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from the publisher



We enjoyed lovely feedback on our previous issue’s interview with Michael Pollan. Thank you. This time we could not be nearly as loquacious as we connected with Ram Dass, who is aging and ailing. He did grant us some parting comments in what we’ve dubbed our “Last Conversation.” Ram Dass has been a spiritual friend and mentor for decades. His words and teachings touch deeper now that he is on his last lap.

The cover of this issue is taken from a wonderful movie about Ram Dass coming out in September called Becoming Nobody. The title says it all. Our friend Jamie Catto directed the film, which we had the privilege of previewing in April. It premieres in Marin on Sept. 6 and it’s quite wonderful, as Ram Dass’s teachings come acutely into focus toward the end of his journey.

This issue also features our annual Burning Man preview. Metamorphoses is the theme—one we are all swept up in whether we choose to be or not. Sadly, this is the first time the theme selection was not handled by Burning Man founder Larry Harvey, who died suddenly last year. We miss him. Caveat Magister has included a sweet piece about what Burning Man teaches us about community.

We’ve a number of retrospective pieces, starting with a pictorial commemorating Woodstock from the perspective of founder Michael Lang. Elliot Cahn, a local friend of ours, tells of his performance at Woodstock as part of Sha Na Na. He was only 21 and had formed the group with 11 Columbia University buddies as part of a one-week musical review. It turned out they were pretty good and eventually got picked up as the last act for Woodstock. Elliot’s account is full of fascinating detail.

Sean Ahearn and I wrote about the 50 years of the Oregon Country Fair. There is a magic about that event that has made it the undisputed Granddaddy of Transformational Festivals. Hope to see some of you there.

Mark Whitwell and Rosalind Atkinson offer an endearing piece, “God and Sex: Now We Get Both.” In “Dicks or Doormats: How Men Use and Lose Power in Relationships,” Christian Pedersen warns about the pitfalls of being either too much or too little—not always easy for men. In the context of the Boy Crisis, Warren Farrell discusses the benefits of Dad-style loving, particularly when it comes to raising boys.

Amy Grahan discusses the Relationship Escalator, reminding us of our modern liberty in how we craft our relationships—versus what society has programmed over centuries.

In light of the devastation caused by Hurricane María, we’re proud to showcase portraits painted by Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez, who reminds us that Puerto Ricans don’t want to be characterized as “pobrecito” victims, but rather as the strong people they are. Naturalist Diane Beresford-Kroeger shares deep insights about nature in her essay “The Mystery of Trees: A Love Affair.” Raymond Holbert supplied us with great images of SF Pride. There are lots of good conferences and festivals happening this summer—too many to list.

As ever, please show your appreciation for Common Ground by patronizing its advertisers—the best. And please consider becoming an advertiser yourself, or recommending us. Our audience—as in you—comprises a strategic segment of society, sophisticated Bay Area thought leaders. Thanks for listening. Have a great summer.

With love,

Rob Sidon
Publisher/Editor in Chief