As we continue our conversations about dissolving the Spirituality and Ecological Hope project into a re-envisioned Center for New Creation, there is much to share with our readers and collaborators. We are in a fundraising mode because without the support of a whole lot of people, this “new” creation cannot come about. Here’s a version of the letter we have been emailing out describing what we are thinking, what the mission looks like, how the work will unfold, and why we are so excited about it:
Center for New Creation
Sponsor of Spirituality and Ecological Hope
We are about doing something new and we need your help.
October 20, 2014
For several years I have been working on this project focused on the meaning of ecological hope in a time of planetary crisis. What I have learned in doing this is, well – a lot! I have learned more than I ever knew before about the wonder of this Mother of ours, of all the ways in which this complex living reality that many call Gaia came together over a few billion years to give birth to this human species through the amazing journey of evolution.
And I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about the terrible crisis that has befallen us because of the way we have lived on this planet.
I have been sharing both aspects of this story now for a long time, have written about it, spoken about it, offered workshops and presentations, engaged dialogue with others, and have gone out to many places to SEE how the crisis is unfolding.
I have also come into contact with amazing people doing amazing things – not only to educate and advocate and protest, but also to begin experimenting with “new” creation, with new ways of life even as the old is clearly unraveling all around us.
And so of this project – it is also in need of some new creation. Building on the work of these past 7 years, we have decided to dissolve the SEH project into a re-missioning, a reviving of what was once a vibrant, prophetic justice and peace organization, based in Northern Virginia. The Center for New Creation was founded in 1979 by a few amazing women getting together over coffee in each other’s homes. This is the original mission statement, which barely needs a touch-up:
To educate and foster dialogue about critical social justice issues, encouraging careful social analysis to identify root causes of injustice and violence, and strategic, community-based actions in response. The CNC supports creative and just alternatives to the status quo and emphasizes the importance of solidarity and common effort across national and economic boundaries in the work for a better world.
Just add in “social and ecological justice issues,” and “analysis to identify root causes of ecological destruction, injustice and violence,” and the rest works perfectly. The CNC was a space not only for advocacy and activism, but for analysis and dialogue based in the Circle of Praxis. Many of you know it or remember it well. It has four movements:
1) Insertion into reality, getting out of comfort zones and into the heart of what is happening
2) Social analysis, getting to the root understandings or causes for the situation one is witnessing or experiencing
3) Looking at this then in the light of “faith,” or the overarching framework of meaning, the “spirituality,” that forms the center of one’s core beliefs
4) Taking action that can change the reality of injustice or suffering
These four movements form a circle that brings us back over and over again to the beginning – looking again at the reality in the light of our responses, how has it changed, what did we learn, what is the next thing to do…
I cannot imagine a more relevant model right now for engaging this moment in the human journey. None of us has the answers for what to do and how to do it. None of us can see the clear path through a crisis that appears so overwhelming, so many things falling apart, or about to, all at the same time. I can’t sit alone in my room figuring out what to do, and neither can you. We can only do this by trial and error, by stepping out into the unknown and making the path by walking it, as the old saying goes. And we can only do that together, in community, sharing the risks, fears, and the hope – as I have written on the project blog, hope as a verb not a noun, something we do, not a thing we wait around for or try to possess.
Whether or not there is hope depends on what we do now…
This is one thing I can say, though, with certainty: as we form community based in friendship, conviviality, humility, shared risk, play, and even joy, we will already be on our way to moving beyond what is causing all these collapses to creating the news ways of life that can one day emerge out of the old.
So I invite you to read the 3-part series on our blog [New Creation: It’s happening everywhere and we want to tell that story] about how we are rethinking this work. If you only have time to read one of them, read the third (Oct. 2), because it is the most concrete. New creation is already happening; we are not inventing this. But a lot of these new ways, these new paths, are happening at very local levels and are mostly invisible to the culture at large. In many ways, that is the genius of what is taking place; but, as we know, ecology is about connections because it is interconnection grounded in a rich inclusive biodiversity that gives the fabric of life its unique strength and beauty.
We want to contribute to that ecological movement, so necessary now for our survival as a species.
The beautiful Athabasca River long before the tar sands site.
Last year, as most of you know, we were privileged to engage a 2-week pilgrimage along Alberta’s Athabasca River to the tar sands industrial sites. It was a journey taken in community, prepared for in community, and processed in community. It took the support of a much larger community to raise the funds and open the doors for all the work that followed.
Air and water pollution downriver in Ft. McKay
We want to take this model into more places, visit where new creation is happening, often in dire circumstances – fracking zones, frac sand mining sites, front line communities being hit hardest by pollution and wreckage of their towns and neighborhoods, American Indian nations taking the lead to protest against industrial threats and insisting on restoring the rights of their communities and the rights of the living beings and waters where they live.
If we start putting these stories together, the future starts to look very different, indeed.
And that’s what we want to do – share those stories, put them on a website, promote these groups, make them visible to more and more of our culture, provide a space where they can see and learn about each other, the creative actions, strategies, and more that are the beginnings of that path we make by walking it. Right now that happens on Facebook nearly every day. That is part of what has inspired this idea – how to take those multiple pages and links and reveal them for the burgeoning ecological community that they are.
We will have many, many collaborators as we venture out into the community of new creation, but to get us going we need your support. First of all, we need to create a website powerful enough for this project, one that is inviting, engaging, and beautiful. Then we need funds to get out into these communities with our cameras, voice recorder, and notebooks.
It will be an ongoing process and exchange about how new creation is happening all over the place. A bigger and better source of hope I cannot imagine right now!
And then to take the dream one step further, we hope to find a real physical space where those who wish can really do some of the “social analysis,” that getting to the core of the causes of our very big human predicament, with as much courage and clarity as we can muster.
So, big dream. What do you think? Can we launch this journey? Can we share it together?
We are a small operation with little overhead. For that reason, every contribution, no matter how small, can make a very big difference. You can contribute by check or via PayPal (info on the DONATE page of our blog), and your donations are tax deductible.
If it’s true that the path is made by walking, well, let’s join hands and head on out.
Center for New Creation
PO Box 070495
Milwaukee WI 53207
Center for New Creation Board of Directors:
Marie Dennis, Co-President Pax Christi International, CNC co-founder * Fr. Joseph Nangle, OFM, Assisi Community, Washington DC * Jan Gregorcich, SSND, Global Partners, Running Waters * Debra Schneider, Catholics for Justice & Peace, Waukesha County Green Team * Rodney Sanchez, Tender Shoot of Joy, Meditation Milwaukee * Margaret Swedish, Spirituality & Ecological Hope (organizations listed for identification purposes only)