In 2013, I was delighted to be informed that my ongoing art & forest transformation practice had been selected for inclusion in a new book Stories of the Great Turning. It was published April 2013 inn the UK by the Vala Publishing Co-operative.
This book is a selection of essays, edited by Peter Reason and Melanie Newman, and includes contributions from people in everyday life responding to the five Personal Guidelines* (see below), the key ideas of The Great Turning, as described by writer and workshop developer, activist and Buddhist scholar, Joanna Macy
In parallel to and to accompany the writings in the Stories for the Great Turning, artist – curators James Aldridge, Dr. Chris Seeley and Kathy Skerritt, invited other visual practitioners around the world to artistically respond to Joanna Macy’s five guidelines for a chapter in this book, which they called The Great Turning Artful Inquiry. The Great Turning Artful Inquiry was and is, an unfolding, mutually constructed process with an innovative and ongoing dialogue between artists though The Great Turning Artful Inquiry Facebook Group. The group has 89 participants and is open to new members to informally share and discuss their discoveries, thoughts and artistic practices in ecological minded arts practices.
Joanna’s texts are highly recommended guides for the ‘despair work’ of The Great Turning: how we can individually and collectively face the truth of the eco-social emergencies and move forward through creativity and agency. Her most well known books are Active Hope (2012), Greening of the Self (2013), Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World (1998) and Thinking Like a Mountain: Towards a Council of All Beings (Macy and Seed, 2007). These are important resources for anyone wishing to engage in the uncertainty of our times in more inspiring ways. I often recommend them to those working in the art and ecology field, who are often confronting overwhelming negative material.
In parallel to and to accompany the writings in the Stories for the Great Turning, art curators James Aldridge, Dr. Chris Seeley and Kathy Skerritt, invited other visual practitioners around the world to artistically respond to Joanna Macy’s five guidelines over the last year in what they called The Great Turning Artful Inquiry. The Great Turning Artful Inquiry was and is, an unfolding, mutually constructed process with an innovative and ongoing dialogue between artists though The Great Turning Artful Inquiry Facebook Group. The group has 89 participants and is open to new members to informally share and discuss their discoveries, thoughts and artistic practices in ecological minded arts practices.
I’m delighted to say my project was accepted and is listed in a section entitled The Great Turning Artful Inquiry among 10 others in this new book to accompany the essays in this new publication. ‘Each artists’ work is shown, each with an excerpt from the writing that accompanied each piece. Many of the works – spanning events, dance, objects, sculpture, websites, film and visual art – are oriented more towards process than final product.’ My thanks to James, Kathy and Chris for creating this group and inviting us to apply.
Joanna Macy’s five guidelines of The Great Turning
Come from Gratitude
To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe–to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it–is a wonder beyond words. Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Furthermore, it is a privilege to be alive in this time when we can choose to take part in the self-healing of our world.
Don’t be Afraid of the Dark
This is a dark time, filled with suffering and uncertainty. Like living cells in a larger body, it is natural that we feel the trauma of our world. So don’t be afraid of the anguish you feel, or the anger or fear, for these responses arise from the depth of your caring and the truth of your interconnectedness with all beings. To suffer with is the literal meaning of compassion.
Dare to Vision
Out of this darkness a new world can arise, not to be constructed by our minds so much as to emerge from our dreams. Even though we cannot see clearly how it’s going to turn out, we are still called to let the future into our imagination. We will never be able to build what we have not first cherished in our hearts..
Roll up your Sleeves
Many people don’t get involved in the Great Turning because there are so many different issues, which seem to compete with each other. Shall I save the whales or help battered children? The truth is that all aspects of the current crisis reflect the same mistake, setting ourselves apart and using others for our gain. So to heal one aspect helps the others to heal as well. Just find what you love to work on and take joy in that. Never try to do it alone. Link up with others; you’ll spark each others’ ideas and sustain each others’ energy..
Act your Age
Since every particle in your body goes back to the first flaring forth of space and time, you’re really as old as the universe. So when you are lobbying at your congressperson’s office, or visiting your local utility, or testifying at a hearing on nuclear waste, or standing up to protect an old grove of redwoods, you are doing that not out of some personal whim, but in the full authority of your 15 billions years.