As a long-time city repair organizer, volunteer, co-direct, etc. who went through a lot of interpersonal issues and personal burnout leading to resignation. I want to thank all of the different perspectives that have been raised in this discussion. I have been reading all of them and thinking about posting but just waiting until i know what i want to say.
In the nine years that i had been involved in City Repair, I have seen a tremendous amount of changes. There has always been a "new age" element, so i don't think that it's that big of a deal, though i am concerned about the element moving from a equal part of our community to preventing people like the initial poster from feeling confortable.
My impression of the VBC central venue was first that it was a beautiful and incredable feat- one of the most detailed and expressive and expansive projects i've seen. In many ways, the event did strike me as a little "rave-like" as some has said in the thread. This wasn't too much of a surprise since it has been the vibe of many of our fundraising events. Asking around, it seems that many of the people who had been working on those fundraising parties where now taking central roles in organizing the VBC so it makes sense that they would bring their aethetic with them. From reading the conversation here, i would recommend that they think about how their aethetic chioces such as music type and the tuning-fork dude,as well as locatation in relationship to neighbors, role of the central venue as the central "barn" in the barn-raising process rather then as fund-raising event, effected long-time supporters of the movement who expressed alienation. to those who were feeling alienation: relax, it's a ephemeral expression, it isn't permanent, it will change next year, it's one snapshot on the 1000-year process of recovering our ability to talk to each other.
In my time in City Repair. I've seen a lot of projects fail. I've also seem some succede and many many more shine just long enough to show that we are getting near something important. then the light falls and all we have is the memory to start up the next project. these little ephemeral glimpses are important because they keep us adaptable. Each T-Horse was a product of the momemt and was often happening in a completely chaotic way, but that kept it magical. I would say that, in hindsight, 20 percent of the VBC sites were disasters- neighbors fought and didn't recover from the fights, the things we built weren't what we hoped or they melted before someone could build a roof or whatever. but i stand completely behind the other %80 and if CR can keep up doing so much more good then bad, then it still has my support and heart.
It's important for those still inside city repair to remember the possitive work that they and others inside and outside of the org do. For example, I went to the Earth Day Celebration after a hiatus on CR events and i had such a good time. It was the start of spring and it was so important for rekindling conversations and the networking that we have to do each years and the rains recede. People were having fun. But then i ran into some VBC organizers who said "oh, Earth Day is too much work for such little benefit!! they should build something lasting like us!" i think this is silly. The ephemeral and the formed need each other. It takes real people IN portland getting to know each other before an event like Earth Day can even be successful and then it takes many events like earth day to get neighbors to the point where they can collectively imagine something to do during the VBC.
Yes the VBC is mainly little COB kiosks. if you have a beter idea, what don't you talk with your neighbors and see if they would be into it. Make sure to talk at length with the people who disagree and hear what THEY would rather have - maby your idea for a cob drumcircle hut in the middle of the street could be turned into a brick performance ampetheatre to the side of the intersection and now they are into it. who knows. the reason it is little cob kiosks at this point is that that is the extent that those neighbors can agree on. someday it might be green low-income housing, and neighborhood orchards, and revolution, etc. etc. but let's not get ahead of ourselves...
anyway, much love to all those who work so hard to make CR happen including those who provide the essential feedback. I've already given my time, so I look forward to attending future events and seeing where the new folks take it.