It is an early Sunday morning last month at Green Gulch Farm just the other side of the Goldlen Gate Bridge, almost in the shadow of Muir Woods. Master Gardener and Zen Master Wendy Johnson is delivering the lecture. She speaks to the sangha about how often she awakes each night in the throes of an existential terror unlike anything she has experienced before in her 50 plus years. "How many of you have experienced this?" she asks. More than half of those assembled raise their hands.
And so, in the closing salvo of today's EarthDay blogathon, I pose this same question to you.
Are there nights when you are shocked from your sleep, as if a vise was squeezing the blood out of heart, the air out of your lungs? The life out of your Earth?
Because if you have, read on. My name is Deborah and to me, the climate crisis is not a 'pet project.' It is everything.
There is something irresistibly appealing about shepherding in the final act in a blogathon.
Everything that needs to be said has already been laid out there, discussed. The best of the best have preceded you. Nobody's really expecting much. Only the truly hardy are still hanging in there. It's basically over.
Except that if your team has hung together throughout the marathon, if they have coalesced, pruned and polished, punted, passed off, and run interference, patted each other on the back; well then, if you're running the final play it's kinda all coming down to you ... To reenact that miraculously perfect two minute warning drill you've practiced for so often. To dust off that famous #16 jersey and move your team down the field in a perfectly syncopated and copacetic execution of automaticity which characterizes Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's state of flow.
"How to live life as a work of art, rather than as a chaotic response to external events..."
He (Csikszentmihalyi)started with artists, or with those that were "creating meaning". Many described an "ecstatic state" or a feeling of being outside of what they were creating with their hands. Ecstatic comes from the Latin for "stand to side". Csikszentmihalyi accounted for this feeling of being consciously outside of the creation as due to the psychological limits of consciousness, that at higher levels of consciousness the more mundane aspects become subconscious in order to restrict conscious attention to the number of items it can manage. So a pianist described not noticing the room, his hands, the keys, the score, but rather being conscious of only "being one with the music and expressing emotion".
He (Csikszentmihalyi) noted that a major constraint on people enjoying what they are doing is always being conscious of a fear of how they appear to others and what these others might think. Ecstasy includes rising above these constraining concerns of the ego.
Characteristics of flow
Loss of fear—no fear of failure
No thinking of performance
Total immersion in the activity
Narrow focus of attention
Effortless performance—not forcing it
Feeling of being in complete control
Time-space disorientation (usually slowed down)
Perceive universe to be integrated and unified
Unique, temporary, involuntary experience
The World Conference on Climate Change ended today in Cochabamba. With little international fanfare. Barely any press coverage. Particularly here in North America, where leaders like Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez are branded as evil' socialists. Some 20,000 people attended the conference. Morales, in this concluding statement called on the dignitaires in attendance to write out a formal declaration for the upcoming UN-sponsored talks this August in Cancun.
In reality, unless you were there, or unless, like me, you were working nearly round the clock on a project to push out the message, nothing happened. No impact. Kinda like what it is like being a climate writer here at Kos. Most of us who rallied behind the notion of DK GreenRoots think we have a winner. True, the stats don't bear that out. Our diaries aren't regulars on the rec list or Jotter's high impact diaries. But we are often 'rescue rangered.' And we have a loyal, passionate following.
So we have been mulling over this .... Do we resurrect the Green Diary Rescue? Do we find a way to engage a front pager in our cause? Do we create a "Green Channel," or a 'mothership diary' which tracks and grabs onto environmental stories just before they flicker into oblivion off the recent diaries list? Do we create a Cyber Hall of Fame for Kos' most popular diarists, guaranteeing them their own space and freeing up the rec list for some new voices? Do we demand our own 'skin?'
But I think the better question is: Is DailyKos really the place to activate our base? Because while I plan to continue writing here, and love the community which has grown around Kos' "GreenTeam", frankly, I believe we need more than what Kos offers.
We need to be out there on the front lines of this battle. We desperately need trainers, leaders, coaches; we need to become an expertly choreographed orchestra playing in perfect pitch, operating in real time with sure-fire mega-focus on our goal: Ensuring the future of all forms of life on Earth. We need to start rigorous drilling to become experts on the eco-Dream Team.
We need an Eco-ExpertCommons!
It was 11am and Evo Morales had turned a football stadium into a giant classroom, marshalling an array of props: paper plates, plastic cups, disposable raincoats, handcrafted gourds, wooden plates and multicoloured ponchos. All came into play to make his main point: to fight climate change "we need to recover the values of the indigenous people". Naomi Klein. Cochabamba, Earth Day, 2010
The word coming out of last fall's Bioneer's was that State of the World Forum was planning to create an international coterie of Eco-Swat Teams.
"Fueled by Brazil's breakthrough leadership, the State of the World Forum is organizing the 2020 Climate Leadership campaign worldwide, said Kenny Ausubel. "One strategy is a Fund to develop Rapid Response Teams, eco-SWAT teams that can immediately support cities, states and nations with the plans and practical means to meet the goal."
So what happened? Well, I signed up at SOTF to join their rapid response team, attended the Women2020 conference earlier this month and when we broke into groups to discuss social networking and rapid response, nobody in the group knew about Twitter or blogs or delicious. Nadda.
