Year of Living the Community: Week 34

PRECISELY THE TIME WHEN ARTISTS GO TO WORK

posting by Jana

by Courtney Martin and Wendy MacNaughton (click on pic for link to purchase)

by Courtney Martin and Wendy MacNaughton (click on pic for link to purchase)

This is precisely the time when artists go to work... There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. That is how civilizations heal.
— Toni Morrison

This week BrainPickings featured the print work of illustrator Wendy MacNaughton and writer Courtney Martin, described as 'a mighty manifesto for our time and a testament to the only mechanism by which the creative spirit has ever pulled humanity out of every abyss of its own making.'

Read more about the project and find links to the artists' inspirations at brainpickings.org

It's pretty Ecozoic advice, I reckon:

This is your assignment.

Feel all the things. Feel the hard things. The inexplicable things, the things that make you disavow humanity’s capacity for redemption. Feel all the maddening paradoxes. Feel overwhelmed, crazy. Feel uncertain. Feel angry. Feel afraid. Feel powerless. Feel frozen. And then FOCUS.

Pick up your pen. Pick up your paintbrush. Pick up your damn chin. Put your two calloused hands on the turntables, in the clay, on the strings. Get behind the camera. Look for that pinprick of light. Look for the truth (yes, it is a thing—it still exists.)

Focus on that light. Enlarge it. Reveal the fierce urgency of now. Reveal how shattered we are, how capable of being repaired. But don’t lament the break. Nothing new would be built if things were never broken. A wise man once said: there’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. Get after that light.

This is your assignment.

Year of Living the Community: Week 33

PROJECT GATEWAY TO THE ECOZOIC

a post by CCP convener, Jana

the 'canvas' awaits

the 'canvas' awaits

As part of the Experiment in Ecozoic Living, I've been enjoying participating in a Coursera specialisation on Journey of the Universe: A Story for Our Times.  Three of the four courses are a varied and deep immersion into the idea of the Ecozoic era and the new universe story; the fourth is a 'capstone' course with a project focus. Learners can choose to work in one of three areas: Arts & Media, Education, or Transformation. As a way of exploring Ecozoic Living from a new angle, I've chosen Arts & Media and hope to complete a found-object sculpture. 

The idea of the sculpture is 'Gateway to the Ecozoic', thinking in terms of the 'shift in consciousness' towards human beings learning to be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner. Ecozoic Living is a conscious choice to enter into a new way of being, like opening a gate onto a new path. 

On the weekend, I found my 'gate.' (The actual farm gates and Victorian fence gates at the reclaimed building supply place were cost prohibitive but there was a rickety old metal screen door frame going cheap.)

This week begins the search for objects. I'm hoping to incorporate all five elements: fire, earth, water, air and metal as well as some plants. And I hope I'll be able to make it kinetic and interactive. It's supposed to be completed by mid-June so I've got my work cut out for me. 

Other projects in the course include a Cosmic Drive someone is hoping to create along a stretch of highway in Tasmania, a public information campaign on how to continue to observe one's Hindu commitments in ways that are more 'mutually beneficial' to the Ganges and the people of faith in that region, and an amazingly comprehensive curriculum about the new universe story based on the Montessori model of education. 

Unfortunately, there has been a technical issue and once we review other participants' projects we can't access them anymore. Someone in the group has taken the initiative to invite us to share more with each other on one of the discussion forums, which is great. I'm not alone in my hope that participating in the course will inspire, connect, and equip me for Ecozoic Living. 

It's amazing to realise that people all over the world are engaging with these ideas and the new universe story in such creative ways. 

this beautiful collage 'borrowed' from http://thomasberry.org/

this beautiful collage 'borrowed' from http://thomasberry.org/

Year of Living the Community: Week 32

locavore /ˈləʊkəvɔː/

post from Jana, Convener of the Community of the Cosmic Person

Apples from  Lenswood  in the Adelaide Hills.

Apples from Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills.

I still like the 'locavore' idea. It sprang up, according to the Oxford Online Dictionary, early in this century as people began talking about eating locally produced foods as a trendy thing.

As a trendy thing, it soon became tainted with an elitist, farmers-markets-if-you-can-afford-them brush. And yeah, I'm not denying that the taint is real; healthy, fresh, locally grown produce is one of the markers of the increasing wealth disparity in Western industrialised countries. It's possible that to some 'being' a locavore is some kind of neoliberal merit badge.

