Dear Interhelpers and Friends,
I was thrilled to read about the journey of the second Earth Leadership Cohort (below) and I hope you will read it also. Perhaps the report from the Hartford-area support group will inspire you to form a group in your area. And Rosalie Anders lets us in on how things got “all shook up” at her UU parish in Cambridge.
Not to be missed: the Annual Interhelp Gathering October 30- November 1. See the flyer and registration form on our website.
The invitation remains open for new participants in our Interhelp Action Circles; see our June newsletter.
Wishing for all the very best fruits of the fullness of summer,
Nine Graduates of the Second Earth Leadership Cohort
Join the Earth Leadership Community
by Lisa Galinski of the first Earth Leadership Cohort
“Learn to live your life with all your heart, and
All your soul and all your mind and
Learn to love all humankind
As you would love yourself.
We’ve got happy lives to live
We’ve got open arms to give
We’ve got hope down deep inside
Because in love we do reside.”*
This song became the “heart song” of the second Earth Leadership Cohort, sung many times by the campfire and in the closing ritual of the formal program on June 7.
The second Earth Leadership Cohort came to life this May and June with nine members graduating from the two-retreat program. The cohort first met at Rowe for a 5-day intensive, led in part by Kirstin Edelglass, Aravinda Ananda and Joseph Rotella; Joanna Macy arrived to lead the final days. The second ELC retreat was held at Starseed Healing Sanctuary for four days in June.
Cohort members came from a wide geographic swath of the east coast, from Maine down to the Bahamas, and from rich experiences in activism, organizing, contemplative practice, intentional living, Jewish education, coaching, spiritual leadership, marine biology, dance, counseling, and community farming (among so many others!).
Over their nine days together, cohort members experienced Work That Reconnects (WTR) practices such as the Mirror Walk, Wheel of the Great Turning, Cairn of Mourning, Truth Mandala, the Bestiary, Widening Circles, Harvesting the Gifts of the Ancestors, the Shambhala Prophesy, Bodhisattva Check-in, and the Council of All Beings. (See the book Coming Back to Life and workthatreconnects.org)
Other experiences included learning best practices for facilitation; simulating, in teams, a daylong WTR workshop; discussion of oppression and the WTR and communities of color; and learning about theories of change.
In their feedback, ELCers expressed appreciation for:
- the opportunity to build community around the most important shared challenges of our time,
- the feeling that I am not alone in this world with the way I think and the emotional experience I am having,
- fresh perspectives about the self and the interwoven ecosystems I am a part of,
- being “awoken to my purpose,” and
- the excitement and comfort of knowing I am in such a wonderful community of people.
Two Earth Leadership Cohorts have now completed the program, and the Earth Leadership Community of graduates continues to grow. It is an exciting time for these next generation leaders who now have a community with a shared purpose and a shared practice. We can come back to one another for support, nourishment, continued development and synergistic connections. A Summer Gathering is being planned for September, and a daylong reunion retreat will be held in October the day before the annual Interhelp Gathering.
ELC would like to thank the program facilitators for both cohorts who have given so much of their time, energy, hearts and minds to making this program possible: Kirstin Edelglass, Aravinda Ananda, Markie Babbott and Joseph Rotella.
Last but not least, a special Thank You to all Interhelpers who have supported the ELC scholarship fund as you were able. Earth Leadership Community members are immensely grateful for the financial support from individuals like You that have truly made these cohorts possible. We are forever changed because of that support and the opportunities it has opened for us.
*An online search for the composer of this song did not yield concrete answers, but did reveal a version, in English and in Hebrew, adapted by ELC 1 alum Cara Michelle Silverberg and ELC 2 alum Daniel Kieval (with others).
Following the Spiral with the Hartford-area Support Group
The Hartford, CT support group is a fertile space this year! We are thrilled to have kindred folks from western New York joining us as we practice together, and as they gain ideas for seeding their own group in their home area.
Each two-hour meeting follows the Spiral and includes a meal. We begin with an opening ritual (lighting a candle and offering a poem, song or dedication), share practices in a conversational and/or council format, sing some more, share news and events, give and receive support, and enjoy an all-around feeling of Reconnection.
For June’s meeting we opened with an Elm Dance** (p.101); honored our pain for the world with the I Don’t Care practice (p.116); remembered When I Made a Difference (p.145); acknowledged the Shambhala Warrior qualities in one another (p.69), and ended with a lively sharing of our Going Forth actions and intentions.
Newcomers welcome. We meet in West Hartford, CT on the first or second Monday of the month. Contact Verne McArthur for dates or more information.
**Page numbers are from the updated edition of Coming Back to Life. Also see Elm Dance nicely done on youtube.
Shaking Things Up at First Parish
by Rosalie Anders
I’d like to tell you how the Work That Reconnects (WTR), through the voice of Joanna Macy, has sparked turmoil at First Parish, the Unitarian Universalist church in Cambridge, MA that I belong to. Fred Small, our minister, has announced that he is resigning in the fall to pursue, full time, organizing the faith community to take dramatic action on climate change.
Fred’s been an environmental activist for years. I got to know him when I moved to Cambridge in the mid 1980s and he and I were leaders of a Cambridge-based grassroots environmental action group. At the time he was a singer and songwriter, but he left that behind to go to divinity school and become a Unitarian minister. Some years later, after he became the minister at First Parish, my husband Paul Anders and I decided to check out what he was up to. We wound up joining the church, and I became chair of the environmental justice task force. Fred has been a steadfast climate justice advocate and we’ve counted on him to preach and sing at rallies, testify at the State House, and help organize the efforts to divest Harvard from fossil fuel investments.
Our former associate minister, Lilia Cuervo, had known Joanna years ago in California, and she loves Joanna’s work. One day, after she had quoted Joanna in a sermon, I told her I actually was part of a group doing the Work That Reconnects. She hugged me twice, and said we had to bring the Work to First Parish, and we did, with two WTR workshops and discussions of the book Active Hope.
Fred’s epiphany came during a workshop in California last summer. As part of a Deep Time exercise, Joanna instructed participants to tell someone from the year 2215 what they had done for the Great Turning. It hit Fred then and there that what he was doing was so disproportionately small, compared to what needed to be done, that he had to do more. After talking with the Standing Committee at First Parish about possible ways to combine the activism he felt called to do with his work as our minister, it became clear to him that the church needs a minister’s full time attention. Fred then announced his upcoming resignation.
My first reaction was dismay. My old friend deserting me! How could he? What would happen to the church? To our climate justice work? To the loving community we have been trying to achieve?
Now my feeling is renewed amazement about the power of the Work That Reconnects. And it seems likely that we will be able to bring WTR to Fred’s organizing work. I’m telling myself that of course we need to keep shaking things up, so I’m kind of forgiving Joanna for inspiring Fred.