Welcome to my “phase 2.0” of my blog!
You will see this series both here (livingthegreatturning.com) as well at my now “on hold” Mainstream Permaculture (mainstreampermaculture.com) blogs…
My plan is to eventually merge all my blogs and sites into one, so be patient!
If you want to follow just one, I recommend following: https://livingthegreatturning.com/ because that will be the new site where everything else will connect.
Starting this month (October 2018), I plan to share at least once a month on areas I’m experimenting (or have already experimented) in my own journey through the Great Turning.
This is what I will share here! A lot of people (me included!) ask themselves “what can I do?” “is it enough?”, “why do I have to feel responsible for something that’s so big and I didn’t create?” “what if we fail and the Great Turning doesn’t happen?” and many other similar questions…
First a disclaimer: I don’t have the answers, but I can share what has (and hasn’t) worked for me, as well as my own challenges, struggles, doubts, tools and resources.
My firm belief is this: whether we have a chance to “make it” or not is irrelevant. We are not here for guarantees, to “save the planet” or “save humanity”. None of us will make it alive from this life, and yet, we strive for a meaningful and fulfilling life!
Similarly, not knowing what the outcome will be for humankind or even the planet and all its beings shouldn’t be an excuse for giving up and continuing with a life that is not regenerative, ethical, resilience-building, meaningful and fulfilling…
For those of you new to the term, the “Great Turning” was first introduced by Joanna Macy in her “Work that Reconnects” practices. We find from her book “Active Hope”:
“In the Agricultural Revolution of ten thousand years ago, the domestication of plants and animals led to a radical shift in the way people lived. In the Industrial Revolution that began just a few hundred years ago, a similar dramatic transition took place. These weren’t just changes in the small details of people’s lives. The whole basis of society was transformed, including people’s relationship with one another and with Earth.
Right now a shift of comparable scope and magnitude is occurring. It’s been called the Ecological Revolution, the Sustainability Revolution, even the Necessary Revolution. We call it the Great Turning and see it as the essential adventure of our time. It involves the transition from a doomed economy of industrial growth to a life-sustaining society committed to the recovery of our world. This transition is already well under way.” (emphasis is mine)
Joanna Macy and co-author Chris Johnstone describe the dimensions of the Great Turning here: https://www.activehope.info/great-turning.html and divide them into:
Joanna also explains the GT here: https://www.ecoliteracy.org/article/great-turning
David Korten, author of the book “The Great Turning”, also explains it in his words: https://davidkorten.org/home/great-turning/
As his books description mentions (and I adhere firmly to this belief):
“We cannot avoid the unraveling. We can, however, turn a potentially terminal crisis into an epic opportunity to bring forth a new era of Earth Community grounded in life-affirming cultural values.”
Thomas Berry also spoke about this necessary change, he called The Great Work: “Perhaps the most valuable heritage we can provide for future generations is some sense of the Great Work that is before them of moving the human project from its devastating exploitation to a benign presence. We need to give them some indication of how the next generation can fulfill this work in an effective manner.” (Thomas Berry, “The Great Work,” in The Great Work, 7)
He also said:
“The present is not a time for desperation but for hopeful activity.”
Things you can start doing:
(A guide for discussing and sharing the “Great Turning book”: https://davidkorten.org/wp-content/uploads/TGT_Guide2.pdf )
You can learn more about this from Joanna herself:
Or vising the website of one of the groups I work for (Work that Reconnects Network):
Context for the Great Turning: https://workthatreconnects.org/the-global-context/
Three dimensions: https://workthatreconnects.org/three-dimensions-of-the-great-turning/
Personal guidelines: https://workthatreconnects.org/personal-guidelines/
As many of you know, I left my FT (9-5) job and jumped into the “Gig Economy” to create something I’ve been researching, studying and prototyping for myself and others for years…
One of my contracts is with Gaia Education, an international institute located in UK who offers courses in all areas of sustainability (with an emphasis in regenerative, more than sustainable!)
I’m the eLearning assistant and consultant, and have the amazing opportunity to work on the courses from inside: I’m the behind the scenes who makes sure the courses read well, all the links and videos work and you have overall a good experience…but I’m also a graduate from their Design for Sustainability certificate program, and have been facilitating pieces of it at OUR Ecovillage EDE and presenting in small workshops…
They are now launching the Spanish version and I’m behind it as well (as my first language…
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If you are reading this post, I want you to know that this blog is no longer active. I started a few years ago with a blog named “Living as if Others Really Mattered”, where I blogged about my own observations, reactions and opinions about what was happening in the world. My focus was the convergence of not one or two but many complex crises: social justice, climate change and resource depletion, all sustained on the top of a story of separation that had deep roots in our past as a species.
