The seed for this year’s Donella Meadows Leadership Fellows Workshop with Joanna Macy was planted by Fellows attending our annual workshop two years ago at the Cobb Hill ecovillage in Vermont. In spite of increasing good work occurring in the world, participants pointed out that key trends show us racing toward seemingly irreversible tipping points, in terms, for example, of our climate system, marine ecosystems and biodiversity. In particular, Fellows asked for more guidance in navigating systems collapse – or, as Joanna calls it, the Great Unraveling – including ways to increase impact and maintain hope.
Inviting Joanna as guest facilitator was an easy fit; she has led our workshops twice before. Furthermore, she and Donella Meadows are considered two of the foremost systems thinkers of their time and were inspired by one another’s work. Using different language, they both point toward the same need – the Great Turning, as Joanna calls it, or the Sustainability Revolution as Donella called it. Joanna was assisted by Lydia Harutoonian, and by Edie Farwell and Dominic Stucker of Sustainability Leaders Network.
We convened twenty-five Fellows and close partners in Mill Valley, California from the nonprofit, business, government, and philanthropy sectors. Participants came from ten states in the US and from Brazil, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan.
The 5-day event was entitled “Active Hope: How to face the mess we are in without going crazy” and was structured around the spiral of the Work that Reconnects, with a day each dedicated to Coming from Gratitude, Honoring our Pain for the World, Seeing with New Eyes, and Going Forth. The goals of the workshop were to:
- Sharpen perceptions of both the unraveling of the industrial growth society and the emergence of a life-sustaining society.
- Understand cognitively and integrate psychologically and spiritually the Work that Reconnects through conceptual learning, spiritual practices, and interactive processes.
- Build strong, lasting connections for life on Earth that can provide mutual support under conditions of political repression, economic breakdown, and ecological collapse.
- Clarify intentions for taking part in the Great Turning.
Read the full workshop report here. For more information, see Joanna’s website on the Work that Reconnects, as well as the book she wrote with Chris Johnstone “Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy.”