When I graduated from high school in 1985, college was the unquestionable next step for an intelligent, middle-class or upper-middle class young person. I entered an elite school not out of any particular ambition, but because the story that surrounded me said that this is how to do life. College, and probably further degrees thereafter, was the path to full participation in society.
The problem was that deep down, I didn’t want to fully participate in society. I sensed a wrongness at the base of things. As I learned more about the workings of the world, I didn’t want to be part of it. Even the public service paths that elite education could prepare me for seemed themselves to be still part of the same system.
I didn’t know of any alternative to university however, or perhaps I wasn’t brave enough to find one. And besides, at that time I couldn’t identify the cause of my lassitude, my passive rebellion, my lack of motivation.
Now two of my own sons have reached college age, one 18 and one 20, and neither has yet gone to college. The nebulous intuition that led my unconscious rebellion has become, for them, an outright refusal to follow “the program.” Moreover, they have alternatives that were not on my radar screen in the 1980s. Jimi has spent some time in ecological, spiritual, and permaculture programs in the U.S. and Costa Rica that prepare people to participate in a future that is not just an extension of the present, but a different world with different values and different ways of seeing.
Programs like these exist all over the world, yet still they are scattered and lack a unifying narrative that might present them as a solid alternative to traditional higher education. Young people must luck into them or know enough to seek them out. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this kind of education – education in what the planet needs most right now – were more easily accessible?
Imagine a worldwide archipelago of land-based institutions of learning for people like my sons, sanctuaries of alternative technologies of earth, mind, matter, and body that are marginal or absent within conventional universities. So much of the most exciting work whether in medicine, agriculture, or social change is happening outside academia, invisible to many of the young people who might otherwise follow them into a career, and lacking the financial support and community of research that could propel them to the next level.
We need a parallel system of technology development that can guide society as conventional systems unravel and conventional technologies fail to adequately address our problems.
We need, to use Ken Carey’s phrase, to establish islands of the future in an ocean of the past. For reasons I will describe soon, let us call these places Institutes for Technologies of Reunion. They have two main functions: research and learning. For learners, especially young people who would otherwise go to college or graduate school, they are places:
- To obtain knowledge unavailable at conventional universities
- To acquire skills that will be useful and valued in a transformed world
- To acquire skills to help that transformation happen
- To deprogram from conventional education and have a sanctuary in which to develop a calling
- To bond with a cohort who share a common vision of what the world can be.
For researchers, they are places:
- To develop knowledge in an environment where you aren’t thought to be crazy
- To collaborate with other cutting edge workers in unorthodox fields
- To clarify knowledge by teaching it
- To pass knowledge to the next generation and mentor its development
- To test, incubate, and develop technologies to prepare them for wider application
What is Technology?
What kind of technology are we talking about here? The word usually brings to mind things like computers, robots, lasers, nano-scale fabrication, gene editing, chemical engineering, and electronics. These we think of as “high tech.”
All of these share certain characteristics in common. They depend on a high degree of specialization; they depend on a vast industrial infrastructure to produce; they are derived from scientific research; and they are based on the application of energy to manipulate and control matter. Accordingly, the standard dictionary definition of technology is “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.”
These technologies have utterly transformed the world in the last few centuries, but they are proving incapable of solving the problems we face today, many of which, ironically, are caused by the very same kind of technology we hope to use to fix them. Whether it is agricultural chemicals degrading the soil and creating the need for even more chemicals, or medical interventions causing side effects that require further medical interventions, technology often becomes a “fix” in the sense of an addiction, requiring more technology to manage the results of previous technology. On a broader scale, the entire scientific-industrial system has created ecological degradation and social atomization that we attempt to fix from within the same technological mindset of quantification, engineering, and control. It follows the dream of techno-utopia: that if only we could exercise precise control over every bit of matter, if only we could quantify and label and digitize every object with its own IP address, then we could manage the world rationally, eliminate uncertainty, and maximize human wellbeing. On the social level, the same ambition translates into the program of total information awareness, so that each economic transaction, each social interaction, and all physical movement is tracked and saved in a database.
Yet it is becoming obvious that despite continuing advances in our ability to control matter and society, the promise of utopia is receding into the future, and indeed has passed the event horizon called cynicism. No longer does anyone believe that material and social engineering is on the verge of ushering in a perfect world.
For these reasons – the failed promise and worsening crisis of technology as we know it – I would like to offer an expanded conception of technology. The kind of technology described above is but a subset of all technology, a subset I’ll call “technologies of separation.” These will always have their place, but at the present historical moment we need to shift our collective will and energy toward a different kind of technology, which I will call “technologies of reunion.”
To expand the definition of technology, we can simply return to the original Greek roots of the word, which means “a logos of crafts.” Technology is a system of techniques for applying human will to alter the physical world.
A Transition in our Narrative
Technology is not just a haphazard collection of techniques. As a “logos of crafts” implies, these techniques are interrelated; they grow from a common logic, a unifying narrative or worldview. This narrative determines what we consider to be real, possible, and important. It answers the questions “What can we do?” “What should we do?” and “How can we do it?”
