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Spirit Guide

Newsletter of the Delaware Valley Pagan Network

Delaware Valley Pagan Network
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About DVPN

Delaware Valley Pagan Network (DVPN) is a federally recognized
501(c)(3) non-profit Pagan community-center initiative. We were founded in
1999 and operate in the counties of Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks,
Chester and Delaware in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the state of
Delaware; and the counties of Mercer, Burlington, Ocean, Camden,
Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland, Atlantic & Cape May in the State of New

Our mission statement states that we have two goals. The first of these is to eventually establish a physical location that all pagans in the region can look to as a focal point for community activity and support. This newsletter is our primary method of outreach. We have a presence on the Internet, but recognize that many people are not yet connected or may never be connected to the virtual world. Our second goal is to present a unified face to the public at large, initially by way of a public event (workshops, seminars, etc.), but eventually on an ongoing basis by participating in high profile community activities such as the AIDS Walk, service to the needy (Meals on Wheels, etc.), and as partners to other religious and secular organizations. Our intent is to establish a secular structure that may be shared by the full gamut of the pagan religious spectrum. We will create an organization that is all-inclusive and that does not engage in self-serving rhetoric. We will invite and include all individuals and groups within the Delaware Valley as equitably as possible.

Our first goal is the primary mission of DVPN: to open a physical community center in the Delaware Valley for all Pagan-pathed people. This goal, however, is going to take some time, effort, organization, and money. In the meantime, the catch-phrase is, "without active community, a community center is just an empty building." Which leads us directly into our second goal, what we call, on our tote bags, "building and nurturing community."

One form this takes is finding ways to support as many of the Pagan groups and institutions in the area as possible. If coven X is having an open event, we want to help promote that. If group Y is hosting a speaker, we want to help promote that too. If a solitary is looking for contacts in the community, we want to be able to help her find them.

Public events are another way we approach our second goal. Currently we sponsor three annual events, Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day in September, our annual Summer Social in July or August, and our annual Crystal Ball in March or April. Each of these are networking and "friend raising" events that include plenty of social interaction, as well as classes by local teachers.

Since 2001 we have co-sponsored a Winter Solstice Celebration, a celebration of the darkness and the light with songs and stories, with choral group known as SpiralSong. We've found that this event provides a format for outreach that allows us to display a complete, eclectic Pagan Solstice ritual in a way that's accessible to people who've never been exposed to Paganism before. It's also served us fairly well as a fund raiser to support our other efforts. In 2003 we produced a performance event in conjunction with the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, an international performing arts festival in Philadelphia. We have plans to continue this tradition into the future, both as a form of outreach and as a fundraising venture.

Our second goal also has us involved in several regular charitable efforts, aimed at enhancing community and the public perception of Pagans in the area. We host teams in the AIDS and MS walks every year. We have regular blood drives. We've collected blankets during Yule and held food drives during Pagan Pride. We're also constantly on the lookout for other opportunities to take part in public charitable works. In 2002 and 2003 we were invited by invited by the Philadelphia AIDS Fund to lead the candlelight march for World AIDS Day. During the march we use ecstatic drumming to memorialize those lost to the AIDS crisis. We've also become active in regional, national, and international Pagan networking organizations, such as the Mid-Atlantic Pagan Alliance, the Mid-Atlantic Pagan Leadership Conference, the Open Hearth Foundation, and the Pagan Pride Project.

Our close relationship with the staff the local events calendar for the Delaware Valley, the Broom Closet, both supports that resource and allows us to use their content in our quarterly newsletter, Spirit Guide. This means that any group looking to hold an open event can get free listings on the Broom Closet and in Spirit Guide just by filling in an on-line form. Of course, Spirit Guide also accepts paid advertisements. Advertisers help make the printing of the newsletter possible. Advertising and subscription rates can be found at their website, listed with several others at the end of this appendix. These advertisements also appear in the on-line version of Spirit Guide as do the archives.

In addition to the calendar, the Broom Closet also provides resource and organizational listings, as well as free business directory listings open to all Pagans who want to offer their services. This service is not limited to explicitly "Pagan oriented" services, by the way. Like most directories you will find the expected categories such as "Clergy," "Reiki, Healing," and "Tarot, Astrology, & Runes." However, you will also find many of the other listings for which such a directory is so useful, listings such as "Legal," "Counseling," and "Cleaning Services." Any Pagan operating a business in the Delaware Valley is entitled to a free listing in this directory.

In late 2002, we finally began the process of
solidifying our strategic direction and targeting it toward the kinds of
activities that might attract the kind of community support resulting in
the achievement of Goal One, "the establishment of a physical structure."
Toward this end, we have formed an informal working group targeted at
investigating community outreach efforts that may gain the attention of
the philanthropic community as a whole. The initial discussions of the
group have focused on programs well within DVPN’s existing mission
statement that may also qualify for funding by traditional charitable
trust organizations. Three directions have emerged so far:

  1. Our success with programs like the annual Winter’s Solstice Singing
    Celebration can form a starting point for our grants program. Many
    organizations offer regular performing arts grants for specific cultural
    performances. Additionally, cultural education can provide a kernel for
    community, and attract funding at the same time.

  2. Ecological education programs provide potential forums for community
    involvement while also potentially attracting grants and awards. A
    series of talks and lectures on environmental topics can serve as an
    introductory approach to this effort. If presented properly, these
    events could serve to make DVPN visible to the larger community in a
    very positive way. These events could also serve as a launching pad for
    a larger-scale river/stream/watershed clean up/adoption program.

  3. Finally, becoming more involved in community-wide social services
    should greatly enhance our philanthropic visibility. Continued support
    of Spiral Scouts in the Delaware Valley should definitely serve the
    community as a whole, especially if we are able to involve the scouts in
    our other outreach efforts. Another approach may be to offer freely- or
    cheaply-available counseling to the community at large.

We use email communities to help tie all this together. We currently sponsor two groups: dvpn-announce, a low-volume list where we post announcements of all our events, and dvpn-discuss, a higher-volume list where we encourage open discussion as well as announcements of events held by anyone in the community. Visit http://contact.dvpn.org/ to sign up for either of these lists.

Now, we're supporting all of this in exactly the same way that a public radio station supports their activities: those who believe in our efforts have the opportunity to purchase an annual membership. In addition to helping us continue to grow, members receive a subscription to Spirit Guide, a membership card (good for discounts at various area merchants and on tickets to DVPN-sponsored events) and the obligatory DVPN tote bag. Anyone can join DVPN on-line at http://membership.dvpn.org/. Since we're a social/networking organization rather than a church, DVPN membership is open to anyone at all; there are absolutely no requirements, whatsoever.

Notice, by the way, there's no attempt to define "Pagan" in any of this. Don't expect that to change. We feel if you identify with the word Pagan enough to be interested in our work, that's more than enough definition. The intent of the Delaware Valley Pagan Network is to establish a secular structure that may be shared by the full gamut of the pagan religious spectrum. We invite and include all Pagan individuals and groups within the Delaware Valley as equitably as possible.

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