That old blog, who got a few followers with whom I had real interactions (and followed their blogs back), gave birth to “Mainstream Permaculture” and a few other sub-blogs that didn’t last much…I was trying to find “my niche/s” and also to express myself while helping others with some ideas and resources. My blogs focused on disaster planning and emergency preparation, self-reliance and food sovereignty, they also explored resilience, both outer and inner, both individual and collective.
As I was writing my blogs and sharing ideas, I was out here in the “real world” exploring them through courses, gatherings, groups and in my own life. I made many mistakes and experienced both great and inspirational discoveries as well as deep betrayals and disillusionment.
The blog got some traction around 2014-2015 and then the interaction stopped. I became busy, and the project of creating a guide to implement permaculture in a suburban life never left the ground: many of the changes I made to my own life had to be dismantled thanks to the lack of support and ignorance of those who are still living the mainstream story (the story of “Business as Usual”)…I saw the same happening not only with many permaculture initiatives, but also with “friends” who suddenly turned their back with no explanation: it was OK when I was full of enthusiasm (and time), but when I started to get challenges, they left…
My basic ideas have not changed, nor my opinion about the world: when people ask me, I say what I observe: things are getting worse, there is no significant advance and no amount of small or big changes will “fix” what we have started, because, among other things, this doesn’t have to be “fixed”: this needs to be radically changed!
I happen to live in two worlds: I see BAU (Business as Usual) almost every day of my life. I see the amount of neglect, ignorance, selfishness, lack of willingness, stubbornness and so much more that rule most of the world: I see it reflected in my “mainstream” job working with refugees and immigrants and other vulnerable groups, but unfortunately (and painfully), I also see it permeating the permaculture, transition and even great turning realms: self-righteousness, short-sightedness, uber-optimism that kills and tries to hide any reality and real solutions, and so for…
I see it in books and documentaries: even those who start exposing the deep realities that nobody wants to face: that there won’t be an industrial world with solar panels and wind turbines, that airplanes and big trucks won’t ever work with renewables, that solar panels and all that combo only last 20+ years and pollute, and so on…and then turn the page ignoring all the realities they just described and want us to believe that all will be solved if we each start growing food and living of the land! The amount of wishful thinking that ignores the millions of oppressed, uneducated, unhealthy and tired people (plus the thousands that are also sick, disable or too old) who live in the cities and can’t grow their food even if they wanted, and who will never have access to any piece of land because there ISN’T ENOUGH!
The way those who should know better engage in power struggles and unhealthy dynamics with each other (yes, even those we quote and admire and who have funded movements and practices!), or the way they point fingers (directly or indirectly) to all the others who are not living their lives as they do…when I see all this, my hope diminishes greatly: I see that the problem is too complex and too big, that in fact, there is not “a” problem, but a series of interconnected and compounded problems. That the only ways are to radically disrupt the system/s at many levels at the same time. But more than anything, to COMMIT, to vow, not so much about lifestyle changes (although they are needed), but Soul-level changes: I cannot see this machine stopping, not even turning a bit if not enough people really commit to BE, more than to DO…
With the years, I have been lucky enough to have been exposed and able to explore much more than permaculture. I even became a facilitator myself. I am now inside a couple of movements/organizations that I respect because I see that they want the good to prevail, they are, so far, authentic: something I’m deeply thirsty about.
But things have changed and will continue to change in my life, and my next step is not to focus on “doing” permaculture, but to focus on living the Great Turning. Permaculture is just one of the tools we need, a very powerful one, but not the only one…
Thank to those who have been followers all these years, both old and new ones. I may come back and create something out of the scattered pieces, who knows?
All the best to all,
“The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
“But a real vision, a real change, isn’t safe,” Maya said. “You don’t pay a workshop fee for it, you pay with your life.” ~ Starhawk, Walking to Mercury
In recent “Cultural Emergence/Design Web’s Course with Looby McNamara and Delvin Solkinson , we were asked to draw our stories into a “river of life”…the question was: how did we get here? What steps, choices and moves happened in our lives that allowed us to be in the place we are now?
This is my recount and commitment: how I got here and where I’m moving towards…and why…
Five years ago, around this time, I finished my first PDC (permaculture design certificate). My life had started to be affected and changing long before that, when around 2011, I suddenly matched the dots between climate change, resource depletion and the big financial circus and “saw the Matrix…or I should say, as Gaia University puts it: the “Patrix”.