The technologies of separation that dominate the world today draw from the story of separation, which includes:
- Humans separate from nature
- The self as a separate individual
- Full selfhood (consciousness, sentience) existing in humans alone
- Competition as the defining characteristic of life
- Domination and control over the other as the key to wellbeing
- That all things are composed of generic, identical building blocks
- That to be real is to be measurable and quantifiable
- That the forces of nature are basically random, so human progress depends on insulating ourselves from their dangers and harnessing them for our purposes
- Linear and reductionistic thinking as the basis of technology
- Force-based causality
- Human destiny to conquer or transcend nature
These are the threads of the mythology that has overtaken civilization over the last few thousand years, and especially the last few centuries. It is rapidly becoming obsolete though, giving way to new and ancient story, the Story of Interbeing. It holds that:
- The self is relational at its core
- Humans are not separate from nature
- What we do to the world, we do to ourselves
- The basic qualities of a self (e.g. consciousness, intelligence) are ubiquitous and universal; everything is alive
- Each being is a holographic mirror of all
- Cooperation, sharing, and symbiosis are defining characteristics of life and evolution
- Morphic resonance is the primary causal principle
- Each being has unique and necessary gifts to give toward the wellbeing and evolution of the whole
- Human destiny is to use its unique gifts to serve the health and development of Gaia
Technologies of Reunion draw from the Story of Interbeing and contributes to its emergence in world civilization.
Technologies of Reunion contribute to the reunion of human and nature, mind and body, thought and emotion, matter and spirit, modern and ancient, masculine and feminine. They reunite all that which has been made artificially separate or even placed into opposition in the civilization of separation. It is not the erasure of binary opposites, nor is it the dissolution of all boundaries; rather it is the understanding the each includes the other, that the part includes the whole, that the inner mirrors the outer.
Examples of Technologies of Reunion
Almost any practice, whether in medicine, agriculture, energy, or education that is called “alternative” or “holistic” exemplifies a technology of reunion. Here are a few examples to illustrate how these practices draw from the Story of Interbeing.
Regenerative agriculture, for example no-till organic horticulture. This practice is motivated in part by the understanding the the health of crops and of people is inseparable from the health of the soil. It seeks therefore to serve the wellbeing of the soil, confident that the health of one is the health of all. Secondly, regenerative agriculture sees the soil not as a mere repository of chemical nutrients, but as a living being possessed of its own kind of intelligence, and as part of a larger living being that is the entire farm ecosystem. Therefore, instead of merely imposing a methodological template on a piece of land, the farmer carefully observes the land until she intimately knows it as a being unto itself, so she can ask, “What does the land want?” The relationship is intimate, personal, and unique, irreducible to any set of quantitative data on soil composition and rainfall distribution.
Homeopathy, based on the realization that every condition of a human being is mirrored by some material substance. Self and world are not separate. Homeopaths believe that introducing the informational signature of that substance into the body will unlock that disease pattern and bring healing. Furthermore, the medium for conveying the information signature of a substance is water, which in homeopathy is understood not as a generic substance defined merely by its chemical formula, but as capable of holding information and structure (a view supported by recent scientific thinking as well).
Truth and reconciliation processes. Story of Separation says, “If I were in the totality of your circumstances – biographical, economic, cultural, etc. – I would not do as you did. I am better than that.” Punitive justice comes from that belief: people do bad things because they are bad people and therefore must be deterred by threat of punishment. The Story of Interbeing says the opposite. It says, “If I were in the totality of your circumstances, my brother, I would have done as you did.” Truth and reconciliation processes change those circumstances. They come from the belief that if he could only be connected with the full impact of his actions, he would no longer want to do that. They rely on the healing power of the truth made visible. Brutalization depends on a cutoff of empathy, on the dehumanization of the victim. By sharing their stories to the witnessing of the perpetrators and the surrounding community, the victims reclaim their full humanity in the eyes of all.
Universal basic income (UBI) and community-based forms of resource sharing. In the Story of Separation, which says human nature is to maximize rational self-interest, this is an insane idea. If everyone’s basic needs were met, what would compel people to work and contribute to society? But if we believe that human nature is to want to contribute to something meaningful greater than oneself, UBI and resource sharing becomes a way to support that impulse. It also validates and supports the kinds of contributions that are hard to quantify, such as giving loving care to children or old people, making art and music, bringing healing to land and water in ways that don’t increase economic output, and so forth.
So, Technologies of Reunion include material technologies, social technologies, and also non-material technologies based on a different understanding of what is real. A partial list might include: mycoremediation of toxic waste; composting toilets and graywater/blackwater recycling systems; herbal medicine; therapies using psychotropic plants; earth building techniques; sacred architecture; sound healing; hypnosis and mind/matter techniques; nonviolent communication; compassionate listening; sociocracy, holocracy and other group decision-making methods; council processes; restorative circles; family constellation work; tantric sexual practices; communication with other-than-human beings; nonviolent methods of political direct action; implosion motors; over-unity energy devices; worker-owned cooperatives and other forms of economic cooperation; biodynamic agriculture; silvopasture; perennial-based horticulture; wetlands restoration; Montessori education; Waldorf education; technologies of voice, dance, and mask; the use of trance and dream states…
In various ways, all of these draw on the new and ancient Story of Interbeing. Even if they might also embody aspects of separation in their real-world application, they are also steps toward a new story. That is why you might feel a sense of kinship or alliance with workers in areas that seem entirely unrelated to your own. What does crystal therapy have to do with composting toilets or attachment parenting? On a deep level they are related, because their “what” and “how” draws from the same overarching story.
