3 Linden Road, Hartland, VT 05048 Tel (802) 436-1277 Fax (802) 436-1281 www.sustainer.org email@example.com Joanna Macy Leads “The Work That Reconnects” for Donella Meadows Leadership Fellows, Sustainability Institute and Cobb Hill Cohousing September 23-26, 2006 • Hartland, Vermont A beam of sunshine shone like a warm spotlight on the bouquet of flowers that moments earlier had formed the centerpiece of a ceremony commemorating Donella (Dana) Meadows. It was the end of a four-day workshop led by Joanna Macy and the sixty participants were in the final hours of a magical learning journey together. This was the first time that four overlapping communities – each a legacy of Dana Meadows -- joined together in their common goal of creating a sustainable world. Two classes of Donella Meadows Leadership Fellows, Sustainability Institute staff and residents of Cobb Hill Cohousing gathered in Cobb Hill’s common house to enhance their efforts, individually and collectively, towards what Joanna calls a life-sustaining Joanna Macy civilization and what Dana called the sustainability age. Dana and Joanna both base their environmental and social change work in systems thinking. Joanna said, “I have great regard and gratitude for Dana. She was a source of brightening for my world even before I met her. She had realism, and precision, a diagnostic eye, and brought such creativity, such zest to it, such a jovial heart.” Joanna structured the workshop around The first day focused on gratitude, the second day on a spiral map. honoring our pain for the world, the third on seeing with new eyes and the last day on going forth. Interactive exercises, ritual and discussion built on these themes, leading participants to experience both the depth of their despair for the world, and their intention and ability to turn the tide. Joanna used humor, scholarship, intellectual liveliness, emotional depth, masterful facilitation and talented storytelling to give participants a multi-textured experience of coming alive to their place in history, and to their unique contributions to a sustainable world. The workshop also included input from Sustainability Institute staff. Beth Sawin presented Our Climate Ourselves in an evening session. This served as an example of how to face the difficult truth about the situation and use it as a teacher, helping us access what we care most about and the courage to bring it forth. Describing what she calls, “the Great Turning,” Joanna put participants’ lives and work in the context of this transition from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization, “To see this as the larger context of our lives clears our vision and summons our courage,” she said. Joanna emphasized two things about the Great Turning: 1) it is an inevitable present day reality, and 2) its ultimate success cannot be known. She said, “great spiritual power is unlocked when we unlink our work from the need to see the results of our efforts.” One participant likened the Great Turning to a school of fish or flock of geese – it doesn’t happen all at once but leader by leader, as each takes their turn leading those around them. The Great Turning is happening concurrently on three dimensions, Joanna said: • One is “holding actions,” which slow the rate of social and ecological damage – these include regulations, restrictions, blockades and boycotts. • The second is ”shifts in consciousness” in which old reductionist and materialist ways of Joanna describing her theory of systems thinking thinking give way to understanding the as a basis for the Great Turning interconnectedness of all things, such as we see with systems thinking. • The third dimension of the Great Turning is “structural changes” which include new economic and social formations -- new ways of owning land, of sharing housing, of understanding healing, of measuring prosperity. Examples include community-supported agriculture, new currencies and collaborative living such as co-housing and eco-villages. Joanna’s methods for bringing this to light called on the intellect, the heart and the imagination. Participants “conversed” with people seven generations from now and they studied the Great Turning from the perspective of historians alive in the year 2106 researching that crucial moment 100 years ago, when in 2006, change was gaining momentum. “Huge human ingenuity was unleashed at that time,” she said. “What forms did it take?” This Deep Time perspective, reaching both forward and back in time, is an effective way to shed new light on the decisions and actions we take now. On the last day Joanna led a deep time exercise to set intentions for going forth. This was the final phase of the workshop. One of the Fellows left committed to work on green house gas emissions mitigation within the California electric utility industry. Already she has scheduled two teleconferences to which 6000 industry clients have been invited. Another Fellow wrote about a tragedy she experienced soon after. She reported: “Before this workshop, I would have wanted to isolate myself from the situation, and harden my emotions with fear. But I was able to reach out and somehow form a web of comfort, and faced this together with a caring that is so taboo in past society, but which is a healing and rational way for people to share their sadness, fear, regret, and love.” The spirit of building relationship and community, rather than retreating into isolation and misunderstanding, will hopefully stay with us all for a long time as the four circles of Dana’s legacy became one large circle carrying on her, Joanna’s and each other’s work. Thank you to the Morgan Family Foundation for financial support that made this workshop possible.