As most people, I’m trying to wrap my head around all that’s gone on in the world of late. Not to mention the years previous! It’s so easy to get sucked into the quagmire and become blind to a bigger picture. I want to keep dedicating Being Change to focusing on the possible and how women can be positive change-makers on behalf of life. This little clip featuring Clare Dubois, founder of Treesisters, gives a quick pep talk, jump start, reminder of the importance of saying NO to what is no longer “acceptable” or “normal.” While the new administration in the US is making the world more hopeful, it’s still well within the old paradigm and business as usual. Clare tells it as she sees it and she is truly one of the femine avatars of our time.

 

This short film is so inspiring that it needs no further comment from me. Let’s do everything we can to bring forth this vision.

 

Do we have a right to be hopeful? With political and ecological fires raging all around, is it irresponsible to imagine a future world radically better than our own? A world without prisons? Of beautiful, green public housing? Of buried border walls? Of healed ecosystems? A world where governments fear the people instead of the other way around? “A Message From the Future II: The Years of Repair” is an animated short film that dares to dream of a future in which 2020 is a historic turning point, where the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic and global uprisings against racism drive us to build back a better society in which no one is sacrificed and everyone is essential.

 

I’m taking part in an extraordinary summit called Humanity Rising which “represents a global movement of people and organizations coming together to take counsel on how to start shaping the world beyond the pandemic. It’s creating an ongoing global dialogue and coalition of activists and organizations which will consider ideas and take action on proposals to create a world that is more socially equitable and ecologically regenerative. It also has designed a platform as a global commons for all speakers and participants to come together to share blogs, videos, generate discussions and engage in all sorts of collaborative activities together.”

The Summit will continue for as long as the pandemic lasts and beyond.

The opening of this summit was two and a half hours long and it felt like being home, being with my family, my tribe. Present were people such as Jane Goodall, Vandana Shiva, Osprey Orielle Lake, Lynn Twist and many other powerful speakers – and participants – from all over the world. Please visit the web site, sign on and listen to the recordings/join future summits.

Of all the take-aways from this gathering, the one I most want to share is this:

Jim Garrison, of Ubiquity University and who hosts this summit, told this story. He asked himself what would he choose if he could pick and manifest the most powerful action on behalf of the future he could imagine. First he thought it would be the ending of all fossil fuel extraction and use. Or the ceasing of deforestation…. But what he decided was the most powerful action he could imagine was that every government, every corporation, every institution, all executive leadership

be transitioned to women.

And then he proceeded to dedicate the first ten days of the summit exclusively to women’s voices.

Imagine!

We are experiencing a global pandemic called COVID-19. This is not a surprise but a logical consequence of our behaviors, as are extinctions, climate change, societal collapse and on and on. The future (as always) is unknown. This much I know.

I don’t like to expend too much energy anymore on speculating on how, or whether, humans will, or won’t, respond to these crises/opportunities…

(It’s possible that we can learn, it’s possible that we can change, it’s possible that we can rise.)

… I want to focus on this question: what world do I want to dream into being? And then be that. Then do that.

Geneen Marie Haugen, in an essay for Animas Institute, asked a similar question: How can (we) cultivate aliveness now? For all beings.

I’ve been studying people’s deep reflections on these questions and there are common themes that are emerging that I would like to explore in our sanctuary. These themes have been very much embedded in the Being Change process all along, I’m finding, and now it’s time to revisit this process in the context of our present reality. It’s time to revisit and live the intentions because, I believe, they’re more relevant and necessary than ever.

Being Change has been all about hospicing what is dying and midwifing what is wanting to be born. During one powerful summit I participated in recently, an indigenous elder said there’s not much point any more in trying to change the minds of those who simply will not “let go of the shore.” While there still may be some point, I want to put all my heart and soul into creating whatever audaciously beautiful future I can imagine. And embody it in the present. No matter what. Are “we the one’s we’ve been waiting for?” I guess we’re going to find out!

