The Work That Reconnects Network

Audio read by Molly Brown

The Work That Reconnects Network is a vibrant global community with 180 registered facilitators from over 15 different countries, 9,000+ friends and newsletter subscribers, and over 9,500 followers on Facebook.  

Our Vision

The Work That Reconnects Network provides support, guidance, and inspiration to people all over the world in their work for the Great Turning, in diverse communities, schools, universities, businesses, government agencies, and NGOs.

The Work That Reconnects Network functions as a vibrant living system, providing communication, education, mutual support, and collaboration in creating curricula, practices, books and articles, music, poetry, and art.

Our Mission

To build a network of facilitators and community members in the Work That Reconnects for optimal communication, collaboration, inspiration, and mutual support, and to contribute to the Great Turning.

To promote the Work That Reconnects in the world by building relationships in person and via social media, an interactive website, a periodic journal, and other means.

To develop a support system with funding and staff to enable the Work That Reconnects Network to fulfill its vision.

Our Values

Openness, transparency, connectivity, collaboration, inclusivity, diversity, kindness, service to the welfare of all beings of the three times and to the healing of the planet.

Network Organization

Although networks arise from the self-organization of all members, The Work That Reconnects Network is guided and supported by the Network Weavers Team, comprised of Network Weavers serving in a volunteer capacity and paid Network Staff serving in a part-time capacity. Current Network Weavers are: Werner Brandt, Molly Brown, Paula Hendrick, Kathleen Rude, and Constance Washburn. Current Network Staff are: Silvia Di Blasio, Frieda Nixdorf, and Jo delAmor.

The Network Weavers Team holds monthly online meetings to make decisions by consensus. Weavers and staff also participate in various committees that support Network programs. If you want to be involved in the Weavers Team, please let us know via our Contact Form.  We especially welcome international Weavers (from outside the USA).

Current Projects: 

  • A new and improved website launched in September 2019 with greater accessibility and resources for our global network, including multilingual and international resources.
  • Educational webinars and interdisciplinary experiences for and by WTR facilitators to foster cross-pollination and collaboration. 
  • Deep Times journal, published twice a year, with articles, essays, poetry, artwork and resources to inspire and inform our Work That Reconnects global community.

Fund-raising Campaign

The Network is currently engaged in a fund-raising campaign to support these projects, including Deep Times journal. We welcome all donations, large and small.  

Opportunities To Get Involved

We welcome volunteers experienced in the Work That Reconnects to help expand the Network and its activities. Please use the Contact Form to let us know if you want to help in these areas:

  • Coordinator of volunteers
  • Network Weavers team
  • International Advisory Board
  • Network engagement – involving folks in the activity of the Network
  • Editorial team for Deep Times journal (currently full)
  • Scholarship fund development (policies, procedures, and funding)
  • Fund-raising and grant-writing to support the website, journal, scholarship fund, and other Network endeavors
  • Organizing and creating/facilitating webinars for facilitators and/or friends of the Work That Reconnects.
  • Anything else you think needs doing!

 

Ocean Garden Hologram I-VII

by Karina McKenzie

I. A digitally manipulated image of woods and trees on the bank of a body of water in yellows, grey/blacks and maroons.

Image I. A digital manipulated picture that appears to be forest and trees on the bank of a body of water. The image is reflected on itself across the center vertical axis. The trees are in yellow while other aspects are in maroon, gray/black and other tones with a washed out effect.

 

II. A digitally manipulated torso of a pair of folded hands in front of the heart of a female torso

Image II. A digital manipulated picture of a pair of folded hands in pink colours in front of the heart of a female torso. Smoke or energy floating out from the heart in the centre. A dreamlike surrounding of green colour.

 

III. A digitally manipulated image of yellow trees on the bank of a body of water above black and grey trees and a fractal-like segment of reds and maroons.

Image III. A digital manipulated picture that appears to be forest and trees on the bank of a body of water. The image is reflected on itself across the center vertical axis. The trees are in yellow. Below the yellow trees, another element is reflected across itself on a lower horizontal axis. It appears to be more trees in blacks and greys and a middle portion of reds and maroons in computer rendered, almost fractal-like designs.

 

IV. A digitally manipulated torso with a pair of folded hands and large dandylion seeds overlaid on the image

Image IV. A digital dreamy manipulated picture of a pair of folded hands in front of the heart of a female torso. Dandylion seeds and red organ-like shapes surround the heart. Some of the dandylion seeds are piercing the heart of the red torso. The image is made up of pinks, blues, reds and white.

 

V. A digitally manipulated image of blue trees on the bank of a body of water above black and grey trees and a fractal-like segment of greens.

