If you have been following Earthfire Institute this last year via our email newsletter, website, or social media, you know that we have been talking a lot about Conversation—that simple act of connecting with another being by offering our selves, our words, and our willingness to listen with an open mind and heart.
In the introduction to Turning To One Another, author Margaret Wheatley writes, “I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again. Simple, truthful conversation where we each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard, and we each listen well. If we can sit together and talk about what’s important to us, we begin to come alive.”
We believe this to be true—but we also know that there are billions on this beautiful Earth of ours who are not part of our conversation. Billions of people, yes; but also billions upon billions of non-human living beings, with whom we humans share the world but not its wealth.
Animals, plants, living ecosystems—they have no voice at the tables of power where their fates are decided. And by leaving them out of our deliberations about how to sustain Life on this planet; by treating them as abstractions—“nature” or “the animal kingdom”—and not as a community of individuals with their own distinctiveness and destiny; we do them great injustice and we impoverish ourselves.
We are fortunate at Earthfire Institute to share our lives with wild animals, and this experience shows us daily our deep, personal kinship with all of Life. Our bears, our wolves, our coyotes, our foxes, our bison—every day, in very intimate ways, they show us our family connection to them. And through their behavior, they tell us about their longing for connection with us.
Life wants to connect with Life. We believe strongly that if humans can experience this basic truth, then we will have a real chance of finding a way out of this environmental crisis that we are in. We will do it for family. We will do it for ourselves. We will do it for Life.
Introducing the Earthfire Council of All Beings
When we connect with non-human species, we have the opportunity to integrate their unique intelligences and wisdoms into our journey forward. How can the intelligence of a wild animal be used to help us live sustainably and heal the Earth? What can we do in our daily lives?
In 2018, we are setting out to explore these questions with you, through the year-long program we are calling the Earthfire Council of All Beings. Its theme is simple: “Showing Up for Life on Earth.”
Of all the things we can do in any day, “showing up” for Life is the most important—for us individually, and for all beings on Earth. By turning our awareness outward toward other living beings, we discover how all Life is personally and intimately connected to us. Through this growing awareness of our deep connection with all Life, our own vast capacity for creativity and action is nourished.
Through the fall and winter of last year and moving into this year, we’ve been “piloting” this program via our signature monthly series of Conservation Conversations with our Executive Director, Dr. Susan Eirich, plus a growing number of Earthfire community members who join her in conversation from across the globe by video conference.
Almost by magic, we’ve come together as a family—a family whose kin includes all Life on Earth. Together we are trying, to the best of our ability, to widen the circle of conversation to include all living beings: through storytelling, art, imagery, and contemplation, we are seeking together to move beyond our human-centered perspective and bring in the “voices” and perspectives of the land, the animals, and all of nature that supports us.
Conservation Conversations take place every third or fourth Wednesday of the month at 6pm Mountain Time. They are open to everyone, and we strongly encourage you to join in. Some people have written to us that they are intimidated by the idea of speaking their personal truth before a group such as this. If that’s you, then come and listen. Soon you will learn that you are not alone. Indeed, you are respected and accepted part of all Life, including all the Life gathered around our virtual dinner table.
For a sample of what they are all about, check out the video recording of our December 2017 Conservation Conversation, “We Can Be the Light in These Dark Times.” You’ll find yourself at the dinner party you’ve always wanted to attend!
Showing Up for Life in 2018
Conservation Conversations are the gateway to the other Earthfire Council of All Beings offerings we have planned for 2018. Starting in April, we are introducing three new offerings we hope you’ll appreciate:
· Earthfire Encounters. Over the years, we’ve learned that people can literally be transformed by mindful encounters with the wild animals of Earthfire. We plan to extend this offering to anyone around the globe who seeks it, through “live to tape” encounters with our animal friends, supplemented by deep discussion with Earthfire founders Jean Simpson and Susan Eirich, plus other special guests.
· Earthfire Radio. We plan to take our current podcast series to a new level with a companion series of live webcasts with leaders in the fields of spiritual ecology and activism.
· Earthfire Magazine. Starting this summer, our twice-yearly print newsletter will be transformed into a deep, visually rich, and compelling guide to showing up for Life on Earth.
These new offerings will show up in “pilot” form soon. We’ll be looking forward to your comments and suggestions as we develop these offerings for you.
Is all Life sacred? Are we family members with all Life on Earth? If these are true, then how shall we live? Conversation can lead us to a tipping point. We can decide together that all Life is sacred and all living beings are family. Doing so will change how we live on the Earth. Join us in exploring these questions in 2018 and beyond.