Rites of Passage Foundation - Spring 2021 Edition

Kia ora Koutou,
Greetings from Springtime in Mohua, Golden Bay. May this find you and your whānau well in this time, as life calls ever more strongly for discernment, self care and open hearted community.

Leaders weekend

In the July ROPF newsletter, we mentioned sharing feedback from the upcoming Leader’s week-end, skillfully held and led by Gabby and Adge. The overarching focus was to explore the past, the present and the future of the work. We remembered where and how it all began, and co-created a timeline. We reflected on what brought each of us to the work.
Turning to the present, we explored foundational concepts that make up the mahi:

•    Nature Based
•    Community Led and Inter-generational.
•    Diverse Convergent Culture, inclusive of all
•    Safe, uplifting, authentic Communication.
•    Rites of Passage as a map for navigating transformation and journeying with understanding ourselves, each other and the gifts we bring to the world.

It proved to be a unique opportunity for informal discussions and sharing of practice between Tracks and Tides programmes. The world café concept was used to explore a range of current relevant topics: Eldership, Relationship & Intimacy, Gender & Sexuality, Technology, Integration of parents (father/daughter, mother/son etc), TnT (Tracks and Tides coming together events), Indigenous context, Plotkin's Stages of Life wheel. The passion and connection to the mahi, and a sense of community reaching into the past and the future felt palpable. We look forward to sharing more as things unfold.

Jim's Song

Jim Horton is a founding father of the Rites of Passage Foundation. This song is a dedication to his life and living. Composed and performed by Jaime Howell, recorded at Levity Beet studio's. A note on his bedside table after his death said; "Love that Dawg, Dawg loves me." The man is an inspiration, he lived a long enough life with honey in his heart.  Here's the link to Jim's Song

Other news

It's been great to hear from Paul Marcinkowski, touching in from Chicago, after having participated in a Tracks events in 2019 and 2020 while travelling, first as a visitor and the following year as a facilitator.

As I sat by the fire under the pentacle, listening to men sing songs of tree fields and friendship, I was surprised by just how at home I felt. Despite being over 8,500 miles (or more than 13,000 km) from my hometown of Chicago and being surrounded by strangers, the warmth of the fire, the mystery of the adventures ahead, and the buzz of energy from men of all ages gathered to celebrate rites of passage swirled together to form a familiar concoction. In that moment I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be.

My around-the-world journey to New Zealand started over a year earlier, at a bar in Chicago over burgers and beers. A friend and I decided to get dinner and swap stories of our travels abroad. We were both working for a nonprofit organization partnered with local public schools to mentor young men. The program, Becoming a Man, delivered a curriculum focused on values such as accountability, positive anger expression, and respect for womanhood. For our youth, participation in the weekly small group sessions served as a modern day rite of passage, an alternative to the locker room hazings or violent street gang initiations that all too often filled the needs for community and belonging.

This work had taken on a deeper personal signficance for me as well. When I joined the BAM team I was sent on a men’s retreat run by the ManKind Project. There I had a chance to participate in my own rite of passage of sorts, and to connect with an international network of people dedicated to creating a world in which men could express emotions in a healthy way.

Thanks to BAM and MKP I was working on myself, growing into the well-rounded man I wanted to be. At BAM I offered guidance to adolescents on what it meant to be a mature man. In turn, at MKP I received mentorship on how to practice these values in my own life. So when my friend told me of his time living in New Zealand on a working holiday visa, I knew I had found my next adventure. More importantly, I knew it would be connected to my passion for rites of passage and men’s work.

Sure enough, my first weeks of couch surfing and hitch hiking in New Zealand put me in close contact with the MKP network. And so it was, the day before my ferry crossing to the south island, that a newfound friend from this network suggested I look into an organzation called Tracks. “I don’t know much about it, but it sounds right up your alley,” he said.

After finding it on the map, I added Takaka to my travel itinerary. A series of email exchanges led to a meeting with the affable Adge Tucker at Wholemeal Cafe. I described to him my work with BAM and the journey I was on. I learned about Tracks and Tides and an entire community of family and friends supporting youth on their transition to adulthood. It was clear that this was, in fact, right up my alley.

I gratefully accepted the offer to staff a Tracks ROP event. By the time I found myself sitting by that fire under the pentacle, preparing for a week of play, challenges, and bonding in the woods with sons and their fathers, I felt ready for whatever came next. And what came next, while certainly special and unique, was something I had experienced many times in the past. It was a week of boys being boys, looking to their peers for acceptance and their elders for advice. It was games on the beach and stories by the fire. It was men finding a sense of purpose in passing down life lessons to the next generation. It was brotherly love mixed with juvenile humor and elderly wisdom. It was beautiful and timeless.

It’s been over a year and a half since I last sat in circle at the Tree Field. In that time, the world paused as a global pandemic forced us to slow down. Quarantine and social distancing highlighted the importance of community and connection. I returned to BAM in Chicago and learned to facilitate online group sessions for students from my home, via webcam and a virtual curriculum. Much has changed in the past year. But some things remain the same.

The need for spaces where young men and women can safely grow, ask questions, be challenged, and make mistakes is universal. In too many communities, traditional rites of passage have been forgotten or lost. But around the world, there are signs this much needed work thrives and continues to grow. There is a global community of interconnected people and places where old traditions are being reenvisioned in a modern context. For me, spending time in the Golden Bay with the Tracks community was a blessing and a powerful example of modern-day rites of passage. And as I reflect on my travels, I can still feel the sand under my feet and the warmth of the glowing fire under the pentacle.

Peace & blessings,
Paul Marcinkowski

Zascha Mann 1992 - 2021

It was with sadness we received news of the death of Zascha Mann at the end of July this year.
Immediately I felt transported to memories of him and his father Wolfgang on his rite during the summer of 2016. As an older seeker his presence brought a deeper significance for everyone as we bore witness to his joy and courage. Zascha was brave and wasn’t afraid to dive the depths of the story and love that ran between him and his family. Powerful role modeling that enriched the whole event.
Knowing some of the struggle life was and increasingly became for Zascha, I’m grateful that 2016 worked so well, that he stood strong all the way from separation to return.
A number of times afterward he spoke about finding ways to still be a part of things and each time he would express how important his Tracks experience was for him and if he could, he’d be on every event.
In 2019 he got in touch to donate toward building the new Pentacle and was always keenly keeping up with progress.
Our love goes to his family at this time of great loss.
Adge Tucker
Kia kaha dear ROPF whānau. Thank you for  your ongoing and much needed support. See you soon,

The Rites of Passage Foundation
Stef, Rita, Rachel, John and Di,
Gabby and Adge