Dear Interhelpers and Friends,
As I write this, the catbird is serenading outside my window, and the female cardinal is feeding her fledgling. January’s Interhelp Inquiry Day seems ages ago. I’m pleased to report that seeds sown that day, in the form of enthusiasm and ideas, are bearing fruit in an expansion of Interhelp’s structure. There are now many more ways to participate. See Rosalie Anders’ article below.
If you puzzle about how to bring the Work That Reconnects (WTR) more broadly into your community, and would like companionship on that journey, consider the newly forming Community Leadership Cohort. Spaces are being held for cohort members at the September weekend with Joanna Macy at Rowe Conference Center; participants will remain there together for two and a half additional days. Click here for details.
Do you have friends or colleagues whom you would like to introduce to the WTR? See below about introductory workshops in Waltham, MA and Foster, RI. Also, Verne McArthur brings WTR to the popular Unitarian summer program at Ferry Beach in Maine.
Additional events are listed below. And, it’s not too early to register for this fall’s annual Interhelp Gathering: MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Claiming Your Role in the Great Turning. Click here.
Closing out this issue, new Interhelp Council member Lisa Galinski describes an after-dinner conversation that she will always remember: When “Acting Your Age” Does a World of Good. The next edition of this newsletter will include reports from Earth Leadership Cohort II, recently completed.
Finally, we acknowledge Eleanor Mathews, who has retired from Interhelp Council after two or three decades of service (we lost track). Eleanor, you have held this work, and all of us Interhelpers, in your heart and your hands with dedication, skill and great love. Thank you.
Please contact me with news about Work That Reconnects events and initiatives in the Northeast.
For the Great Turning,
Stirring Things Up at Interhelp
by Rosalie Anders
This is a fruitful time for Interhelp as we expand and blossom. An Inquiry Day during the winter helped the Interhelp Council discern more creative ways for people to share this work. The Council met in April and, as promised, is now reporting back. We invite everyone to read on and consider becoming more involved.
For many years the ten or so Council members have met for three weekends a year to plan the annual Gathering and other events, and to conduct the fairly minimal official business of the organization, an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
People clearly want more opportunities to connect in between our annual Gatherings, so at our April meeting we began to organize “action circles.” Each circle will have a Council member as liaison, so that the flow of information, ideas and activities among the various circles is integrated.
We invite you to consider joining any of the following action circles!
Outreach with other groups to share the Work That Reconnects: Carol Harley and Lisa Galinski
Planning the program for annual Gathering and other events: Joseph Rotella
Communities of practice: Aravinda Ananda
Organizational/governance (“nuts and bolts”): Kristina Orchard
Media: newsletter, website, social media, educational resources, etc.: Paula Hendrick
Earth Leadership Cohort planning for ongoing programs: Lisa Galinski
WTR and the arts: Kristina Orchard
Facilitator training and mentoring: Aravinda Ananda and Joseph Rotella
Other-than-human voices: TBD
Race and class: TBD
Development (fundraising): TBD
We are excited about all of us collaboratively furthering the Work That Reconnects. If one or more of these action circles appeals to you, please jump in by contacting the people listed above, via Paula Hendrick.
Greater Boston Community of Practice meeting takes place the second Saturday of each month.
Active Hope: A Workshop of The Work That Reconnects
offered by members of the Boston Area Community of Practice
June 27, First Parish in Waltham, MA
Work That Reconnects Deep Ecology Workshop
Karina Lutz and Jim Tull
June 27, Foster, Rhode Island
July 3 – 5, Starseed Healing Sanctuary, Savoy, MA
Active Hope workshop led by Verne McArthur. This six-day (2.5 hours/day) workshop is part of the Family Conference on Deep Ecology at the UU Conference Center at Ferry Beach
July 18 – 25, Saco, ME
Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows at the Rowe Conference Center, Sept. 25 – 7. This workshop has filled. However, spaces are being held for Community Leadership Cohort participants.
Community Leadership Cohort for the Work That Reconnects
September 25 – 29, Rowe Camp and Conference Center
2015 Interhelp Gathering
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Claiming Your Role in the Great Turning
October 30 – November 1, Woolman Hill, Deerfield, MA.
When “Acting Your Age” Does a World of Good
by Lisa Galinski
This is a story about a dinner conversation.
