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”.

Gordon Hempton defines “silence” not as quiet, or no sound, but as the absence of man-made noise pollution. He believes that “silence just might be on the verge of extinction and that even the most remote corners of the globe are impacted by (this) pollution.

Do we even realize the prevalence of this “noise”, do we notice it in our everyday lives or is it so “normal” that it escapes our consciousness?

How does this impact our bodies, our psyches, our souls? What are we missing by being plugged in all the time or distracted (or perhaps assaulted) by sirens, traffic, jack hammers, airplanes, horns, boom boxes, motor boats, ski mobiles, ring/text tones, construction and more construction and on and on? How telling that we should need “sanctuary.”

I believe that the Earth is always speaking. I believe that other species and other beings are always speaking. Maybe in “words”, maybe in metaphor or synchronicity, dreams, callings, or in so many ways. I believe that one of the requirements of this Great Turning is to slow down and listen. Slow waaaaaaay down, step away from the “noise” and listen.

In Sanctuaries of Silence, join Hempton on an immersive listening journey into Olympic National Park, one of the quietest places in North America.” Learn how his work has been life-changing for him. The home page of this film’s web site (scroll down a ways) offers a five-step practice of listening that can get one started in slowing down and, well, listening….


“What should I do?
Who should I be?
How can one celebrate and love this glittering world, even as it becomes a sickened and dangerous thing?
What can be said in response to the arrogance and illogic of those who would wreck the world?
What are the words to say to people who deeply care, words that will help them move forward with new joy, courage, and integrity?
How did human decisions create the climate emergencies, and how might new thinking take advantage of this last chance for civilization to start again and get it right this time?
And this most important question: How can people come together in the one thing that has the power to change history – a great rising wave of moral outrage at the plunder and the wreckage, and an affirmation of a better way?”


Thank you Kathleen Dean Moore for articulating them so beautifully.
(Questions are from “Great Tide Rising”, page 11.)

Please read this important book and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Ilarion Merculieff is the the founder of The Global Center for Indigenous Leadership and Lifeways and is an Unangan (Unungan), Aleut, raised in a traditional way. He’s on my bucket list of people I want to meet someday but, for now, I want to share this beautiful wisdom with you:

“Ilarion’s belief is that without changing consciousness, we are doomed to continue repeating past mistakes in dealing with the environment and our relationships with all life. Key to this effort is to help people to restore their sense of the sacred feminine personally and collectively.

Indigenous prophecies, particularly from the Hopi and Maori say that women will be restored to their place as original healers during this time, and that women will lead the way into a higher consciousness. The role of men is to protect the sacred space of women so they can do their work.”

What if women rose again? ….What if we could reclaim, somehow, that power and respect which women had lost? What if we could somehow dismantle this planet-destroying patriarchy and recreate a world in which we lived in balance? (1)

THIS is a question that is foremost on my mind. For many years I’ve been asking what is required of us as human beings to step up to the challenges of the times and, more and more, I believe that women are key.

The time is now for every woman to stand in her power, speak with her true voice, live her vision in the world. We do not have a moment to waste. For our children, grandchildren, and the seven generations, bring your heart, mind and soul-fire to the remaking of the world. (2)

This vision of resurrecting the wild, archetypal, historical, divine feminine and breathing life and soul and balance back into our selves and our world has become the most compelling vision for me. In all my searching and wandering, I see this being called for over and over again. So, if resurrecting, reclaiming, and re-embodying the archetypal feminine is necessary for any hope of a viable future, how do we step into that powerfully?

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing. (3)

In all my wandering and searching, I see so many women, and men, who are doing it: exploring and embodying ways to “dismantle” the old paradigm to make way for something ancient and new. I’m doing it, Being Change is doing it. You’re probably doing it too.

The wild feminine is not only sustainable in all worlds, it sustains all worlds. Let’s admit it. We, women, are building a motherland; each with her own plot of soil eked from a night of dreams, a day of work. We are spreading this soil in larger and larger circles, slowly, slowly. One day it will be a continuous land, a resurrected land come back from the dead. (4)

Stories. Stories about nights of dreams and days of work. Indeed, there are so many out there that I fail to see how, together, we can not prevail over the darkness that seems so overwhelming. In a former post I wrote that I wanted to share these people I’m finding who are embodying this feminine energy to witness to and transform the world. I want to re-commit to that intention, starting with the next post. Please stay tuned.

  1. Sharon Blackie
  2. Marilyn Steele
  3. Arundhati Roy
  4. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Art by Phebe Allen Gustafson