by Chuck “Tugboat” Moran, Catharsis Trunk March 2018 – Present

Being on the Catharsis Trunk is many things at once: invigorating, challenging, inspiring, instructive, rewarding … I’ve got more gerunds if you want ‘em.

Those aside, it’s still hard to pick one specific facet to talk about, given that the Trunk does so many things, and there are a myriad of ways to be involved. As you might be aware, our organizing structure is derivative of a tree:

  • our Roots are the original Catharsis organizers (an advisory body)
  • our Rings represent past Trunk members (many of whom make themselves available in an advisory capacity, similar to the Roots)
  • our Trunk is a community-elected managing board (tasked with community engagement & event production)
  • our Branches are working groups, defining & doing the requisite organizing work (responsible for areas like Permitting, Health & Safety, Curation, Media, Finance, etc.)
  • our (wonderful, amazing, incredible) Leaves are volunteers at Catharsis Events

Trunk members spend time in any & all of the latter three roles. For example, if a Trunk member is on a few different Branches (relatively normal), they might expect to spend anywhere from 1-5 hours a week on Catharsis-related planning & organizing activities, depending on the time of year. Based on your interests & skillset, this can consist of conference calls, collaborating on messaging & documentation, wrangling spreadsheets, reaching out to volunteers, meeting with the National Parks Service, touching base with Theme Camps & Artists, and much, much more!

Full Trunk meetings (to which the Roots are invited) are typically held every other week, and last in the neighborhood of two hours. These become more or less frequent, again, depending on the time of year. Often, many of us meet in person to share food and physical space; other times (especially recently) we’re mostly sharing digital space. In these meetings, we try to stay in “report out” mode; most of the actual “work” we expect to be happening in Branches or otherwise between Trunk meetings.

One reason I enjoy being on the Trunk relates to how intentional everyone in the body is; we take extreme care in the words we use, and we try our best to call each other in with compassion, when warranted, thereby maintaining accountability to our mission & community. All of us are volunteers ourselves, and striking the balance between the effectiveness of a professional organization, while also holding ourselves to a more compassionate & empathetic standard, has been at once both challenging & extremely rewarding. While we haven’t handled every little thing perfectly, I’m proud of how we’ve conducted ourselves over these past two years, and am excited to see what the future looks like for this group.

If nothing else, being on the Trunk is an amazing learning experience, given the wealth of knowledge, experience, and support that exists in this community.

In closing, I feel I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk a little bit about what the past two months have been like. In March, it became clear that the novel Coronavirus posed a growing concern for public gatherings. After lengthy internal deliberation, mindful of guidance coming from the CDC, we decided to defer the 2020 event to sometime this fall. I believe our response was measured & appropriate only because we had spent time building a good foundation together as an organization. As we move forward, having just produced Catharsis on the Net – A Temporal Haven with so many of our incredible community members, you can count on the Trunk & Catharsis on the Mall to remain active through this bizarre time, as we recognize our mission to be more important than ever.

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