Image V. A digital manipulated picture that appears to be forest and trees on the bank of a body of water. The image is reflected on itself across the center vertical axis. The trees are in blue and the water and island in the background appear pink. Below the blue trees, another element is reflected across itself on a lower horizontal axis. It appears to be more trees in blacks and greys and a middle portion of greens in computer rendered, almost fractal-like designs.

Audio read by author

Our minds are often set on creating happiness for ourselves, very often at the cost of others because we don’t recognise and acknowledge our interdependency and the deeper connection we have to each other. If we had more compassion with ourselves, each other, the planet, its animals and the whole, we would create more sustainability, because we would think with a mind set on the whole, and not just ourselves. If we had more compassion and a stronger notion of interdependence and connection,  Compassion could become the thread that would weave ourselves with each other and the planet instead of the opposite where compassion is absent, and where we hereby tear our connection to eachother, the earth and it’s animals apart from ourselves. For me Compassion and Interdependence is therefore crucial ingredients to creating sustainability.


 

Audio version of biography

Karina Kristoffersen McKenzie makes digital art, prints and textiles based on teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. She lives by the sea in the southern part of Norway. Karina attended two schools of art in Norway. After this she earned a Master in Psychology from Sweden meanwhile earning the degree as Art Therapist from the Institute of Art Therapy in Denmark. She has exhibited in London, New York and Venice and has made the tapestry interiors of Spiregården yogasenter in Kristiansand, Norway. Two of her pictures have just been included in the book Be Kind: The little book filled with love, hope and kindness to lift your spirits from Tecassia publishing this summer. She is exhibiting her art at the ECOFeminism festival in London in November this year.

Gather the Seeds

by Marissa Perez

Image description: A block print on white paper. The print is rectangular and the background is gold. White calendula flowers vine around words that read: “Gather the seeds, the petals. Then you’re ready for what comes.”

 

Audio read by author

Calendula is growing everywhere in my neighborhood. The seeds are in the cracks in the sidewalk. I’ve been collecting as many as I can for future gardens and future medicines. Calendula can be used to aid digestion, build immunity, and more.


Audio version of biography

Marissa Perez (she/her, age 26) is a mixed white/Puerto Rican printmaker, comics maker, and youth worker who lives in Portland, Oregon. She teaches zine workshops and printmaking classes at the Independent Publishing Resource Center in Portland, OR and puts up posters about cats in her neighborhood. You can see more of her art here: https://cargocollective.com/marissabperez

ਰੋਣਾ ਤੇ ਮੇਰਾ ਸੋਗ Poorvaj Dancing with Grief

by Arunima Singh Jamwal

Audio read by author

Beloved Descendant,
Mandala 2160
Surya Brahmana
Arhaant III

“flow like a forest of kelp
through cycles of time
with faith in your ancestor’s bones
roar more; unleash your full force!”

                                          ﹣ Arunima
                                                 I, of the Storm.

Change is a force / kills false impressions / dances tandav on graves. Invites us folly to surrender to the wild indeterminacy of her powers. When you’ve received a colonialized education, you’re used to finding comfort in knowing enough. If our world were to flood, they would have us think that to survive means to be prepared enough, to possess enough, have enough / control over these ecosystems of death. Let us take flight from this. Let us                                                       ask instead, how will change possess us?

* *
I. Journey:
to grieve with courage.

I was living by the waters of Pacific Island Aotearoa. Certainly secure that we were on solid ground. The security of material and economic privilege is so strange / you become a frog comfortable in increasingly warm water / Did you know that powerlessness is taught and learned? When womxn bodies sense a threat, we can freeze dead in our tracks: we are nervous systems. This is not a system failure: preventing the leaking of energy / this is how we persist.

How have we arrived? You and I are millennia old. 202 years ago, the white man took on the burden of civilizing our families, our elders, our babies. Now, our survival has come to depend upon systems of learning created for earning, instead of learning to learn. We’ve been told that if we cannot / stop “producing,” we will perish. So we have become the best race at designing new technologies, efficiently utilizing our minds to labor for capital and accumulation. But Beloved, our liberation, foreign to these foreigners, lives beyond the patri-colonial designs of modernity.

                                   Our Poorvaj have learned by // travelling // wailing.
When colonial certainties collapse, the ruins of this structure expose the rotting, necessary. Modern citizens put a lot of faith in the four walls of concrete buildings. Our territories will protect us from the danger of / that which is / stranger. This is a false and comforting impression.

* *

A few minutes after I say “they wouldn’t risk sending us home,” our leaders announce that we have four days to leave the island country. While Aotearoa is one of the safest places in the world right now (and to come, as we shall see) College authorities do not know how this crisis will unfold. Borders are rapidly closing now. We used to have “countries” back then and “going home” from abroad meant usually crossing borders. Everyone else in my group called “the United States” / the name colonists gave Turtle Island / home. Lesson I: Corona has little trouble flowing through bodies. Our group is atop a blue ice glacier when our program gets shut down.

