At one of the camps in the summer of 2005, a small group met to discuss how Easton Mountain's vision might be extended beyond our physical property. We came up with the idea of having a local group that met in New York City. Kevin McAlliley, who was on our Board, offered to host a first meeting at his Greenwich Village apartment.That summer, Sunfire went to the UK to be part of a six-day retreat sponsored by the Edward Carpenter Community (see "Episode 24: Friendship Candles"). While in London, he mailed invitations to everyone on Easton Mountain's mailing list within fifty miles of NYC.
The invitation asked for an RSVP, and by the middle of the week before the event, we had eighteen men who said they were coming. Kevin thought that this would be too much for his apartment, so he went to the Gay and Lesbian Center on Thirteenth Street and arranged to use a room there. We continued to hold meetings at the Center, and shortly after adopted a pattern of having them on the first Sunday of every month, October through June.
We didn't call the event "Living Soulfully". That came later. (The name was originally used by the group in Hartford, Connecticut.) When the NYC group first started, Kevin, Sunfire, and others would have a phone conference before the meeting to plan the event. Our format was to start in a large circle, have a reading and possibly some music, and then break up into groups of five or six men for a discussion of some questions that had been agreed on during the phone conference. We would end up coming back into the large circle, where a representative from each of the small groups would give a summary of what had been said in their group.
Our December meeting that year was more festive. We made sure we had a room in the Center that had a piano, and Jonathan Comisar led us in singing holiday music.
Later, the meetings developed a format in which a facilitator/presenter would have charge of the evening and structure it in the way he wished.
The meetings were always open to anyone who wanted to come, and many men brought friends who had never been to Easton Mountain - thus introducing them to our programs.
There will be a meeting of Living Soulfully NYC this Sunday, May 1, 4:00 p.m. at The Center, 208 W. 13th St., in Manhattan. John Stasio, the founder of Easton Mountain, "will share personal perspectives on how community can serve us all as a spiritual opportunity for growth, challenge and deep fulfillment."
If you live in the NYC area and are not getting the announcements of Living Soulfully, click here to add yourself to the mailing list. If you live in another area, see if there is a group near you by visiting the Living Soulfully website.