Notes from the "Future of Ephemerisle" meeting

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Future of Ephemerisle: Sept 29, 2015 at the Red Vic, San Francisco

Facebook event page: ["Embassy Meeting of Minds: "The Future of Ephemerisle"]


Group participants: Mike Pesavento, Jamie Jonas, Eric Michaud, +2 others (unknown) Document author (and elaborator from personal notes): Mike Pesavento

Major points: legal liability as we grow “sea-rangers”? “sober skipper”? Safe practices

In a community filled with people that highly value their autonomy, how can we get this community to agree on basic safety standards? Is that even possible? If one person dissents, does that mean they are no longer welcome? In the Safety breakout group, we discussed a few topics that should have further attention

Liability with growth

We should have an Interface between captains and LEO/Coast Guard Medical Green dot?

Local designation of “sober skipper” on each island =>Need veneer of safety for the authorities, even if we are, um, otherwise occupied

Group resources

We need a spread of resources as have growth previously, too much has been taken on by very few people, and they became burnt out have identified individuals that are on call for dealing with emergency issues: first aid, out to having at least one certified EMS on site (on call), having a list of other qualified individuals that are on site mediation & “green dot”, people that have experience in mediating conflict or holding space for bad trips boat/anchor emergencies, know who to ask, don’t rely on one person! Only have SOBER (or at least very lucid) individuals on the “responsible” list deal with a situation this avoids the issues of “I’m a doctor! [1st year med student] I can stitch him up! [nope, not here] I’m totally fine [nah, you’re a few pills into the night]” sea-rangers: everyone is a “ranger”, everyone is responsible for everyone else. This is part of being in a community some “rangers” have more experience than others. If a difficult problem arises, let go of ego and pass it to someone with more experience in the situation. If someone needed CPR and a EMT was right there, would you keep giving CPR?

=>Keep 1 person sober & responsible on island What happens if responsible party isn’t present?

Liability and “group” dynamics

More than 400 people is an organized group, even if independent what are maritime rules for this? county law? Sheriff's boat? 4th of July boat party in the Delta is larger, but isn’t an organized event. How do they get away with it?

How does responsibility change as the event grows > 400? Who is responsible for people just showing up? each captain is responsible for their vessel and everyone on it. should have vessel roster? do we need to know who is where at all times? people move between boats all the time

Law Enforcement

sexual assault - LEO needs to be contacted, by legal definition what is legal definition of sexual assault? Is a casual boob graze considered assault if the recipient is drunk and overreactive? Non-consensual penetration is a great starting point, and can go from there how do we remove(assaultor) them from the community? ban from an island? Have a list of individuals banned on a given island? lethal violence fights might be okay, but if weapons are drawn, cops are now involved what is a consensual fight? do we want that in the community? Does making a “law” against it destroy individual liberty as a part of a very liberal community? Domestic Violence - I don’t think this has specifically been an issue yet, but should be looked at. What happens if a “couple” has a fight? Is that their problem? take to LEOs? get sea-ranger involved?

Safety Capacity

Who is responsible for everyone that attends? Each captain has had a limit to the number of people on their boat How can we monitor this? Do we want to? Each island is ultimately responsible for everyone there. Boats should not be ridiculously overloaded. Common sense can prevail, or at least some semblence of it.

Safe Practices

night swimming nope, dont do it, even if lit! anchor lines should have resources posted on how to light the lines each captain and island should have a plan for how they will light their anchor lines speed boats yeah, they go fast? how do we communicate safer practices to drivers? Have wiki page (with Talk section) for people to post common questions and answers, to discuss directions

Take Home Messages

have at least 1 “sober” person for each island, for legal appearances more legal information is required. need to consult someone familiar with maritime law need to know if maritime law still applies for inland waterways, or if that jurisdiction is up to the local county dealing with sexual assault can be tricky dealing with individuals that like their individual liberties can be tricky

Topics we didnt get to

restoration - justice (??) boating skill/responsibility/speedboats night swimming (needs more depth)



Encourage more art boats to come Who is responsible for creating and maintenance of art - creating teams, contributing funds and resources How do we encourage new ones and draw existing ones in. More art, more art boats, more partnering to create large scale projects.

Developing an over-arching theatre experience which is interactive and immersive. Tarons Art Gallery.


Organise art discussion League of mutant vessels - Meetup few weeks time boats/ 13th October.


'Participants - Zarinah Agnew, Eric W Rogers, Katie Marple, John, Serenity, others?'

Topics Covered

- How would different styles of decision making/governance affect the population of each island? - Could there be or should there be some resources or information that is centralised? - How should we act when there is a problem/perceived problem in order to remain fair? - How to develop inter-island relations - How much central control/authority is desirable as the event grows? - Should each island retain absolute authority?