The rush of our departure from Aoraki Glacier slows me down: this inertia will soon haunt me, too. A few hours.. or days.. pass as if a strange dream. A few of the Americans in our group have prepared to leave as soon as we get word. Of course, they are nothing if not efficient. Whereas, swimming in ambivalence and strong attachments, I am currently unaware of how fierce high tides are. After a 10 hour bus-ride to the nearest airport, 6 hours on the airport floor, and 2 hours in a propeller plane journeying to the capital, we arrive in some hostel. Sharing bunk beds / I am once again in inanimacy and strangely unpleasurable intimacy with these strange white cyborgs
                                     and their deadening / claims to occupation of space.

* *

Audio read by author

II. Entropy:
What lies beyond conquest

Where do we go from here? The Government of India has barred all passenger planes. Chaotic change is here and I have no safehouse to retreat to. Aotearoa is fast approaching national lockdown. I call the embassy and a disembodied voice indifferently says, “ask your university to arrange accommodation until further notice. We have no information from the government at this time.” They managed to say, “we couldn’t care enough to get you home.” without uttering one word. Keep working. Our International Scholars office buys me a 36-hour flight departing.. tomorrow. I look up the airline to confirm flight details. As of yesterday, the airline is bankrupt. This flight was to refuel in Australia; the country is not allowing any travellers to leave or transit through its gates. Maa and I decide to try an Air India ticket. I should’ve booked these quicker. There’s one flight going to Mumbai! And just as I try to click buy, she’s gone. Faster than I am.

**

Chaos is holding my hand now. Inviting me to cultivate a relationship with change and her ruthless grace. Aims for my belly button / rams her horns into gut / piercing pain / I’ll wait / I want to go home and home is family.. South Asia / A pool of my blood is collecting. Still, beside myself / managing this unfolding / I’ll prepare to wait it out until they allow flights to run? Yes.. what else could I..? / Oh god.. My insides are cracking open. It hurts to keep fighting for control.

**

We remain very ill equipped for the reality of change.

Focus. try to / see clearly. This crisis is as much about a crisis as it is about continuing to dwell in colonial imaginations of crises. It is time to exorcise this all-consuming exercise for control.

Beware. Be less certain that you will always have the walls of your home to protect and serve. Seas of people among us who had homes yesterday are turned into refugees today, held by strange lines / limits borne of men’s imaginaries / What shields from the indeterminacy of chaos? What you deem / hoarded / yours, may become a burden, you stand to lose when change comes.

Security will mean bodies in / us / in / voluntary cages. To control is to possess security only until wild times rage. When walls built for protection turn to asphyxiate us, revolts will come. 

“the natural order is disorder.”
Zaheer, Book Three: Change
Episode 10. Long Live the Queen. The Legend of Korra.

Change takes off. Her pauses do not allow time for the kind of painstakingly deliberated replies, which it is our colonial gift to provide, in the interest of stability / “in control” / pretenses of remaining unaffected, unchanged by her departure. How will we stay alive? The floodgates open.

* *

Audio read by author

III. Surrender:
care flow tend
ing

My entire being shakes. Finally. Let go. Relief arrives when you stop trying / struggling to float. I invite hands to hold me as grief flows. I am honest about the uncertainty of my situation with conspirators / a comforting outpouring of messages / con-spirare, to breathe together with. Multiple offers to stay in houses. A kindred settler spirit says, “do not worry, dear. If you choose to return to Turtle Island, you will be cared for.” We are all in the business of caring, tending to.

So what if this body becomes the first terrain to call my home? There is security in their, too, in the sense that dimming, darkness, forces of death are supreme / they render bare all uncertainty.

The Black officer at LAX’s Immigration, Border Patrol and Customs entrypoint has a beautiful smile. I tell him so. He blushes, and we are both pools. Soon after I arrive, I begin training. In the arts of undoing / preparing to receive death / the chaos that has only just begun. There is no planet-saving, no more civilizing conquests here. My queer water-body is an ancestral reverend / learning to harness the limitless imaginaries that our poorvaj’s prayers breathed into us. Learning melanin-richness, she holds / this infinite pluriverse / matters of love / dying matters / with grace and agility. As changes reap a late spring harvest of death, we dance wild with grief. We must. Care for those patriarchal, colonial, capital’s designs do not consider: all beings, more or less.

we survive, through intimacy with force: chaos, we thrive in. with care: we prepare for chaos.

Our bodies transform. We are sacred forms. our desires are ascetic; we exorcise domination
and relinquish his narratives of control. We are sacred seeds.
And we take root among the stars, Beloved.

