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The Ecology of Transformation Katia Sol PhD Defense Nov 5 2013

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The Ecology of Transformation Katia Sol PhD Defense Nov 5 2013

  1. 1. THE ECOLOGY OF TRANSFORMATION A Relational Study of the Ecology of Leadership Program at the Regenerative Design Institute Katia Sol Madjidi PhD Candidate Leadership, Higher and Adult Education Ontario Institute for Studies in Education University of Toronto Final Oral Examination November 5, 2013
  2. 2. Outline 1. Big Picture 1. Research Intentions, Design and Methodology 1. Major Findings 2. Key Implications & Future Directions
  3. 3. THE BIG PICTURE Humanity is passing through a time of great transition, an unprecedented convergence of immense global crisis and opportunity “The Great Turning” (Macy and Brown, 1998; Korten, 2006), “The Shift”, “The Fulfillment of Prophecy” (Leading Earth Woman/Longboat, 2009), “Catagenesis” (Homer-Dixon, 2006), “The sunset of an ecologically illiterate civilization” (Ausubel, 2010)
  4. 4. External Crises • EXTERNALLY: Unprecedented levels of crisis currently facing our globalized community, placing us at a threatening tipping point for economic, environmental, social, political, psychological, and spiritual collapse • (e.g. Earth Charter, 2000; Hawken, 2006; Homer-Dixon, 2006; Diamond, 2005; IPCC, 2007; Peterson, 2009; Gore, 2006; McKibben, 1999; Heinberg, 2007; NASA, 2010; Miller, 2001; Lerner, 2000) • Environmental impact and climate change • Diminishing availability of and increasing demand for energy resources, food and clean water • Population growth/migration • Widening gaps in income distribution • Violence, war, civil unrest, domestic abuse, gender violence • An unjust justice system • Clashes of ideology and faith • 1/3rd of US public on anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds, increasing numbers of children on medication for ADD, ADHD, increasing prevalence of autism • Addictions – unhealthy use of food, materialism, drugs, alcohol, work, sex, television, video games, internet, gambling, etc
  5. 5. A Global Disconnect Disorder • INTERNALLY: People feel fundamentally disconnected from • • • • SELF NATURE ONE ANOTHER MEANING/PURPOSEFUL ENGAGEMENT IN THE WORLD • “The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers; wider freeways but narrower viewpoints; we spend more but have less; we buy more but enjoy it less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences but less time; we have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgment; more expenses but more problems; more medicine but less wellness. We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom. and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life; we've added years to life, not life to years. We've been all way to the moon and back but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We've conquered outer space but not inner space... (student survivor of Columbine shootings, quoted in Miller 2001: 2)
  6. 6. An Opportunity for Transformative Learning • • • • • Challenge or “disorienting dilemma” occurs Self-examination, critical questioning of assumptions Opening for new perspectives & understanding Acquiring of new knowledge Application/integration of new ways of thinking & being • (e.g. Mezirow,1975, 1978, 1991, 2000; O’Sullivan, 1999; 2002; Freire, 1970; Metzger, 2006; Hedva, 2001; Daloz, 2003; Ferrer, 2002; Schugurensky, 2003) • Transformative learning involves experiencing a deep, structural shift in the basic premises of thought, feeling, and actions. It is a shift of consciousness that dramatically and permanently alters our way of being…Such a shift involves our understanding of ourselves and our self-locations; our relationships with other humans and with the natural world…and our sense of the possibilities for social justice, peace and personal joy. (O’Sullivan 2003: 11)
  7. 7. A Global Tranformative Moment The possibility that the scope and impact of our growing global ecological, economic, political, social, psychological and spiritual crises could, rather than resulting in collapse, instead invite humanity into a great global process of transformative learning that catalyzes us to move from a destructive “industrial growth society” to a “life sustaining society” (Macy and Brown, 1998) –into an ecologically regenerative, socially just and spiritually connected world.
  8. 8. Core of my Dissertation Research • Foundational to this shift and critical to our survival and prosperity as a global community will be the speed and depth with which humanity is able to transform our ways of relating with our selves, one another and the earth. • My research intention was to examine the practices and pathways that support people to make this great individual and collective transformation
  9. 9. Questions… • What is the relationship between inner and outer (and personal and collective) transformation? • What are the practices/pathways that best cultivate that transformation? • What is the relationship between individual and collective transformative learning, and what practices observed in the Ecology of Leadership program best support this transformation?
