In 2010 we celebrated our 20th Annual Men’s Conference. In honor of that occasion, Hari Meyers, the Redwood Men’s Center Master Storyteller put together a retrospective of the first twenty years.
Our Twentieth Year Come Round
A History of the Redwood Men’s Center’s Conference-Gatherings
by Hari Meyers
1991 – 1993
Our first Redwood Men’s Center Conference was held in 1991, again at the Unitarian Church in Santa Rosa. It was a Saturday of various workshops and discussion groups. The attendees and organizers agreed to hold another; our second, a year later, at the Red Lion Inn in Rohnert Park, California, added a Friday night and elements of drumming and poetry. I remember an exuberant session on Friday night in which several men would drum and then suddenly stop. The stopping was an invitation for one of the participants to spontaneously step forward and recite a poem into the circle. At the completion of the poem the drums and the dancing would start again. It was an effective and celebratory way for a man to announce his presence to his fellows. Standing up for and acknowledging oneself, and being witnessed in that “owning” by other men, became a cornerstone upon which the edifice of all our further work would rely.
We followed the same time schedule, a Friday night and all day Saturday, for our third conference, held in 1993 at the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa. To this one we invited as a keynote speaker Sam Keen, former editor of Psychology Today and author of the then popular book on men’s issues “Fire in the Belly.” Keen spoke to what he proposed as a necessary shift in our focus from the individually oriented “warrior” and “hero” identities to the more communally oriented archetype of the “citizen.” Although the term “citizen” was less poetic than some of us might have wished, we took seriously his message of the need to develop more responsibly in communal areas.