Few I would know by then that with the years, I would embark in a Life Journey that has now given birth to a new chapter…and the closing of an old one. Once again. (yes, I have closed and evolved many chapters in my 52 years on this planet)
This is the story of my life journey, the end of a chapter and the starting of something new…
If you have followed my journey, you’d know I live in a townhouse somewhere between Surrey and Langley suburbs, BC, Canada. I emigrated to Canada with my partner and two sons in 2004, running away from a politically, socially and financially messy Venezuela, where I had lived for most of my adult life, after getting there as a refugee from a coup d’état in my home-country, Argentina.
In Argentina, I grew up as a child living in the edges: the edges of society and mainstream. My mother, ant and uncle were all social justice activists and my childhood was spent in poor neighborhoods’ homes, many dysfunctional and abusive environments, but also a lot of freedom, particularly around connecting and playing in nature.
In my teens, I was forced to drop out of school at an early age to support my mom with extra income and caring for my siblings. Life became “easier” when I took the chance to stay in Venezuela alone at age 17, but still, working to support my basic needs was priority. I was taught from a very early age to feel ashamed if I ever complained for not having access to things that seemed easy for others: dream of a future, make choices in life that would include traveling, university studies, exploring spiritual or other “luxury/privileged” stuff.
I finally completed university college at age 38, graduating with an advanced diploma in educational psychology; in the meantime, I took classes whenever I could find the time or money on computer programming and systems analysis, education, languages (Japanese, French, German and English) and business administration. I read almost anything that I could put my hands into and never stopped dreaming and thinking…my life consisted of working for mostly underpaid jobs, even when I was good at what I was doing (but, I didn’t have a “degree”).
I had many “achievements” during those years: I became the manager of a small local travel agency (a low income job that allowed me to travel to many places I couldn’t afford otherwise); my passion for computers allowed another travel agency to have the first SABRE system for booking and communication in the area (in a time where Internet wasn’t even a dream); when I made my first “career change”, I quickly became a well-loved teacher and ICT coordinator: I would take the K-12 kids to field trips, teach them coding and, most importantly, thinking outside of the box and created a computer-science “club”. I installed a full LAN with Linux and created a curriculum for kids and teachers that included from history of computers to the future frontiers in sci-fi…I was the third first city resident to get an Internet account. I took the kids to watch Matrix and other movies and we had a movie-forum to discuss the future of humans and technology. I was part of a Linux group and the founder of “Linux en las escuelas, Open Source/Open Minds”, a project for kids and teens…
All this came to an end when we moved to Canada. That was the end of an entire chapter. And I was the one who initiated it: things had become stale in many areas of my life, and the Venezuelan environment was suffocating me…I needed to get out and start over again, fresh!
It took me four long and difficult years to completely “settle” in Canada. While my partner got a job right away, I had to stay at home with two young boys, low English and no idea of what to do next. I opened a small family childcare and dedicated to it three long years: I took the kids to field trips and swimming classes, played on the ground with them, did arts and cooked together. The kids taught me the English I needed and I learned the rest through online university classes.
When the time came, I closed the childcare and got my first job. I was convinced that my own journey and challenges, first as a refugee and later as an immigrant woman would help me to support other newcomers and refugees. I took a few certificates and courses and became certified as a “career development practitioner”, “adult educator” and “online instructor”, among other things…for 10 years, I’ve been working in different non-profit agencies supporting immigrants and refugees, as well as other vulnerable groups in getting back to a decent career/job in Canada.
In 2013, however, the crack was too obvious for me not to notice: I started noticing that my job was fueling a system of oppression and privilege, a system that still lived in a dying story of separation from Nature, each other and ourselves…my immersion into the permaculture/transition/ecopsychology path became more and more of a challenge to that job and the life it supported. I struggled for many years with my family and own very real needs: to pay mortgage, debt, support our families back in Argentina and Venezuela and support ourselves here as newcomers with no savings and no extended network. I considered to leave my job, my life and even my family behind and completely embrace a new life that would reflect my new found values and concerns…
My struggle reflected first on my emotional well-being and later my body: I became sick and unable to do many of the things I wanted. My body was screaming for a change!
Through those years, however, I started silently crafting a new livelihood: I made a promise to myself that I would find a way to experience in myself what I knew was a must of these deep times: the transition away from a degenerative, destructive and unethical way of supporting our needs to one that would be truly regenerative, ethical and supportive of resilience building.
