EDL Family Reunion in New York: Part II of an Interview with Randyl Appel, Event Coordinator

Sandy Brown Jensen: Welcome to Part Two of my Facebook interview with Randyl Appel, host of an Emissary Family Reunion given in New York the weekend of August 6, 7, and 8, 2010. If you missed the first installment, look to the top of the page for the little arrow pointing you to the right.

Randyl, did anyone work with you, or was this a one-man show?

Randyl Appel August 10, 2010 at 6:36pm

The most important person I had working with me was 3000 miles away in Huntington Beach. Lisa Campana was a great sounding board. I can’t thank her enough for that.

Lisa Campana, Mover, Shaker, Muse!

I was able to bounce ideas off of her. She’d make suggestions and the interplay was amazing. Lisa also hosted the bagel brunch we had Sunday morning and that went extremely well. How do you go wrong with New York bagels, Nova Scotia lox, white fish and tomatoes?

I also want to send a shout out to Nancy Leefe who helped secure the park location and who also did the picnic grocery shopping.

Logistically, the process included two parts:

1) The communication: We had a “group page” that we had created for Facebook, and we also used the eVite free invitation system, which allowed us to reach people via email who were not on Facebook. The advent of Facebook, btw (by the way), is what made this all possible.

2) The organization: I worked a lot with our host hotel for the signature event, which was the cocktail party on Saturday night. The Hotel concierge was wonderful in helping us secure group rate tickets for the Circle Line Cruise.

Then there were myriad little details like, “How do we get the 50 plus people across town or to the picnic or to the Broadway show?” etc. So much coordination of movement! I LOVED IT…maybe it’s the Virgo in me!

Michael Baim, Crested Butte, CO, and Randyl get down!

Sandy Brown Jensen: This sounds like it could have been a big, scary event. What was your biggest fear?

Randyl Appel
August 10, 2010 at 8:29pm

I don’t know if I had fear about this…but I had concerns:

  • Would anybody drag unresolved issues forward? One of my key phrases was, “No unfinished business will be served at this party.” It’s 15-20 years later. If you have stuff you haven’t dealt with…this party was NOT the forum for that. In fact if you haven’t dealt with unfinished business, you have bigger issues than not being able to bring them to a party.
  • I was concerned that people have a great time. I was, after all, dragging them across country and even across the Atlantic Ocean. There had to be more than just a chance to say hello. There had to be some structure to the play time.
  • And of course I was concerned that nobody would come! You put something like this out there, and you wonder if it will be like Charlie Brown having a party that nobody attends.

Sandy Brown Jensen:
At this point, I asked John Gray to microblog on the party. He and his wife Pamela came from Southern California to join the festivities in New York. They were decades-long focalizers of the Glen Ivy Emissary intentional community.

John Gray:

I think Pamela and I were among a first few on whom Randyl tested the idea of having a reunion party, and we committed right away to be there.

The weekend arrived, and great New York summer weather welcomed a perfect and unlikely a group (as Emissaries ever were), self-selecting to reunite.

Debra Stein, Warwickshire, England and John Gray, Lake Elsinore, CA. Old friends reunited at the NY Emissary Family Reunion

Dinners, a Broadway show, a cruise around Manhattan Island, the Party, the after-party, the Central Park recovery picnic, were all permeated by conversations, laughter, dancing, singing (well, lubricated Karaoke) and all-around, agenda-free revelry.

"Well-lubricated Karaoke, and all-around, agenda-free revelry!"

Some of us could measure in decades the last time we’d seen each other, yet there we were, older faces framing the same eyes, sparkling and luminous as ever.

(Meanwhile, Randyl has been lost in thought and wants to add something to the question, “What was your biggest fear?”)

Randyl Appel:

While I wouldn’t go back…can’t really…to the Emissary structure that I experienced as a young man in the 1980s, I really loved the vast majority of my time in those intentional communities like Glen Ivy. Great people. (Some cheesedoodles in the crowd but whatever…)

I learned the art of critical thinking in intentional community. I had so many chances to create and to play and, of course, to wash dishes. Loved it!

One of my concerns for myself is for my good memories not to continue to be challenged by the shadow stuff that was definitely there. I loved high school after all, and I hated high school, after all.  So I just don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water even now! Especially now!

The reality was that when I was an active Emissary living in community,  I was too young to have gotten ensnarled in any of the politics that may have been present, so I was not really beat up by the leadership shadow aspect that plagued [many of] us in the late 80s and early 90s. I had free reign to play and create and manifest. I loved my creative life in community, and I sought to honor it by bringing friends together, who for a moment, 15 years ago, all found themselves in crisis simultaneously.

Sandy Brown Jensen: Blog visitors, Randyl has opened a provocative line of thought. What does his thinking prompt in you to say? Leave a message!