 

 


Art by Jayleigh – All rights reserved

I recently took part in a Friday night through Sunday afternoon “Work That Reconnects” workshop. This is one of many times I’ve done some iteration of the work and it never gets old. I could say much about this process but the following is what’s most up for me right now.

There is an exercise called “The Truth Mandala” that allows people to speak to four or five different emotional responses to our times: fear (a large, heavy stone), anger (a stick), grief (dried leaves), emptiness or despair (an empty bowl), and guilt (a spilled glass of water). People go into whatever quadrant(s) they feel called to and speak/emote to whatever depth they feel moved. Often that depth is, well, hold onto your hats.

When I entered the circle, closely surrounded by the other participants, I went first to Fear. Even though I have great faith that humankind is heading toward the necessary shifts in consciousness and behaviors to survive total extinction and continue to evolve, I fear the ecological devastation is too great – it’s too late.

And that makes me angry! Enraged! We’ve known what we were doing. We’ve known what’s coming. We can see the consequences of our choices, yet we keep on, business as usual. And on and on….

And that makes me feel guilty. I am not immune or blameless or often even courageous enough to do what I know is right. I know no one can be perfect; the system puts many roadblocks in our way, but there’s more I could be shifting or letting go of.

And all this comes down to grief. I picked up the dry leaves and cried. And cried.

The beauty of this is that all of it is done in a container of such empathy, compassion, and support that one leaves feeling that they have literally “been through the wringer.” All that sludge has been squeezed out and transmuted, at least for the time being, into something cleaner, lighter – refreshed. Especially as we were reminded that there is a flip-side to these emotions.

The other side of fear can be the trust and courage it takes to express it.
The other side of anger can be a passion for justice.
The other side of grief can be love. We only mourn what we deeply care for.
The other side of emptiness can be space for the new to emerge.
The other side of guilt can be motivation and perseverance.

And it is from this renewed grounding that I ponder these words from Joanna Macy, the originator of “The Work That Reconnects”:

“This is a dark time, filled with suffering and uncertainty. Like living cells in a larger body, it is natural that we feel the trauma of our world. So don’t be afraid of the anguish you feel, or the anger or fear, because these responses arise from the depth of your caring and the truth of your interconnectedness with all beings.”

For those who don’t already know, Project Drawdown is a “world-class research and communication organization which serves as a non-partisan, non-commercial, highly-trusted source of solutions to reverse global warming.” They came up with 100 such solutions; the relevant point for this conversation is that the three solutions relating to women, taken together, comprise the number one most empowering solution of all! This is according to Paul Hawkin, the head of this project. They are:

Educating Girls – providing equal quality of and access to education to girls/young women currently being denied access, leading to improved livelihoods, delayed onset of marriage, delayed childbearing, and fewer children than peers with less education.

Family Planning – scaling-up voluntary family planning efforts, including access to contraception and reproductive health resources, especially in countries where the unmet need for contraception is high or current demand is low, leading to the decline in total fertility rates.

Women Smallholders – providing resources, financing, and training to women smallholder farmers around the world, leading to improved agricultural yields and therefore reduced deforestation rates.

I encourage you to create opportunities to parse this with your circles, networks, gatherings of friends, faith groups, etc. See what you can come up with as far as how you can support these efforts. Let me know what you learn.

Also, The Drawdown Initiative is a series of on-line workshops that “supports you in finding your unique contribution to reversing global warming.” Please consider signing up.

Recently I took part in a gathering called “The Fierceness of the Mother Global Conference” hosted by Jocelyn Mercado of Sacred Planet. Jocelyn is a lovely, wise woman who cares deeply about the planet and the future of all beings. She produces many quality webinars and other teachings and I’ve come to appreciate her work greatly. Check out her web site and support her however you can.

The final gathering of the global conference featured Clare Dubois, founder of the extraordinary organization Treesisters. All I can say is that hers was a truly brilliant (and fierce!) call to action on behalf of Mama that can’t be resisted. Clare has had a remarkable journey and she walks her talk with courage and humility. You just have to watch this video to see for yourself.