It’s a funny old world.
— Margaret Thatcher at her last cabinet meeting, Nov 1990

But eating locally produced food is a good thing when and for whom it is possible. It has the added bonus of built-in paradox: I pay a premium to be in solidarity with people for whom local production, for whom eating what they are able to grow themselves, is the way things are rather than a celebrity option. (I like a good paradox, which is why I've quoted Margaret Thatcher in a post about neoliberal wealth disparity (thanks, Maggie and Ron)).

Pocketful of posies from the  Market Shed  

Pocketful of posies from the Market Shed 

Buying local produce is a privilege and I am grateful for the opportunity and glad to be living in a city that hasn't sprawled so widely as to push 'local' produce out of range. 

Today I bought a variety of avocados I'd never heard of and was happy to find them misshapen with a stripe of mottled skin up one side. Is anyone else tired of perfect vegetables? And I enjoyed my conversation with the local apple grower who said the Pink Lady variety was late this year. Her husband's birthday came around and for once it wasn't coincident with the moment to pick the pinks.

King George Whiting and Flathead from the Spencer Gulf  (B A Fisheries, Stansbury)

King George Whiting and Flathead from the Spencer Gulf (B A Fisheries, Stansbury)

Last week, the CCP Experiment Team took a short break for a couple of nights at Innes National Park on the Yorke Peninsula. On the way, we stopped to buy some local fish from the shed at the back of a house on a regular suburban block. The fish was good and the peculiar conversation with the fisherman was a bonus. 

rooftop lettuce and herbs, CCP HQ in the Adelaide CBD

rooftop lettuce and herbs, CCP HQ in the Adelaide CBD

Of course, nothing beats homegrown: zero food miles, immediately fresh, and you don't have to talk to the producer (unless you like talking to yourself). 

Whatever preserves and enhances this meadow in the natural cycles of its transformation is good; what is opposed to this meadow or negates it is not good. My life orientation is that simple. It is also that pervasive.
— Thomas Berry

So if I don't think being a locavore is anything to trumpet about, why am I writing this post about my locavore adventures? Because popular or not, buying local is a good thing that fuels my Ecozoic Living. And when I'm eating my salad of home grown greens topped with pink apples and wonky avocados, I'll just be happy. And I like to share what makes me happy. 

Year of Living the Community: Week 31

IT'S A REVOLUTION

Jana, posting for the CCP Experiment Team

Limes in abundance are part of the lush growth of  The Mulch Pit  community garden in Darwin. Photo by Cosmic Person and  TMP facilitator Lucy . 

Limes in abundance are part of the lush growth of The Mulch Pit community garden in Darwin. Photo by Cosmic Person and TMP facilitator Lucy

(Permaculture is) a revolution. But it’s the sort of revolution that no one will notice. It might get a little shadier. Buildings might function better. You might have less money to earn because your food is all around you and you don’t have any energy costs. Giant amounts of money might be freed up in society so that we can provide for ourselves better... So it’s a revolution. But permaculture is anti-political. There is no room for politicians or administrators or priests. And there are no laws either. The only ethics we obey are: care of the earth, care of people, and reinvestment in those ends.
— Bill Mollison

In the course of finding material for this week's daily Cosmic Quotes, I looked to Bill Mollison, founder of modern permaculture. Mollison died in September last year; his birthday is coming up this week, 4 May. He would have been 89 this year. His co-developer, David Holmgren, is considerably younger and is still going strong. Earlier this month Holmgren was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from CQ University which last year launched a graduate certificate program in Permaculture Design. 

My permaculture teacher is an amazing woman named Rosemary Morrow She's taught permaculture all over the world and continues to guide groups via Skype in Afghanistan, Greece, Argentina (to name a few pins on her map of influence).

I think this was succinctly put by Bill Mollison (co-founder of permaculture) when he said: Permaculture enables what is morally required and scientifically necessary. So for me, a scientist with moral learnings and wanting to be part of the solution and stop being part of the problem, permaculture through its principles and strategies meant that I didn’t have to do my own research, nor put together my own framework. It fell into place and gave my life foundations and meaning. I love living permaculture because the techniques are not always evident and so there is always room for creative personal response.
— Rosemary Morrow

It was a permaculture design class with Rosemary in Darwin 8 years ago that inspired Cosmic Person Gai Nowland and me to suggest to a group of friends that we try converting an unused hard scrabble parking lot into a garden. Soon enough - since things grow quickly in the tropics - The Mulch Pit emerged. Gai coined our motto all those years ago: Veggies grow in veggie gardens, flowers grow in flower gardens...and people grow in community gardens.

