###  partial NEFFA thread to date, continuing to build

Sent: Friday, March 2, 2018 9:53 AM
From: *Hobbit*
To: Harold
Subject: Re: neffa?

Oh, good, Seth had the right address ... as you're listed as the "inside
facilities" liaison and all, I just wanted to make sure that the Board and
everyone who's going to be working the Festival is all straight on the
footwear thing, i.e. nobody gets harassed for any reason.  There was at
least one really upsetting incident last year, and absolutely no valid
reason for it, especially when there's never been any truth about footwear
and food.

Any doubters have only to visit  outbarefoot.org  and follow some of the
links and search suggestions, to understand why there's no undue risk to
anyone and why it shouldn't even be notable one way or the other.  The
sixties/seventies are long over, along with its discriminatory "fake news"!

Now I get to go try Seth's new signup site, this should be interesting... he
apparently plowed several of my design suggestions into it, he said.

Thanx, see ya in another month.5!



Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2018 17:29:00 -0500
From: "Harold"
To: "*Hobbit*"
Subject: RE: neffa?

Is there some issue with you being barefoot? I am unaware of any so let
me know.

I personally have no problem with your choice and know you have done so
all the years you've participated in NEFFA



Sent: Monday, March 5, 2018 2:03 PM
From: *Hobbit*
To: Harold
Subject: Re: neffa?

It wasn't me last year, it was another volunteer who had a pretty serious
misunderstanding with one of the cafeteria people.  It was because the
cafeteria person didn't know the facts, and still thought it was some kind
of "health code" or liability problem or OSHA or the usual excuses people
come up with because of bad social conditioning.

So I'm just trying to head off any possibility of that this year [and all
subsequent years, really].  Since there doesn't appear to be a way to email
the Board in general and you're listed as facilities liaison, I figured
you're the right person to contact...

This started ~ 2 years ago when Dan Pearl did a little research and
concluded "no, there really are no laws or regulations against this" and
the signs at the cafeteria doors came down.  But because some people are
misinformed or just plain phobic, they have to be reminded that footwear
is an individual choice and never a problem, and that the Festival is
clearly a barefoot-friendly event in general.  [As, indeed, the rest of
society should be too, but we're working on that.]

Outbarefoot.org provides a convenient starting point for anyone else who
needs to read up on the truth.  I've even got prints of that brown signage
if anybody thinks such things might be useful to prevent disagreements.
Nobody's personal prejudice or brainwashing should interfere with a
smoothly running Festival!




## [it took him another MONTH to get back to me at all ...]


Sent: Thursday, April 5, 2018 4:54 PM
From: Harold
To: '*Hobbit*'
Subject: RE: neffa?

Hey Hobbit,
Thanks for the rest of the story. That makes it clearer. I'll pass this
along to those managing the food so they are at least aware and may be able
to do some "preventative" action.

We have one more meeting this Sunday before the festival and can discuss
this more then

See you in a few weeks



##  [Then, a week later and basically a week out from the Festival,
##    the hammer drops.  Why didn't you tell me this LONG ago...]


Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2018 19:20:17 -0400
From: Harold
To: "'*Hobbit*'"
Subject: RE: neffa and barefootness

Hello Hobbit,
We checked with the schools and they said they have a stated policy of no
bare feet in the cafeteria.
NEFFA as an organization abides by school policies and request our safety
volunteers to be observant of what the schools request. Unfortunately, feet
get lumped in with smoking and parking.  I wish it were different.


Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2018 21:10:32 -0500
From: *Hobbit*
To: Harold
Subject: Re: neffa and barefootness

Then why has it NOT been an issue for the last two or more years??
This "policy" is inconsistent at best, and is only based on timeworn
prejudice and discrimination from the sixties.  As a supposedly
progressive and diversity-welcoming organization, they really need
to move past that.  Again, food and footwear have NEVER had any
real-life relationship, and there's nothing special about the
cafeteria that's not true about the halls, the outdoors, the
stages, parking lots, etc.

You are just letting NEFFA in for more confrontations and ill will by
letting the school discriminate against its participants like that in
such a petty, unrealistic way.  Again, this was NOT a problem for a
long time and now someone is letting it become a problem.  This is a
huge and VERY detrimental step backwards.  There is absolutely no
harm or risk in suspending such arbitrary "rules" for the weekend,
and will do much to smooth relationships with the event.