In perusing the list of examples of Technologies of Reunion, the reader may have felt uncomfortable with several of the items. While all of them transgress some aspect of consensus reality (social reality, economic reality, medical reality, material reality…) some of them are more at home in conventional scientific worldviews than others. You might be ready and willing to accept composting toilets, biogas systems, and solar collectors, but draw the line at astrology, free energy devices, and the use of copper braided disks to structure drinking water. I will not venture my own opinion on the authenticity of such technologies, except to say that just because an altered worldview no longer holds them impossible, does not mean that they actually work either. Regardless, a new story does motivate different avenues of research. These may or may not bear fruit – just as has been the case with familiar technologies. Whether or not they end up being usable, if you like I are still somewhat conditioned to the old story, then some of these technologies will sound outrageous. That is because they come from outside the boundaries of what we as a society have agreed to be real. We need to explore beyond the bounds of what is comfortable and familiar.
Alternative Research & Development
Unlike conventional technology, which enjoys a vast research infrastructure and powerful economic incentives to propel its development, technologies of reunion are usually quite marginal. They benefit from very little if any institutional support, but often face hostility instead. For some technologies like herbal medicine or regenerative agriculture, there exist substantial communities of research and practice, and even a little bleedover from conventional academia. Still, the career prospects for a humanure engineer or an animal communicator are seldom as secure as for a petroleum engineer or corporate communicator.
There are good economic reasons for this: technologies that do not further the extraction of resources from the earth or their consumption are less easily monetizable in the current system. They are not likely to result in a positive return on investment capital; therefore, they require funding from people not seeking a profit.
There is tremendous support for the technologies that have brought us to our present situation, but little support for the kinds of technologies that are most necessary for our society to transition into an ecological age. The technologies of reunion need communities of practice, and they need patronage from visionary holders of financial wealth and other resources.
As with conventional technology, Technologies of Reunion need their own incubators and R&D parks. These are already appearing in various guises on the edges of society. Ecovillages, herbalism schools, schools for traditional Chinese medicine, holistically oriented colleges and universities, land-based institutes, and other centers provide places where researchers can develop technologies sheltered, at least in part, from hostile external forces and economic pressures. Some technologies are better supported than others: probably the best supported are various forms of regenerative agriculture and permaculture, practiced in thousands of ecovillages and intentional communities worldwide, and still present to a degree in traditional villages that have not fully succumbed to mechanized chemical agriculture. Even so, these approaches are marginal in university agronomy departments.
Some examples of incubators for technologies of reunion include The Land Institute, devoted to perennial agriculture, The Farm in Tennessee, which pioneered the renewal of midwifery in America, Tamera Ecovillage, dedicated to healing human sexuality (as well as water retention landscapes and peace work), and the Damanhur intentional community in Italy, with its astonishing experiments in sacred architecture and plant communication. There are also growing linkages among institutions that are part of this movement, for example Numundo and the global network of Ecoversities. These institutions are each edgy in their own way, and perhaps conventional in other ways. Each chooses its areas of exploration in the vast territory of Reunion. In a sane future on a liveable planet, places like these must no longer be radical outliers; they must be the new normal.
The Starseed Generation
The blatantly new-agey term “starseeds” just popped into my head to describe the current generation of young people coming of age today, who do not fit into dominant models of higher education. The rewards and threats that bring most people into conformity with the old story do not sway them. They cannot be bribed into a normal career. Therefore, most of what conventional universities offer is unattractive to them: both the curriculum content and the form in which it is offered.
Some of these young people muddle through university anyway, engaging themselves in political activism as an outlet for their passions. Others, the lucky ones, find new-story content in the margins and crannies of their institutions, provided by professors who are adept at sneaking things under the radar. Many more drop out of college or refuse to go entirely. It is not that they are uninterested in learning; it is that what they want to learn is not easily available. They are here on earth with a purpose and cannot tolerate spending years of their lives on something that isn’t aligned with that purpose.
When these youth get their first glimpse of permaculture, or gift economics, or herbalism, or some other technology of reunion, they come alive. Their eyes light up in recognition: here is what I was looking for. Or at least, Here is a signpost that tells me that what I am looking for is out there somewhere.
Equally powerful for these young people is to come across others of their tribe, allies in the purpose of serving the healing of Gaia, and especially elders who model an alternative life path. They realize then that they are not crazy and they are not alone.
All of this speaks to the huge need for an alternative university system. Can you see it? It is just over the horizon. It looks very different from today’s institutions. It is an organic, decentralized network of programs; a distributed university, organizationally diverse, united by a common purpose. Young people spend a month here, a summer there, a week somewhere else, a year in another place, exploring different programs and weaving them together into a coherent education. Over four years, they develop the skills to find a place in a regenerative, holistic system.
Also in this time they forge lifelong bonds with people who will be deep allies. The coalesce into a cohort and socialize into a group culture that is part of an emerging parallel society, entwined with the mainstream to be sure, yet also forming a distinct identity..After a ritual of transition (i.e. graduation) the graduates may not bear credentials that are acceptable to mainstream institutions. However, the parallel society honors and values their training, accomplishments, and courage to follow this path. Graduates carry forward the Technologies of Reunion they have learned into careers that are marginal today but that a healing world will hold in high esteem.
The parallel society I have mentioned will not stay “alternative” for long. The central structures of our society are in a state of deep crisis. When they collapse, we will be grateful to have something wholesome that is ready to enter the ensuing vacuum.
