Equinox Report: One Year of Isolation, Renewal

A year since the coming of the virus has passed and, as our lives have become more accustomed to the facts of disease and quarantine and physical distancing, we have come to find solutions to our collective feelings of isolation and compassionate responsibility to ease our and others’ suffering. This is what drives our country, Sandus, and a year ago I introduced this report in more fiery and polemical tone than I have ever in recent years. How could I not have? In this country, we have always known that workers are essential, that healthcare workers are heroes, and that those who secure the very means of our existence—that is, farmers and farm workers who, in our part of the world, are migrants, refugees, and impoverished—are the most precarious yet important of these workers. Our world under capitalism is based on the hard work, labour, and integrity of the working classes, and Sandus should rightfully be their home, as it is ours, if they see the same patent and noble truths about life that we see.

“Essential workers,” “heroes,” and such are not exceptional platitudes. They are daily facts, reminders that we live in an interdependent life where I exist because you exist: such is the nature of dependent origination.[1]

Our country that we all make “with our hands and our minds,” that is, with our deeds and our thoughts, was built on this premise. In Sandus we believe that suffering is not just a conditioned product of our consciousness, it is also a product of social systems of oppression that operate in a multitude of ways and on a variety of levels. Yet our tactical and strategic response (au Certeau !) to these givens of our lives are our own. The Sandum response, however, relies on both creating a micronation that has this intention at its heart, that Sandus should work to subvent the suffering we and others face. We seek, however imperfectly, to understand and to alleviate the conditions of these, while fomenting community and sociality among the people who make up this humble yet great micronation. We often feel that this is all that we can do with what we are given, but what we have done is all the more greater than we imagined.

The last year has taught us how to better this community and that Sandus, while being now an “older” micronation, is still very much a work in progress. What life will look like after COVID-19 we do not know. Will we want to continue with our virtual community, or will our long isolations push us to neglect this new social form we have embraced since last March? These have yet to be made clear, but one thing is already patent: Sandus is more prepared than ever to meet and address whatever challenges we face.

The work of the last year and, going forward, of this new Spring will mark a new season in our micronation. I, comrade citizen, congratulate you on this new verdant and hopeful period of our lives.

Gaius Soergel Publicola
your humble Sôgmô

[1] “This being, that becomes; from the arising of this, that arises. This not being, that does not become; from the cessation of this, that ceases.”

Poster for this year’s Matronalia and Old Sancta New Year

Sandus prepares for the Tin Jubilee!

The Office of the Sôgmô has announced that the country will celebrate the Sôgmô’s ten years on the throne as our Sôgmô on Sunday 13 June 2021, two months after the tenth Day of Foundation when the State of Sandus was born and Gaius Soergel Publicola acceded to the throne. Jubilee Day has been separated from the Day of Foundation both to create a festive event near the hopeful end of the COVID-19 pandemic, when physical distancing requirements may be mitigated, and to distinguish the royal festivities from the annual celebration of our constitution.

Several events are planned to take place both online and in person on the Jubilee Day. On Saturday 12 June, several online events are planned to celebrate the Sôgmô’s jubilee with diplomatic receptions accompanied by invited foreign leaders, both of the Francophone and Anglophone communities, together with Sandum citizens. On Sunday 13 June, Jubilee Day, the Sôgmô and the Royal Family will hold an early afternoon in-person tea party for citizens and other friends in Quercus Candida, the Sandum capital. Festivities will conclude that evening with a partly in-person, partly virtual online cocktail party and musical event. Other festivities may be arranged as the date draws closer.

To prepare for the event, the office has prepared a public survey that will be shared with citizens of Sandus and also with members of the wider micronational community for their ideas and feedback. All stops are being pulled from celebrating this event since the long period of physical distancing makes the need to celebrate the event all the more important, though the royal couple will also be preparing for another important royal event: their wedding. Due to this, the event will be celebrated in a manner that is both chic and frugal to ensure that their wedding is also another important occasion later in the year on 25 September.

Are you interested in taking part in the party? Would you like to have a say in how Sandus celebrates this momentous occasion? You can take part by filling out this public survey!

Charity Tax Turnout Low, but Charity Still High

Each season, Sandum citizens make an effort to be charitable when they give money, items, and time for the benefit of others. This altruism is the chief obligation of being a Sandum citizen and is considered even more important than, say, the necessity to be active as a Sandum citizen. Though not all citizens complete charity taxes, over the years a sizeable percentage of Sandum citizens have and each season comes with surprising results. This year is no different, and it highlights the continuing charity of many Sandum citizens.

  • In terms of donations of money, Sandum citizens have so far declared that they have donated $2,749.46 USD to charity. Religious and political organisations, Wikimedia, children’s hospitals, environmental lobbying, food charities, the American CDC foundation, and individual homeless people have received citizens’ charity.
  • In terms of donations of other items, Sandum citizens have donated clothing, office supplies, dried and canned goods, electronics, and letters to political prisoners in Hong Kong and to a friend in rehab.
  • Citizens have given 222 hours of volunteer work to others.
  • So far, only 5 people have responded.