 

“Women are coming together across struggles, borders and cultures to help build a new world.”

This is an excellent article by Osprey Orielle Lake, founder and executive director of The Women’s Earth & Climate Action Network (WECAN.)

It paints a comprehensive picture of the interconnected issues – political, cultural, economic, spiritual – facing women who are working passionately for the future of our planet.”

We are either going to have a future where
women lead the way to make peace with the Earth
or we are not going to have a human future at all.”
Vandana Shiva

Follow the links in the article to go even deeper. I learned a lot; we have so much work to do. Take a look at WECAN’s web to see how you can get involved.

 

I had the pleasure and the challenge of being in the presence of Terry Patten on a couple of occasions recently. In everything he does, I learned, Terry embodies that delicate balance between being fully awake to all the real and potential horrors in our world, while embracing vision, integrity, passion and soul – truly a most courageous, compassionate, empowering, radical response in these times. I encourage you to read his book and explore his web; plug into his work however you can.

One of the things he talks so eloquently about is the need to create containers for different kinds of conversations about our present predicament and our future possibilities – ones that break free of the old patterns and stories and that allow the new and visionary to emerge. As Charles Eisenstein says “we need to ‘clear the field’ on a personal level and a social-political level. We need to ‘unlearn’ the things we assume we know. Where will this journey of unlearning take you? I hope, to a place of knowing a little less than when you started… a fertile place where something new can grow.”

This is exactly my vision for Being Change circles, both virtually here on this site and on-the-ground in the Ithaca (NY) area and beyond. And we not only have to “unlearn,” we also have to “un-do.” We have to allow for massive amounts of time and spaciousness to be still, quiet, present, and co-creative; we have to surrender to something so much bigger than busyness.

How do we create this spaciousness in an accelerating world? Where if we don’t do something quickly it’s game over? Where we’re still trying to survive and even thrive in a hostile, dying paradigm? This is yet another of the incredible paradoxes, or as Terry would say – koans – that we are being asked to hold and let tease us into a new way of “thinking” and being.

Can we find the time? Can we make the space to unlearn and undo? Surely, in my mind, it’s essential. As we sit in our circle, we commit to this as a Practice on behalf of all life and the future generations.This video meditation with Thich Nhat Hanh is profoundly grounding as we venture forth.

The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) recently offered a ten-day on-line Summit called “The Power of Community – Climate Change & Consciousness.” There were thirty speakers in all and they were all simply brilliant. Many of us here at the ecovillage where I live gathered to view and discuss these dialogues, and I feel moved to share here some of the themes I heard throughout:

– The level of transformation in consciousness and behaviors needed is radical and urgent. We must ask ourselves deeply and courageously how, then, shall we live?
– Community is key. We can’t do this alone. The time for rugged individuality is over. We’re all in this together.
– There needs to be a consistent “container” to grapple with these issues together. People need to make time for this, indeed, make it a priority to the best of our abilities. Our future depends on it.
– This container might be designed, not as a “meeting” or “think-tank”, but as a refuge, a sanctuary for different behaviors and consciousness to “cook” and to emerge. For nurturing solidarity and trust, vision and creativity.
–  There needs to be a balance between processing emotions such as fear, grief and uncertainty, sharing stories, and imagining and implementing actions. Aim for both physical and psycho-spiritual resilience.
-There need to be opportunities to empower and celebrate each individual’s unique calling and contribution to the Great Turning as well as to celebrate the Life and the Earth we have now – with all its challenges, opportunities, joys and beauty.

A “community”, of course, can be any gathering of people, anywhere. If you’re wanting to explore all of the complex, challenging, and rewarding dimensions of “The Great Turning”, I encourage everyone to find or create one. To paraphrase Margaret Wheatley, we desperately need “islands of sanity in an insane world”.