I took courses and attended gatherings: from more permaculture courses to ecopsychology, ecotherapy, horticulture, herbalism, life coaching, Art of Hosting, Art of Mentoring, SoulCraft, Vision Quest and Cultural Evolution, the Renewal of the Creative Path, DreamWork, Holding Space, Storytelling for a new paradigm, Purpose Guiding, Design for Sustainability, Ecosocial Design, WTR Facilitators Training, Anti-oppression training, EDE, ToT, PcTt and so many others that it would take an entire post to name…I was exploring and digging deeply into many areas, trying to find the answer to the question: how do I live my life? What are my gifts I came to share? What is my Soul’s purpose?
In all those years, I also contributed as a teacher assistant, collaborator or contributor, many times without being fully recognized and my ideas, initiatives and work dismissed or plainly stolen. I also found myself being betrayed by false ideals and idols, finding that a lot of people in these movements and causes are still distilling the “old story” through acts of aggression, judgement, incomprehension, lack of empathy and compassion, selfishness and blaming, shaming and competing…I fell many times, found myself falling into a deep hole of nothingness, depleted of compassion and energy and wanting to close all my accounts, give up, scream at people and run away…it was a long and treacherous journey that has not yet come to an end, but has changed significantly.
My final version of what sustained my life and got me back again on the path was that of Thomas Berry referencing his life’s work and philosophy, based on his childhood’s meadow: “Whatever preserves and enhances this meadow in the natural cycles of its transformation is good; whatever opposes this meadow or negates it is not”….
Finally, last September 21 I worked my last day as a career counsellor/case manager and facilitator at the largest and oldest non-profit multicultural agency in BC. I quit my job.
I have no regrets: in many and mysterious ways, the things I lived through allowed me to connect, learn and experience many of the things other individuals are experiencing: from poverty to abuse to neglect to being in deep debt, to not seeing the way out, to becoming a refugee, an immigrant and so on. I was lucky and privileged to have been witness and able to support hundreds of children and teenagers, then immigrants, refugees and other vulnerable groups. My job allowed me to travel, experiment and train on many other areas (without it, I wouldn’t have been able to afford the training or traveling). I am grateful even to those who hurt me, because they too were carrying a burden not entirely of their own making…
There was one BIG TRUTH I discovered in my journey: that unless people (at both the individual and collective level) find creative ways to craft a regenerative livelihood, nothing will ever change.
I’ll repeat this because I think is one of the missing aspects of transition town, permaculture, ecovillage, social justice, environmental justice and similar initiatives, and is the key factor that keeps people locked into a degenerative, destructive, consumerist, capitalistic and extractive system: people need creative alternatives for their livelihoods, and this will not come only from creative and inspired individuals, it will come from a collaborative, intentional effort of both individuals and communities, from ground-up and top down initiatives, from emerging organizations and networks, and needs to happen fast!
It also needs to happen at the same time as the other massive change we know is needed and possible: from fossil fuels to more regenerative sources of energy and resources, and the biggest change of all: the change of the underlying story that has created this in the first place! : the story of separation and duality, the story of hatred, aggressive responses, blaming, shaming, power-over and privilege.
And...it needs to happen in an environment and approach that invites and embodies humility, openness, awareness, acceptance of our own mistakes, acknowledgement of our privileges and tons of compassion…
That’s how it has changed for me: I’m now completely aligned in my livelihood, but it wasn’t easy or free and it is still evolving, as I still need to align my needs and wants and embrace community. Now, instead of working to support the mainstream system, I work to empower peoples and emerging systems in different ways:
My commitment to the Great Turning, as Joanna Macy has called the change that needs to happen, is set and sacred: I’ve seen and experienced enough and I’m fully ready for the next chapter. I can no longer carry the diminishing beliefs that I’m not enough, that I’m not yet ready, that others are better than me, that my work has no value or that that I’m too old, too sick, too much in pain, too busy or whatever other disempowering beliefs I may carry…
Permaculture and Earth activist, Starhawk once told me that when we delay giving away our gifts to the world, everyone suffers. She encouraged me to find my own voice and use it.