I would like to see this fixed before the Festival, or it's going
to seriously jeopardize *my* association with it.  I refuse to be
bullied, any school should be able to understand that.  Sorry for the
tone of this, but such blind ivory-tower edicts just makes me angry
and I was really really hoping it would never have come to me having
to blast like this.  If you can express that feeling [and no, it's
not just me] to the *people that matter* they might begin to actually
get it.

Put me directly in touch with them if you have to, please.



 ###   [no answer after 3+ days, so I clarified and CCed more people]

Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2018 21:56:18 -0500
From: *Hobbit*
To: Harold
Cc: Beth, soundvolunteers
Subject: cafeteria idiocy

As I mentioned, this situation with "policy" around the cafeteria and
bare feet needs to be addressed immediately and remedied, before it
becomes a showstopping situation.  Now I need solid contacts for the
NEFFA board as a whole, and possibly for the key people on the school
side to explain the case and facts to and detail to them why this
was never a problem and is completely inappropriate to now turn
into a problem.

Two years ago, as both of you know, Dan Pearl did the research
I suggested and confirmed that there's absolutely nothing wrong
with being unshod, as many of our attendees do and enjoy the entire
weekend without incident, and to slam discrimination down around
ONE room in the entire facility is ludicrous and offensive.  It
has also been pointed out that the crafts hall is also a
cafeteria in its normal function, and nobody seems to be whining
about that.  The proposed nonsense is groundless and only takes
otherwise delighted customers AWAY from our food vendors in the
process of pissing everyone off.  It brings absolutely no good
to anybody, and we have the last two years of freedom from this
garbage as precedent.

We also have the fact that some uninformed person named Carol, working
the kitchens over there, basically *attacked* [participant] over
their choice of attire last year and led to an upsetting confrontation
which I had to go help mitigate.  I wouldn't be surprised if it's
that same person driving this so-called policy, even though she and
I had a reasonable discussion and she promised to read up on the
facts about barefooting especially where food is concerned.  [There
is no relationship at all, like I said, and proof is in the FDA Food
Safety Code available from fda.gov.]  Whoever is behind this needs
to firmly internalize that they do *not* harass NEFFA attendees
or workers for any reason unless they're actually doing something
harmfully wrong.  And misinforming our own "safety" people that
there's something improper about simply being unshod is just beyond
stupid and perpetuates all those wrong ideas.

As far as I know nobody vending in the MS cafeteria even sells
anything in glass containers, rendering one of the usual excuses
even more ridiculous.  There's plenty of broken glass scattered
around the parking lots we walk through, and nobody seems worried
about that.

So I stand ready to explain the facts and the philosophy and how
all of this goes directly against NEFFA core values of diversity
and inclusion, and is not appropriate for this event at all.
And I need to see this settled this NOW, so I can figure out if
I'm going to bother heading down there on Friday or not.  Do you
have any idea how it pains me to even say that??  I have several
commitments and people are depending on me for various items and
processes, and it is ON NEFFA to keep those things available.

Don't sweep this under the rug, and don't shift blame to faceless
entities you can't identify.  There is at least one PERSON behind
this, person(s) with some bizarre paranoid phobia about feet that
they are projecting on everyone else around them without any clue
what effects it can have.  It is something that strikes painfully
close to home for many of us.  Involve the Board and their liaisons
with the school, and please get it fixed before we hit the ground
there.  Give me the right contacts and I will help the outreach.

If you want to discuss in person-ish, [phone#].



Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 09:39:21 -0400
From: Harold
To: "*Hobbit*"
Subject: RE: cafeteria idiocy

Hello Hobbit,
Given your emotional energy in your last email I've forwarded it to Terry,
the NEFFA president. Terry will be getting back to you with a response
by end-of-day tomorrow because today is a holiday for the schools.
   Best Regards


Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 09:24:25 -0500
From: *Hobbit*
To: Harold
Subject: Re: cafeteria idiocy

Thank you; I realized that this is an even shorter week than
usual for everyone, but it really should be a simple thing to
sort out.  Let's remember how the same kind of emotion and
sentiment against arbitrary, oppressive rules is what drove
the original Patriots way back when!



Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 16:23:28 -0400
From: Terry
Subject: NEFFA response to your concern
To: "*Hobbit*"
Cc: Harold

Dear Hobbit,

I understand very well your frustration with the school policy that shoes
are required in the cafeteria and kitchen. I appreciate how strongly you
feel about this issue, and how important it is to you to set the record
straight on the benefits of going barefoot.

