Tag Archive: san francisco


and i, i took the one less valuable to us… and that has made all of the difference.

pillow

also it was a city square, more than a wood.

# The Date: February 14th, Valentine’s Day 2014

# The Venue: Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco

# The Event: Great San Francisco Pillow Fight 2014

GETTING THERE

i saw a link on Twitter the night before to Free events happening in the city for Valentine’s Day and was immediately drawn to the idea of a giant pillow fight.

hearing that Aaron, our current housemate, had been part of it a year before added some fuel to the fire and when it turned out Sarah his wife [who had come off a 24 hour shift at the hospital the day before] was going to be up for it, it was plan made.

and so after Aaron came home from his Lego job [that’s right, the man works with Lego – best job in the world?] we grabbed pillows and headed down to the train station and made the journey towards the Plaza knowing that we were cutting it fine in terms of time [the invitation said 5.45pm but we were assured it would only start at 6]

THE ACTION

it actually did start just before we got there and so we cautiously entered the fray trying to figure out the rules and the vibe as we got right into the thick of it.

i started off by sticking near Aaron, the experienced veteran and a bit of a giant of a man, but was soon off on my own foray into the action.

what made it interesting was that there were psycho overadrenalin’d guys [and some psycho overadrenalin’d girls], gentle pillow-tapping girls, costumed crazies [a unicorn, a pikachu, two polar bears, a power ranger] and enthusiastic young children [one overenthusiastic young guy who held on to Aaron while he smashed away at him and eventually had to be subdued by the police] and so strategy was a mix of trying to nail the heavies, medium hit the more girlie girls, avoid smashing cameras that were being wandered through the crowds all over the place and not killing any of the children.

but in the shell of a nut, BEST VALENTINE’S DAY EVER! 

fairly early on my dread bandana was in danger of coming off and never being seen again and so i just took it off and put it in my pocket and let me dreads hang low [let them wiggle to and fro] and had two gears – slow wander through the crowd and wait for a moment and then scream a viking yell and start spinning in a circle with my pillow [and later two pillows when someone abandoned theirs] spinning in a robot fashion in my hand and just mad frenzy for a while.

THE PREJUDICE

For the record, the Great San Francisco Pillow Fight is a lesson in conformity.

At one point, the last thing i remember hearing was, ‘Go for the dreads.’ Followed by pain. As twenty people [or more] attacked me at once. [i fought back valiantly!]

Anyone who was different became a target for the frenzy moments – tall people, people on shoulders, the unicorn costumed guy [a lot!], Pikachu, pig costume, Power Ranger and of course ‘guy with dreads’ [which happened a few times].

At one point when everyone was hitting me there was a brief lull and so i shouted, ‘HIT THE ONE WITHOUT DREADS’ and just started windmilling it in a frenzy.

In our very own Avengers Assemble moment, Aaron, tbV and i ended up in the middle of a circle back to back to back dealing out ‘damage’ to the crowd around us.

Another fun moment [and let’s be honest, a lot of my action happened to coincidentally happen near the bigger cameras] was when i was in the middle of a fight and i was fighting in ultra-slow motion and another dude saw me and we ended up doing what felt like a choreographed fight sequence as people looked on in slow motion and i ended up lying on the floor, head on my pillow, sucking my thumb and pretending to sleep.

YOU ACTUALLY HAD TO BE THERE

i will attach a video clip below to give you an idea of how it went down, but you really have to times that by 1000 and then just be sad for a second and realise that doesn’t catch it at all – it will give you a glimpse into the mayhem and fun but it was just a classic once in a lifetime [well, til we organise one in Cape Town when we get back] moment of absolute bliss and energy and silly fun. 

THE LESSON

when we arrived it reminded me of the Flash Mob i attended back in Cape Town years ago. so many people on the periphery who were super amped to get involved and be a part of it, but too nervous to actually follow through. so we had to push through a crowd of onlookers and camera people and onlooked with cameras who were people.

and that was pretty much how the crowd was divided. i would say more than a thousand people watching and more than a thousand people pillow-fighting [and then some really brave camera people who made their way through the crowds and the fighting with their cameras on long poles or held above their heads]

which is like church and a lot of life i guess. a lot of people watching because they like the idea of the thing, but not so amped to get involved in the actual doing of the thing.

because let’s face it – it can be dangerous getting in there – you could get hurt – there is a definite cost [the likelihood of your pillow being used again is minimal and many pillows were sacrificed completely in the name of fun, but i imagine some people woke up bruised and maybe even bleeding a little from some accidental pillow or elbow action] and it requires a lot more effort and commitment.

and if you watch, you can say you were there and you can feel like you were there and you might even have camera footage proving you were there. which is all cool and well and all.

but you weren’t really there!

not really. you weren’t IN the pillow fight. you were next to it or around it or close by to it, but you were not a participant.