The recent workshop on Cultural Emergence Design Web with Looby McNamara and Delvin Solkinson showed me that I already have the tools and resources I need, that waiting for a perfect “me” or a perfect moment, family, partner, body, health, place, job or circumstances will only put the entire world on hold and my gifts, whatever they are, will never emerge…(you can take Looby’s course online for an intro)
This is the river of My Life, the ever evolving new chapter, the Path my Soul chose to follow, whatever that means…
May you find your path and gifts, and the strength and resolution to share them with the world…
“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”
~ Rumi, The Essential Rumi
“The future depends on what you do today.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Decades ago, when I was a scout leader in Venezuela, we used to go to a mountain’s cave. We could only get out by passing one by one through a scary and claustrophobic narrow and impossibly long tunnel/passage, and once you were there, you couldn’t know what was in the other side, you just needed to TRUST and also would help, hearing the voices of those who were already on the other side. We used to rappel to get in, it was a great adventure of exploration of the land and our own fears and sense of trust in each other…now, decades in the future from that young woman, I am entering another cave and need to go through an unknowingly long and narrow passage…I have no idea what’s in the other side or whether there will be others receiving and encouraging me when and if I make it through.
I am both scared and excited, I have chosen a path with undefined borders and depths. I have no plan and carry a lot of burden with me that I will have to deal with or choose to let go.
Everything around me has been screaming “trust!” but the burden I carry tells me otherwise…”what if?” and so many feelings of guilt and confusion (how could I be so selfish when others don’t have this choice? I am privileged to have what I have!)…still, the contractions have already started, this baby will be born, even if I’m fully scared and contradict myself every hour There’s no way back or down to the old and well-known cave.
As a friend half-funnily said to me a couple of days ago: I have outgrown the pot, not that one you are thinking but the other: the pot/container where I had been planted, partially with my consent. All my body is screaming for a transplanting: I need to have my roots naked and wandering around until they find the ground and ecosystem they need for continuing growing, giving, being.
Your words and prayers of support and encouragement will be needed and fully appreciate through this process. I’m about to enter the narrow passage, and leave this cave…
From Emergence Magazine:
In this music video: Lyla June’s poetic reflection on time and the wisdom needed to care for future generations.
Powerful message, it reflects the path I started to follow seven years ago…
I am inspired beyond tears by the raising of the indigenous peoples around the world, leading the way, and all those who have understood what we are in this miracle of evolutionary journey and that we are the universe made conscious, with the tremendous responsibility for caring, creating and stewarding and the understanding that we are part of the everything, not more important, not less, and that we are in this journey together…
Those who are awakening and caring are the true Bodhisattvas…
https://emergencemagazine.org/story/time-traveler/ via @emergence_zine
Time traveler running faster. Warrior is born. Battle to be won. Past trauma, future hurt. I’m a child of the dirt and I'm ready to give birth. Planting a dream. Panting, I breathe. Running towards the future with a handful of seeds. Stronger than greed. I am stronger than hate. I stand under the shade of trees planted so long ago. A product of ancestral love, I’m here because my elders danced in the sun. They would give it all up for us and from day one it was practiced like religion to prepare for the ones to come. We are here to give all our love to the ones unborn. But this is insane. Living for fame. Living for the next quarter, profits and gains. You forgot love. You forgot truth. You forgot how to live for a time beyond you. It’s not about you. It’s not about you. It’s about the song that is traveling through. It travels through time. Singers will die but the song lives on through matrilineal lines. We are here to give all our love to the ones unborn. Open your eyes. Open your heart. Draining aquifers before they can recharge. We’re not in charge. Nature’s in charge. Look to the stars remember who you are. Stay humble or fall. We don’t know it all. And we are not exempt from natural law. Live selfishly and the structure will fall. But if we live for those unborn then the song will go on. So before you take a book off the shelf, take a look inside yourself. Answers come to you at light speed. I’m searching for knowledge I can’t find on a newsfeed. Knowledge found through intuition. Knowledge found through fasting and dancing. This ain’t superstition. It’s ancestral tradition. Throw me the spear of wisdom— sharpened and sunlit. I’m giving my life to the oneness. I’m a warrior. I’m sun-kissed. I’m armed but I’m harmless. Protecting cycles of rain and cycles of snow. Fighting for children whose names I will never know. I look up and read the messages written all across the sky. Messages telling us that it’s time to evolve or die. It’s time to live this life right. So that when our children look back, they look back with pride.
Have you planned to take a permaculture course but never have time? Can’t take time off from family, school or work? Do you want to go deeper than the usual PDC and have life-long access to the materials, including updates?
Studying online has its own benefits: re-visiting of the materials as many times as you want, self-paced, making meaningful and lasting connections with people from all walks of life and from around the world, the opportunity to reflect and journal and of course, hands-on projects you will be applying to your home or community!
In the current course, we have permaculture teachers and people who took PDCs years ago but wanted to refresh or have a new perspective from a course organized and taught with social justice and care for people at its center.
Get a 72-hour Permaculture Certification PLUS Advanced Certificate in Social Permaculture for $100 off! (Score!)