The Mulch Pit  permaculture garden, Rapid Creek NT

The Mulch Pit permaculture garden, Rapid Creek NT

It was the permaculture basic motto that caught my attention all those years ago and still guides my life and work. Care for people; Care for the Earth; Enough for all. I think it's pretty Cosmic. 

Here's the Cosmic Quote from Bill Mollison:

Year of Living the Community: Week 30

Jana, posting for the CCP experiment team

'IT IS A QUESTION WE MUST ALL DECIDE FOR OURSELVES'

Lyla June Johnston, activist, musician, poet of Diné (Navajo) and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) lineages

Lyla June Johnston, activist, musician, poet of Diné (Navajo) and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) lineages

 

Twitter can be so full of shit. I persist in using it, though, because I'm a realist and shit is real. But I'm a beauty-hungry realist and sometimes even Twitter connects me to Ecozoic beauty. Like this morning, when I followed a lead and met Lyla June Johnston. Her Twitter profile includes a link to her website Sodizin. It's really beautiful. 

The question referred to in the title of this post is from this poem. The question Lyla June poses is, 'What is civilisation?' She raises it in the context of a poem about her grandparents being part of a group of Indigenous children at a school run by the Dutch Reformed Church near Gallup, New Mexico. They were told, in hundreds of ways big and small, that they were uncivilised.

Beautiful children like my grandparents
with smiles so pure and hearts so loving
were told they were a broken form of human
with every word and action.
— Lyla June Johnston

It's a story we're familiar with here in Australia, the Stolen Generation being taken from their parents 'for their own good.' Lyla June names the same phenomenon in her native land. 

There is a stolen generation who
even though they spoke our mother tongue
did not teach it to their children
out of fear they would be punished as they were.
— Lyla June Johnston

The poem is a declaration of what Lyla June calls 'Indigenous renaissance,' a powerful statement of resistance to the diminishment of any peoples. 

Our generation today,
we are reawakening to our beauty now
in this Indigenous Renaissance.
We are here to declare
that we are beautiful, we are respectable, we are virtuous
as we are.
— Lyla June Johnston

I find her words generous and welcoming, especially the invitation to kinship, an invitation extended through insights into the beauty of the Navajo language. 

Níłtsą́ means rain in Diné Bizaad (The People’s Language/Navajo Language).

The cross-L letter in our alphabet (ł) is an aspirated sound
made when you put your tongue on the roof of your mouth and breath out.
There is no sound really, just the air breathing outward
like an -S- sound of someone who speaks with a lisp.
— Lyla June Johnston

To learn more about Lyla June and her work, here's a bio on the Center for Humans and Nature

Whoever you are: Ayoo Anííníshní, I hold indescribable esteem for you
because you had the courage to come to this world as human
and fight this great battle between what is far from Creator
and what is close to Creator. May your path be blessed always.
— Lyla June Johnston

Year of Living the Community: Week 29

MEETING FIRE WITH FIRE ON A SACRED MORNING

Easter, for all of its plastic eggs and millennia of pomp and ceremony seeking understanding, still manages to keep its heart of wonder: new life emerges from death, a thing worth celebrating.

From yesterday's ABC News:

"Since pre-historic times, people have celebrated the equinoxes and the solstices as sacred times," University of Sydney Professor Carole Cusack said.

"The spring equinox is a day where the amount of dark and the amount of daylight is exactly identical, so you can tell that you're emerging from winter because the daylight and the dark have come back into balance.

"People mapped their whole life according to the patterns of nature."

In the roof top garden at CCP HQ this morning, we greeted the dawn and tried to match fire to fire. 

People mapping their whole lives according to the patterns of nature...good plan. Celebrating balance. Also good.

Dawn and sunset are the mystical moments of the diurnal cycle, the moments when the numinous dimensions of the universe reveals itself with special intimacy.
— Thomas Berry

The stories of Easter celebrate the numinous of dawn, when things are set free and go on ahead, drawing us forward to the More. 

Matthew 28:1-10

The Resurrection of Jesus

28 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” 8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Year of Living the Community: Week 28

STAR GAZING AND NAVEL GAZING

Greg Quicke aka Space Gandalf from ABC Stargazing Live

Greg Quicke aka Space Gandalf from ABC Stargazing Live

The CCP team watched one night of the ABC Stargazing Live 3-night program this week. Sadly, we can't claim to be amongst the 10,000 viewers who discovered a new solar system when 'The show's viewers were called on to hunt exoplanets (beyond our solar system) by analysing observations of about 100,000 stars via the Zooniverse website and recently downloaded data from the NASA telescope.' A professor of astrophysics at Oxford, Chris Lintott, said the discovery will help them test how planets are made. Closer to home, experts were unimpressed (a NSW prof says,'These discoveries are common as dirt nowadays' - party pooper). Brian Cox, host of the program, thought it was significant, and that's good enough. 

