Equinox Report: A Season of Transparency & Democratisation

On an unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon, comrade citizen, one that marks the beginning of the Spring season, life continues after the immense stress and weight of two pandemic years and now plagued by threats of war and violence. These are difficult times for many people, faced with the uncertainty of life after COVID, with economic precarity, and with renewed threats of imperialist and ethnocentric wars that could turn—at a moment’s notice—into a nuclear war with global calamity. What can we do, small as we are?

To these immense tragedies that would make Creon blush, driven by capitalism and ethnonationalism, Sandus has limited capability to make significant efforts. We are, after all, a country of less than two dozen people. What we do have, however, is the human capacity for hope and change, and empathy and compassion. The many crises that we see in the world around us—in Afghanistan, in Yemen, in Ukraine, in our own communities and home—we have few resources to change. But we possess an unrivaled (at least in terms of micronations) philosophy that seeks to provide our community autonomy, self-determination, self-reliance: in short, all the hallmarks of Libera.

Though we have limited resources, in the last several years, certainly since 2016, we have committed ourselves to making structural changes in our lives: setting time aside for holidays and being with friends, focusing on the things that are important to us (such as family, humanism, compassion), and doing what we can to change the material and ideological realitiews that we inhabit. This has meant paying more attention to our fellow citizens, focusing on the things we can change about our micronation to share more in common with one another, and democratising power in our country. Of course there is still much to do but, as we emerge from a difficult few years into this new Spring of our micronation, we will ultimately achieve new victories in the world that we create with our minds and our hands.

These developments will be never-ending. New things will arise that will require future work. But now almost three years on since the momentous occasion of the tenth anniversary of our creation, on 26 May 2009, we Sandum citizens have made great strides in so many ways. We have ensured our longevity, we have started a renaissance of Sandum culture, we have reinvigorated our economy, and we have ensured the longevity of our coöperation with our closest partners and allies. So much remains for us to do, and in the new year—after several years of planning and reshaping our Common Economy—we will restart the organs that exist in our country so that no longer will they exist and work in name but only in deed. The difficulty of our position, with limited activity and resources, will always entail making some difficult decisions, but in the end we are bolstered by the grassroots nature of our micronation, our republican system of government, and our socialist and humanist philosophy.

We will make up for our few numbers with our strong will and determination to do what we can to alleviate human suffering, just as we have always done. This is the heart value of the State of Sandus.

C. Soergel Publicola

Charity Taxes: New Form as Part of Infrastructural Development

Out of five respondents, charity taxes declared so far are $3,112.64 USD, a figure that now exceeds last winter’s $2,749.46. Since many citizens declared their taxes after the equinox or solstice, it is expected that the figure will continue to climb. The charity of money, however, represents donations given to a variety of religious organisations in the United States and Australia, political funds, children’s hospitals, artists facing housing insecurity and other people facing housing and food insecurities, religious nonprofits, food banks, organisations providing necessary but politically sensitive medical treatments, political parties, indigenous services, and other private donations.

Sandum citizens in the last season have donated furniture, office supplies, notebooks, magazines, old clothing, and shoes to charity. In terms of volunteer work, too, citizens have given 313 hours of free labour to charity, down from last season’s 350 hours but exceeding last winter’s 220 hours.

This is the first equinox at which citizens have had access to a new administrative form, called TC-3: Charity Tax Form. The new form is a part of an effort of the Central People’s Government to move files from a private computer hard-drive to a shared Google Drive folder. In the future, Sandum citizens will have access to all necessary forms and documents, a change that will represent increased transparency within Sandus and hopefully spur greater political and social involvement.

Equinox Election: Speaker Baca reëlected by acclamation

Artemis Baca, the Speaker of the Council of the State of Sandus, one of three Grand Officers of State, has been reëlected for another term. This next year will be her first consecutive term as speaker and will her third term overall as the leader of the Council. Baca ran unopposed in the election for the Council’s leadership, which according to established precedent means that she was elected by acclamation.

Baca’s election is only the second election to take place since the democratic reforms begun since the beginning of the pandemic. Last year, outgoing Facilitator Erik Jóhannes-Baptistesbur reformed the Council’s leadership position in the hopes that the position would become more like that of a lögmaður (a lawspeaker) in Nordic countries, an official who presides over the assembly but also recounts the law generally. Historically, lawspeakers were a distinct office that preserved the power of democratic things (Germanic assemblies) toward kings and nobles.

After the renaming of the position of facilitator to speaker, the date for the speaker’s election was eventually chosen for the Spring Equinox. According to the new Rules and Procedures of the Council, the election is administered by the Sôgmô. That is the extent to the new procedure for electing the Speaker, meaning that the actual specific criteria of the election have not been established in either law or practice. This has serious ramifications for the Council’s future elections, meaning that this must be more clearly specified in law. This will likely be a focus of a future Klatsch or consultative day.

Speaker Baca’s Plans for Her Next Term

Dear reader, we await Speaker Baca’s plans that she promised to send to us. We will publish them here when we receive them and send another public notification of the change to this article.