so you were maybe one step closer than those who watched it on tv or read about it on the internet [hi!] but you were so close and still did not get to experience everything that it was.

with a giant pillow fight that is not so much of a big deal – maybe watching it was enough and all of the fun that you needed.

but with life and with church, it is tragic if you end up being a bystander or an onlooker when the invitation was to jump in and go for it and dominate and really live.

since tbV and i have been in Americaland we have taken part in a colour run [slash walk] getting powder paint thrown at us every km, an electric run [slash walk] wearing crazy neon flashing things and now this giant crazy mayhemmed pillow fight [and pretty soon we will be staying in a Yurt with Aaron and Sarah for the weekend – look it up] – we try and live with a ‘Yes, lets’ mentality that allows us to try new things and experience some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and i can highly recommend it.

HOW TO FOLLOW UP A GIANT PILLOW FIGHT

well, there was only one way to end that evening – we rehydrated ourselves and grabbed some drinks and headed off through the city to the movie theatre to go and watch The Lego Movie which was such a completely fun experience [especially watching it with Mr Lego who got so excited when they put the numbers of the lego pieces on the screen because he knows and works with them – that was a treat!] and i highly recommend it for everyone – just a lot of crazy family fun.

and a LOT more fun than standing in the cinema lobby looking at the poster of The Lego Movie.

[Dani is a friend that tbV and i met while working with the Simple Way and she currently lives in San Francisco, which is just across the water from us, this is a piece she wrote a year ago which was published in Sojo.net and which she offered to share with us]

Dani Scoville

When my intoxicated friend leaned in to kiss me, I didn’t think I was just the most readily available girl. No, I convinced myself that his true affections for me were coming out. But the next morning, when I realized what it actually meant, I felt less worthy of being loved than I did before.

This wasn’t the first time I lied to myself in the moment and felt awful later, but I wanted it to be the last. I told my friend that wasn’t going to happen again, but I didn’t attempt to process why it happened. Then I was asked to organize an event around the intersection of spirituality and sexuality.

As I began reflecting on my past sexual interactions with men, I tried to bring God into the conversation for the first time.

It was easier to punish myself with guilt, follow youth group-style sexual boundaries or just say, “forget it” and do whatever I desired. I was reluctant to process my sexuality. Not only would it be a lot of work and uncover a lot of past hurt, but what if it unraveled foundational faith and lifestyle beliefs?

Up until six months ago, I had never questioned my decision to not have sex until I was married. I just did what I thought I was supposed to.

Once I began to reflect on it, though, I realized I was angry that God was asking me to wait. Or maybe it was OK to have sex, and God hadn’t told me sooner! I envisioned what would happen if I didn’t wait.

I decided that I would give my current relationship six months. If we were in love, I would give in.

But no matter how I attempted to deconstruct sex outside of marriage, I still felt that this change in my standards would result in me putting an unhealthy amount of expectation on that man to marry me. I knew that I would feel all those years of waiting were cheapened. Because, for me, sex holds an intense emotional and spiritual association.

I didn’t know all this until I questioned. And now, the only way I can envision having sex with someone is in a safe and committed context. This has also led to the more recent realization that I needed to revise my sexual boundaries in dating.

I listed all the events of the past year: what I enjoyed, what made me feel used, and what I needed to allow myself to enjoy. After I processed the last year, I thought about how my desire to be loved and accepted by a man was rooted in a desire to be love and accepted by God. If I first believe that I am God’s beloved, then I would be confident in my interactions with men, knowing I’m already loved and accepted.

So I drafted another list: this one of boundaries self-confident me would ideally want and be able to stick to. A week later, I met a guy who walked me home and kissed me good night at my gate. Rather than slam the gate in his face to make sure he didn’t come upstairs, I told him I was interested in him but that I wasn’t going to invite him in. When I woke up the next morning, I felt great.

I didn’t expect that deconstructing my sexual boundaries in the name of faith would cause me to develop boundaries. But these new ones aren’t oppressive, because they come from an understanding of myself. No one else came up with them but me. Now when the temptation to get a momentary intimacy fix is there, I’ll have my own voice and story reminding me to not give in and wait for something rooted in love.

[Dani Scoville lives in San Francisco and is an active member of ReImagine, a community focused on integrating the teachings of Jesus into daily life. to read more of what Dani writes, check out her blog, ‘Through the Roof Beams’ here]

[For another story on Singleness, meet my friend Beverley by clicking here]

[For an inspirational post titled ‘I don’t wait anymore’ click here]

map of oakland

i was asking that question as i walked [by myself!] to the office today as tbV had a meeting at Darin’s house…

and the obvious answer would be 50th street [i’m convinced it’s 51st in my head so have to type it down now or i may not find my way back home] Oakland, California, Americaland…

but i’m looking a little deeper, after 19 months in the ‘hood of Kensington, Philly [where in the city if you told people where you were from they would respond with “you live in Kensington???” [shock, horror, gasp, quick exit…] how would one exactly describe this place?