  10. 10. The Ecology of Leadership
  11. 11. Research Design & Methodology
  12. 12. Defining a Research Methodology • According to Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Lather’s chart of Postpositivist Inquiry (1991) sets out various critiques of positivist science (e.g. post-modern, emanicpatory, etc.), but “significantly absent are the organic and indigenous approaches to research” (Smith, p. 167). • Smith purports that most post-positivist approaches are regarded as deriving from a Freirian pedagogy, and are therefore framed as relatively recent; however, this denies the possibility that alternative research frameworks could pre-date positivism and therefore also precede “postmodern” approaches such as “participatory-action” research. • The choice to frame my methodology from a relational standpoint is therefore an explicit choice to centralize worldviews and methods that come not from a Western paradigm, but rather from ancient, earthbased ways of knowing and that arise from organic, indigenous, natural, ecological, and intuitive standpoints.
  13. 13. • Lakota - Mitakuye Oyasin, or “All My Relations”, speaks to the understanding that relationship is not defined as only our human or blood relations but as our living relationships with all beings in Creation, including mineral, plant and animal life. • Maori- whanaungatanga, “the process of establishing meaningful, reciprocal and familial relationships through culturally appropriate ways, establishing connectedness and engagement and therefore a deeper commitment to other people.” (Bishop, 1999). • Requires that the researcher place the “interests, knowledge, and experience” of the community as central to the research (Rigney 1999: 19). • This means that the research aims to establish meaningful connections and relationships with the community, organization, and ecosystem being studied, which may carry beyond the scope of the research into potentially “life-long” relationships and commitments (Smith, 1992).
  14. 14. Core Principles of Relational Methodology • Knowledge is grounded in a particular location, community and natural ecosystem • Learning happens through observation, participation, intuition, and mentoring • Centralizes the importance of relationships and connections • Allows for organic, natural unfoldment & discovery • Emphasizes the role of recovery, healing and regeneration in natural and human systems • Honors diversity and the individual stories of the diverse members of an eco-system, as well as the collective story • Respect for all members of the community and ecosystem • Responsibility to care for the land, for the community of which we are a part, and for the knowledge and traditions that are entrusted to us • Reciprocity (law of return) – giving back to the community and the ecosystem
  15. 15. Regenerative Research • Regenerative research implies that the research itself contribute to the healing, wholeness and integrity of the system • To give new life or energy to; revitalize"; "Restored to a better state; refreshed or renewed.” • How could the process of researching and the writing of the dissertation not only contribute to the regeneration of the community and ecosystem that I am researching, but also be regenerative for me as the researcher - so that upon completion I might feel refreshed, renewed, and revitalized?
  16. 16. Major Findings
  17. 17. TREE MODEL/ INNER PERMACULTURE • Model for transformation from the inside out • What is in our roots and soil is reflected in our canopy • Transformation on an outer level begins by transforming our root systems and soil
  18. 18. Application & Engagement in World Self Connection Village Connection Nature Connection
  19. 19. Connection with Self
  20. 20. Practices for Connection with Self • Gratitude practice • Intention setting • Stepping into Rumi’s Field • Landscape Assessment • Life Story • Patterns Journaling • Personal Healing Work • Tree Model • Inner Tracking & Ownership Process • Creative Scenes • Setting your North Star
  21. 21. • I think the most powerful experience I had was really feeling the analogy that within an acorn seed it holds all the intelligence and potential of the tree…that within me that I have everything right now to fully grow into a powerful, healthy being. And that I don’t need to go outside of myself for that energy and inspiration and integrity.
