CubeSpace's Saga

So, it’s been abusy  few days, and the best way to catch you up on it is by directing you to some other blog posts. First, I’ll try to tell the story very briefly.

As many of you know, my wife Eva, and I own and run CubeSpace. Last Tuesday, our landlord, US Bank cause a summons to be issued to begin eviction proceedings, to take place on Wednesday (1 week and 1 day later). It took Eva and myself about 2 days to figure out what they were up to, at which point we realized that we and CubeSpace were pretty much finished financially. Friday, around 12:30 PM we posted this letter on the CubeSpace Blog: http://cubespacepdx.com/node/2012.
That’s when the fun began.

It ignited a twitterstorm. Almost immediately, a website to collect contributions was put up by friends of CubeSpace. Someone else put up an auction site to benefit CubeSpace.  Friday afternoon, this article was posted to the Oregonian’s website, and was printed in the paper on Saturday.

We received a response from US Bank, with some options Friday afternoon around 2:30.

Saturday was not a Shabbat, by any stretch of the imagination. We spent all morning responding to emails, well-wishes, and the like. We put up another blog post with updated information: http://cubespacepdx.com/node/2013. Eva posted another letter to her personal blog yesterday afternoon: http://catherder.wordpress.com/2009/05/23/the-little-engine-that-might/ .

This morning, we gathered with a small group of advisors, and we are in negotiations with US Bank. We will  go radio silent about progress until these negotiations are concluded because we are legally bound to be quiet about them until they are concluded.

Again, we are so grateful to everyone for all the support we’ve received. And we’ll update you further in a few days.

Good News That Wasn't

It’s all over the twitterverse right now: The California State Supreme Court just overturned the gay marriage ban. What we have learned more recently is that we are all basing these tweets on links to an article which is dated 2008 (a year ago). Thus, it is not, in fact, true.

Watching the elated exclamations followed shortly thereafter by dejected realization that Prop 8 remains in effect has been hard. The let down of that realization is hard. Again.

And again I find myself frustrated and bothered that people are so insecure in their own marriages that they feel those marriages will be threatened if gays and lesbians are allowed to marry. I perform weddings because I believe them to be a sacred act between people who love each other and are making a commitment to one another. When I do weddings, I like to include a mention of the lack of marriage equality as an issue. I would perform same-sex weddings, were I asked. And I remain astounded by the bigotry of the American people, and the willingness of the courts to allow that bigotry to stand.

There are constitutional amendments that are not constitutional. A ban on African-American drivers, for instance, even as a constitutional amendment, would not, I think , be constitutional. I would argue the same is inherently true of same-sex marriage. Marriage, as a legal institution, either exists for everyone or no one. As a legal institution, it is on a par with the formation of a corporation (indeed, it seems to be very similar to the formation of a corporation). As a spiritual issue, neither the voters, the court, nor any government body get a say. That’s what separation of church and state is about. It means that I, as the interpreter of Judaism, have the authority to make the decision about who may spiritually wed in a Jewish setting. It also means that other rabbis, ministers, etc., may choose to differently interpret who may wed, and may not be forced to celebrate same-sex weddings if they violate their understanding of their spiritual tradition.

Once again, I find myself worked up over this issue. Not because of a twitter meme that popped up mistakenly today. Not because little has changed on this issue today (though the governor of New Hampshire did announce today that he would sign a gay-marriage bill). I am worked up because I live in a country (and state) where the majority of the citizenry are bigots and the courts have not acted decisively on this issue. There will come a time when we look back on this era, not with amazement at how fast things are changing, but with disgust at our hypocrisy, as we now look back at the segregated south.

There are those who point out how far we’ve come, and how quickly. And it is true. Just a decade ago, when I talked about same-sex marriage, everyone else in the room thought we’d be lucky to see it within our lifetimes. Nonetheless, it is not acceptable to congratulate oneself on the pace of reform while in process of moving from moral bankruptcy to moral compliance until the change is complete.

