Friday, March 5, 2010

Compassionate Justice & Compassionate Communities

Having been living and teaching in Asia and Europe for the past year and a half, I returned to the United States in January and am currently enjoying a journey across North America. As I travel I am offering trainings and presentations on a range of topics related to conflict resolution, sustainability, and community-building. Particularly exciting for me has been the opportunity to begin working with Restorative Circles, an approach to restorative justice that I find profoundly transformational and inspiring. For more information on this work, check out www.restorativecircles.org.

As I have been traveling, I have also visited some communities that have deeply touched and inspired me. One that stands out is the Possibility Alliance, a small community in northern Missouri founded 3 years ago by some amazing friends, Ethan and Sarah Hughes. The mission of their “experiment” is “to work toward the upliftment of all beings, and awaken to our true nature, which we believe is love.” Inspired by Gandhi’s whole-system approach to nonviolence, they are guided by five principles: simplicity, service, activism, inner work, and celebration.

In terms of simplicity: they grow their own food (including everything from peaches and nuts to goat cheese) in permaculture food forests and they can food for the winter; they travel by foot, horse, bicycle, or public transportation (Ethan has been in a car less than 10 times in the last 10 years); they live electricity-free and computer-free, eating dinner by candle-light every night; they make their own music with guitars, a piano, and their own voices; and they tell stories by the wood stove at night. Some of their many forms of service and activism include: they live by the “gift economy,” sharing free food, free lodging, free permaculture courses and more; they helped start a bicycle cooperative in a local town; they advise people on natural building techniques; one month a year Ethan leads a group of costumed “superheroes” on bicycle-powered spontaneous service adventures in various parts of the world. For inner work they regularly share readings from various spiritual traditions, study Nonviolent Communication, and support one another to live with open hearts and minds. As for celebration, there is a "director of fun" and a time during the morning meeting to share jokes, and during my stay I experienced a couple of spontaneous guitar-driven dance parties and a great skating session on the frozen pond.

I found my time at the Possibility Alliance to be so enlivening and heart-warming, and I loved the balance of physical work and heart-felt human relationship and service. I would love everyone I know to visit. They are very welcoming and can be contacted by phone at (660) 332-4094, and by mail at The Possibility Alliance, 28408 Frontier Lane, La Plata, MO 63549. Here is additional information and an audio interview with Ethan: www.suesupriano.com/article.php?id=145.

Another community that I find quite inspiring is the Hummingbird Community, set in a beautiful valley in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Hummingbird’s vision is “to cultivate a joyful, vibrant, co-creative culture in service to the evolution of consciousness,” and they are an impressively loving and wise group of people co-creating community and offering a rich range of transformational educational programs. Here is their website: www.hummingbirdcommunity.org/community/our-essence.

To a more sustainable, just, and peaceful world,
Karl

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