Ecopsychologists have identified what they call the ‘ecological unconscious’ in every human being. This is an intrinsic sense we all have of being earth stewards. We are born with this belief that it is one’s duty and honor to take care of the living planet. However, our removal from wild nature through the emergence of civilization, has made this ecological awareness ‘unconscious.’ Noted historian Theodore Roszak, argues that, “repression of the ecological unconscious is the deepest root of the collusive madness in industrial society; open access to the ecological unconscious is the path to sanity.”
In recent years, with the advancements in remote sensing cameras, miniatures, and drones, nature photography has moved to new and exciting levels of aesthetic. The “Our Planet” series (on Netflix) captures some stunning images and events within the natural world. (And narrator Richard Attenborough still has the magic!) Watch the trailer here.
Share the wonder of the extraordinary place we call home. Utilizing the latest technology Our Planet was filmed entirely in Ultra High Definition in over 50 countries. From exotic jungles to the deepest seas, open your eyes to the connections we all share. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”
- Gus Speth, Author and Top U.S. Advisor on Climate Change
Mythologist Michael Meade speaking recently at our proposed, future NW Change Agent Center. His talk was part of Backbone Campaign's weekend training series, which also included an anti-oppression/collective liberation workshop with Margot Boyer, and a presentation by Paul Cheoketen Wagner on Coastal Salish teachings and nurturing an Indigenized sense of place.
“The holiest of all spots on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love.”
- Dr. Helen Schucman, Psychologist and Author
One of the greatest commitments of the teacher is to foster the building of deep community in the classroom. Young people need guidance in so many areas. One especially critical focus of a teacher is on how students speak to one another.
For all of us, the words we speak require attention, care, and refinement over the course of our lives. It is natural for young people to express themselves spontaneously and without filters. It is one of the jobs of the teacher to help kids find appropriate ways to speak, to give them awareness, to interrupt unhealthy dialogue, and unpack hurtful words. Conversations with confusing messages can create lasting fissures in the community if they are not tended quickly.
Children usually mean well, but lack both the tools to express themselves effectively, and an understanding of the impact of impulsive communication. So teachers must pay very careful attention to what kids are saying. And they must intervene often. However, there is a new problem in our digital age.
It is extremely concerning for those of us in the business of building community. It is a problem without precedent. Today’s youth have Smartphones. But that’s not all. They also use those phones for group texts (or ‘chats’). Ask your child if they are part of a group text. If they have a smartphone, they probably are. The conversations on a group chat can happen anywhere and anytime, if students have their phones.
Much of this is out of ‘earshot’ of parents, teachers, or other thoughtful adults. When conflicts arise in a group text, something that happens more often than people realize, there is usually no adult present to intervene and support constructive healing. When kids return to the classroom, there can be secret fissures that remain untended. This is a very new problem, maybe two or three years old, and it is wildly unprecedented for those of us seeking to foster deep and connected communities.
Please enter the dialogue with us. Please talk to your child. Please consider where privacy should be honored, for a child needs privacy. However, can young people have privacy in their written diaries, or in personal phone calls and conversations, but have their group texts read by adults? A group has a different dynamic than a one-on-one conversation. A digital group chat is an even more complex dynamic. This is a new frontier and we parents are all navigating it. Here is an article to begin expanding our thinking.
Enjoy this fascinating video about a Neuro-anatomist, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, who suffered a massive stroke and then committed her life to understanding the epiphanies that befell her when the stroke quieted her linear mind. This video points to a tremendous potential in all of us to step out of the machinations of cognitions, and perceive the interconnectedness of all things.
Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened -- as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding -- she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.
“Right here, right now, I can step into the consciousness of my right hemisphere where we are, I am, the life force power of the universe…at one with all that is. Or I can choose to step into the consciousness of my left hemisphere where I become a single individual, a solid, separate from the flow, separate from you. I am Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, intellectual, Neuroanatomist. These are the ‘we’ inside of me.”
- Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor
You’ve probably heard of fractals, the fascinating repeating mathematical pattern of shape and form that creates beautiful designs which theoretically continue in scale to infinity. The natural world is not the only place where we have discovered fractals, but there are villages in Africa that are laid out in fractal patterns.
"I am a mathematician, and I would like to stand on your roof." That is how Ron Eglash greeted many African families he met while researching the fractal patterns he’d noticed in villages across the continent.
“Nature is written in mathematical language.” –Galileo Galilei
- Galileo Galilei
“Arithmetic is being able to count up to twenty without taking off your shoes.”
- Mickey Mouse
“Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.”
- Albert Einstein
The last speech by Martin Luther King Jr., given the day before he was assassinated, is prophetic. It seems to foreshadow his own death. Also, his power and passion are a thing to behold, especially in these final moments of his life.
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
The young British, Grammy-Award winning musical phenom, Jacob Collier has a series of videos in which he provides multi-layered vocal harmony and beat-box rhythms over short musical submissions sent to him by strangers when he was 22 years old. This multi-instrumentalist virtuoso has a tremendous talent for vocal music and complex harmonic composition. Enjoy!
“When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.”
“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.”
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Author
“The messenger led the brother and sister by lantern along a woodland path till they came upon a huge, ancient oak in whose trunk was cut a cunningly wrought door. Through the door and up a long, spiraling staircase to the chamber excavated out of the core of this immense living creature. Here, haloed by firelight, stood a sage, a keeper of long-forgotten earthly knowledge. The old man spoke of a world bristling and crackling with power, the power of origination and deepest formation, which cared for everything –took care of everything- even human beings. The earth, he said, was not a place to fear. The problem was that adults had lost their nerve, lost their faith in the marrow of it all. Children, he believed, still hold the mighty secret of trust. It was the lesson of the child to the adult: absolute trust. Once trust began percolating back into the soul again, humans would behold the liberating of those colossal earthly powers that now lie silent under the spell of our bad faith. The earth would be alive again and human beings would stop living lives of waiting, stop living under the curse of time and history, to live instead in the still point of beauty….Children, and whatever bits of childhood survived the battering of growing up, might help us finding a lost trust in this planet. Human beings could unshackle the awesome powers of place if we could only find our body and spirit in the otherness of this planet, as our ice-age ancestors and their hunter-gatherer heirs did for tens of thousands of years.”
- Calvin Luther Martin, “The Way of the Human Being”
The oldest known octopus fossil belongs to an animal that lived some 296 million years ago. By contrast, tool-making, upright humans and been around for about 3 million years, while other primates in our family date back no more than 55 million years. So clearly octopi are ancient and complex beings! Animal behaviorists (ethologists) have long been struck by the intelligent, tool-using behavior of octopi. Please enjoy this short, silent video of a very ingenious octopus carrying a coconut for shelter.
Dr. Paul: “Hey Tanner, you know that if you eat more salad, you will definitely score brownie points with your mom” (our beloved Chef Hilary).
Tanner: “Oh no Dr. Paul, my mom would never give me brownies!”
If we want students to be fully empowered to own the creative process, we need to understand what it means for students to reach a state of creative flow. The History of the Theory Although the idea of Flow has existed for thousands of years, Flow Theory began in the 1970’s and 80’s when Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi became fascinated by artists who were so lost in their creative work that they would lose track of time and even ignore food, water, and sleep. Through his research, he noticed a similar experience with scientists, athletes, and authors. It was a state of hyper-focus and complete engagement that he described as “optimal experience.”
Much has been written about “flow theory.” As Dr. Paul, Mr. Sands, and the high schoolers delve into questions of Quantum Biology and quantum coherence, new perspectives within the sciences might explain states of flow as relating to states of quantum coherence with the organism. Enjoy this short overview of ‘flow’ as it relates to student learning.
“Ecological deterioration is but one aspect of an initiation ordeal propelling civilization into a new story…What has changed, I believe, is that the consciousness of interbeing is dawning in the dominant civilization. What we do to the Other, we do to ourselves. This will be the defining understanding of the next civilization.”