Please understand that school policies are not set by the personnel with
whom we interact at the Festival. In NEFFA philosophy, we work hard to be
kind and tolerant, and to treat school employees, and others, with respect.
That is why the town, selectman and school committee have continued to
allow us access to their schools.

These policy decisions are made by the school board and administration, and
it is with them that we have a contract that we are bound to honor. So we
need to discuss any changes to or disagreements with these policies when we
are in contract negotiations, well ahead of the Festival. Four days before
we head to Mansfield is not a time for NEFFA to ask the administration to
revisit their policies. After the Festival, however, the NEFFA board can
consider just what we can do to address this issue. I have made a note to
add this to our yearly review.

Hobbit, we do value the volunteer time and commitment you have given to
NEFFA and the sound committee over the last decade or two. I'm hoping that
you can understand that we don't have time to craft a new contract, and
that you will agree to abide by the cafeteria policy, or that you will
avoid the cafeteria area completely if that's more comfortable for you. At
the same time, the board can take the opportunity to review this policy
in real time while we are all at the Festival.

I hope that you will honor your volunteer commitments to the NEFFA

With sincerity,

NEFFA President


Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 16:37:19 -0500
From: *Hobbit*
To: Terry
Cc: Harold
Subject: Re: NEFFA response to your concern

I don't know what your contract cycle/timeframe is, but I began
reaching out to Harold back on March 1.  Maybe that was too late
as well.  I did that because of the grievous harassment that a
good friend received from the kitchen manager last year, that
I tried my best to smooth over.  The only reason this exploded
at such a late date is that I was unaware that anything was
amiss until late last week.

May I have a copy of that contract to read?  I'm curious about the
exact wording of what you seem to be up against, and why it has
suddenly re-surfaced just this year.  And what do you intend to
tell the "safety" staff when they are briefed?  Are they going
to come away with the impression that bare feet are evil somehow,
or are you going to make it very clear that NEFFA is not in favor
of what they're nonetheless told to enforce?

Please be careful when referring to "the school board" and selectmen
and the like in the sense of an authority.  A specific human or
humans push for rules like this, and they are the sole source of
the problem, so to speak.  I tend to give "ivory tower edicts"
far less credibility in general, when with such a grey-area issue
like this it almost always comes down to someone's personal
feelings in play that trumps the objective facts.  Someone is
on a power trip, and is likely to continue trying to give you
a hard time about this until they are shown the better way or
removed from the process.

Is the grid-advertised "annual meeting" where this review gets
done, or somewhere else behind closed doors?  It doesn't seem
like the administrators in question would be present anyway.

Given some reassurance that the NEFFA folks are "in my corner", as
it was put to me, I will likely attend the Festival as usual and
simply boycott the cafeteria.  Is that the *ONLY* area where these
"rules" apply, or am I also kicked out of the Bistro and banned
from the food trucks outside?  I'll miss the cakes and latkes,
as well as the social aspect of hanging out with friends over
food, and hopefully you understand at a deep personal level
how such exclusion would make anyone feel.



Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2018 17:43:09 -0400
From: Beth
Subject: Re: NEFFA response to your concern
To: "*Hobbit*"

Hi, Hobbit --

I will stay on top of this, and will insist upon being a part of the
contract negotiations for the coming year.

Thanks for your help with sound and lighting. I will do my best to make the
outdoor seating areas just as sociable as the indoor ones for this year.



Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2018 15:39:20 -0500
From: *Hobbit*
To: Terry
Subject: Re: NEFFA response to your concern

Just a bit of followup from yesterday...  My last msg still
had some outstanding questions in it, notably what our
remaining barefoot-friendly food options are.  Hopefully
you wouldn't starve your volunteers.

I don't know if you've talked to any school officials in
the interim, but I'd be quite interested in whatever
reasoning they offer to support their stance.

Again, I'm sorry this came up in such a late timeframe
but when Harold took a *month* to answer his email and
then sprang this on me late last week, I had no choice
in when I was able to bring this up.  I really thought
it was a done deal two years ago and would never be a
problem again; that's why this is so frustrating now.

Either way I'm glad the "hornet nest" happened in advance
of the Festival, because for all of this to come as an
on-site surprise would be extremely upsetting and might
have sent me packing.  So it's good, in a halfass way,
that we're going into this knowing where everyone stands
at present.

If any signage about footwear is placed at the cafeteria
entrances, may I suggest that something like this be
officially added underneath it?


