take off the docket so that we have time for this. You know, I mean, you’ve got a little touchdown, you know, living next door to you. Of course, Leila was talking about how every morning she woke up Ray went, just jumped in her bed with her and cuddler was amazing. That’s great. Kids are a wonderful for that, of course. The we just learned from them, they’re there. They’re the masters of this, you know, and just be really cute and approach anybody you want. But so I really just like I can’t emphasize enough. Like, if we want to do it, we have to make it a priority. Making it a priority means giving an energy and time. If we don’t want to make it a priority. That’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. Don’t beat yourself up. Go to the other things in your life and don’t expect to Have this improve? And that’s okay. Like it really is okay? Because if it’s the worst to be on the fence about that it’s the worst to beat ourselves up, because I want this, but I can’t. It’s like now, which is worse. Now, the fact that you know, and you’ve heard this conversation about touching, you want it, but you didn’t do anything, but now we’ve just made your life worse. I don’t want that, you know, like, it’s okay to not be into everything. But if something is kind of gnawing at you, and it’s really important, you know, ask yourself like, is it a actual priority? What would that look like, you know, the other people like you, you know, lonely math is a real negative one, plus negative one, two lonely people don’t add up to a doubly lonely person, they add up to two people that are actually happy and getting their needs met, because they’re not lonely anymore. You’re, the beautiful thing about doing this work on relationships is it is kind of anti individualistic, there’s no nothing you can do. That just benefits you. You know, it’s like you’re, you put an invite and create a dinner party, and all of a sudden, eight people benefit in you. But that’s what it means. When you go and find a nice consensual massage situation with someone, they get massaged, and you get the benefit.
Rebecca Mesritz 1:26:16
Is there anything else that you wanna drop in? Or any other points that you feel like been? I mean,
Dave Booda 1:26:23
yeah, there’s so many things, but I feel like we’ve said it all. Yeah, I mean, aye. Aye. Aye. I love I love helping create systems, and help people think through some of these things. And I’m going to be once I finished this van, driving around the country and stopping in different intentional communities and friends and things. And so if anybody feels like, Oh, I really like what that guy has to say. Feel free to reach out to me. Dave email@example.com, you know, probably be Oh, da. Yeah, I just I this is like, you know, I remember I said, I posted something on social media a few years ago or something. It was like I was. I was like, late as laying on a mattress and some living room with a few friends who just like cuddling and talking and we’re listening to like, listen to Ray LaMontagne, and I was like, I’m pretty sure this is the purpose of my life. Like, I just want to like, listen to good music, and lay with friends and have small talk. And just like that’s, I don’t know, like everything else I do in my life has to get there. You know, like, that’s the that’s for me. What a 10 out of 10 looks like. It’s pretty sweet. Unless Ray LaMontagne was in the room playing for us that might even be better. So maybe it’s like a 9.8 out of 10. But
Rebecca Mesritz 1:27:47
you’re close with him at the same time.
Dave Booda 1:27:50
He’s got a big old beard, you know, I bet she’s a great color and a flannel. husky voice in that way. It’s really nice.
Rebecca Mesritz 1:27:57
Well, Dave Buddha, thank you so much for being on the inside community podcast. My
Dave Booda 1:28:01
pleasure. Thanks. Thanks. Yeah.
Rebecca Mesritz 1:28:10
Thank you so much for joining me for another episode of the inside community podcast. If you are a community or organization that is interested in building more connection and intimacy, I really hope you’ll reach out to my guest today, Dave Bouddha. For support and that journey, I will have links to his website and email in the show notes. And I’m also going to link to the autistic culture podcasts that he mentioned. You might also recognize that Dave created the inside community podcast jingle that closes out our show. And that was really just a little fun thing that he did. He is a very talented songwriter, so I definitely recommend checking out his music as well. And on his tour, maybe he can come visit you and your community and play a show for you. Your financial support of this show is what helps keep us going. So please take a moment and visit ic.org/podcast and hit that donate button so we can keep bringing you inspiring and thought provoking conversations like this one. As always, if this podcast has been meaningful to you or helpful to you, please share it with your friends rate and review it on Apple podcasts and come find me on Facebook and Instagram at inside community podcast. I hope to hear from you there about how I can support you on your beautiful and messy journey to living inside community.
Speaker 4 1:29:36
Who left the dishes in the shared kitchen sink?
Dave Booda 1:29:39
Who helps Johnny when is too much to drink? How do we find a way for everyone to agree? That Sinsa commune
Unknown Speaker 1:29:54
it’s a podcast y’all
Dave Booda 1:36:33
Who left the dishes in the shared kitchen sink? Who helps her Johnny when is too much to drink? How do we find a way for everyone to agree? That Sinsa Can you it’s a podcast y’all
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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About the Show
The Inside Community Podcast brings folks along for an inside look at all of the beautiful and messy realities of creating and sustaining a community. We provide useful and inspiring content to support people on their quest for resilience, sustainability, and connection.
Meet Your Host
Inside Community Podcast host Rebecca Mesritz is a community builder living in Williams, Oregon. In 2011, Rebecca co-founded the Emerald Village (EVO) in North County San Diego, California. During her ten years with EVO, she supported and led numerous programs and initiatives including implementation and training of the community in Sociocracy, establishment of the Animal Husbandry program, leadership of the Land Circle, hosting numerous internal and external community events, and participation in the Human Relations Circle which holds the relational, spiritual and emotional container for their work.
In June of 2021, with the blessing of EVO, Rebecca and 3 other co-founders relocated to begin a new, mission- driven community and learning center housed on 160 acres of forest and farmland. Rebecca is passionate about communal living and sees intentional community as a tool for both personal and cultural transformation. In addition to her work in this field, she also holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from San Diego State University and creates functional, public, and interactive art in metal, wood, and pretty much any other material she can get her hands on. She is a mother, a wife, an educator, a nurturer of gardens, an epicurean lover of sustainable wholesome food, and a cultivator of compassion and beauty.
The Inside Community Podcast is sponsored by the Foundation for Intentional Community (FIC). Reach out if you are interested in sponsorship or advertisement opportunities on the podcast.