Council Reform, Ministerial Shakeup, and New Functionary

After many months of discussions since the election of the last facilitator, Hatsu Ryuho, the Council is now entering uncharted territory. Under reforms begun since the beginning of the year, the Council will now be presided over by a speaker, though the functions of the job will in fact change rather little. The election of this new speaker lasts the duration of the entire day today, from midnight to midnight of the Spring Equinox according to UTC.

Yet the new speaker, for which there is only one candidate, Artemis Baca, will have a large role to fill. The reforms have so far posited new avenues of development for the Council, the youngest of Sandus’s republican branches. The country’s direct democratic assembly will need to determine and lay down its own parliamentary rules and procedures, in a clear manner and unlike the haphazard fashion used since the Council was established in January 2015. In addition to these, the Council must also decide on how the Speaker is to be elected going forward, a reform hoped for from the outgoing facilitator but that has been delayed until the new speaker takes her seat. Under consideration are also term length, possible term limits, and procedures for recall. Sandum citizens will meet Sunday 21 March to brainstorm ideas about how to provide structure to the Council’s business.

As Sandus’s direct democratic assembly, the Council has been primarily tasked with passing laws and decisions, also known as resolutions. These all have the same force as sagamorial decrees and, to some extent, the Party’s plans and decisions.

At the same time, the Sôgmô is also preparing a ministerial shakeup of the cabinet. With Artemis Baca projected to become the Council’s speaker, she and the Sôgmô have decided that she should focus her attention there. Jacob Barnet, the current Minister of Human & Environmental Health, is intended to become the Minister of Diplomatic Affairs, filling the vacancy left by Baca’s departure. Who will become the HEH Minister remains to be seen, but Al Deuchars is a likely candidate for the post.

In further Central People’s Government news, Peter Wood will be newly charged d’affaires as Sandus’s own demographer and cartographer. Their position will both oversee Sandus’s census in the future as well as will more clearly define Sandum territory and space. At the start of this project, they aim to represent Sandus’s territory according to the Gradient Sovereign Condominium Theory by using a heat map through GIS as well as Sandum activity and connections through social network theory.

New Decree to Establish Status of “Adjacency,” Royal Citizenship

The Sôgmô is said to be drafting a new decree that will create new legal statuses in the State of Sandus in addition to citizenship. The move will broaden the meaning of those who are Sandum, allowing both those who have taken part in Sandum activities and those who are members of the Royal Family to receive legal status in the country.

These new legal statuses have the added benefit of focusing the wide category of peregrine citizenship. Today, peregrine citizens are both newly elected citizens, longtime inactive citizens, and members of the Royal Family who otherwise take no interest in our micronation.

Theoretically, peregrine citizenship also exists for those who have been stripped of full citizenship as a punishment, making it also a criminal penalty. Though the present decree does not change this, further decisions proposed to take place in 2021 will likely further clarify and redefine this criminal punishment.

Though the decree has not yet been draft, some provisions are already more clearly defined than others. The Sôgmô has not yet submitted the draft for review by members of the cabinet, however.

Adjacency, the legal status for those who have taken part in Sandum activities or who have some connection to Sandus, will be granted to provide some rights to those who are otherwise associated with our country. This legal status, too, will make it easier for adjacents to become Sandum citizens. It is not yet clear what role the status will have vis-à-vis the Central People’s Government, the Sandum Republic, or our socialist economy. This new status, however, will help adjacents become Sandum citizens more easily in the future. How one becomes an adjacent remains to be determined.

Like honorary citizenship found in other countries, royal citizenship does not grant any particular rights and is reserved for members of the Royal Family which, in Sandus, is defined broadly. Members of the immediate Royal Family are already inactive peregrine citizens but, under this new legal status, members of the Sôgmô’s extended maternal and paternal family may receive royal citizenship (at their request and with the Sôgmô’s assent). Also eligible for royal citizenship will be members of the Sanôba’s family, after the royal couple will have wed on 25 September, as well as the heir’s family and his wife’s family. Since the heir is an office elected every five years, unless the heir is prorogued, family members of a former heir will lose their royal citizenship—but may, based on their connection to Sandus, apply for adjacency.

Sandus, Überstadt to Restart Common Economy Negotiations

The Party anticipates in-depth negotiations on the Common Economy this season as the Kingdom of Überstadt launches political reforms. The goal of the binational talks will be to conclude a treaty governing the Common Economy’s labor system, cooperatives, and state enterprises. One key issue that this treaty will address is the definition of labor, and more specifically, which labor falls under the jurisdiction of different states and economic organizations. Another is the proposed merger of certain Sandum and Überstadti cooperatives, as well as which ones should have their independence protected for reasons of national culture. Other points of discussion will include how to share benefits among cooperative workers, maintaining employee records, and which economic projects would be better suited to state enterprises than to worker cooperatives.

