By Vinit Allen
I’m throwing in the towel…and humbling myself to learn a completely different way of working.
As a sustainability educator, I have spent the last 10 years summarizing and packaging a great deal of information (in books, courses and events) from many experts that I consider to be essential to know—for any citizen who cares about the fate of the planet, of other species, and of how we treat one another.
I fund the work myself, and spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to promote this work—how to get people interested in learning about what we can and must do, given the huge environmental and social challenges before us.
In working with an indigenous wisdom-keeper, I have come to see that I will never be able to “figure out” what is best to do. Instead, I need to tap into the wisdom and guidance that the Earth herself can impart. I am now doing practices where I call forth and receive this guidance, and our organization is now being directed from the guidance that I and other members of the team receive.
We—humanity—have evolved directly out of the Earth over billions of years, and in this way, we are a living part of a living Earth, rather than “living on top of” a dead Earth. As Brian Swimme elegantly puts it, “the Earth was once molten rock, and now sings opera.”
As a sacred, living system (Gaia), the Earth has an intelligence and knowledge of how to best heal the damage that‘s been inflicted, and this knowledge can be “downloaded” by those of us who understand this and respect this greater intelligence—in the same way that the body can direct the immune system to heal the body.
This is what my mentor calls “indigenous methodology,” and it has worked to sustain indigenous tribes for millennia. Seeing ourselves as separate from the planet is a primary cause of the mess we have created in the first place—it’s why we could treat nature as simply “resources for human consumption” rather than experiencing the awe and wonder of nature’s beauty and regenerative power.
The nascent rights for nature movement thus could prove to be one of the most important accomplishments of our lifetime, giving nature legal protection and a fundamental right to a healthy existence.
Letting go of the mind’s need for control is no easy task, but compared with having access to the vast intelligence of a living Earth, this is a real “no-brainer!” This is a new approach for our organization, so we’re still in the “getting-to-know-the-territory” phase, but I’m convinced that—given the scale of the problem—only a planetary-sized approach has any chance of succeeding…and I’m betting the house on it.
Vinit Allen is Executive Director of Sustainable World Coalition. Vinit (pronounced “Vih-neet”) brings a 30-year entrepreneurial and activist background to bear on his work in sustainability education. His love and respect for nature acts as a guide, and combining that with the goal of a just human society–the idea that everyone deserves the same basic opportunities for a decent life–comprises the Coalition’s mission of creating a healthy future for all.
He is the visionary behind and publisher of the 2011 International Book Award-winning Sustainable World Sourcebook, the accompanying Learning & Engagement Guide, and the multi-media telecourse, Co-Creating a Thriving World.
He was a delegate at the UN World Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002 where the Coalition was founded, and he created and produced the Sustainable World Symposium in 2004 and 2006 in San Francisco. He is also a facilitator trainer for the Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposium, which is presented in over 60 countries.
Vinit is available for conference presentations and panel moderation.
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This article appears in:
2014 Catalyst, Issue 10: Green Innovations