* *


Audio version of biography

Arunima Singh Jamwal (Pronouns: All interchangeably, 21) In Sanskrit, Arunima means the first ray of sunlight and red glow of dawn. Arunima draws creative strength from their Sikh, Scythian, and Suryavanshi ancestral lineages and Queer kinships. As an animist and affective anthropologist, Arunima writes to unveil hidden presents and liberating possibilities. Arunima works to bring healing and balance to bodies, cultures, and communities suffering from colonial-capitalism, intergenerational traumas, and cycles of violence. A’s favorite spiral is the Māori koru that always brings us back to our point of origin and calm harmony.

Presently a settler-immigrant on the Cowlitz’s lands in Portland OR, Arunima loves listening to plants and podcasts. When not writing, trail-running, or coordinating community-based Climate Justice initiatives for Lewis & Clark College’s Sustainability Council, Arunima can be found immersed in a melanated feminist book, reading about healing justice circles, or curating The Gurh Life at Instagram.

דַּיֵּנוּ Dayenu

by Riv Ranney Shapiro

Context audio read by author

Poem audio read by author

an embroidered California poppy with the Hebrew word “Dayenu” stitched above

 Image: A round embroidery showing a yellow and orange California poppy with a green stem. The Hebrew word “דַּיֵּנוּ‎” arches overhead in black. Yellow dashed thread circles the piece inside the wooden embroidery hoop.

דַּיֵּנוּ

Dayenu
Origin: Hebrew
“It would have been enough for us”.
Context: A song sung on the Jewish holiday of Passover, recounting the miracle of liberation from the Narrow Place and celebrating each small miracle within.
Passover fell in the fourth week of shelter-in-place in the year 5780/2020.


Dear one,
I could tell you of my suffering, and keep telling you.
I could tell you of my wholeness, and keep telling you.
I want, I yearn, I long
and every day there’s something that gives me
reason to say: it’s enough, for today.
A new growth of poppies emerges after the rain.
The house finch sings on the telephone wire.
The neighbor plays the saxophone in the nearby park.
I list these moments of wholeness, of sufficiency,
recite them like a prayer.
Nearly five months have passed, and looking back
through lists of solace I’m faced
again with what I’ve lost, what I once held
close to my chest, cradling my “enough.”
And beneath that, a constancy,
a stream of contentment in
small moments,
shifting in form but insistent in
their message of belonging.
A friend holds my gaze from ten
feet away, and I am not alone.
The summer heat brings freckles
to my skin and stone fruit
drips its juice down my chin.
The toddler next door blows
bubbles from the front porch,
blows me a kiss.
If I can find today’s “dayenu” –
if I can be open to it
in spite of all that’s gone –
I have a raft on the river of my grief.

I think of you, and all you’ve lost.
All that you keep losing.
What remains?
Who remains?
Can that be enough,
for today?

With you,
Riv


 

Audio version of biography

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Riv Ranney Shapiro (28) (they/them/theirs) is a queer Ashkenazi multi-modal artist, educator and ordained Kohenet (feminist Jewish ritualist) living on Chochenyo Ohlone land. Their creative work is process-oriented and often participatory, reveling in the intersections of ancestors, interspecies relationship, justice, queerness and spirituality. Blending the roles of Educator, Priestess and Artist, Riv is dedicated to sharing the wisdom and the medicine of their Jewish ancestors through adaptive, accessible, and liberatory means. “Slow Down”, their feminist adaptation of the Avinu Malkeinu melody, has traveled across religious and continental boundaries to be sung in communities across the world. In 2020 Riv was selected as a Rising Song Fellow with the Hadar Institute and Joey Weisenberg, and they look forward to deepening their songwriting and leadership in that container. For music, film and Kohenet services, visit rivshapiro.com.

We Don’t Have That Anymore

by Percie Littlewood 

Audio read by author

Wow,
Look at that!
It’s the sky, it’s blue.
And look at the ocean,
We don’t have that anymore.
And at the mountains,
And at the trees,
We don’t have those either. We don’t have any of this anymore. 

Excuse me!
Ok so if you could just
Hang on, don’t buy that!
Stop, wait!
Don’t just throw that away!
Umm
Hey
Stop
No
wait
No
No
stop
No
STOP 

Please start making changes…
It doesn’t need to be drastic,
It doesn’t need to be large,
It just needs…to be everyone.
Even if this won’t change your life,
It will change mine.


 

Audio version of biography

My name is Percie Littlewood and I am 11 years old. I am going into 7th grade. I live in the Bay Area in California. I have lived near the beach my whole life and love the ocean. I love to travel with my family to places abroad. I enjoy scuba diving with my Dad in Monterey Bay and being out in nature. I was on the slam poetry team for two years in my school. I can always be found reading and love books.

