Last summer, I joined a group of random strangers, from all around the world, to meet up via zoom, and support each other as accountability buddies, going through a free online foundations training in Active Hope.
I’d heard about it when Manda Scott interviewed the co-creators of the training on her podcast.
I’d had the book, Active Hope, on my bedside table for a while, but wasn’t making headway. Hearing co-author Dr Chris Johnstone and his collaborator Madeleine Young talk about the way they’d brought the Work That Reconnects to life, after years facilitating groups through the process in real life, on a digital platform, tweaked my interest. Life in 2021, was, after all, sponsored by zoom. And then, an invitation landed, to join a newly hatched buddy group, of friends of the podcast, to go through it together.
The course content required about an hour a week and, in combination with weekly meetings with my Active Hope buddies in New Zealand, Portugal, Germany, Scotland, and England/The Netherlands, (that required me to log in at 5am PST), was incredibly resourcing during a time when the IPCC was dropping its first report, COVID was very much at large, and the world seemed to be on a collision course with self-destruction.
The group, and the feeling of fellowship the process engendered, has become so dear that several of us still connect every week.
We took a virtual pilgrimage together – travelling the Spiral of the Work that Reconnects – starting in gratitude as a grounding place, a way to resource ourselves, and then turning to face our pain for the world and honouring it as our recognition that something is out of whack… and then, to see with new eyes by understanding everything as a system which empowers us to be small and to effect change… and to ask, what is mine to do and to go forth with some small intervention you’re going to offer.
Since then, I wondered if it could be re-created in Pemberton, in real life, in the geography and community that I’m part of, by virtue of post-code. I kept mulling over it, circling back to it, but couldn’t find the shape of the thing, couldn’t locate the start-up button, couldn’t spin up the juice or the jam, to initiate it. I chalked it up to COVID-19 which was eating a lot of my energy, even without having contracted it. I didn’t have the mojo to force it, or anything, to life.
So the seed slept.
And then, as the wheel of the year turned to spring, some curious wind blew, and a series of conversations that I don’t even remember having, put all the pieces together, and we’re on our way.
With the support of Stewardship Pemberton, The Society of Trees, the Wellness Almanac and the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, we’re collaborating to host an 8 week long social club, The Active Hope Climate Squad, kicking off on Monday April 25, with a free guided forest bathing experience, led by Monica Sander Burns of the Society of Trees. We’ll meet Monday evenings at the One Mile Lake Nature Centre until June 13 with the idea that when facing any kind of crisis, but especially a planetary one, it’s best not to go it alone.
What magic might we be able to call forth, by coming together, finding kindreds, learning some time-tested techniques in resilience and grounding it all in the forest?
I’m not sure what’s going to happen.
I’m not sure how it’s going to go.
I know I’m not going to able to recreate the experience I had with my zoom buddies, my fellowship, who taught me what resonance we can create even when we’re not physically geographically together, and how potent it is to be held in circle… because I’m not even the same person any more.
But, I’m curious that this thing I’d wondered how to “make happen” is suddenly, seamlessly happening, and I’m so hopeful that the lesson from this is that when we’re in alignment with the stars, the timing, the whoever and whatever that is benevolent mystery, the things that want to work through you, will, and they’ll carry you as you do, and they’ll line up your allies and collaborators and kindreds as if to say, isn’t this what you’ve been longing for, dear one?
And I am afraid of the depth of my longing – for a future I can dream into and launch my kiddo into with joy and a packed lunch and all my best hopes for him. I am afraid that if I truly own the depth of the longing, I will break apart, I will push people away, I will somehow endanger what I most cherish.
But what seems evident, right now, is that inaction will bring forth all the worst possibilities. And so, we’ll come together, in the forest, and walk the spiral path, and see where it leads.