GSV 25th Anniversary Fund Update

Dear Brother,

First of all, let me thank you for your generous contribution to our Twenty Fifth Anniversary Gift To The Mountain campaign. Today, we have raised over $26,000!!

Initially, the monies raised were to be used in the renovation of Ascenders Cabin. However, after much consultation with The Mountain, it was decided that a new structure would be more beneficial to both The Mountain and to GSV. The new structure will be built on the site of Cabin 5 (see accompanying images) and would:

  • be a 3 story building – approximately 28 ft. x 48 ft.,
  • contain 7 double guest rooms with jack-and-jill baths,
  • a kitchen,
  • a meeting/dining room with seating for 30,
  • restrooms
  • meeting/lounge loft, and
  • two observation/gathering decks.

At the moment, we do not know when construction will begin. We have, however, been assured that it will start shortly after a majority of the funds have been obtained.

Once again, thank you, thank you for your participation in this project!


Wendell Johnson & Steven Berman, co-chairs

The Path Forward: 2015 Spring Update

Scout Glyph

Scout Archetype Glyph
from Andrew Ramer’s
Two Flutes Playing

In March of 2014, as part of our 25th Anniversary Celebration, the GSV Council organized a Visioning Retreat with John Ballew as a facilitator. This retreat, with about 35 diverse participants, considered next steps for GSV. The June 2014 Council meeting in Atlanta provided the first opportunity for us to consider thoughts from the Visioning Retreat and the recommendations from John Ballew’s summary. As a result, we’re evolving a plan called The Path Forward to help us take the next steps towards even more participatory leadership.

Here are some recent efforts toward implementing these ideas:

  • Recruit more diverse leadership drawn from the general community: Luis Alvarez as the 2015 Spring Retreat convener to serve a two-year term; Steven Wilson as a Walks Between Elder to serve a three-year term; and Wendell Johnson as a member with special skills (fundraising) to serve a two-year term. These additions represent both age and ethnic diversity for the Council.
  • Open up the Scholarship process to make it easier to apply for assistance and use scholarships to increase the diversity of our conference attendance. You will notice the largest groups of younger men and men of color at Spring 2015 in the history of GSV, partially as a result of this change.
  • Include more open space in our conference program for brothers to share their interests and gifts. You will notice these spaces in the Spring 2015 schedule.
  • Create a new, more inclusive welcoming statement to be read at the beginning of each gathering. Note the wording of the Welcoming Statement used at the beginning of the heart circle.
  • Demonstrate more transparency in the Council’s processes through providing more information online, more frequent communications with our participants, and community sessions at conferences. You will notice our constantly improving website and the community meeting at Spring 2015, intended as a time for the Council to listen to the ideas of conference participants.
  • Implement liaison training and empowerment. At our Winter Planning Day, January 18-19, we appointed work groups and liaisons (chairpersons) for the work groups which assist the council in producing the three annual conferences. Much of the Planning Day was devoted to training the liaisons. At the Spring 2015 Retreat, you will see activity by several of the work groups (Welcome, Ritual, Altared Spaces (prepares the altar). If you are interested in serving on a work group, see the signup sheet in the Commons, where you checked in.

We hope The Path Forward will support all of us in bringing our planning process into even greater alignment with the spirit of service, brotherhood, love, and encouragement which fills our gatherings.

Pat Boyle, Walks Between Elder, for the Council of Nine, April 24, 2015

2015 Spring Workshops

Terry and I are thrilled about our workshop facilitators! Two of the workshops are described below, and we’re still planning on setting aside several spaces on Saturday afternoon for anyone to lead a workshop or activity.

Franklin AbbottCircle of Healing

with Franklin Abbott
(and Bob Strain on music)

Energy is a nonverbal form of communication. We will be communicating healing through energy and touch in pairs and in the circle. This will be enhanced by guided imagery and music. The Circle of Healing format was used for over five years in a monthly gathering at First E in the early years of the AIDS epidemic to provide comfort and support for those infected with the virus and those in the community who supported them. It is not AIDS-specific and can be used in all forms of healing: physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Dev "Trinity"Let your kid come out to play!

with Dev ‘Trinity’

Using ideas from Transactional Analysis, Non-competitive play, Improvisation, and Theatre Games, the goal of the workshop is for each of us to get in touch with our fun-loving kid and let him come out to play. Most of the play is nonverbal, though that does not mean silence. It does mean focusing on our experiences when we get out of our heads and into our bodies. Touch is involved at a safe level and a participant may choose to sit out any game.

