I was chatting with Paul today about the upcoming Permaculture Design Course, Permaculture Technology Course, and SKills to Inherit Property events (FYI: at the time of writing this, there's two weeks left to snag the Super Early Bird ticket prices!). Paul mentioned how he's had some truly wonderful families come. One person attends, and the rest of the family does their own merry thing at Wheaton Labs. The stay away from all the event action, and are respectful for the people who paid to attend. The lovely family has a great time picking huckleberries or walking in the woods or just chilling by their tent. And when the event day is over, Mom/Dad/paying-attendee can easily go see their family and enjoy the beautiful Wheaton Labs property for the non-event hours together.
And then there's been times when one person would pay, and bring their unpaying spouse/partner/friend. And the friend mooches off the food. And the friend gets bored of being alone, and comes over to the event area and learns a bunch of stuff from the event that they didn't pay for. This is disrespectful for the people who paid and it's a pain for Paul to be Event Police going around telling people to please stay away from the event they didn't pay for. This just sucks joy from everyone.
I'm thinking about places like Disney Land--I'm pretty sure you can't go stay in their hotel on site with your paying friend when you haven't paid for Disney ticket. You can't claim, "Oh, I'm not going to go on any of the rides or walk around the park. I'll just stay here in the hotel the whole time." Disney Land won't believe you. Disney Land wants you to pay to be respectful to all the other people who've paid for an experience. But, if you rent a hotel that isn't at Disney Land, Disney Land couldn't care less if you had your non-paying family staying there.
There's apparently some nice campsites and forest service land, and Air B&Bs near Wheaton Labs. It's entirely feasible for someone to have their family stay at those places during the day while the paying attendee takes part in the events, and then they can go see their family/friend each evening after the event hours.
But, maybe, just maybe, there's a way to make sure friends/spouses/children who didn't pay, can have a lovely time tenting at Wheaton Labs and NOT mooch off of the food and learning or be a distraction. Maybe, just maybe there's a way. But, when Paul and I chatted, we couldn't really think of that way. Events like the Permaculture Technology Jamboree and SKills to Inherit Permaculture happen all over Wheaton Labs. How do you keep non-paying people from mooching off of the paying people without Paul or someone else having to spend all day policing the events to make sure no one's taking part who shouldn't be?
People who are paid attendees all wear an identifier.
Be it a nifty, I attended Pauls event tee shirt or a simple paper flower worn visible on clothing.
Have the whole paid attending group be the "police"
Asking any private individual to do that would be unreasonable. But if the whole group is looking and politely asking non attendees to "go away" it could do the job. Group peer pressure .
I was at the PEP event last summer and we had to wear badges on a string around our neck. They got in the way and were a pain for about three days. After that we all stopped wearing them...
I can't easily think of a way to manage this for large groups. If there are only 8 people at an event, it's pretty easy to tell when #9 shows up. But if it's 20 and they're in a few places and some new paying people show up on day 7 and others leave on day 5 it would be much harder.
"Hundreds of years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the type of car I drove... But the world may be different because I did something so bafflingly crazy that it becomes a tourist destination"
What about an event deposit. For every person you bring along, you put down a deposit equal to one event ticket in value. If these other individuals avoid the event and have a lovely time on their own, you get the whole deposit back. If they decide to sit in for events, the value of that day's event activities is removed from the deposit. This way everyone pays for anything they learn, but no one is obligated to pay anything at all so long as they respect the boundaries of the event.
It could be a barrier for a large family affording it, so maybe kids under a certain age don't need the deposit, but honestly it seems like a win-win otherwise. A simple statement of "if you stay more than a few minutes in this area, it will be acknowledgement that you intend to waive the deposit for today and enjoy learning from the event." Then if they stick around, they do so knowing they are giving up that day's worth of deposit. If they toddle off, they are out of the way of the event again.
I would just say no, and insist they stay elsewhere. They're already coming to Montana (usually from elsewhere), surely they have the means to figure other accommodation out, even if it's just camping. It just sounds like a human-headache to me otherwise
When you reach your lowest point, you are open to the greatest change.
For families with young children (who cannot reasonably leave their children behind, as in the case of nursing mothers, etc.):
Feed everyone and charge accordingly (so nobody rides for free). If a partner/sitter is bringing the kiddos, the partner/sitter and the kiddos are expected to eat with the group. It has been my experience that, if there are young children (speaking of which, designate an age range for "young children"), the partner/sitter is too busy looking after them to sneak in some free learning. But yeah, the whole kit and kaboodle will eat your food if it's there...so just assume as much and charge for it.
Other than the situation above regarding young children, I wouldn't allow someone to bring a non-paying partner/spouse/friend. Like, you can't be away from them for two weeks? Really? Then both of you need to pay to take the course.
I'm manifesting an ecovillage in rural Central Florida. What's your superpower?