Oakland and San Francisco

it’s not ‘hood. well not in the way that Kensington was ‘hood… but it’s definitely not Bishop’s Court… feels a little suburby, but heard from the people we’re staying behind that they used to live in the suburbs so probably not that. we did get the “you live in Oakland???” [shock, horror, gasp, quick exit…] when we visited San Francisco on Sunday so in these parts maybe it’s still seen as ‘hood or ‘hoodish… just not sure if it will get me quite enuff street cred for saying i live here – is there a more ‘hood’ ‘hood than Oakland? will have to ask…

i like it though. only been here about a week [not even] so still got to get the vibe of the place, but tbV and i loved Kensington and i think we will love this place too – not as many people in your face, on your street as there where which was one of the highlights of Kensington but the people we’ve passed have for the most part been really friendly, and then there was the bag lady.

the bag or one like it...

no, not that. walking back from San Fran on Sunday we encountered this African American all-dressed-up-for-a-party-or-is-that-maybe-how-she-normally-dresses woman who approached us and said “Can you pick up my bag?” We looked at the street corner where she was pointing and there was a gold coloured handbag on the ground – so Val says, “You pick it up” but the lady was clearly freaked out and she asks again, “No, No, No can you guys please just pick up my bag?” I ask, “What’s wrong with it?” She says, “Nothing.” so we tell her again to just pick it up and she goes closer and then backs away and then goes closer and makes like she’s going to and then backs away again going, “No, No, No, Please just pick up my bag.”

at this point i’m wondering is there a bomb in there? a deadly tarantula? a bag of chocolate covered raiSINs with all the chocolate licked off [we all have our fears!] and so we decide to keep on walking and hope that wouldn’t-have-passed-the-Tour-de-France-urine-test lady managed to eventually get her stuff and make it home okay.

this is where we currently work

so definitely a taste of Kensington…

and i guess we’ll figure out more as we get to explore more and as we hopefully find a more permanent place to stay [maybe today!] and hopefully get to call this place home for the next year or so…

brettandvalandpaint

well i thought everyone who was interested had an idea of what we are doing next but having explained our next moves three times to people in the last few days i figured it wouldn’t hurt having another explanation up – for those of you who have heard this, you can skip this one…

from June 2011 to Dec 2012 the beautiful Val [tbV] and i were working and living with the Simple Way in Kensington, Philadelphia, Americaland as part of their residency program – living in the local community and working full-time for the non-profit. i was involved with Hospitality and email communications and Val dealt with special projects [food distribution, after-school program, scholarships for students etc] and emergency services [people arriving at the door about to be evicted from their home, people in need of drug counselling or legal aid etc]. our boss was a man named Darin Petersen, hence the term ‘bossman’.

we arrived back in South Africa 1 Jan for a time of refreshment and recovery and also connection with family and friends [and improv stage and hockey field and beach!] with the idea of staying for about a month and a half to two months and then moving on to Oakland, California [just across from San Francisco] where we will be working with Darin again, but with a different non-profit which has been called Relational Tithe and which is in the future going to be called Common Change. This is a collaborative giving program looking at trying to emulate the church of Acts 2 in terms of economics and really focus on connecting resources to those in need through the avenue of relationship.

‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ [Acts 2.42-47]

Val and i have been part of Relational Tithe as group members for eight to ten months now and have seen it have such a transformative and life-changing effect in many peoples lives and so when we were invited to be a part of it for the next 18 months it was something we seriously considered and then jumped at.

How it works is that if you join you become part of a group of 12 to 15 people who all tithe into the group general fund. Then at any point anyone in the group can advocate a need for someone who is in one degree of separation from themselves [so someone you know personally who has a need] and the group is invited to ask questions and try to collectively figure out the best way to meet the need well and then after some time the need is met [this might be with money or resources or through someone having a connection or other creative means]. What we really enjoy about RT is that the need is met through relationship – so we are not just throwing money at something but empowering someone within the group to walk alongside a friend of theirs and connect them with some resources as they do so.

So that is what we are going to be joining. tbV has left already as there is a Justice Conference that she is attending in Philly first and then she will be heading to Oakland where i will be looking to meet up with her later. One of the realities of the next journey for us, is that while CC will be providing accommodation for us, we have had to find money to get there and also for our month to month living expenses and so we have been inviting people to journey with us in different ways – following our journey and staying in contact, praying for us, contributing towards the roughly $1000 or R9000 we think we will be needing to live month to month for 18 months.

if you’d like to hear more or want to be connected in any way simply email me at brettfish@hotmail.com and we can chat or i can add you to our newsletter list.

[what Brett and Val are going to be doing within Relational Tithe/Common Change as they head to Oakland]

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