The Beforers

by Sam Van Wetter

Audio read by author

Each spring since the unraveling the students at the school interview the Beforers and make a play about how it used to be. Wade directs it. He’s a young Beforer, relatively, and he once paid to get a degree in theater. He’s good at it. It’s a different play every year and he’s made it a tradition to reanimate some piece of Before junk on the stage. He’s made prop drones and a slot machine with real flashing lights. The kids write the play and they always give him a little part at the beginning, a soliloquy or an old-man dance number and he goes along willingly. He knows it’s funnier when he buys in, too.

The kids think the Before is hilarious.

The kids think the Before is hilarious. They giggle about overnight shipping and write scenes set in Zoom. They can’t get enough stories. Wade tires of telling them, though, and tells them to work with what they have. It’s amazing to him that they don’t yearn for the Before like he sometimes does. He knows this is an indication of their great fortune: that the excesses of his youth are not envied. At last they have all that they need.

   Every year while they’re researching a student will ask some variation of the same question: “What is most different between the Before and now?” Wade pretends to think, like he’s spontaneously crafting the answer even though he’s said it repeatedly and he thinks it most true. “We’re on time now,” he says. “We all show up when we say we will. Back then, you could be as late as you wanted. Everyone used excuses. Apologies didn’t mean anything. And sometimes,” Wade’s voice drops, “people wouldn’t show up at all. If you waited all day, you were the schmuck! Not them!” The kids act outraged or shocked or a little skeptical. They ask why, with alarm clocks and taxis and meteorology, anyone could possibly be late. Wade never has an explanation that satisfied them. The whole idea becomes funnier.
     

The duration of his lifetime, as far as he could hope, would be safe and simple as it is now.

    Wade had long ago learned to stop thinking of the Before when he didn’t have to. He could tell the stories, answer questions, and then shut down memories. Otherwise he got sad, sort of nostalgic but tempered by a pragmatic conviction that things would never revert and it was better this way. The duration of his lifetime, as far as he could hope, would be safe and simple as it is now.

   The other question the kids always asked was: “What parts are better about living now?” Those answers are innumerable and easily found.

    Tonight is the play. Almost the whole town walks a little way from town center down what was once the highway. Infants and old Beforers ride in handcarts. Everyone is on time. Initially, the students had wanted to perform fifty miles out in the desert after Wade made the mistake of telling them about site-specific art. “That would be real Beforing,” they’d said. “A hundred miles for just one night.” Wade convinced them that it was too big an ask and they might not get an audience and, besides, they could find a good piece of slickrock nearby. He’d suggested a crook of the creek at the base of the mesa. They begrudgingly agreed, muttering about artistic visions unrealized. But Wade had been eying this spot for a few years now and it turned out to be the perfect plinth for the play. They’d created worlds of laughter here, rehearsing and anticipating, culminating in this one particular twilight. The sun drags down as disbelief suspends. It could be no other place but here.

     The audience is streamside on the grass, spread and lounging on blankets and low-slung chairs. The stage is on the other side of the creek, where the variegated blonde sandstone begins to steepen. Wade and the crew had set fires strategically about. With their glow and the last burnished daylight the set is pearly. Kak and Rey sit among instruments stage right, a fire shining in their faces. Rey pulls at their accordion broadly. At center stage hulks the automobile, this play’s chosen zombified junk. Its rubber tires are flaky and flat and most of the windows gone. In the flickering hypnosis of the theater, however, it looks almost drivable. The pulley system is invisible behind bushes and the track only noticeable if you know where to look. Wade does, but he will be watching the audience when the car’s moment comes. He wants to see their reaction as the engine splutters and the crew tugs from offstage, the car chugging across slickrock. He’s seen it enough. Watching the audience is always the real show.

     Jeene has sold all of her popcorn. Dust and Chake’s barrel of beer is divvied up, dispersed among individual mugs. Everyone is seated. Some are already beaming with delight. Mourning doves in the nearby cottonwood fall to silence. The actors are set and ready to play.

Wade knows that someday the Before will not be so important. It will become ancestral, no longer the living memory of anyone still alive. In a hundred years it will be pure story.

Wade knows that someday the Before will not be so important. It will become ancestral, no longer the living memory of anyone still alive. In a hundred years it will be pure story. He feels the detached hope that they will keep being told. Tonight he’s recreated visions from the Before. In the future they will become, finally, myth. The proscenium he borrowed from the stream will be but the stream again. The small fires won’t be stage lights. The sooty sandstone underneath only that: red rock and ashes. Wade looks at the car. He cannot see it as less than its memory yet. Someday, it will be made up entirely of imagination and component parts.

