Insights from “the Field”

The collective consciousness of a group is often referred to by organizational theorists as the group's "social field.” 
The postings to this blog will chronicle the insights gleaned from the common pursuit at CTP building the social field of the many groups who pass through it’s doors. 

The Return of TransOcc (April '16)

 Four years after Occupy Wall Street came to Dartmouth and gave birth to the illustrious Upper Valley Occupy (think grey-haired activists popping out of the woodwork to learn hand signals and democratic group process) . . . Four years after Occupy’s contemplative branch split off to form ‘Transformational Occupy’ and launched a multi-year inquiry into the philosophy and method of spiritual activism, and two years after its inevitable dissolution, members of the once mighty ‘TransOcc’ have recently come together again with new voices in the movement, determined to articulate the platform of Transformational Activism on ‘paper’ for all to see.  

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Collective Leadership

 “Building community is to the collective as spiritual practice is to the individual.”                                      -Grace Lee Boggs

I saw this quote at the bottom of a recent email and though it is simple, I think it captures something important that is emerging at this time.

It’s not that collective spiritual practice is something new. We have been gathering in churches and temples and synagogues since the dawn of religion. It has long been understood that our spiritual practices are buoyed by the presence of fellow practitioners.
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Reducing Carbon from the Innersphere (Nov. '15)

Among the most hopeful strands of the conversation about reducing carbon is focused not on the sky above but on the earth below. Indeed scientists are now saying that fertility is such a powerful agent of carbon sequestration that if we could reverse desertification and restore grasslands on a planetary scale, we could draw enough carbon out of the atmosphere to bring carbon parts per million back to healthy levels.

Wow, that’s really great news. And if we want to take a step back and ask how this is done, the answer has a lot to do with the management of animals and water. So one message that is coming loud and clear from ecologists is the idea that if we want to preserve a planet that can support life as we know it, we need to learn about and engage the best practices for managing herds of grazing animals and sinking and storing water in the soil.
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Five Characteristics of the Transformational Activist (August, '15)

Today, we understand that environmental catastrophe is no longer avoidable. But, of course, that does not mean we can all rest easy, because though the catastrophe is on its way, its severity has yet to be decided. And though many are engaged in helping our society change course, it’s safe to say that so far we have not yet succeeded. And for many of us, the danger of shifting directly from denial to despair, without any intervening moment of effective social action, is becoming increasingly real.

Perhaps in order to confront the radically interwoven and pervasive network of global crises in which the causes are all around us and within us, we need new a new form of activism that is designed to address problems at their roots. One such emergent form could be called Transformational Activism. We all know that transformational change is change based on the assumption that the raising of consciousness is the basis of all lasting positive social change. But then what should we do? What does that tell us about how to be a transformational activist? Okay, I would like to suggest the following five attributes.

 

1. Transformational Activists keep it positive.

Though there is a particular energy and clarity associated with saying ‘no’ to the exploitative and oppressive social structures, the division and struggle implicit in the processes of protest politics yield some nasty unintended and unwanted consequences. The implicit struggle of ‘us-against-them’ can lead to burnout and addiction on the part of the activist. It goes something like this. The activist looks around and sees that they don’t have the support they should have. Why? Because everyone else is looking at them and saying “I don’t want to be like you, you’re stressed out!” So, what does the activist do? They doubles down and the cycle gets worse. Sound familiar? Meanwhile, the target of the activist’s attention must resist the attack. This resistance often takes the form of an effort to further marginalize the activist.

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Brave New Dharma of the Brave New Pope (July 2015)

The Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon, speaking to the press, framed Pope Francis' recent Encyclical, "Laudato Si' , On Care For Our Common Home," in starkly transformational terms, "As it emerges clearly from the Encyclical, the environmental crisis is essentially a spiritual problem."
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Get that Eco-Speak Dialed (May '15)

 Yesterday, a friend and I were chuckling about the way our language seems to be shifting. With a smile, she corrected me for using the word ‘dirt’ saying “I’m sure you meant to say ‘soil.’” We both got a good laugh out of it. It’s true that the word ‘dirt’ has a pejorative ring to it, and the word ‘soil’ might do a better job of reminding us of how precious the fertility of our land is, but the joke was not so much about soil or dirt but about how focused we, as an environmental movement have become on language. 

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Don't Tell My Heart (April '15)

I don’t know about you, but everywhere I look, I am seeing some new reputable pundit making a dire prediction about the future of our planet. But when I open my own mouth to speak about these things, the language is halting and never quite right. To some extent, the same is true of the words I hear.
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shriram torchShriram Sharma Acharya
(1911 - 1990)

 

CTP is inspired by an Indian social reform movement founded in 1954 by a reformer, mystic and teacher named Shriram Sharma Acharya. This movement, known as the All World Gayatri Pariwar, quickly spread throughout India and beyond on the basis of the popularization of ancient spiritual practices and a radically inside-out approach to personal and social transformation. The symbol of the movement depicted to the right, known as the “Lal Mashal”, represents the power of the collective to usher in a new bright era of human history.

 

www.awgp.org

kalash

 Kalash Yatra Parade
2011