For a young person to follow this path does take courage, because it is preparation for a world that does not yet exist, a world that values Technologies of Reunion. Yet, paradoxically, it will never exist if we don’t prepare for it. The technologies that serve an ecological future also serve the transition to that future. And, to risk following this path is to make an offering of ones life, and that is a powerful prayer.
In Alliance with the Earth
I recently spent some time with a friend who has founded a (K-12) radically alternative school on a magnificent piece of land in North Carolina. She said that on her first visit to the land, the land whispered to her, “Marry me.” I’m not sure if she heard a literal whisper, or if she was speaking metaphorically.
In any event, she said “OK,” and from there something grew that she would not have been able to establish through her own contrivance.
One technology of reunion has to do with communication with land and the building of alliances with the powers of the earth. Today, as the dominant culture turns gradually toward healing, special places on earth are sensing a new possibility of alliance. They are calling their partners to them, whether through dreams, synchronicity, or by answering a long hard search. These are the places that are ideal locations for Institutes for Technologies of Reunion.
Many of these places telegraph their specialness in obvious ways. For example, I recently visited some land near Santa Fe, over 600 acres in a valley with an old Christian Brothers retreat center that is for sale. At the end of the valley is a gorgeous waterfall gushing from a nearly vaginal crevice in the boulders behind it, an oasis in a very dry region with old ponds and orchards…land that is begging to be used for a sacred purpose and, like many such places, is also under the gaze of developers. Which way will it go? It seems almost to symbolize a wider choice for all humanity. Will we continue to exploit and extract until there is no beautify left on this earth? Or will we enter into an alliance with the earth powers that are inviting us to rejoin them?
I believe the vision I have outlined is impossible without the aid of these special places on earth.
These places could be urban or rural, depending on the type of technology to be developed. There is sacredness in all places; indeed, many cities were founded on special spots on earth. It is important though that there be a physical location and not just a digital presence. We are currently at or near the historical peak of abstraction of knowledge, of disconnection from place, and we are ready for a return.
I have come into contact with many visionary people who have financial wealth, or land, or rich social capital, and a desire to serve the birth of a new story on earth. These are people whose vision goes beyond conventional ecological or political boundaries. They understand the need for a revolution in means, not just a revolution in ends. They understand that present orthodoxies – whether in science, money, politics, and relationship to the planet – are all part of the same matrix. They take seriously alternatives to standard scientific worldviews; perhaps they have had mystical experiences, or have engaged indigenous worldviews, and they understand that to heal this planet these cannot remain in the realm of “alternative” or “spiritual” but must be integrated into every aspect of life. What would an education look like that took these seriously, not as mere objects of psychological or anthropological study, but as valid and important ways of engaging knowledge? What would it look like to bring these in to nuts-and-bolts politics, economics, agriculture, medicine, and community governance?
I am offering the vision of Institutes for Technologies of Reunion as a next step beyond the “intentional community.” Like ourselves, a community thrives when it has a mission, a reason for existing beyond itself. That reason might be to hold and host an Institute for Technologies of Reunion. Each might have a unique mix of technologies that it serves, but an overarching purpose unites them: to usher in the Story of Interbeing to our civilization. That is what will join Institutes for Technologies of Reunion (whether they call themselves that or not is unimportant) into a global community of communities.
The purpose of this introduction is not to invent an idea; it is to report on something that wants to happen, to name what has yet no name and thereby bring it into greater visibility. Right now, Institutes for Technologies of Reunion exist mostly as a field of potential. It is my hope that the description I’ve offered will be like an ideational seed crystal around which a latent possibility can take shape.
Christine Grace says
Absolutely perfect … Thank you for sharing and speaking out loud my experience and my vision that i live and share to the best of my ability ….
Diana Smith says
This resonates so deeply with me….and reflects my commitment to offer and serve.
Suzie Heumann says
Thank you for this uniting vision Charles. I live in a small intentional community, in a northern California location, that is home to numerous well known future-oriented teaching facilities like those you mention. Though I know that they all have some national and international connections nothing is unified and inter-connected enough – but the seeds are there none the less.
A friend of mine was just telling me yesterday of an idea that she holds of a new “Prophecy” – a vision to hold that counteracts the depressing ones that we are all feeling we are “supposed” to believe.
I’m currently working on a book with a working title of: Creating Community on Your Own Block. It takes the principles and actions we do in our own 18 person community and extends them to people who may have small and local possibilities of creating a close, connected helping network without the difficult step of actually finding one piece of property to live on. The combinations of finding the land, building the buildings (often illegal to build more than two buildings), figuring out a unified purpose, gathering the people, creating equitable money situations, and on and on makes the Dream of an intentional community very tenuous. The fortitude to continue in the face of all of this and still love the people you are trying to start with is daunting. I say “Just start”. Be the connected people you know you are and start creating right where you live. No matter if one household is conservative, or even liberal (!), and you don’t think you’ll “groove”. Just start. We are all humans and we all need to feel we belong and that we are contributing to a more beautiful world. All of us…
Thank you for all you do!
Felipe Tavares says
Thank you, Charles. This just came in the right moment. You are such an inspiration!
felipe mardones says
ufffff beautiful!!! resonates as truth!!
Jesse Gros says
Right on. Love it. Thank you.
