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).