Tuition also includes 3 hours of private tutoring with one of the 40 women on our expert International faculty (you choose!). There is no other course like this out there…for women by women. Check out the 37 Modules & more here.
Permaculture is about finding your niche, growing your passion, and sharing the abundance, together and as individuals, for the betterment of ourselves and the planet. If you resonate with this, you’ll benefit from this course.
Let this be the year you say “YES!” to learning new skills to better your life & local community
USE CODE: SUMMER at checkout to save $100 and mention you saw this here with Silvia Di Blasio so you can also get access to 1-1 mentoring on Ethical and regenerative Pathways and Right Livelihood!
“The quest for food security can be the common thread that links the different challenges we face and helps build a sustainable future.” ~José Graziano da Silva, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General
“Food Sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.” La Via Campesina
“Food Sovereignty is the right every human has of choosing, buying, exchanging and consuming, growing, harvesting, preserving and making healthy, ethical and regenerative food for themselves and their loved ones”. ~ Silvia Di Blasio
The Food Sovereignty Workshops Series includes 14 core workshops and some optional ones. The workshops can be taken individually or as a series. Taking as a series is recommended for people serious on improving the self-reliance and resilience of their households and communities.
Workshop 1, Food Sovereignty essentials:
Workshop 2, Food & kitchen skills for households in a budget:
Workshop 3, Growing food in small spaces and year-round
Workshop 4, making food from scratch: vinegars and kombuchas
Workshops 5, 6 and 7 making food from scratch: yogurts and cheeses
Workshop 8: making food from scratch: breads
Workshops 9 and 10: making food from scratch and preserving the harvest: ferments and kimchis
Workshop 11: preserving the harvest: pickling
Workshop 12: preserving the harvest: canning fruits and jams
Workshop 13: preserving the harvest: canning sauces and chutneys
Workshop 14: making a livelihood from food sovereignty
Supplies and materials needed:
Facilitator fee: $25/hour plus accommodation and meals
Total hours: 14 X 3 hours/each: 42 hours
Suggested length: 7 days at an average of 6 hours/day (intensive), or two sessions of 3.5 days each with a “break” in between of a week or a few days.
Total facilitator: $1050
Total cost of series: depending on supplies for food preparation and number of participants
Suggested fee per participant: $50/workshop or $600 for entire series
Silvia is a Food Skills master trainer, certified canning instructor, food sovereignty advocate, blogger and facilitator for the Surrey and White Rock Food Action Coalition. Silvia teaches permaculture, resilience, food sovereignty, fermenting and pickling, canning, growing microgreens and making most foods from scratch at various locations. She combines her passion for food sovereignty and community resilience with her career as social entrepreneur coach and facilitator, ecotherapist and Reiki master. Silvia is also a Work that Reconnects facilitator, a Global Ecovillage Network ambassador, EDE facilitator candidate and a long-term supporter of O.U.R. Ecovillage.
Visit her website at: https://mainstreampermaculture.com/
“As we apprentice ourselves to the way of nature, we begin to understand that all of life is in a continuous cycle of giving and receiving. It is the honouring of this cycle that makes us feel at home in ourselves and in relation to the rest of nature. In order to experience true belonging, we must not only acknowledge the gifts we are receiving, but also give our beauty away, no matter how it may be received by others.”
~ Toko-pa Turner, Belonging (bold is mine)
“The historical mission of our times is to reinvent the human – at the species level, with critical reflection, within the community of life-systems, in a time-developmental context, by means of story and shared dream experience.” ~Thomas Berry, “Reinventing the Human,” in The Great Work, 159
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
~ Søren Kierkegaard
I have been tempted to close this blog in many occasions. There’s not much interaction, I tell myself, I rarely get a “like”, a share or a comment, so why bother? What’s the point of having 1,164 followers (as of today, May 15, 2018), if I have no idea and no control on whether my writings affect others, help others, inspire others to do something?
Lately, I have turned to nature for answers, and studying ecopsychology, ecology and systems has definitely helped: elements and beings in nature never “expect” a response, responses just happen. Trees continue to breathe the world alive every night and give it to us again every day. Birds sing, butterflies fly, flowers flourish, mushrooms emerge, all synchronizes with everything else in an ever going dance of indescribable creativity, joy, death, grief, rest and rebirth…and not for a second any of them (stone, cedar, leaf, worm, deer…) ask whether their lives are important, have a purpose or whether they, as individuals or species, belong.
Only we, humans, do that. Only us are wounded enough to bring those questions up to the space.