I left high school for university in 2013 but I was in the same situation as you. I also “didn’t have a particular ambition” or desire to go down a certain path. Going to the best university in the world, which others would salivate at, was just what I had to do to “do things properly”. It was expected of me; because it was so “easily” within my reach (just do well on some technical mathematical questions), it would have been embarrassing not to go. I also wasn’t aware of alternatives. It seemed like the thing to do. But I was also not entirely happy about it. I didn’t positively enjoy it, it wasn’t what I myself wanted to do.
Maybe I will have to “wait for sons” for my own “nebulous intuitions” about what’s really worth doing to solidify. Maybe not literally sons, but it reminds me that it may take some cultivating and fermenting and
“…a long long time, only time can help
and patience, and a certain difficult repentance
long difficult repentance …”
I’m in a similar boat J.
Dean Edward Niemeyer says
Thank you Charles….I just read a post from another of my favorites, Otto Scharmer, that seems to complement your article as well: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/transforming-capitalism-seven-acupuncture-points_us_58e006cce4b03c2b30f6a6fa
Noah Skocilich says
To echo what several others have already said here, this resonates with me so deeply and describes beautifully just the way I feel called to serve.
christopher holvenstot says
ooof! takes my breath away. these thoughts are as clear and practical as they are visionary and inspirational. thank you for the boost of morale i am feeling!
Tom Atlee says
A new technology of reunion (which I think of as a technology of wholeness) is the evolving knowledge around “wise democracy” – power, participation and wisdom of, by , and for the whole. What does that mean? How do we DO that? A few of us have sorted various dimensions of this into a fabric of design principles/considerations each one of which has about a dozen different practices or resources attached to it. We don’t yet have a curriculum or “place” where people can learn and develop this technology together, but we have created a great starting place at http://wd-pl.com to which readers are invited – to which we have added freely downloadable cards to use to learn and apply the associated ideas. Folks will find LOTS to explore there and an opportunity to become part of a “community of practice” (or “transformational learning community” = TLC) into whose hands/minds/hearts the whole project will evolve. This is a strand of social DNA awaiting your exercises in replication and evolution…
Kerry Lindsey says
Tom, great new page. We’re still cooking on this end. Are getting pretty close to a curriculum that would include technologies like Wisdom Councils. I’ll keep you in the loop.
I have this dream every now and then. It started a couple years ago (that I can remember) and it keeps evolving over time every time I dream of it. I’m touched to read this and find such resonance with what’s being built in those visions…indeed feels like “something that wants to happen”. Cheers!
Amazing. I have actually just been imagining lately an “Institute for Sacred Economics.” Who knows, maybe this is something that will actually be born soon!!
Brian Smyth says
Thanks Charles. Had never thought of this! Some of it I initially and predictably found new and strange….a good sign! Now it makes great sense. It is great that you have opened up this path, this possibility.
Deborah H Yemm says
I have recently become aware of something called Nature and Forest Therapy (Shinrin-Yuko) and a possibility of becoming a Guide right here within the forest we steward so that people could come and connect with the forest and natural world. The forest is the therapist. I feel strongly drawn to this concept and will continue to explore this possibility.
It probably is not a coincidence that I recently read your book – The Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible – while being the support person for my family’s annual reforestation project. My 2 sons (self-educated free spirit style at home) and husband and I plant about 3,000 seedling trees each year on land that was previously pasture for cattle. We will probably complete that effort in another 2 seasons.
We have created a special trust for this forest to protect its wild nature and hope to obtain a conservation easement for it before our lives have completed.
Please keep sharing your thoughts about tomorrow’s world that our heart’s know is possible. I believe it will inevitably arrive to create a world that works for all of us.
Thanks for this inspiring writing. I am part of an effort to create something very close to what you define as a ‘Institutes for Technologies of Reunion’ it is called UniTerra. very close to Barcelona (Spain). The web isn’t yet available.
Kike Godoy Forno says
Thank you! This is so clarifying! I have had this in the back of my head name-less, form-less, word-less, but you have made it as clear as day. This is the path I want to offer to thousands hopefully millions in my country, Guatemala. I would love to focus them (the research centers, at least 12 across the country) on Urban Reunion Technologies. Thank you from the wholeness of my heart!
greg marquez says
Thank you, Charles
As usual, when you point to your life experiences they bring up and reflect my own. The system you describe to address the failings we felt when we were “getting educated” fits the needs quite precisely: Each must come to his and her own about what their own personal interests are, and – more importantly – how to go about satisfying them while keeping alive the enthusiasm that such personal curiosity generates.
Several days ago, I began my 9th decade, and the one acre property where I live continues to evolve into a working/living area where – when I leave – it will become a place used by residents for the benefit of the community. Essentially, the land is to be a resource of learning and doing. innovating, and creating; the very stuff I wish were around when you and I were growing up.
Having spent nearly 3 years in Panajachel, Solala, (“dropped out” from the USA in the early 70s) I’m very interested in the groups of 12 innovators you know in Guatemala. Perhaps we might connect, and spread the Reunion.
greg in altadena, CA
Peter Merry says
Thanks Charles. Great articulation of the reasoning behind Ubiquity University. Check out http://www.ubiquity.university. We’d be happy to have your sons join the revolution :-). All the best, Peter
Drew Hansen says
A beautiful articulation of the alternative university which is in the process of being born:
“an organic, decentralized network of programs; a distributed university, organizationally diverse, united by a common purpose. Young people spend a month here, a summer there, a week somewhere else, a year in another place, exploring different programs and weaving them together into a coherent education. Over four years, they develop the skills to find a place in a regenerative, holistic system.