Following the treaty on economic organization, the Commission for the Common Economy will begin outlining a monetary system based on a new currency, tentatively named the laf. Laf is an adaptation of the Anglo-Saxon hlaf, meaning loaf, an allusion to the relationship between exchange and sustenance.Preparations Underway for Nobility Day 2021, 28 April

Spring 2021 to See Further Coöperative Reform

The new season will mark further coöperative reform in addition to the work already done to reinvigorate Sandus’s coöperative. Since last summer, Sandus has reorganised its coöperatives to better reflect Sandum citizens’ activity, their interests, and a new wider definition of what counts as labour in the country. To date, no systematic changes have been made, since these must happen now through the Citizens’ Party of Sandus and through negotiations in the Common Economy, which Sandus shares with Überstadt. Yet it is now more likely than ever that Sandus will seek to update its socialist system to better reflect contemporary understandings of labour, Sandus’s role in the lives of its citizens as a micronation, and national interests.

Though not yet clearly defined, Sandum labour will be seen as any labour done by any Sandum citizen. Though most labour is understood to be exported as Sandus’s most widely available resource to macronations, Sandum citizens are largely active in utilising their labour in and for our country.

These reforms follow trends of the last year that have, to date, restructured and renamed Tellus Horticultural Coöperative and, as recently as last month, the Collegium Sacerdotum. These reforms so far have offered a model for coöperative organisation with the “Dharmachakra” model and have also promised a renewed urgency to establish worker’s democracy in Sandus. Included in the proposal for the Party’s and the Common Economy’s proposals are also a differentiation among the Sandum economic system between coöperatives and state enterprises, though no clear-cut conclusions have been made about the distinction between either. In a few weeks, as part of this process of further reform, the Sôgmô is planning to send out a general form to ask all citizens to sign up for membership in the coöperatives that most align with their interests, as coöperatives in the future will be increasingly voluntary and communal.

Sandus also has a new coöperative, the Sports Club Federation – Fédération des clubs sportifs. Tasked with organising all Sandum citizens who play a sport, broadly defined, in Sandus, the SCF-FCS has already begun its work by planning competitions and with some citizens’ own clubs and teams. With clubs for Rocket League and Microsoft Flight Simulator, as well as other areas of sport, the coöperative may well soon feature more activity meant to provide sports leisure for Sandum citizens. At the end of the year, too, the SCF-FCS will be responsible for organising the Ludi Pacales, our country’s biannual sports games dedicated to peace.

After all this, only Erganê Artisanal Coöperative and the State Media Coöperative have not been reformed, though there is no timetable for their reformation.

Preparations Underway for Nobility Day 2021, 28 April

Preparations are now underway for Nobility Day 2021, marking the fourth anniversary since the Sôgmô established the Sandum system of noble ranks. The holiday will have a greater importance this year of all years because of the Sôgmô’s Tin Jubilee here in Sandus. The holiday will include both educational material on the Sandum nobility, its history, and why it exists and also cultural celebrations of the various nobles in Sandus.

The Sandum nobility have played no major role in the country and are not supposed to. No power comes with noble rank in Sandus, and the privileges are entirely ceremonial. In fact, according to the sagamorial decree that established the system, drawing attention to “one’s status of nobility in situations other than formal state or ceremonial setting is contrary to the principles of Sandum nobility and is liable to censure [from] the Sôgmô.” This has had the effect of curtailing the common use of noble ranks outside of formal and ceremonial affairs, and the clause strives to place a check on noble arrogance.

The Sandum nobility is a rank based on merit given to the State of Sandus and that recognises the importance of their position in the country. There are six ranks: citizen, gentry, knights and dames, baronets, and barons. Though relatively minor ranks in other countries’ nobilities, the ranks in Sandus reflect the historical fact that Sandus has been a barony for much of its existence. The Sôgmô reigns highest in the Sandum system.

There are, to date, eight recipients of a noble rank in Sandus. According to precedence, they are:

  1. Gaius Soergel Publicola, the Sôgmô
  2. Dr. Gaius Flavius Ithacus, the Homard, Baron of the Maumee
  3. King Adam I of Überstadt, Baronet of Eliot
  4. Sir Charles Wright
  5. Dame Sisenna Melville
  6. Dame Artemis Baca
  7. Jacob Barnet Pharmacologus Σαρκαστικός, Esquire
  8. Oliver Armstrong, the Sanôba, Esquire

As part of the celebrations for Nobility Day, the Sôgmô is preparing some principles of Sandum heraldic law. Það will provide citizens with the ability, too, to receive a coat of arms upon request, and will update barons’ heraldic grants to grant them banners and will make this common practice in the future. Under the Sôgmô’s April 2017 decree that established the Sandum nobility, barons that are entitled (that is, that have fiefdoms) are allowed to have an anthem and may have other emblems for their fiefdoms.