In a coaching exercise (a visualization), I realized how much I miss certain things and how much I long for them to be in my life: a meadow, a garden to call mine, doing nothing but sitting under the sky, walking in nature, playing with animals, watching chickens do what chickens do, running, camping, sitting around a fire with friends and family, reading more, writing more, learning about herbs from the herbs themselves, playing with magic in the kitchen through fermentation, bread and cheese making, listening to others in non-structured “coaching” sessions, having deep and honest conversations about almost anything, kissing, hugging, holding hands, building things with my hands, playing with mud and wood and breading/weaving baskets, exploring “primitive” survival skills and teaching them to others, singing, dancing, backpacking…
The funny thing is, I’ve done and still do many of those things. Just not enough!
This week, I’ll be travelling for 10 days to OUR Ecovillage to co-facilitate alternative/resilient and sustainable economics, locanomics, indigenomics, the right livelihood and social entrepreneurship practical tools. I will also be co-facilitating the worldview of the EDE and a workshop on Joanna Macy’s “Work that Reconnects”. Apart from my everyday work as career coach for immigrant job seekers and entrepreneurs, I work as the social media and communications “wizard” for the Work That Reconnects Network and the local Food Action Coalition/Seeds of Change Surrey. I’ve been teaching Food Sovereignty workshops at UBC-Farm, the local Food Bank and the now closed Homestead Junction. I have been teaching resilience, First Aid and disaster assessment and planning to dozens of groups and communities. I am now co-facilitating an online Permaculture +beyond Permaculture course along with other 40 permaculture practitioners around the world (registrations still open), I have been presenting at conferences and seminars and now will be collaborating with Regenepreneurs...I’m still dreaming on launching my own online and in-house regenerative entrepreneurs coaching business (Ethical Pathways) and offer 1-1 and group coaching for those in need…
My life is in many ways already a miracle beyond what anyone could have expected for the daughter of a refugee/activist/single mom who didn’t have the best of the childhoods (at least at the psychological/emotional levels). I didn’t get to study high school or university like “everyone else” (although I’m not along here, there are millions who still don’t have access to this type of education in the world). I never had land, or money, or family support. I stayed on my own in Venezuela at age 17, determined to make a life different from what “fate” seemed to have designed for a girl like me…
In many ways, however, my life has been an effort to demonstrate I belong, to find a place, a people and a time where I can feel whole at last.
And I found it, but not within the usual suspects: I have grown tired of expecting “others” to like me, love me, accept me, make me feel whole and that I belong to their family, group, community. My life/patterns are seeded with misunderstandings, people who leave, people who ignore or even abuse me in different ways. I have grown expecting emails not to be answered, “friends” disappearing for no reason, no phone calls or texts, no surprises, no thank yous, having to ask and justify myself for every step I take…
I’ve found that I am already whole and have always been: that my body is perfect as it carries me everywhere and manifesting through the senses, pains, joys and discomforts, all what’s good or wrong (it never, ever lies!). I have also discovered that my emotions, including those of anger, fear, shame, frustration, disappointment, etc. are all ways my Self has to communicate with me and send me warnings or cues that something is off and I need to change direction or attitude.
I have also found that I belong, I’ve always belonged as each leaf and twig and worm and bug and mushroom and water molecule and stone and right of light, as each one of you who are reading so far and those who will never read these words…belonging is not something we have to work towards: it is already here, in this space and time, and it is the reason we exist.
For years, I have facilitated workshops for those looking for a career path, a job or to open their own business or become self-employed. As many other career coaches, I have used and abused the formula of “exploring your gifts, strengths, skills, interests, etc.” and then researching/exploring the “market”: who are willing to listen to you, accept your gifts you have to share and, most importantly, giving something in return that you can use in this society: usually in the form of money…
The problem with the “formula” above is that it depends on a “public” willing to “pay” (respond in some hopefully positive way). It is, in many ways, based on a capitalistic way to see the world, through transactions of value/capital and the concept of markets. Not only that: if someone discovers they have something to offer, do or express that cannot be contained, something that burns inside but this doesn’t have a “mirror” in the world (a response that results in $$$), then the person is told to tweak their offerings and dreams, or to offer them for free, like they have no “value”…
But that is not how nature works, and not like history has worked either: nature is in an endless emerging and creative mode: it can’t help it! It shoots “weeds” through pavement, grows flowers through Chernobyl and Syrian destroyed towns, creates new species, rebirths every spring after the apparent dead of winters. She never asks whether these emerging and creative offerings will be well received. She doesn’t care whether the soil, water and air have been polluted, she births and births without exhaustion, and when a new experiment is “ignored” it never “fails”: she will release it in a few years or in another environment until it takes hold!
