Workshops

June 2010
Friends and visitors:

Thomas Berry, who passed from this life on the morning of June 1, 2009, charges our generation with the task of reinventing the human presence on the planet.  This is not a project that can be done in a culture of individuals, but rather only in a culture of communities.  The very word ‘ecology’ implies connections within the whole. Part of what is needed now is that our human communities begin to mimic the cooperation, diversity, and interrelatedness that is the essence of the Nature of which we are a part, one species among millions of others existing within the web of all creation.

The model of a good workshop can be mimetic in this sense: it implies a gathering of people working together to learn, to focus on a learning task, and to cooperate as a group in seeking out or wrestling with directions, input, and action that emerge from these shared learning experiences.  It may provide a speaker to offer input and focus; it would likely have a good facilitator, someone skilled at leading a discussion, ensuring the participation of all, respecting ‘process,’ and, if this is on the agenda, facilitating a conclusion –  some follow-up steps for info-sharing or community-building.  The focus is on the work the group does together, sharing the information offered, seeking insight, solutions, being good listeners as we seek to gain from the insights of others.

A workshop can be as simple as gathering people together to watch something challenging, a film or video, then having an in-depth discussion.  Questions to offer: how did the film impact you? how did it challenge you? did it change how you view something in our world? did it challenge you, and in what ways?

To build community, invite people at the beginning, by way of introduction, to identify themselves by their ecological community, where they live, who (what species) shares their neighborhood, what grows there, what natural places surround them, as part of the identity of their ‘home’ and ‘family.’

For those with more energy, search websites, including this one, for information that might help shape a workshop – on the earth’s carrying capacity, for example, on use of fossil fuels and their environmental impact, on how to find your carbon footprint, on what various faith traditions have to say about our ecological crisis and the sacredness of the Earth. Use our search engine to find posts and links on these topics.

Below we have listed or embedded several videos that we find quite compelling.  We will change them from time to time, but each of them we believe can spark a lot of discussion.

And do keep in mind, if you are looking for a speaker, a workshop leader, a reflection facilitator, that our own Margaret Swedish, author and editor of this site, has been doing exactly that sort of thing for a long time. Contact her for more information.

Finally, we build movements through sharing of stories, experiences, connections. Let us know how you are making ‘new creation’ happen in your community by sharing it here. Comments on our posts are more than welcome.


Presentation by Margaret Swedish at St. James Parish Catholic Parish, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, October 7, 2009


Margaret Swedish from St. James Parish on Vimeo.


Recommended videos:


Life After Growth – Economics for Everyone
Directed, Written, Shot, and Edited by Leah Temper and Claudia Medina

Life After Growth – Economics for Everyone from enmedia productions on Vimeo.

Blue heart of the planet

We have already consumed 90 percent of the ocean’s big fish. As we ravage the oceans with our insatiable appetites for fish and fish products, we are in the process of degrading an essential aspect of the Earth’s life support system.  Without ocean life, without healthy oceans, all life on the planet is endangered.

Sylvia Earle is a world-renowned oceanographer.  In the video below, she speaks of the ‘Blue Heart of Our Planet,’ with magnificent film of the oceans’ rich and diverse creatures, along with some hard footage of what some people are doing to them to feed our appetites.  This is the link to her presentation on the website TED: Ideas Worth Spreading.

Mountaintop removal coal mining

Friends of this project know that mountaintop coal-mining is for us iconic when it comes to revealing the relationship of the human industrial, fossil-fueled way of life with the natural world.  It is a relationship of profound abuse, an egregious violation of the Earth, violence on a vast scale.  For more info, just put ‘mountaintop coal mining’ in the search engine on our home page to find many posts with links to organizations working to to halt MTR practices. Any of us who use electricity are involved in this abuse.  To stop it, the efforts of all of us are required.

This video comes by way of Appalachian Voices and ilovemountains.org, two of our favorite groups. Their efforts, along with others in the Appalachian coal country, give us lots of ecological hope. You can help by asking your legislators to work to stop mountaintop coal mining.

The heavy footprint of industrial society

Edward Burtynski is a Canadian photographic artist whose canvas is most often the industrial world. His art formed the basis for a documentary film, Manufactured Landscapes, released in 2006.  It offers deeply disturbing images of a world overwhelmed by industrialization, a ravaging of the Earth that is required for us to consume as we do, to have the way of life we have demanded and insisted upon in this generation.

Over on the website TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, I found this 35-min. presentation by Burtynski in which he speaks of our industrial footprint, shows photos focused largely on China’s rapid industrialization, and how these things have altered the landscapes of our planet forever.  He ends with a wish list focused on the urgent need to find sustainable ways of life.  The URL for this film is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2Dd4k63-zM

Sometimes I find something on the Internet that tells me exactly why I do what I do.  Two videos for you, one embedded here by artist Chris Jordan, a powerful reflection on our culture of consumption, the other with a link below is an award-winning music video by Dean Omori:

The video by Dean Omori, How Can You Sleep.