Plus we were introduced to Space Gandalf.  

As for the navel gazing, CCP is checking in with Arne Naess's idea of living in a Deep Ecology way. The notion of 'tends toward' is helpful so that this doesn't become another way to beat ourselves up. How are we tending towards these things this week is vibrant reflection for 'learning to be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner.' 

Deep Ecology & Lifestyle, Arne Naess (1984) 

Deep Ecology & Lifestyle, Arne Naess (1984) 

Year of Living the Community: Week 27

everything you need to become an amateur astronomer  here

everything you need to become an amateur astronomer here

Suddenly, all that's known about the universe at this moment is going to be on TV. How cool is that? 

That's the week for CCP planned then:

ABOUT

Over three consecutive nights across both ABC, ABC2 and ABC iview, renowned British Professor Brian Cox and presenter Julia Zemiro are joined by a cast of Australia’s leading scientists and some familiar faces to inspire the nation to ‘look up’ and appreciate the unique wonders of space and our cosmos.

Broadcasting live from the Siding Spring Observatory, on the edge of the Warrumbungle National Park near Coonabarabran, NSW, Professor Cox and Julia will lead a breathtaking journey through space, using state-of-the-art technology and interacting live with viewers. 

Professor Cox and Julia will be joined by experts including astrophysicist Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith from the CSIRO; astronomer Greg Quicke; Indigenous Australian Michael Anderson who, as a senior Lawman and a knowledge holder, shares some of the ancient wisdoms of his Peoples' connection to the universe; and 'Citizen Science' advocate Dr Chris Lintott. Joining the experts will be familiar faces including actor comedian Josh Thomas and Gardening Australia's Costa Georgiadis as they take part in exploring space. ABC News Presenter Kumi Taguchi will also help anchor the series and take part in regular live crosses. 

There’s nowhere better in the world to cast your eyes to the heavens than the Southern Hemisphere. Here we can see more bright stars and constellations than in the Northern Hemisphere – and it’s not just because the skies are clearer. From the great southern land, we look directly out into the vast heart of the Milky Way. Siding Spring Observatory is regarded as Australia’s premier optical and infrared astronomical observatory, operated by the Australian National University, and it’s from here that viewers will be taken on a stunning ride through the universe.

With a mixture of live crosses and pre-recorded segments that will take viewers on a space odyssey, Professor Cox and Julia will look at the Milky Way (episode 1), Planets (episode 2) and Aliens(episode 3), teaching us everything we’ve always wanted to know about the Solar System. 

In their own unique style, the pair will tackle some of the most intriguing questions in astronomy, such as what happens if you were sucked into a Black Hole, and do aliens exist? Closer to home, there will also be hints and tips for getting started in stargazing and advice on navigating your way around the skies.

Following each night’s Stargazing Live broadcast on ABC will be Stargazing Live: Back To Earth, a 30-minute special on ABC2 in which viewers can use social media to put questions directly to Professor Cox and Julia, send in their favourite astronomy pictures and take part in astronomy related discussions and debates live on air.

Throughout the series, the Stargazing Live audience will be encouraged to help make scientific history as they’re invited to join an online experiment to discover a brand new planet, far outside the confines of our solar system.
 

Year of Living the Community: Week 26

WHERE TO FROM HERE

blooming tumeric in the CCP HQ rooftop garden...we grow soil and occasionally harvest vegetables

It's goal setting time as we hit the 6 month mark in the experiment in Ecozoic Living: learning to be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner.

Learning
The primary learning goal is to complete and publish the Certificate Course in Ecozoic Living. Draft scripts for sections one and two are complete; three is half-way done (the curriculum will follow the same structure as this post). 

Learning to be present
Reinstating the arts salons that the team has been known for in the past: celebrating present moment creativity and mindfulness. 

Learning to be present to the planet
Jana is enrolled in a forest therapy guide course in the second half of the year.  "The practice follows the general principle that it is beneficial to spend time bathing in the atmosphere of the forest." The hope is for Jana to become certified as a guide in order to share this practice of being present to the planet with the Community of the Cosmic Person. 