We will get to a place of equality. We will overcome this legalized bigotry. But until then, our world is broken.

On Gratitude

In the last 24 hours, I’ve twice had someone express gratitude to me in a meaningful way. Both times were really influential in my mood, so I thought I would share them.

As I was walking out of the grocery store yesterday with a couple of items in my reusable shopping bag, I noticed a woman struggling to lift a bag of dog food out of her shopping cart and into her car. I asked if she’d like a hand, and she responded that, no, she had it in hand and it was all gravity from here (as she let it fall into her hatchback). I thought nothing more of the encounter and proceeded to walk home. A block later, she pulled up beside me and said, “thank you. I just wanted to let you know that you made my day.” Such a little thing I did (actually, offered to do, since she did all the work), and it made her day. And in turn, she made mine by helping me to see the difference I had made in her day.

Today, as I sat at the frontdesk at CubeSpace, someone with whom I worked on barcamp came in for a meeting and handed me a gift bag as a thank you for all the work I’d done on barcamp. First, I want to be clear, it’s wonderful to be thanked for that work, and a gift, any token, really does convey that powerfully. Secondly, I opened the bag…and it contained yarn. Not just any yarn, but Yarnia yarn. It’s a beautiful mix she made of greens and maroons, bamboo, hemp and rayon fibers. It’s a wonderful meaningful expression of gratitude  because she got me something that is near and dear to my heart. It’s not just a token…it’s a token for me, which adds to the sense of gratitude.

So now, I am sitting here being grateful that I live in such a lovely place, with such wonderful people, who expres their gratitude.

Writing While Tired

I’m sure I have a great post just waiting to be written, but I can’t figure out what it is. In a nutshell, that sums up my experience of today. Brain  not quite clicking, lots of stuff to get done, but it all seems just out of sight…

BarCamp was wonderful, but 250 people (plus or minus) in CubeSpace for 2 days takes a fair amount out of me (and everyone else). One day off between BarCamp and Monday doesn’t seem to be quite enough for recovery. Leaving me somewhat brainless.

Therefore, I ask your pardon for the lack of scintilating content in this post (all the other posts which lack scinitillating content? I apologize not at all). In the meantime, I hope to wake up and return you all soon to my normal content…whatever that may be.

CubeSpace Spiritual Community

Eva and I have one rule we try to abide by: we don’t do CubeSpace work on Shabbat (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. We don’t always succeed, and there is one event a year we know we will be working: BarCamp Portland. We do this for 3 reasons:

  1. It’s a lot of fun.
  2. It’s great marketing for CubeSpace to have 350 people come through.
  3. We aren’t set up to have 350 people come through CubeSpace without us being present.

Nonetheless, it does mean working on Shabbat. Which made me think about the intersection of spiritual community and CubeSpace community.

In many ways, it feels like the CubeSpace community has become my spiritual community: it is the group that it feels “right” to spend Passover with. It is the community I share news with. It is the community I enjoy partying with (see above re: BarCamp). So spending Shabbat this way does not feel entirely inappropiate.

While there is definitely the resting and recharging element of Shabbat, there is also the celebration and joy element. This week, clearly, is going to be more about the celebration and joy. This week, will be about connecting to the community. Partying with some of the folks I see daily, and some I see only once a year, and no doubt meeting some new folks. It is the opportunity to learn something new…and maybe teach something.

Tonight and tomorrow will be a whirlwind of food, fun, friends, and general geekery. I will emerge at the end exhausted, but having had a good time. In Judaism, we most often pray in community. We most often practice spirituality in community. Today, the Portland Tech Community gathers together, and joins in a spiritual event, even if I’m the only one labeling it as such. It will involve our spirits, affect our spirits, which makes it spiritual (the fact that we’ll be drinking spirits is just a bonus).

Shabbat Shalom, all…or at the very least have a raccous Shabbat of celebration.