Also in this time they forge lifelong bonds with people who will be deep allies”
I left my conventional career track to nurture the emergence of this new interoperable system of loosely connected learning opportunities. I call it Gilded, a marketplace for on-demand skill development, which connects learners with employers and training providers. I use that language because the initial entry point is community colleges and trade schools that are in a position to respond to industry workforce needs, specifically vocational skills. We push many people into a college track who would do much better in a hands-on learning environment. They even find greater economic empowerment and financial security with these skills.
But the goal isn’t to stop with developing this new infrastructure — or interstate highway system — for vocational career pathways. Once the infrastructure is in place, it can be opened up to other segments. It simply becomes a distributed network of learning opportunities, where learners discover pathways as they emerge and support their peers.
I agree that distinct moments of transition need to be ritualized, but the whole notion of four years of learning and graduation is dead. It’s not a part of the alternative narrative, in my opinion.
Tony Pfeiffer says
I appreciate your description “a marketplace for on-demand skill development, which connects learners with employers and training providers. I use that language because the initial entry point is community colleges and trade schools that are in a position to respond to industry workforce needs, specifically vocational skills. We push many people into a college track who would do much better in a hands-on learning environment. They even find greater economic empowerment and financial security with these skills.”
This part really resonates with me “it simply becomes a distributed network of learning opportunities, where learners discover pathways as they emerge and support their peers.”
I dream of a sustainable ecosystem where the joy of learning is ignited and protected from birth to death. Masters mentor, mentors become Masters.
The egocentricity experiment with human design has run its course – its climax is our confluence of crises. Virtually all system solutions and ascension paths proposed by even the most enlightened among us fail to breach egocentricity’s stronghold. The forecast for our imminent extinction is well founded and arguably certain unless we become something new. Metamorphosis is appropriate terminology here. At this Moment in history, ages of humanity can be metaphorically distilled into a litter of newborn kittens, blind from birth, whose eyes are now poised to open onto their world for the very first time….are we ready? This is our evolution.
Relieving humanity of egocentricity’s bondage by consensus is impossible. Political proposals are hopelessly impotent. We need metamorphic catalysts immediately – means and methods to efficiently transmute egocentricity and profoundly evoke our innate senses of interdependence and compassion. Accelerating selfless (ego free) Love for oneself, one another, Gaia, and the Universe is the principal component at the root of all such action. Progress must manifest virally – just as news that ‘War is Over’ will spread like wildfire. Time is ticking. This is our evolution.
Newton Finn says
While Christianity was severely distorted by early marriage to empire, and thus did more than its fair share of helping to create the mess we are in, what about the possibility of transforming the numerous dying churches, unfortunately often the more open-minded ones, into centers of alternative learning and wisdom along the lines you envision? Just a thought here about one option, immediately available, for finding sacred places to ground some of these new transformative communities. I make this suggestion as a member of the clergy who belongs to such a church, which is close to either closing down or reincarnating as something other than a mainline Protestant institution. Indeed, there would even be some continuity to strengthen such a transition from church to institute for technology of reunion, because at the unorthodox margins of the Christian tradition can be found bedrock for blending spirituality with ecological passion. Has anyone come up with a better meme for a sustainable and compassionate world than Schweitzer’s distillation of all religion into the elemental, universal value of reverence for life?
Daniel Smith says
Newton, this is a very interesting idea. Where is it that you are a member of the clergy? Daniel Smith, Leverett Mass.
Daniel Smith says
Yes, this is great. As important as they are, I think this idea can go much further than intentional communities, because it opens the effort up to much more diverse and indeterminate networks, more experimentation, exchange, and working with relationship at all scales–i.e., all scales expanding out from a given institute or network of institutes.
Medicine Story says
Thank you, Charles. I am again amazed by the depth of your thinking into all these areas. I have wanted to connect just to let you know that from before the time I met with you in Germany I have been recommending your last book to all my supporters and everyone I meet, and I am now recommending it and your website to my sons , 41 and 37, beneficiaries of our standard university education, Tokeem an engineer out of MIT who has made his own business translating German technological materials, and Tashin who graduated from an early ed. college at 18 Summa cum laude with a thesis on “Marx and Feminism.” It is such a relief to read you and know you are there and helping re-union along when at 88 I am not sure how much I will see of that before I check out. Meanwhile I have just finished the first draft of a new book ‘A Permaculture of the Heart’ about all the good work being independently developed in the last 3 decades in the area of helping people and relationships to flourish at their best.
A wonderful and timely article. Thank you Charles. My sons are signed up for the conventional university route. If I can help them see the narrative we live and breathe for what it is – just one narrative – then the possibility of others naturally arises. Your work helps enormously.
On a different note I wonder if we should set aside and celebrate a reunion day. A sacred day to enjoy and give thanks for all that reunites. I can see downsides too (commercialisation and attendant cheapening) but thought to throw it out there as an idea.
Wellness Gangster says
You help give a voice to what is a screaming silence in this world.
It is my life’s work to be a part of creating an ‘alternative university’ as you describe it and I truly believe it can be the one thing that ‘saves the world,’ as cliche’ and naive as that may sound.
Looking forward to bumping into you in the process, brother.
