The first ever EcoFaith Institute organized by EcoFaith Intern Coordinator Dave Pritchett of the Wilderness Way Community, drew participation from as far as Vancouver, BC, Minnesota and Wisconsin. One of our three participants from Vancouver, B.C., Vikki Marie, offered this reflection on the impact of the experience in her life. She is pictured below engaged in work on Eloheh Farm as part of the weekend institute.
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This reflection is written in gratitude to the whole EcoFaith Recovery Team,
who shared their experience, strength and hope with us June 16 – 19. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to participate in the EcoFaith Recovery Weekend Institute. Our learning cohort included five interns young people between 18 and 30 and three of us older folks between 53 and 71. The EcoFaith Recovery Team invited us to share and participate in actualizing their vision of a better way of being with Mother Earth and all our relations human and non-human.
Dave Pritchett facilitated us in creating a commitment list for the weekend which garnered unanimous agreement among all present. Dave was the guiding presence, who helped us in transitioning from one activity to another for most of the weekend. Our introduction to EcoFaith Recovery’s vision was accomplished with concrete examples of their six practices for awakening leadership:
- Spiritual grounding: before we began on Thursday evening, Amanda read an inspirational piece that set the tone and spiritually grounded the group for what was to follow.
- Relational practices: all through the weekend we had opportunities for one-to-one exchanges with each other. Care was taken to ensure each participant interacted with as many other participants as possible;
- Telling our stories: likewise there were many opportunities throughout the weekend to share bits of our personal and community story. In addition, through Cherokee traditional stories and their personal stories, Randy and Edith Woodley invited us to decolonize our minds.
- Rhythms of engagement: Robyn Hartwig led us in a drumming/percussion exercise on Friday, where we connected with our own hearts and engaged with one another’s concerns rhythmically. On Saturday, Solveig Nilsen-Goodin, led us in a guided meditation where we actually tasted the fruit of the earth (raspberries and ‘winter spinach’) to connect our rhythms with the rhythm of the earth. The two experiences were poignant because they brought a sensory and concrete awareness to what could possibly remain a merely theoretical proposition.
- Mentoring: All the activities throughout the weekend modelled mentoring and mutual co-mentoring. Of particular note, Randy introduced us to the differences in Indigenous and non-indigenous worldviews in the North American context, a significant awareness for this work.
- Conscious Leadership Development: Through inviting us to define ‘organizing’ and the personal as well as goal-oriented reasons for organizing, Matt Guynn, helped us discover and rediscover our own leadership skills. Chris BekemeierÃ‚Â and Solveig Nilsen-Goodin’s stories about EcoFaith’s initiatives gave portraits of leadership development and what it might look like. More importantly, their stories emphasized the importance of perseverance in the low times.
Throughout the weekend, the EcoFaith Recovery Team checked in with us to see how and what we intended to actually do when we returned to our communities. Lastly, Dave led us in an evaluation of the weekend and next steps. Personally, I found the weekend educational, energizing and affirming.
Thank you to Chris, Randy and Edith for their hospitality. Thank you to Dave, Robyn, Chris, Solveig, Amanda, Randy, Edith, and Matt (and I hope I haven’t left anyone out) for revitalizing a heart that was growing tired from the struggle for positive societal change.
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