The new logo of Sangha Sandus, one of the sodalities of the Collegium Sacerdotum that recently held its first consultative day. The sangha’s consultative day led to the creation of the sangha’s first basic document that, in the future, will act as its constitution.

More Consultative Days Planned for this Spring

More consultative days have been planned for this spring, including days for the Ecclesia Sanda (Sandum Church), the Sodalitas Sanctis Faciundis (the Sodality for Doing Sancta Things), and Erganê Artisanal Coöperative. In some ways, the plan for consultative days are ahead of schedule since Sangha Sandus (the Sandum Sangha) met ahead of schedule, but the Ecclesia Sanda has not met despite the fact that Easter is approaching. At the same time, the list of planned consultative days will also grow to include some important topics related to the governance of the Central People’s Government, including days for the Council, Ministries, and Provinces & Provincial Reform. Another consultative day has been planned for the summer, too, to set up an LGBTQ+ political organisation.

Consultative Days are general meetings of coöperative and state enterprise members intended to set the ground work for how these and other organs will operate. For many established organs, no constitution exists and there may be neither any leadership nor any guidance on how to get work to begin. Given the struggles with organising business, the Sôgmô announced at the last solstice that they would organise general meetings with members, Common Economy partners, and interested members of the public at large (including non-Sandum citizens) to discuss how these organs ought to exist and operate.

The result so far has been overwhelmingly positive, with Tellus Horticultural Coöperative (for example) now organising a list of members and gardens as well as having plans for cultivation. For Sangha Sandus, the result has led to the creation of a basic document for the Collegium Sacerdotum’s sodality, or work-group.

CPG to Develop Online Infrastructure

For many contemporary micronations, their online presence is the same as their entire existence. Without an online presence, there would be no new micronations, in many cases, and micropatriologists have long drawn a line between the advent of the internet and the micronational before times. For other micronations, such as the State of Sandus, an online presence is analogous to civil infrastructure, requiring similar planning and engineering. A recent Veritum Sandus article announced the Central People’s Government’s plans to both update Sandus.org, the country’s primary web portal, and also to create new websites for significant state organs, such as coöperatives and state enterprises but also the Party, the Council, the monarchy, and also ministries and bureaux.

But Sandus’s online infrastructure is not limited to websites alone. Work is also underway to keep a more robust and transparent collection of documents, data, and resources for citizens. Recently, the Sôgmô created a shared Google Drive folder for Sandum citizens that encompass all documentation that they might need. The folder includes laws, important administrative forms, government documents, and even a media gallery and a welcome folder. The Sandum shared folder also links to the new shared folder of the Social System and of the Common Economy, making the the Sandum shared folder a one-stop shop for citizens looking for all necessary documents.

In terms of websites, the Collegium Sacerdotum has already received a new website, recasting the Sacerdotium website (dating to 2012) into a new website dedicated to the college. Historically, the Sacerdotium was only a journal dedicated to the college, but now it will develop into the college’s new website. A similar plan is underway for the Citizens’ Party of Sandus whose journal, Voice of Sandus, has long served the exclusive role of sharing news and editorials about the Party. In the future, Voice of Sandus‘s website will also become the website of the Citizens’ Party of Sandus as a whole.

Entirely new websites will have to be created for all other state organs that do not already have them. These include:

1. The Office of the Sôgmô, or the Sandum monarchy: it is also unclear yet whether this website will include ministries, bureaux, and/or provinces, but these will certainly include
2. the Council
3. Tellus Horticultural Coöperative
4. Erganê Artisanal Coöperative
5. State Media Enterprise, perhaps linking to all relevant media outlet-projects

These new changes to Sandus’s online infrastructure so far focuses on government specifically, but future developments may come to include other important areas of concern.

Minervalia: Athena’s Birthday Celebrated for the first time

The Sôgmô, the Sanôba, and other local residents came together the day before the Spring Equinox to celebrate the Minervalia, also known as Athena’s birthday. The Minervalia begins a five-day long festival in honour of our micronation’s matron goddess, called the Quinquatrus or the Quinquatria. This is the first time that Sandus, as well as the new Cult of Athena, celebrated the holiday.

The holiday featured a many course dinner with appetizers, a pasta course, a main course, and a dessert. The dinner took the form of a sellisternium, a type of banquet ritual where the god or gods of a particular festival eat with banqueters in chairs (in sellis). In Quercus Candida, this was done by adjoining the Sôgmô’s dining table to their altar. The menu featured: fresh local baguettes with mozzarella, olives, dolmadakia, and roast pepper escalivada for the appetizers; red wine spaghetti for the pasta course; cottage pie for the main course; and a truffle bomb cake for dessert. Wines, whiskey, and other spirits were served in a variety of preparations.

Originally planned to include a mystery ritual, it was decided to postpone the Oaken Mysteries, as the cult’s mysteries are called, until a time when the cult can develop the mysteries and give them better attention. Though there is a synthetic description (written in ancient Greek) of the mysteries in the cult’s founding document, a more thorough script needs to be created for the mysteries. The mysteries may even be postponed until the summer when citizens and members of the sodality will have more time to dedicate to the mysteries. Planned to take place over the course of several days, the mysteries will be the first of their kind for Sandus.