Bioneers Europe Gathering at Findhorn:
Breakthrough solutions for people and planet
Frost on the ground glimmers this morning and whispers of magic realms. Still is the air as I open to the fresh promise of the day. We welcome in our gathering by singing and remembering that we are healing the world one heart at a time.
Lady Diana Whitmore begins her talk with gratitude for the hope that the conference is instilling in her. Seeking investment in the Teens and Toddlers programme she supports, she is feeling the knife edge at the threat of government cuts. She then continues to unfold the story of this programme and the valuable work it is doing for our young people.
The Teens and Toddlers programme takes at-risk teens (14-17) and supports them in mentoring a vulnerable child (3-5). “There is something that rises in a teen when they are given the task of becoming a role model.” The heart and compassion of this venture is evident in the five principles underpinning the training and partnerships created between teen-child-youth worker and all the other support systems involved. By trusting rather than controlling, respecting rather than judging, relating to the potential in each individual rather than focusing on behaviour, empowering rather than fixing, and finally understanding that young people are inherently values driven, the Teens and Toddlers programme has been blessed with numerous stories of transformation in the young people who come to them. 98% of these teens remain in employment and training and 95% of them aspire to work in a helping profession. Each one makes the warrior’s journey from being a problem child to recognising that they are an essential part of an overall plan. “When we invite these teens to focus on the potential of a small child it helps them to see potential in themselves. It is essential that we inspire young people to be everything they can be.”
Pracha Hutanuwatr then shares the principles and projects that are evolving through the Grass Roots Leadership training he holds in southeast Asia. He speaks strongly, “Indigenous people do not need to be developed. If you want to help us, help us stand on our own.” He explains the five aspects of the education curriculum his organisation offers. The first principle echoes strongly the voice of Diana’s work: You are good enough. This spiritual, green and non-violent movement is rooted in the Asian tradition, building a community of learning that values the culture and traditions of communities. The Young Awakening Intitute for example supports the young people returning from the cities to reintegrate back into rural life. “We are training people to live outside the mainstream by offering them joy in life.”
After tea break (I am so grateful for the sacred coffee bean) the dynamic Ann Pettifor of Advocacy International delights us with her presence and knowledge in her talk The Green New Deal. She skillfully shows us how debt is at the root of the financial crisis. “What we need to do is change the financial system in order to raise the money to deal with the crisis of peak oil and climate change.” The Green New Deal speaks of the need for industry, labour and the green movement to unite in order to transform the economic sector. “We need to take control of our banks.” On an individual level we can help by bringing down our consumption of credit.
Then Andres Falconer of Ashoka comes forward to speak of the ways this organisation is supporting social enterprise and social innovation. Ashoka has identified that a certain type of person drives social change, with qualities that have now become the criteria Ashoka use to identify these social entrepreneurs and bring them into fellowship. They are people possessed by their vision, with a strong ethical fibre and the capacity to inspire and co-opt others to back their vision for social good. After 30 years, the fellowship stands at 3000 individuals worldwide. This investment in an individual and not a product has allowed many people to be supported to achieve their cutting edge work. “These people are the right kind of crazy with the right amount of craziness. They are deeply inspired to be a change maker and are willing to answer the call to action to become active citizens in our world community.”
The evening’s treats unfold as the room fills with conversation about the need for new and effective leadership. Nina Simons directs our exploration by sharing a description of the qualities for a new model of leadership that acknowledges and draws on the full spectrum of both masculine and feminine traits inherent in every one of us. This new leadership recognises the value of co-operation and collaboration and encourages empathetic, connective relationship. It allows our hearts and our bellies, our body sense, to inform our actions and turns to the authority of the spirit when seeking direction. It welcomes the shadow self as a tool of investigation and transformation and brings into play an awareness of the natural cycles of life. This emergent leadership is joyful, fulfilling and sustainable.
Next, a panel of prominent women take their seats and the sense of shared wisdom expands. Using a few questions, Nina directs an inquiry between these women before opening up to the floor. Only this shared poetry may reveal the depths and heights we soared together:
Dare to dream
The gift of the open heart needs to be reclaimed
Speak from deep listening:
What is alive in you right now?
The need for social structures that celebrate our sexuality
The need to celebrate the talents of others to inspire their action
What is the learning you wish to share?
The best work we can do in the world comes through us not from us
Our biggest betrayal is when we deny ourselves the truth that is apparent to us in the response of the moment
Be informed by the wound not defined by it
Allow the part of you that feels the world to inform your pathways through it
When we reclaim our wholeness we are taken to the wilderness,
We are taken to the limits of our legacy and into the shadows
We are taken to our indigenous roots
We are taken home
To our wholeness
Dare to dream
The gift of the open heart needs to be reclaimed