It was acknowledged that ephemerisle is about diversity, and avoiding blanket rules if possible. Discussion was around how to preserve this diversity and exploration of cultures and governance, but also learn from these explorations. Discussion led to an idea of principles that were collaboratively created and islands could choose to sign up or not sign up. Whatever islands choose to do is fine. They would have a flag that showed if they had or had not signed up to the agreed principles. As simple as a blue (not signed up) or red flag (have signed up).

The overlying question is what happens if people go against the principles?


- Form Politics working group. Create crowd sourced wiki of basic values and process that every individual can edit. - This would include, a description of safe space, the process for dealing with people who violate those agreements, eg how to deal with people taking photographs of people while naked, process for dealing with harms done in our community etc. - After certain period, close the wiki and share it with the entire group. - Once the agreement is shared, islands, boats, structures can choose to opt in or opt out to the set of agreements. If they so wish they can make this clear with some kind of marker on their structure. - In this way, when anyone steps foot on another island, they can identify whether or not those agreements have been accepted and therefore are aware of the situation that they are entering. - In this way, cultural norms can be tested, explored and iterated on, without enforcing any agreements on anyone, or homogenizing the diverse culture of Ephemerisle. - Clearly if the group hate this idea, then a) it could be retracted, b)no island may choose to adopt the agreement or c) an island might wish to iterate on the agreement and create a better agreement for their values. All these options are welcome.


Lindsay – pedestrian, Adam – organizer, Matt – delorean, Dan – pedestrian Kat – pedestrian, contact improve, Robert – organizer, Michael – pedestrian, Aurora – build week, attendee ??? – interested party, Matt – organizer, Zach – pedestrian

The Topics (Stickies - communally suggested/aggregated topics)

Virgins: The New People ‘Problem’'

a. How prepared are new people each year to contribute to island/event? Should there be more education to prepare them? b. Do we want new people, even?

Conflict Management: Cultural Responses to ‘Bad’ Behavior

a. How to handle ‘bad’ behavior

Establishing Principles: Building and Disseminating a Culture – if we want to?

a. How does growth/infrastructure/etc compare to BM? • What can we do differently? • What can we learn from seasteading? b. How to build, maintain Ephem. ‘culture’ c. Should there be an agreed set of standards among islands? d. Should captains have participants sign agreements to set expectations?

IV. Data collection/learning V. Clowning

Historically, written values have been ignored (2012-3). Values matter insomuch that they result in behavior. How many/which shared values must be unanimous in order for the event to function?

Cultivating a culture via attracting people with similar values?

Ie, Party culture? Yes, we want parties. But not emphasize parties.

TOO LATE! We’re diverse enough as it is already.

IDEA! Adam: What about one, central rule/value to rally around? (a la ‘No spectators’ BM ’95) What about ‘respect thy neighbor’ (do wtf you want but don’t f with others)

- Could this lead to more distinct/unique cultures on each island? - How does one define ‘respect thy neighbor’? - Geography can assist in creating willful separation but in shared resources, such as sound (ie, Bunkbed ’15)… and people

IDEA! Matt: What if each island posts its own basic rules? I. No dying II. Respect thy neighbor III. Consent is ‘sexy’ IV. Be helpful

Standardized way to publicly post and draw peoples’ attention to rule set?

How does one enforce these rules? - Precedent: Seasteading, versioning of rules - Distributing a guide to common difficult conversations - Give people a bracelet every time they are ‘indoctrinated’ with each island


- How can I attend without being a ‘freeloader’? - How can newbies be involved in the creation/contribution component? - Positive reinforcement/symbols, ie, bracelet system?



  • More/better ways to get to/from the marinas
  • More/better way to transport materials (plywood, etc) to and from the event
  • Dedicated docking for ferries
  • Dedicated docking for small
  • More berths
  • Storage for art boats
  • Transport for art boats
  • Work space for art boats near the event
  • Better information sharing about existing resources (wiki, etc)

Possible solutions

  • Oceanus is planning to bring the Aurora next year, a German cruise ship with 1000+ berths. However, the ship needs substantial restoration work. Those who put in sufficient hours for the restoration will get berths for free/reduced price.
  • Green boats (similar to the green bikes at Burning Man). One possibility is the [Sea-cycle] limo, which is a pedal-powered catamaran which can carry 4 people:
  • Hire a barge to transport materials
  • Buy a barge to transport materials

Open tasks

  • Promote the wiki more (if anyone wants editing access, get in touch with
  • Contact local marinas to arrange staging space for art boats.
  • Contact Hiltons to inquire about using their property as a staging and launch space
  • Create a volunteer group to give back to the local community (delta restoration, trash cleanup, park infrastructure builds) to make amends for negative externalities we may impose on the surrounding community
  • Search for barge for purchase/rental


  • Patio boats can comfortably take 15 people, 19 max. More than that, and they're likely to capsize.
  • Limited number of patio boats at Paradise Point.
  • Get in touch with Sean Ironstag or Lucas Royland for inquiries about berthing on the Aurora or volunteering for the Aurora restoration
  • If you'd like to help with a green boat program, get in touch with Chris Rasch