That would help publicly affirm NEFFA's commitment to
its community, and clear intent to stop discrimination
in any form.  I'm still surprised nobody caught the
problem in contractual negotiations in the first place.
What was in contracts for the prior two years?  Is the
text of any of those stored online somewhere?




Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2018 22:57:46 -0400
From: Terry
Subject: Re: NEFFA response to your concern
To: "*Hobbit*"
Cc: Harold, Dayle

Dear Hobbit,

The school will be putting up signs this year in the middle school
cafeteria. Their signs, not NEFFA's.

Barefooted elsewhere in the festival will be stress free. Food is available
by the many food trucks that will be outside the side door of the HS.

I spoke with the school today and it will be a topic that will be discussed
before contacts are signed next year. Our contact is signed in January.

I need you to send your request/ and reasons, etc for the board to consider
this issue to President@neffa.org and my personal email.
I will pass on to the board your request, concerns and we will officially
consider and reply. (Board is aware that this is coming).

If you would like to speak to the board directly- add that to the request
and we will set up a time during one of our executive meeting to hear you.
Meeting are scare after festival thru the summer but starting in September
we usually meet 2nd Sundays in the afternoon. We will have one meeting yet
to be determined in May/June and I can keep you in the loop about that date.

NEFFA's website has a contact form. It is another way to get a message to

See you soon.



Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2018 09:26:32 -0500
From: *Hobbit*
To: Terry
Cc: Harold, Beth, Dayle
Subject: Re: NEFFA response to your concern

My "case" is inherently stated in all of the email I've sent
about this to date, including the stuff some of you weren't
party to before getting involved.  I have placed a temporary
copy of the whole thread here:


Please review the earlier parts of that and pay attention to
message dates and my comments about lag time.

It would really help me to know exactly what the school's
objections are, so we can address those specifically.  You
still have not described what their issue is, but it very
likely maps to one or more of the points detailed here, in
a summary document that I maintain:


Yes, I'm sending some web links to look at, but if I was going
to present a "case" anyway, that's probably the best way I could
go about it.  This needs to be an *interactive* process --
find out what the school officials' specific issues are, and
handle those appropriately to educate them in the facts and
why they need not have such concerns.  I can almost guarantee
you that they are coming from a position of simple ignorance,
and it's not entirely their fault if they've never studied
the realities.  But they are *educators*, and should welcome
the opportunity to learn.

I probably don't need to tell you that there is stunning illogic
at work, especially when "elsewhere in the festival will be
stress free".  Again, there's nothing special about the MS
cafeteria or anywhere else that deals with food.  And refusing
service to people with a genuine *need* to avoid footwear [such
as some of our volunteers!] discriminates against a recognized
disability, which could open the school's administration up to
significant legal trouble.  Furthermore, there are some "minimalist"
dance-shoe styles becoming popular these days that only cover a
very small portion of the foot.  At what point does a foot become
"bare" in anyone's estimation, and who is entitled to declare
some kind of threshold?  Answer: nobody, just leave them be.

If the school is placing signs around the cafeteria instead, I
still feel that NEFFA should place a prominent statement explaining
why the signs are up and how we're working to restore a more sensible
state of policy.  Some form of the apology and assurance I mentioned
before should be posted near the doors, possibly near the wall-size
Grid that's always there anyway.  I am dead serious about that, and
I believe it would help NEFFA maintain better credibility and avoid
continued promulgation of harmful and false myths to our attendees.
This is simple damage control.  I'd offer to compose something, but
it seems unlikely that you'd accept it.

With your suggestions on how to contact the Board, now I feel a bit
like I'm being pointed at an impersonal wall to continue.  This
should not be a cycle of presenting an argument, receiving a negative
answer from a faceless entity without acceptable explanation, and
then having no recourse.  It has to be an open *dialogue*, for as
long as it takes.  This situation with the school flies against
everything NEFFA stands for, including respect in both directions,
and burdens everyone with additional responsibilities and time-sinks
for zero benefit.  If we were just left alone in our choices like
we (mostly) have over the past couple of years, we *and* the school
administrators wouldn't be having to go through all this.

I am assuming that anything I send you easily can and possibly
should be forwarded to other board members.  Again, it was Carol's
reprehensible behavior last year that triggered me to begin floating
any of this in the first place, and I'm sorry that I did not do that
right after last years' Festival.  I honestly thought I had favorably
resolved matters with her at the time.

Thank you