Tessa maskell says
What a marvellous dissertation. What a wonderful explosion and expansion of my consciousness. Thank you so much for writing like this.
Very inspiring, thank you!
Does anyone here know of an intentional community of the type that Charles describes in New York or New Jersey? Or even a town where these kind f values are practiced..
Jessica Swanson says
I feel deep appreciation and excitement that you put these ideas out in a substantial way. I have recently been in the same field of consciousness and weeks ago (probably synchronized with your thinking on this, Charles) I compiled a list of qualities that would be embodied in a school where I would want to teach. Many of the qualities you list are the same ones I’ve included – and you have some great new ones for me to ponder. Something you didn’t write about, but I think resonates with the Institutes for Reunion is to not isolate or “mono-crop” by age but rather create diverse learning communities where elders and children can learn together with college age students (One of the best teaching experiences I had was the most diverse one, at a community college with diversity of every sort including age – high school age to senior citizens in the class, and it was a generous class spirit due to this diversity.)
I have been dreaming of starting such a school in a very small, organic way but dream that it will eventually include abundant light, plants and animals, and a totality of experience that nourishes the body, mind, spirit, with the whole result of revitalizing and invigorating (rather than depleting and competing). It breaks my heart that our typical institutions are not sustainable for our mind/body/spirit. Still, I wouldn’t want to “throw the baby out with the bath water” when it comes to “higher” education. For example, I think about how I got to where I am and see that it included some moments I liken to an old-growth forest. Because we so often consider learning to be encased in time (a semester) we limit ourselves. My moments of educational nourishment were not confined to time. When a giant tree falls and becomes a nurse log it creates life that extends beyond the scope of the duration of it’s “lifespan.” For me, my transformative education moments included love within/beyond a nourishing intellectually rich community where teachers and faculty saw who I really was and empowered me to choose my path and articulate my vision. They included spontaneity and joy – a faculty who broke out dancing when that was not the point of the meeting! These qualities still exist in education, and are embodied within many of the faculty with great, generous heart who remain committed to giving back to the next generation. Yet I also see fear of lawsuits and threats of job loss as a way that these spontaneous, heart felt moments when faculty get “weird” or “out there” as a major loss and something I want to bring back. It is not a coincidence that this mentor of mine also taught classes on Wildness. The aim of mainstream academia to perpetuate the status-quo, with pseudo “breakthroughs” that come from things like military grant funding, is ripe for deep and substantial transition. I was recently a lead administrator at creating a new major that was interdisciplinary and restorative for the environment and social justice (one in the same.) The institution I am a currently part of couldn’t really see this through because of a budget crisis. It was deeply troubling that the initiative exists to transform education from within and yet it’s not where the money is, per se. Not yet anyway. I appreciate your giving articulation to these vital ideas around helping youth to fully emerge into their power as adults in a way that restores communities and our sacred earth. I am on this journey along with many of you. May we all more fully re-connect and allow our heartfelt vision for a revitalized form of education to bear many fruits.
Miles Stirewalt says
As a current high school and community college educator, I am so excited for opportunities like this! I would be really excited to begin this journey with some folks who share this vision.
Amy Lansky says
Yes, Sign me up as a teacher/participant! I’m aching to participate in something like this!
“Each being has unique and necessary gifts to give toward the wellbeing and evolution of the whole”
I see that as “Each being has unique and necessary gifts to give toward the wellbeing and evolution of self and the whole. There is no separation between self and whole.”
The step that few seem to take is to realize that interconnection is not in opposition to individuality. We are each unique beings and our flowering as individuals is of utmost importance. Seemingly paradoxically that genuine flowering is couched in the actulaity of interconnection. However interconnection is not groupism. Groupism is a substitute for the realization of interconnection. It comes about because an individual is tuned to separation and therefore feels isolated.
While I am hugely enthusiastic about the ideas in this article and in your other publications, especially Sacred Economics, I am troubled by your expression of interest in the idea of free energy machines (“implosion motors; over-unity energy devices”). Although many economists are likely to approve of your economic ideas, any serious physicist could easily refute the possibility of such a machine. So when you express interest in exploring such machines, you risk demoting your brilliant economic ideas into the realm of kooky pseudoscience (which “free energy” machines are strongly associated with), which may in effect damage the credibility of the movement.
While I don’t think you should suppress the expression of personal beliefs for the sake of reputation, you should at least re-consider whether you take the idea of “free-energy” machines seriously, and if you still do mention such things with a degree of skepticism so that people don’t automatically question your other, more brilliant, ideas as a result.
thanks for putting this out – there are a bunch of such places – starting right now – but often they are not well connected and offer just a puzzle piece of the transformation needed!
We are since 2015 in the process of creating such a Institutes for Technologies of Reunion in the most holistic way we can think of and based in a Intentional Community: “The Academy of applied good Life” in the Middle of Germany.
or with english-google-translation: http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=&sl=de&tl=en&u=gutes-leben-akademie.de
We allready learned a lot on our way in intense groupprocesses as our group is the Generation which would have loved to study at such a place (mostly 22 – 35 years old) – currently we live in a prototyp house near Marburg and are about to decide for a final place – One out of three great but all not perfect opportunities has to be choosen until this June 2018.
Our aim is to train young people in a real laboratory to develop competencies in order to become active as pioneers of change for a good life on this earth.
Within our intentional-community, we build common-good-oriented companies in five specialist areas (human, ecology, technology, culture, systems) to offer apprentiships to young people.