  22. 22. Connection with the Natural World
  23. 23. Connection with Natural World • We are Nature • Being Held by Nature • Nature as Mirror • Nature Connection and Mindfulness • Nature Connection and Opening the Heart • Nature as Mentor/Teacher • Nature as Metaphor • Natural Healing/Cyclical Healing • Regenerating with Nature
  24. 24. Being Held by the Land • “Yeah it’s feeling like I’m being very literally held by the land. Like having that experience of being one part of a whole. And not in the way that you can go inside to meditation, to stillness. There’s a clarity that comes through that but its literally like laying down on this amazing bed of comforting, um, like, mommy (Laughing). That’s what it feels like, it feels like hanging out with Mom. • “And around that time, as things were moving and maybe coming back to part of my processes around self-love, I would go and I’d sit in this tree. The tree was almost like a giraffe. It was a huge Cypress. I would straddle one of the branches – a huge branch that went out like a dinosaur neck. I would sit there and watch the valley, and the sun would be setting. I felt loved by the landscape. I felt loved by that tree. I felt held… I felt like it was an important part of that healing process to really feel learning how to be loved by nature …allowing myself to connect with it…it felt like for me, it was just getting to that place where I was able to feel loved by the landscape and that for me, strengthened my ability to love myself. “
  25. 25. We are Nature • “I was at a sit spot…and it just hit me. It was like this wave of relaxation. It was like, you already... you’ve got it all right now. Stop trying. Stop trying to outthink it and make it…you are it. It’s present, it’s alive, it’s living. It allowed me to soften into myself and tap into my own intelligence. And it just, it began this journey and this wave of bliss that I’m still riding today. And it’s beautiful –my universe is myself. The universe is within you. That divine baseline presence in within all things. And you can touch it and feel it… And that can be your guide, that connection …maybe there’s something beyond that, but all these ancient teachings saying the same thing is like, to me that’s it. It’s like letting nature do what it wants and being conscious awareness of that. The power of nature that’s in you.”
  26. 26. Interpersonal Connection/Village
  27. 27. Aspects of Interpersonal/Village Connection • Collective Healing • Being Witnessed • Deep listening • Vulnerability • Authenticity • Accountability • Intimacy • Healing the masculine/feminine • Intergenerational healing • Healing ancestral wounds & trauma • Collective visioning and manifesting of possibilities
  28. 28. Vulnerability • “I felt so safe and so held that I was able to really just allow all that to come up. I mean you have 20 people holding empathetic space for you. It’s really different energetically and much more powerful than just one really amazing person holding a space for you. So all that reflection, surrounded by all that love, and…letting myself be vulnerable to just express all that was off the charts.” • “it’s only possible through being in a safe environment where you feel really secure and helped and loved and once those ingredients get mixed together then it’s alright for everyone to be vulnerable. Then you see the person next to you being vulnerable and its like “wow, it is okay”
  29. 29. Authenticity • “It was sort of like this community or circle where I was bringing this new identity and I wasn’t trying to hide who I was. And in fact I was encouraged to just show up as you are and bring your whole authentic self – whatever state you’re in – into the circle. So it was really supportive and healing for me to be in the circle and be witnessed by a group. And feel loved and supported for who I was/am.” • “What I found more and more was the more authentic I am, the more people are drawn to that…when I have the courage to allow myself to be vulnerable and authentic, it gives other people permission and it connects people, because what you’re doing is tapping into something that is essentially human, that we all share.”
  30. 30. Collective Support & Visioning • “I remember writing to people just about what I was going through and saying I was in a circle of support I didn’t dream was possible, and then saying maybe I did dream it and that’s why it’s here and I’m in it too, because it’s something we long for but didn’t know it existed in that way. And now I have the capacity to create it so it’s not that it only exists here, which is the beautiful thing about EOL. Is that you’re gifted the tools to just build that everywhere you go, just by being connected.”
  31. 31. Healing the Masculine & Feminine • “one of the bigger things that impacted me…was separating into men’s and women’s circles.... I remember standing in a small circle with the women and the men surrounding us and singing an African honouring song. It was so beautiful. I remember being on the inside of the circle and just having an incredible healing moment and crying and feeling like that was one of the moments that struck me of intimacy, healing so part of me that was so deep and hidden and so related to the masculine and the feminine, but now I see that it was just this archetype of the masculine and the feminine being healed, and it didn’t have to be in an intimate relationship to get to that place. To actually be held by all the men in this community and all the women standing together in this community, and all of us feeling that. It was an Earth shattering, shaking moment for all of us. One woman hit the ground, I remember; just fell to her knees crying. That kind of healing happens there. So that’s magic. And that started a journey. Wow, we can heal this kind of wound that happens between masculine and feminine energy in relationships. It doesn’t have to be man and woman. Just that intimacy in a relationship.”