2015 Spring Retreat—Engaging in Communication: Paths to Connections

Engaging in Communication: Paths to Connections

As humans, we tend to compartmentalize ourselves. We sometimes see ourselves as part mind, part body, and part spirit. We even have different doctors for each one of these parts. However, all three parts are one and the same.

There is a concept in social work, Holon, which establishes that we are more than the sum of our parts. In fact, illness in any one of these areas affects the others. This spring we would like to engage all three areas—mind, body, and spirit—to communicate our needs. In order for us to communicate our needs to each other, we first have to connect with these three areas in ourselves.

As a practice, connection and communication offers two opportunities: one, to learn and internalize new skills and tools, and another to self-explore and express yourself on your own terms. This cycle of discovery continues throughout our lives; we often call it growth.

The Spring Retreat will provide safe spaces for us to explore how we communicate though our words, bodies, and spirits. When we cultivate an inner connection in ourselves, we can then connect with others. And for that, we have scheduled unstructured time throughout the weekend.

So, come brothers, and grow with us as we seek to create a spiritual community with the intent to heal, nurture our gifts and potential, and live with integrity in the world.

Peace and Love,

Luis and Terry

2015 Spring Keynote: Brandon Kazen-Maddox

Brandon Kazen-Maddox

Brandon Kazen-Maddox

Connection and communication is vital to human relationships and community. Brandon Kazen-Maddox practices connection and communication using an original art form he’s created called ASLAD, or American Sign Language (ASL) Acrobatic Dance. He says, “I want to spread its breath, lift, flips and sweeps far and wide across our world, in hopes that one day we humans might communicate through gestures that are so emotive, so communicative, that we won’t even have to look twice.”

A gymnast since the age of four and a grandchild of deaf adults (or GODA), Brandon maintains a professional career as a freelance American Sign Language Interpreter for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and has worked in the television and entertainment industry through shows involving deaf performers. He has also trained Chinese Acrobats in a Professional Training Program in San Francisco, CA.

Brandon’s unique perspective as a biracial, gay artist that has fused communication with movement can help us discover ways to expand how we connect. When asked if he saw his work as a spiritual practice, he said, “Oh definitely!”

About Brandon

Brandon Kazen-Maddox, Acrobat

Brandon Kazen-Maddox, Acrobat

Brandon Kazen-Maddox is a freelance American Sign Language interpreter in the Bay Area who focuses the bulk of his artistic efforts on blending the linguistics of American Sign Language (ASL), the explosive inverted qualities of acrobatics and the technique of various styles of dance to cultivate a new form of performance art he has named American Sign Language Acrobatic Dance, or ASLAD. Brandon has performed works of ASLAD in both live performance and video through his performance company, Body.Language.Productions. Recent works from B.L.P. include a video performance project for the 2013 Bay Area Deaf Dance Festival, an ASL dance duet choreographed by dancer and choreographer Antoine Hunter for the 2014 Black Choreographer’s Festival and an upcoming ASL project with Rosa Lee Timm, a notable Deaf performer whose passion is rooted in signing poems and songs in American Sign Language.

Brandon’s Mission: To meld the intricate emotions of American Sign Language, the kinesthetic dynamics of rhythm and dance and the percussive qualities of high-energy acrobatics together in order to create a brand-new medium of art that resounds within the souls of hearing and deaf people alike.

Brandon’s Motivation: His deaf family members, friends, and fellow dancers who have the ability to feel as far as the sky.

Brandon’s Muse: Rhythm, music, and dance that evokes the body to feel compelled to physically and emotionally express itself in a manner all its own.

Watch Brandon’s American Sign Language performance:



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