Who are we? What is New Tribal Ventures? And what is this website all about?
Ishmael is the book, that, in one incarnation or another, has dominated our lives since the late seventies, when Daniel first began exploring the ideas that ultimately emerged in this and his subsequent novels, The Story Of B, and My Ishmael: A Sequel. But that’s not a story for this website. (You’ll find most of it in Providence: The Story Of A Fifty-Year Vision Quest, which Daniel wrote because so many people asked about Ishmael, “Where did this book come from?” And you can find out more about Ishmael, get hundreds of questions answered, and catch up on everything that’s been going on since Ishmael’s publication in 1992 at the Ishmael Community website.)
Where Does New Tribal Ventures Come From?
Though this website, New Tribal Ventures, is certainly related to Ishmael and the Ishmael website (and one of our goals is to help support and maintain that website), it came about as a result of Daniel’s work on his nonfiction book Beyond Civilization: Humanity’s Next Great Adventure, published in 1999. In this book he expands the idea introduced in My Ishmael that aboriginal tribal life offers a model for us in our attempts to “make a living” in a meaningful and enjoyable way. In My Ishmael he cited the circus as an example of a tribal business. But while writing BC, he was casting about for some more examples to demonstrate this concept and realized that we ourselves had been involved in a tribal business, the East Mountain News, a weekly newspaper we started in the early eighties in New Mexico. Even with just Daniel and me it would have been a tribal business, but what made it truly tribal was that we weren’t alone in it. Hap Veerkamp, a venerable reporter and photographer, and C.J. Harper, a fledgling writer and dynamite ad saleswoman, threw their lot in with us, and we all ate well or tightened our belts depending on the fortunes of the newspaper.
Once we’d identified the East Mountain News as a tribal business, we began looking back at all the other ventures we’d started before and during the thirteen or so years that Daniel was working on version after version of a book that ultimately emerged as Ishmael. One off-the-wall venture was looking into the possibility of creating a website that would sell human hair wigs to Orthodox Jewish women. Obviously this was really outside of the world of books and publishing and education in tribal ventures. However, I thought it was fascinating riding the NYC subways and seeing conservative Jewish women wearing wigs. Orthodox Jewish women abide by the Jewish law, known as Halakha. This code of modesty requires they wear clothing that covers their knees, elbows, collar bone, and head (thus the need for a wig). Some of the wigs really looked obvious, but a friend pointed out other Orthodox Jewish women whose wigs looked as natural as my own hair.