Learning to be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner
We plan to go for a second round of Adelaide City Council Green City Grants to add more green to the CCP HQ, and we're on the lookout for Earth advocacy opportunities. 

In addition to these specific developments, the team will continue to facilitate the website, Facebook page and conversation group, and the twitter feed. The intention is to inspire, connect, and equip others for Ecozoic Living. It's our effort to be the change we wish to see. 

 

Year of Living the Cosmic Community: Week 25

NEARING THE 6 MONTH MARK

from little things ... little things grow bravely

What can it possibly mean for one person, or even 3 people, to experiment with Ecozoic Living? What can it mean for the people involved; what can it mean for the planet? 

Next week marks the 6-month anniversary of the Year of Living the Community of the Cosmic Person in which shared householders Paul, Mandy, and Jana have given focus and attention to 'learning to be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner'. We'll think ahead to the next six months in the anniversary post, but for now a look back. 

Learning
The first movement of Ecozoic Living is learning. In these first six months, here is some of the learning we've been doing.

  • The CCP experiment community have been learning the Universe Story. We've watched Journey of the Universe a couple of times (once thanks to Cosmic Person John B). We've been reading, too:  The Universe is a Green Dragon, Journey of the Universe, The Universe Story, and Big History. It's been an immersion into the story of the unfolding universe as our story, as cosmic creation story, as mythic well of spiritual energy for fresh understanding of the role of the human species on the planet. 
     
  • Jana has completed and shared lots of learning from three of four courses in the specialisation 'Journey of the Universe: A Story for our Times' created and presented by Mary Evelyn Tucker, John Grimm, and Brian Swimme, under the auspices of Yale University on Coursera. These courses offer various reflections on the universe story from the sciences and the humanities and provide opportunities for learners to discuss the meaning and potential of the story as a source of personal and communal empowerment in the face of the global environmental crisis. 

Learning to be Present
The second movement in Ecozoic Living is learning to be present. It's about exploring the human capacity for self-conscious awareness and seeking to put it to 'good use'. The team has been clarifying in conversation and writing what the principles and practices of developing conscious self-awareness means to each member and how we would like to support others in this discipline. We glean input regularly from sites like the Garrison Institute, Brainpickings, and the Foundation for a Mindful Society

Learning to be Present to the Planet
This third movement focuses human consciousness onto the planet. For the CCP experiment community, it's a matter of celebration and lament. Our commitment is to be present to the planet daily: Mandy's walks in the Adelaide Hills; all of us watching David Attenborough's Planet Earth II together; Paul going to the event Dangerous Song - Blue in the city centre last night; Jana finding a new spot of natural beauty every day for the Cosmic Quote video. It's riding our bikes to work, it's leaving the office to sit in the sun, it's sitting on the roof in silence under the stars. It's not turning away from tweets and articles that tell the stories of coral bleaching, pipeline access, coal mine expansions, scientists having to stockpile and secure critical data. The world is beautiful; aspects of the human presence in it are heartbreaking. We are learning to be present to these evocations and to let them shape and guide us.

Learning to be Present to the Planet in a Mutually Beneficial Manner
This is where the rubber meets the road in terms of Ecozoic Living: how to actually participate in the flourishing of life on Earth. The CCP experiment community is trying to be bi-focal about it: reflecting on our own actions and doing what we can to inspire, connect, and equip others for Ecozoic Living. How we live at CCP HQ, how we get ourselves around, our consumer choices in terms of food, entertainment, clothing ... it's all reflected upon and discussed through the lens of 'mutually beneficial manner.' We've highlighted some of our activities on these blogs, from clearing lantana to begin restoring a rain forest property, to installing a vertical garden that we'll share with the neighbourhood, to steeping ourselves in cultural and cosmic diversity. 

Obviously, this website, the resources available on it, and the Facebook Page and Conversation Group related to it are some of the initiatives we've taken up for supporting others in Ecozoic Living. In addition, each of us sees our work (Mandy as university professor; Paul as ordained minister; Jana as researcher in the philosophy of law) as the ways and means to support others in the Great Work.

Back to those initial questions -
What does it mean for us to learn to be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner?
It's the pleasure of a sense of purpose and participation in something intimately connected to self whilst also being infinitely beyond self.
What does it mean for the planet for 3 people to seek to embody the Ecozoic Era? 
Nothing in the grand scheme. Scale is a measure we understand, and by this measure our little experiment does not even register. But scale is not the only measure. What if meaning itself is the measure?