So where are our leaders? Who is going to rally us together, design the training, define and delegate the positions? Who IS capable of fine-tuning climate activists to operate in synch, in perfect pitch? Because that's what I think we need.
I believe we need those EcoSWAT teams! NOW! Are you with me?
Characteristics of a successful SWAT Team Member
• Exercise self discipline . Operators must demonstrate attention to detail and commitment to developing individual characteristics that add collectively to the team. You will want your team members to stay in top physical condition, control destructive eating and drinking habits and maintain a good-to-go readiness status (such as keeping gear in order by cleaning, replenishing and securing equipment immediately after every operation, even when tired).
• Look out for their teammates. Some police officers are notorious practical jokers and take great pleasure in singling out others for a few laughs. In reality, there’s nothing funny or logical about victimizing someone who might later hold your life in their hands. Humor is an awesome force multiplier, but only when applied fairly and with a caring attitude. Those who make sport of other team members do not contribute to the health of the program, and should be dealt with accordingly.
• Develop an area of expertise. Team members have normal assigned duties, but each should choose an area of specialized expertise and develop a hunger for mastering the skills that come with it. A breacher, for example, should find new and better ways to open the door; build tools that get the job done faster and safer; write an article in a trade journal to share their knowledge; write a lesson plan and teach a class that people want to attend; and raise the team’s stock by being the person other agencies seek out when they have questions about breaching.
• Develop a tactical knowledge base . A team member should assume the responsibility of researching, collecting and archiving relevant information that pertains to their area of expertise. There will come a time when higher authority will question why something was done a particular way. A knowledgeable operator can immediately respond with data and documentation that convincingly argues that not only are the practices contemporary thinking, but on the cutting edge.
• Practice humility . Dr. Richard Carlson2 says, "People are drawn to those with a quiet, inner confidence, who don’t need to make themselves look good, be right all the time, or steal the glory." Operators should think about team before self. The victory is found not in what I do, but what we did. Link
In a letter sent to the 1st Conference of the Peoples on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, writer Eduardo Galeano says to the participants from 129 nations and all five continents meeting there: "...the whole world should hear those voices."
He added, "They are teaching us that we little humans are part of nature, relatives of all those who have legs, paws, wings or roots... The European conquest charged with idolatry the indigenous peoples who lived in that communion, and for believing in it they were flogged, had their throats cut or were burned alive."
Right now, we are on the 15 yard line on our opponents end of the field. We are the underdogs. We are shocked and awed. Some of us are still Waiting for Godot...
But I am not. I am ready to take the handoff, to make the catch, to design the play. I am ready to join the team, to practice to perfection. To drop into the deepest of trenches.
In an article in Huffpo The Power of Networks: Effecting Greater Impact in the Social Change Movement, Tide's Foundation VP Ellen Friedman, writes about the lessons her organization has learned about creating successful change networks:
* Leave your ego at the door - this is not about any one person or institution. We must be focused on the larger goal of moving a change agenda.
* Leadership is about facilitation and connection - new forms of leadership, and new capacities that leaders must embody are critical for moving in a network direction. The old model of the "sage on the stage" is rapidly becoming obsolete. Network leaders must develop leadership in others.
* Relationship are at the heart of networks - that means that learning how to communicate effectively, disagree respectfully, and appreciate differences in all their manifestations, are skills we must hone. Learning how to work together from a basis of trust will move a network a long way.
* Networks need investment - whether it is a "network weaver" who keeps the network connected, or investing time in meetings and coordination, the infrastructure needed to keep a network vital and vibrant is necessary to pay attention to as a fore-thought and not an after-thought.
The power of networks to move a global change agenda forward cannot be underestimated. The hope that is represented by some of the emerging global networks (see Avaaz or Four Years. Go. ) is remarkable. Supporting these networks is the work we all need to do if we want change to happen on the scale the world needs it to.
So our blogathon comes to an end. My hope is that it remains illuminated in your mind, that we have activated some innate intrinsic part of you, that spirit which recognizes the 'fierce urgency of now', that essence which knows what ultimately matters is the essential 'stuff' of existence. That we must act now.
You are brushing your teeth. You are pulling back the covers. It is late. You are tired ...
My hope is that your mind will not let you rest. That if, before tonight, you would have been one of those who did not raise their hand in response to Wendy Johnson's question, that after tonight you will realize that we are paused now at the two minute warning.
And the question, the question of this moment, the question so many of us are already so familiar with? It is already synonymous with the growing movement .... the question is:
"What Did You Do...When You Knew?"
Read and watch videos about Climate Debt
Join 4YG and follow on twitter
Sign up for 350.org's 10/10/10 work parties, scheduled all over the world.
Add your voice to "the global chorus celebrating life on earth" at Six Billion Reasons
Follow Tweets as they continue to come out of Bolivia
And follow OrganicAluminum on Twitter.
On the road #12 (Xynthia's trail) by Judex
This diary is part of the Earth Day @ DKos Blogathon! Several excellent diaries have already been posted, with more to come:
(All times Eastern!)