     The kids in the wings might remember this story. That, Wade thinks, is the way fables begin. He promises, briefly, to keep improving this place so that some might evade the great turning that the Beforers endured. May the children live easily. The most optimistic future possibilities require heavy, continued work.

     Wade leans back into the darkness. Kak’s fiddle joins Rey’s song. There’s nothing new under the sun. The turn of the world is inevitable. And yet, somehow, Wade’s sure he created a bit of it, made it better. In that moment, he knows it’s all he’s ever wanted to do. Just beyond the light of the fires more beauty is promised. There’s more light and more song and more food. We can always be improving. He thinks the word Curtain! and steps on to the stage.


 

Audio version of biography

 

Sam Van Wetter

Sam (26) is an organizer, outdoorsmyn and organic farmer living amid sandstone and sagebrush in South Central Utah. He is buoyed by ideals of community resiliency, food sovereignty, and his cows Winston and Pumpkin. A tadpole in a pothole recently asked him whether or not the end-summer monsoons will return. They were both disappointed with his answer: “We will know when it comes.”

There might be time to save your world, if you heed our warnings

by Gwyneth Jones

Audio read by author

My friends; I stand here before you as a woman born in the year 2140 in a small settlement on the island formerly known as Britain. I was chosen to travel to your time in order to warn you of the great suffering and disaster that lies ahead in the hope that you may be able to avert at least some of the worst effects of it.

Among the greed and chaos and violence, there were a handful of people who called themselves Shambhala warriors, Bodhisattvas, or eco-warriors.

Our oral traditions tell of your time; among the greed and chaos and violence, there were a handful of people who called themselves Shambhala warriors, Bodhisattvas, or eco-warriors.  We honour the sacrifices that they made in trying to defend life on earth, but their efforts were not enough. The majority of people remained ignorant, silent, and clung to their old Ideas.

I know that this is not what you want to hear, but around a hundred years before I was born, the island on which I live suffered a great series of disasters. The Great Pandemic had already wreaked havoc on the population, on their systems, and on general morale. Then the floods came, and it didn’t take people too long to realise that their leaders had no intention of coming to the rescue. They disappeared in their private helicopters, seeking higher ground while the majority of the population were left to fend for themselves.

My great-grandparents told of a time of great violence and bloodshed, as people fought over food, clean water, and dry land. In the absence of real leadership, the former titles and systems that had been in place for so long crumbled into obscurity and small bands and tribes started to form.

You want me to tell you that everything was OK; that somebody figured out an ingenious way to desalinate the seawater that flooded our shores. That some young genius came up with a way to turn the depleted and cracked soil into a source of nourishment and food for everyone, or that our collective will and love for the earth was enough to heal the pain in all of our hearts – the unresolved wound that cried to us “our grandparents forsook us; they didn’t care about us at all”.

When you grow up on stories of selfish, callous ancestors who valued their own pleasures above the lives of their descendants, it hardens the heart and causes its own type of apathy and callousness. My grandparents saw things, experienced things, even did things that would haunt the dreams of even the hardiest warrior – all for the sake of bringing food and clean water to their own tribes.

We are still heading into extinction.


But what about peace, you ask? Yes, we eventually came to peace. We eventually worked out what had gone wrong, and it is for this reason that I come to speak to you today. But do not think that the fact that we are at peace now means that you can relax, safe in the knowledge that everything works out OK in the end. We are still heading into extinction.

We, as humanity, are barely surviving in pockets around the globe – some of us in communication with each other, but we suspect there are far more of us who are unable to find a way to connect. Most of the waters are still poisoned, most species extinct, and there is still disease, famine, and weather so unpredictable that it is almost impossible for most people to rely on crops. We live more akin to the hunter-gatherers that roamed the earth thousands of years ago.

But yes, there is peace. Some of our elders tell us that this peace came about because of the Great Dream. It was a moment, they tell us, when the majority of the remaining humans received a simultaneous message from the Earth that filled their hearts with love and told them to lay down their weapons. But the more cynical of us, the younger of us who were not alive when this happened, suspect that the fighting stopped because everyone was too malnourished to pick up a weapon. We also have no idea what the majority of the globe is doing; we are able to communicate with parts of the world using relics from your time powered by the Sun, but it is nothing like the tsunami of information that you are familiar with in your time.

But what of the Great Turning, you ask? We do not remember it this way in our oral tradition. There is only the Great Collapse. But I have been given the magnificent task of guiding you in how you might steer your ship differently, so I will tell you where we went so wrong.

The main problem of the 21st century was not fossil fuels or toxic waste or overfishing, but willful ignorance.


