Monday, August 25, 2008

Two Groups to Check Out!

Back in July, the Sierra Student Coalition invited me to one of their ten, week-long, Summer environmental activist training programs for undergraduates and highschool students. My job was to give these students a historical (and inspirational) context for understanding what they were engaged in and how activist training has long played a role in building successful social movements. It was a blast and I encourage every college or highschool student to check out their website and program. Plan on doing this next summer!

Happily, I was also invited back the next night by Zo Tobi, a lead SSC trainer, to be a participant in a motivational, 3 hour workshop developed by the Pachamama Alliance called the "Awakening the Dreamer Symposium." I was profoundly moved and impressed with the workshop and watched with great interest how it inspired the young activist trainees I was with that night. This is something I think we need in our movement.

For those of you who don't know, the mission of the Pachamama Alliance is to help inspire people to create a more ecologically sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, and socially just human presense on this planet. One way they do this is to supply funds, technical assistance, and solidarity with indiginous people in Equador and Peru to protect their traditional lands from oil drilling. However, their South American partners have told them that the only long-term solution is if the people of the industrial society wake up from our trance and dream a new dream for our own society. The "Awaken the Dreamer" workshops are one of the Alliance's answers to this request by their partners.

Now, my sister-in-law felt it was a little to "touchy-feely" when she went to a symposium in Philly on my recommendation. Yet, I think the combination of creating sacred space, using interactive exercises and small group dialogs, along with some very informative and inspiring multimedia material about where we are, how got here, how we can create a movement for fundamental social change, and why we should act with hope out of our own deepest senses of personal mission. My partner Katy and I will actually be spending a long weekend in October to take the Pachamama Alliance Facilitator Training for the Symposium somewhere in New York State.

Anyway, there are some webpages to check out if you are interested. First, go to the homepage of the Pachamama Alliance. One thing that I think is particularly helpful is watching the 15 minute online video called "The New Dream," which explains what they are up to and includes some information about their "Awakening The Dreamer Symposium." You can get even more information on the Symposium by going to its own webpage. Click on the green box in the upper right of the screen for more detailed information on the symposium and access to a link to where you can find a symposium in your area.

After our Facilitator Training in October my partner Katy and I are looking forward to co-leading some of these workshops for local community, educational, and faith groups. I will also be integrating certain elements into my teaching in the Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program (EAOP).

I would love to hear what other people's experience with the Alliance or the Symposia have been.


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