It was in April, 2015 around a table in eastern Massachusetts with Interhelp Council members. A group of humans encompassing a beautiful span of ages from early 30s to mid-70s. I held an intention to receive the wisdom of elders. And I said so. They were open to helping me get what I was looking for.
Let’s be honest, as a “younger adult” who cares deeply about our planet and its future, I need as much help as I can get. Elders who been activists for the last 20, 30, 40-plus years – they must know something I don’t. They must.
After the chewing and mmms and yums quieted down, the conversation turned to the context of activism “now” and “then.”
I heard about how, for many years, change seemed possible. Activists could see their impact on important social issues – racial integration, civil rights, feminism and women’s rights, ending the Vietnam War. Progress was tangible. Hope was alive.
I heard stories about times when it wasn’t “everything” that was so screwed up. You could put your finger on something, work toward it, and see change. It wasn’t like the tidal wave of social/ economic/ cultural /environmental /multinational/ corporate/ military-industrial destruction that is bearing down on us today.
Another elder has made clear that McCarthyism, CIA covert takeovers and the omnipresent threat of nuclear annihilation have been repressed in American consciousness for quite some time. By no means do I minimize these realities.
I heard about how much times have changed. Around this particular dinner table, we talked about how gargantuan and globally life-threatening the tidal wave now seems. About how it probably really is everything, and how deeply entrenched and embedded these destructive systems of power are today.
The message I got was: It’s a different world for activists.
The question posed to me was: What wisdom did I really want and need in these times?
The truth is, I didn’t know. Because I’ve never known anything else. Only gargantuan and globally life-threatening challenges compounded over decades of systematic consolidation and exertion of corporate power. In my 33 years of life so far (in this go-around), I haven’t spent much time on the front lines of social change. I’ve mostly only heard about it. And I’ve reaped many benefits from the fires that burned within those who came before me.
It seems as though, at times, a collective malaise settles on the generations coming of age, like a wet and heavy fog. I am part of a generation that’s commonly labeled “entitled,” “distracted” and “disconnected.” We’re told to work hard, pay our dues, and one day we’ll have the chops to . . . do . . . something.
It’s a crazy thing, coming of age in the midst of the Great Turning. A crazy, crazy thing. The capacity required to hold the vastness and complexity of a global Earth community facing what we’re facing is unprecedented. The bonds of the Industrial Growth Society are arduous and difficult on the psyche, especially considering the systematized and technologically juiced-up destruction.
The conventional “wisdom” to pay dues and wait just seems so…deadening. That’s why I hoped to draw from living wisdom of elders who continue to demonstrate longstanding, courageous, committed action.
Back to the dinner table…
During our endeavor to “transmit and receive wisdom,” we wrestled with the wise Hows: What’s a good strategy? What’s worked? What should we focus on now? What actions should my generation take?
And, boy, did I get some gems: “Focus on nonviolence – how to build connections so that when things get really bad, we can work together and not turn on one another.” “Work on local and state levels as much as possible, the spheres where you can effect real change.” (Such blessings!)
It wasn’t until my 100-mile journey home that I realized that the Hows of that dinnertime exchange may be eclipsed by the Whys or the Whats – which may offer wisdom that will transcend time and context.
- Why dedicate decades of your life to the healing of our world?
- What sustains you for years when you will most likely never see the end result of your efforts?
- Why bother?
These questions felt like they had the depth to begin to tap wisdom of the lived experience of elders who persisted and went into the queasy places.
In a world of overwhelming political, social, economic and other barriers, what internal motivation and courage do these activists draw upon? What can I draw upon? We are all part of the continuation of life. What lessons will call forth the strength and purpose of my/our heart-minds?
I certainly don’t have all the answers. But this dinner conversation illuminated the larger Why. It shone light on my love of life and the web of life to which we all belong. The unbroken lineage of vivified forms in the larger body of Earth that we are compelled, beyond all rationality and probability, to protect.
Oh, how our hearts break for the all the suffering. The death. The destruction. And in spite of it all, we keep trying. We have been at it decades. For centuries. Millennia.
Joanna Macy says, “Act your age.” 14 billion years is quite the leg to stand on. Decades no longer feel like swaths of time.
Sitting at that dinner table, the wet and heavy fog begins to lift. I remember what this is really all about. And it’s so much more than what I need, of course.