What if what we have to offer, what is pushing through our chests and throats is an expression of Nature, like birdsongs and wild flowers and new species? What if we have a guaranteed “niche” as everything else in this magical and mysterious world and we have no reason to ask for, justify or demonstrate that we are already whole and we belong? How would that play out in our life and career decisions? How would that reflect out there in the way we treat each other and Nature?
What if our Path is the Path we are already living, and we just can’t see the full shape until we get far enough and turn back: then we see that all those apparently random dots, failures, misunderstandings, detachments, challenges and neglects were guiding us to what we have become and what we have always been in the first place?
“Perhaps a new revelatory experience is taking place, an experience wherein human consciousness awakens to the grandeur and sacred quality of the Earth process. Humanity has seldom participated in such a vision since shamanic times, but in such a renewal lies our hope for the future for ourselves and for the entire planet on which we live.” ~Thomas Berry, “Ethics and Ecology,” in The Great Work, 106
“By bringing forth the planet Earth, its living forms, and its human intelligence, the universe has found, so far as we know, its most elaborate expression and manifestation of its deepest mystery. Here, in its human mode, the universe reflects on and celebrates itself in a unique mode of conscious self-awareness.” ~Thomas Berry, “The Viable Human,” in The Great Work, 56
“Serendipity thrives on alertness” ~ May East, Gaia Education co-founder and trainer, edge worker
One of the advantages of studying how systems work is that you start seeing “the matrix” behind each behavior, including social behavior.
I became fascinated with systems when I stated studying, and then practicing and teaching permaculture: we are surrounded by systems and we ourselves are systems within systems!
From observing how ecosystems work in nature, learning about patterns and eventually re-visiting how the universe has evolved and particularly how Life works, I started to see the connection between what we call “matter” and that more intangible substance that forms from our thoughts, emotions and the unconscious to the mystery of dreams and the soul/spirit “world”.
As it turns out, this artificial division or duality, the same behind all our story of separation, is the one that has created the mess we live in: socially, politically, economically and environmentally, we have allowed this to be created, this “thing” to emerge and take control over our lives, behaviours, relationships, values, judgements, etc.
Life is in continuous emergence: it shoots creatively all the time, even in deeply wounded and broken places. We see it in the strong roots of the “weeds” that stubbornly and resiliently break through the pavement or thrive in eroded and polluted soils, in the bugs and birds and flowers and seeds that move and take hold in the strangest places. We see in the trees that grow from soilless rocks!
What if that “emergence” is also happening at the social and individual level same as it is continuously doing in natural ecosystems?
Not only I strongly believe this is the case, but many others do, and have dedicated years to study this phenomena: because there’s no division between “humans” and the rest of nature or between “society/culture” and any other ecosystem: all are systems, they just look (superficially) different.
Through the last two years, I have been learning, exploring and using systems theory, emergent design and ecopsychology in my coaching and facilitation practices…and the results are not only inspiring: they create “unexpected” synchronicities…with time, I’ve learned to expect and even produce these synchronitities by paying attention and staying open to the flow.
Imagine there was a tool that allows us to “read” the cues and become so alert that we can tweak what’s emerging in ourselves, our relationship and dynamics, groups or an entire cultures to work better with the flow instead of being constantly pushed and pulled by it, controlled by it.
That is what “Cultural Emergence” by permaculturist, coach, teacher and change maker Looby MacNamara allows you to do: to understand how systems (including cultural and personal systems) work and learning to read the cues so you can work with them instead of fighting them or becoming their slave.
Cultural emergence allows you to “create breakthroughs in the Great Turning to a life enhancing culture” as Looby MacNamara says.
Some abstracts from Looby’s course:
“Humanity is presently in a crisis of disconnection and a time of mass cultural emergency; we see the personal, social, political and environmental problems as stemming from a lack of cultural understanding and cohesion. We believe there are tools that can help turn this around into mass Cultural Emergence; where abundance, gratitude, care and connection are part of our everyday culture.”
Want to know more?
I invite you to join this online course where you can progress at your own pace and join a community of learners and change makers https://coursecraft.net/c/ActivatingCulturalEmergence/a/cpmYFEtWT
Looby will also be teaching about Cultural Emergence Design in BC next September, for those who want a more hands-on and deep experience: https://www.designedvisions.com/index.php/course-dates-topmenu-97/cultural-emergence/406-canada