The main problem of the 21st century was not fossil fuels or toxic waste or overfishing, but willful ignorance.  Your people turn off their hearts and minds to what they know is happening around the world; from what is happening to your oceans, to what is happening between your neighbours. From what is happening in the farms that collect beans for your coffee, to what is happening to the most vulnerable members of your own community.

We are told that people used to sit and beg for scraps of food on your streets, while others adorned in jewels and expensive fabrics would walk by, avoiding their eyes. It is not that you do not know what is happening, or that you do not understand the effects of climate change, poverty, discrimination, or mass species extinction. Your world is drowning in facts, figures, and statistics – the problem is that you cannot bear to look at those facts. You cannot bear to look at the beggar on your street in his eyes, because you fear the pain that it will strike inside your heart.

Is it true that your society seeks pleasure, bliss and happiness in a way that is almost manic and desperate? That is your willful ignorance. Happiness is not a destination; it is a fleeting state of mind that we must welcome, but trying to live in constant bliss is madness. Is it true that those of you who allow the pain and suffering into your hearts were labelled as defective, and sent to doctors or given medicines to try alleviating the visions? Those are your prophets and sages. Nurture them, listen to them, care for them and give them the space to train their gifts. These people are valued within my community, because they sense things that others can’t and are vital in planning our next steps.

Your world is upside down. You venerate your insane and lock away the only ones who truly see things as they are. Your leaders are tyrants; they hoard wealth and resources for themselves while living in complete disconnection with the land and with their own hearts. We cannot understand how you allowed them to rape the earth for the fleeting benefit of a few; did they do it in secret? Did they distract you? Did they keep you so poor that you had no time or means to fight back? Or was it just your willful ignorance?

You fail to consider the long-term impact of your actions.


But opening your hearts to pain and fear is not enough. You need to open your minds, too. The Creator gave you a brain capable of producing miracles, and yet you fail to see that without electricity, your nuclear facilities will fail and pour toxic waste into the oceans and waters. You fail to consider the long-term impact of your actions, or to ask yourselves what will happen to the thousands of satellites in your sky when the systems that tell them where to go finally fail. When we hear of the amazing technology that was available in your time, we can only ask ourselves – was this truly a lack of intelligence on your behalf, or was it willful ignorance?

My friends, I hope you will not turn away from my words with that same willful ignorance that destroyed the planet. If my words sound harsh, then that is precisely a part of the problem – your world has trained you to tune out things that cause you discomfort, and to seek only the warm embrace of praise and validation.

When you open your heart to the earth’s pain, you will receive far more than you expected.

When you open your heart to the earth’s pain, you will receive far more than you expected. You will receive the full blessings of living with an open heart; an existence far more colourful and deeper than you can imagine. To risk heartbreak is also to live fully, and it is only if you allow yourselves to live with open minds and hearts, rather than trying to avoid the discomfort, that you will have any hope of altering the course of history.


 

Audio version of biography

Gwyneth Jones (33) grew up in the magical lands of North Wales, although she currently lives in Prague, Czech Republic. She considers herself a hippie, science nerd, amateur gardener, eco-activist, Positive Psychology and Emotional Intelligence Coach, writer, Work That Reconnects facilitator, host of The Way We Connect podcast, and founder of the Reconnection Revolution group. Gwyneth hopes that we can transition away from the industrial growth society that is destroying our planet and towards a compassionate and sustainable world, but only if we reconnect deeply with ourselves, each other and Nature. (www.gwynethjones.coach

 

Loving Death

by Robbie Barton

Audio read by Joey Albanese

“If I can learn to love death then I can begin to find refuge in change.” 
– Terry Tempest Williams

Ancestors, I do not envy you for your long-held panic
But rather love you for coming back to life in the face of death
For building community and marching for justice from six feet away
For rediscovering the essential guided by your own ancient biology

Ancestors, I cannot imagine what it felt like
To tense and harden at your melanated brothers and sisters
To numb to their death, their pain, their lack of breath
Yourselves taut in fear and strangers to your skin and pulse

Ancestors, I do not envy you for your brilliant ignorance
But rather love you for embracing the mystery
For giving up your fashioned crown to sway to wind’s howl and the chorus of trees
For rebuilding from the walking crawling soaring wisdom of 4 billion years

Ancestors, I cannot imagine what it felt like
To watch the permafrost melt and the oceans boil
To witness millions lost to violent storms and jagged wildfires and know
Yourselves as the careless spark for all this earthskin fire

Ancestors, I do not envy you for your unexpected sacrifice
But rather love you for your artful repurposing
For sifting through junk and sodden myths to find new creativity
For using the depth of loss as your deft canvass

Ancestors, I cannot imagine what it felt like
To watch islands swallowed, cities deserted, and rainforests blanched
To see the faces of the refugees in boats, and the water wars rage, and walls go up
Yourselves left helpless despite all your good intentions and hail mary mobilizations