  32. 32. Additional elements of village life • Magic • Song • Ceremony • Creativity • Synchronicity • Physical contact/touch • Sound healing • Collective grieving • Ritual • Dance • Celebration • Play • Improvisation
  33. 33. Engaging in the World
  34. 34. • “For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and reinvention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.” ― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed • Integration of the tools and teachings in one’s daily life is key to lasting transformation • These are not practices that can only be done in a yurt in Bolinas, or in the middle of the woods – they by natural MUST be integrated and practiced in our daily lives, wherever we are and wherever we go • Iterative process of praxis – planning, action, reflection and learning • Regenerative Living and Leadership Pattern
  35. 35. What becomes possible? • “My project was around making Berkley a fair trade town. So I put those wheels in motion in August of 2009, when I got back from EOL. And we became a fair trade town in September of 2010.” • “Well certainly it suddenly became possible that I could be a musical person. That was big.” • “A lot of fears are subsiding.…I just see tons of possibilities. I have fifty people Monday night coming to hear me speak about a community learning garden that we’re starting up next month” • “I’m a much more empathetic and compassionate person…In the sense that I can walk through life now and judge a lot less…the magic is walking through the mall and seeing this person that you don’t know and seeing them as a divine human being.” • “This whole integration piece has been amazing and continues and it’s like a spiral, it just keeps getting deeper and deeper.”
  36. 36. • “I made the decision to leave my corporate career of 18 years and with absolutely no idea of what I was going to do, but just trusting that this was – that there was something more meaningful out there for me…now I’m on staff at Transition U.S. and we support hundreds of local community groups and grassroots organizers and leaders in the initiation of their transition town groups and initiatives....For the last few years in one weekend they were able to get over 1,200 1,500 particular actions in one county on one particular weekend around this idea of growing food, conserving water, saving energy and growing community.”
  37. 37. • “It’s almost the reverse for me to say what hasn’t changed for you. I can’t think of any part that hasn’t shifted. When you’re doing all that root work, all that soil work, how does it not shift the entire canopy, no matter where you are? Just having more consciousness about how I intend to show up. If I’m headed toward a meeting, if I’m with my mother-in-law, wherever I’m at….I get to choose how I’m going to show up. It’s changed everything. I don’t know that I can tell you all the ways, but I mean, when you start showing up authentically in every part of your life, every relationship has to shift, because you have shifted. Everything’s different. It’s shinier; it’s brighter. It’s a lot more fun.”
  38. 38. The Ecology of Transformation • It is the unique integration of these four aspects of transformation – of cultivating connection with self, with the natural world, and with one another – and then of integrating our learnings into our engagement in the world – that has the power to cultivate lasting inner and outer transformation • “At its core, this dissertation is about the deepest possible transformation of all – the journey from feelings of disconnection, isolation, fear, inadequacy and shame to a state of connection, remembrance, trust, wholeness and love.” • Ultimately this is a process for reconnecting, reweaving, remembering, regenerating, and recreating ourselves, in RELATIONSHIP with one another and all creation – for a new day and time
  39. 39. Major Implications • Relational Research Methodology • Regenerative Research • Integration of Transformation in the Inner & Outer Realms through Simultaneous Connection with Self-Nature-Village-& World • Centrality of Cultivating a Safe Space for Vulnerability & Authenticity • Reciprocity – Contributions to EOL
  40. 40. Future Directions • Role of healing the root system in addressing collective trauma & moving toward collective vision – intergenerational healing • Masculine & Feminine dynamics • Application of mixed methodologies to document benefits of gratitude, nature connection, etc. • More direct link to the Great Turning – other aspects of the movement • Increasing EOL’s reach, scale, locations, formats, and diversity/accessibility • Further research and scholarship on relational and regenerative research
  41. 41. “The EOL program may only be catalyzing change for a few individuals at a time, but as Paul Hawken describes in Blessed Unrest, each of these changemakers that enter the system forms a node that, like mushroom mycelium, together create an underground web that is transforming the whole planet. As each individual changes, so does their own personal ecology of relationships- and so does the world. It is an ecological model for transformation. This is the new model of revolution – an ecological revolution – a mycelial revolution – that is not about overthrowing power or fighting against it– but rather a transformation from the inside out. As the roots and soil of the human collective transform, so will our canopy. And therefore the Great Turning may in fact be a Great Transformation – a Great Regeneration, that happens through a natural process of bioremediation, infused with nutrients of love and curiosity and supported by deep connections with ourselves, with the natural world, and with the village.”

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