In the department of ecology for example: are we about to set up a regenerative agriculture-farm.
All 5 domains together are the most holistic approach to transformational education and reasearch we could think of. The are strongly connected and interwoven and ther common aim is to further develop sustainable economicly viable solutions for global challenges together with universities and research institutes. All 5 departments are complemented by modules from the three basic areas of the academy (system analysis, communitybuilding and potential development). These 3 areas support new students when they enter the acadamy to find their own gifts and unfold them in the context of our global challanges.
If new students decide after 3 Months for a 2-3 year apprantiship in one of the 5 above mentioned departments they will still be constantly accompanied by the other 3 fields:
-potential development: spiritual inquiry: who am I? Consciousness-development tools, Shadow-work to overcome old habbits, Integral-Life-Practice.
-community building: how can we co-creat something in deep authentic mutual supporting relationships, sociocracy…
-system analyses: how do systems and transformation function – how is my field releated to the big picture?
We are happy if you reach out for us for networking or support!
Sheryl Morris says
This sings to me! Especially, having recently returned home from a Montessori for Social Justice retreat and conference in Portland, Oregon. I was struck, once again, by how much we all have to learn from Indigenous communities; by how much we stand to gain in quality of life by honoring and gently embracing, mind, body, and soul those of the Global Majority. (My own identity: white, senior, cis-gendered female.)
Random video chat says
Helpful information, Fortunate me I found your site inadvertently, and I’m amazed why this fortuitous event did not occurred ahead of time! I bookmarked it..
Four Arrows Don Jacobs says
The recent UN Report on Instinction Rates (2019) says Indigenous worldview is the best chance for turning things around. I honor that Charles mentions this, but feel it deserves more than a mention. It represents how we lived for 99 percent of human history and is held by people who deserve recognition and support.
Four Arrows Don Jacobs says
See Four Arrows book Point of Departure: Returning to our More Authentic Worldview for Education and Survival.
Jonathan Dawson says
This is spot on the zeitgeist, providing a focal point and powerful articulation to so many conversations I find myself engaged in just now. Thanks for pulling the threads together so well. Now we must act on this!
Josefita Guzmán says
En la actualidad hay muchos proyectos que se mueven en esta tesitura, la diferencia es que se trabaja directamente en la tierra, en la salud, en la tecnología limpia, en la educación alternativa, etc., y poco se escribe al respecto. Debemos tener un solo mundo, uno en que quepamos todos sin fronteras, donde la educación comparta los mismos principios: no hacer nada que dañe a la propia persona y no hacer nada que dañe a otros, estudiar para el bien comun. Que la educación sea una fiesta de aprendizaje y conocimiento y que éste, no este esquematizado, que sea tan amplio como la propia persona lo desee.
Gracias Charles por este escrito maravilloso, digno de ser compartido.
Paolo Coppa says
Amazing voice of truth. I am in. When do we start.
Scarlett Chou says
This is absolutely an amazing introductive work, I wonder is it ok to translate this into Chinese?
Shannon McArthur says
The Pause has now happened; people are stuck behind closed doors or risking their lives, and of Elders and friends. It’s cocoon-time. Thank you, Charles and all previous commenters, for all your expressions. We need good ideas, and there are many here. Often, we don’t see the reason for things until we see the patterns in retrospect, but there is always a reason. If that didn’t happen, then this could not have happened… it’s not always good, but always leads to good, imho.
Retrospection has led me to realize I was destined to be an Oracle and Teacher. My first prophecy was spoken at 9 and came true 40 years later. A lovely surprise that contributed to my awakening and made me realize I experience the magic so I would be inspired with MOM, the Magic in Ordinary Moments… and POP, the Power of People. I’m telling you this because of a vision of a planet-embracing network of repurposed urban buildings, similar to what you describe. Our Heart Gardens (Oh-Gs) was inspired by a crow that did successful surgery on a worm–both ends lived because they each had a heart. Earthworms live in dirt and dirt has medicine in it that relieves the symptoms of anxiety, etc. Communities need hearts that grow food, can provide soil’s medicine, a place and reason for people to gather, share knowledge and experience, healing and caring. The Oh-Gs in my vision are unique, each with specialities (depending upon location, buildings, resources, the knowledge of the people involved) as well as the basics: gardens, kitchens, integration with existing infrastructure and agencies — set up by groups that include all levels of government, owners of appropriate buildings (unused malls, department stores, hotels, zoos, arenas, etc.), private citizens, farmers, educators, counsellors, medical people, homeless people and neighbours. The current Power of People, POP needs to be redeployed, and paid until the Oh-Gs system is able to sustain the masses. Then we can rethink money — with abundant food, few have need of money. Focusing POP on creating gardens to feed us, we can help each other heal and create resilient communities that raise amazing children.
An idea that excites me atm is an Oh-G Hockey hub… where teams engage their minds, hearts and bodies within quarantine, supported by a permanent self-contained & sustained complex focused around the game and gardening. Teams may come and go but the people are always there, ready and able to welcome them in beauty, love and abundance.
The Oh-Gs website is — https://ourheartgardens.com
Tap through my portal here — https://docs.google.com/document/d/11NHISMYysWO9O1wb_74SOu2Ku22ToT5Nx3OEFjhTxF0/edit?usp=sharing
kamir bouchareb st says
nice topic thanks