Ancestors, I do not envy you for your tragic heroism
But rather love you for your active hope
For surrendering to your full throated failures, cries in a cavernous truth mandala
For opening your heart to break again and again, like violent waves crashing

Ancestors, I cannot imagine what it felt like
To see your neighbors evicted and friends stripped penniless
To watch the powerful few cudgel and cripple in the name of law
Yourselves betrayed by the unquenchable pyramid of greed you held up

Ancestors, I do not envy you for your depthless loss
But rather love you for your vulnerability
For learning to embrace decay, like maggots that gnaw carcass to bone
For burying yourselves deep in the humus so that we could sprout

Ancestors, I cannot imagine what it felt like
To be consumed by the dark and learn to love disintegration
To be mourners, survivors, visionaries, and doulas all at once
Yourselves the fierce, wholehearted tendrils bound together through the turning


 

 

Audio version of biography

Robbie Barton (age 32) is an emergent Work That Reconnects facilitator, environmental educator, yogi, poet-artist, teacher-student, edgewalker, and heart revolutionary based in Berkeley, CA. He humbly offers his gifts as an artist, teacher, storyteller, community advocate, and bridge builder to the greater task of birthing the healthy, beautiful, just, and regenerative world our hearts know is possible.

 

Requiem for Nature

Composed during the Blue Mountains fires in Australia, December 2019 *

by Rosalie Chappie

We read in the local Australian media that the air is toxic, and the pollution levels are dangerous to our health. We read about the microscopic dust and PM2.5 particles. But what are these particles? 

Smoke from bush fires in Australia, 2019.

They are the koalas caught in the burning tree canopies, too slow to escape. The few remaining native animal species that have been able to survive in our colonial-transformed environment. 

The smell of the smoke is the one hundred species of eucalyptus trees awarded World Heritage for their outstanding diversity. Along with the living laboratory of Blue Mountains ecosystems formed across millennia. Maybe too the Wollemi pines that avoided extinction for 100 million years.

Our smoke-induced headaches are the 20,000-year-old rock art destroyed in the flames. The Aboriginal sacred sites and songlines of the Dharug, Darkinjung, Gundungurra, Tharawal, Wanaruah and Wiradjuri people. 

The pink-red glow of the sunset is the burning peat of the upland swamps that formed over thousands of years, serving as sponges that hold precious water on top of the escarpments. It is the endangered wildlife that live in the swamps, the Blue Mountains water skink and the giant dragonfly.

The sick feeling in our stomachs is the burning of the few remaining pure-bred dingoes. It is the bower that the satin bowerbird built so he could dance for his females, surrounded by painstakingly curated blue objects.

A bushfire in Arnhem land from Ubir rock in eastern Kakadu, Australia, Aug. 8, 2008. Photo by Andrew Wallace.

 The sting in our eyes is the eastern spinebill, tiny birds too vulnerable to survive the heat. The echidnas engulfed in flames with nowhere to hide.

Our tears are the moisture from the wings of the newly hatched cicadas that just emerged from their seven-year hibernation. 

All of them burning, rising, floating, and settling in our lungs. Their lives have become part of ours more than ever before – we denied our connection and we can deny it no longer.


* Inspired by and adapted from Becca Rose Hall’s Fine particles of brilliant forests, burning, written during fires in British Columbia and published by The Dark Mountain Project, Issue 15, 2019.

Editor’s Note: It is so difficult to think of breathing in the particulates of another creature’s burned flesh. And yet, this is simply telling us something we could have known if we thought about it. I want a way to breathe in these breaths on behalf of the creatures who are entering us.  Maybe we can give them life through a promise to become a new kind of stewarding human–so these beings won’t have perished in vain.  (Martha O’Hehir, Deep Times editorial team member)

Author’s comment: The tragic impacts of the wildfires in Australia this summer highlight the urgent need for landscape management that embraces knowledge and traditions of the First Australians who have been here for up to 100,000 years and are the oldest living civilization on earth. The knowledge held by Indigenous communities needs to be integrated with that of western science so the best of both traditions can be brought to bear.

Links to helpful resources:  
Aboriginal Australian prayer (passed down by the late Aboriginal elder Burnum Burnum)
Befriending Your Despair, video with Joanna Macy


Rosalie Chappie has worked in wildlife and nature conservation for 30 years, including research, university teaching, and running a not-for-profit organisation called the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute. Rosalie is committed to: nature-based learning and different ways of knowing, especially Indigenous knowledge; education and capacity building for nature conservation that moves beyond today’s dominant paradigms; building personal, social and ecosystem resilience in the face of rapid and dramatic change; and integrating a wide range of knowledge into environmental policy and management for sound and innovative policy and decisions.