Every Dollar Goes a Long Way in Africa

And with just $3000 we can begin developing the remainder of the 20 acres of land for the InTerraTree site. Please give what you can to help us build the ecovillage and education center in Togo, West Africa. Your contribution will go a long way in breaking ground on a new kind of development model - one that empowers communities and celebrates local culture.

$ USD
News
IMG_0357
25
Nov

Expand the Box Training @ Orada Center, Portugal

IMG_0352After hours on bumpy roads through Portugal, we arrived at our destination and home for the next 5 days, The Orada Center. It was already night and we were all pretty tired so we quickly found our way to our beds. When I awoke the next morning and walked out of my room, I was blown away by what I saw. The Orada Center was remarkably situated at the intersection of three incredibly beautiful valleys surrounded by green slopes and clear sightlines up each of the three valleys. The infrastructure of the place was similarly astounding, with beautiful lodging for 50. Light wood, big windows and beautiful Portuguese stonework wrapped large, open spaces with high ceilings and tremendous views

Over the course of the next several hours, the other course participants began to arrive: a small yet surprisingly diverse group, ranging in age from 24 to over 60, and coming from 5 countries. As the afternoon rolled around, we all assembled in the meeting room that would be our workshop space for the coming days. “Welcome to Expand the Box,” said a colorful and inviting piece of paper pinned up on the wall. I was filled with feelings of joy and fear, not knowing what was to come.

What happened over the course of these five days was so far beyond anything that I could have anticipated I’m still feeling the positive effects. It was an incredibly simple yet effective and powerful introduction and outline of a different way to see the world, to create meaning, take responsibility, feel feelings, make distinctions, and so much more. It wasn’t so much anything that was totally new but rather a sequence of very basic “Aha!” moments that steadily built into a new way of being. Better yet, each new “Thoughtware Upgrade Map” was accompanied by simple and powerful experiments where new maps were put into practice and participants were able to experience them in all four bodies (physical, mental, emotional, energetic).

(I’m not going to write too much about this training here because nothing I can say would do it justice. The transformation I experienced was so multi-layered, I don’t have words for it. If you want to know more, you can click the “Intro to Expand the Box” below to get a taste of what we went through.)

When we were leaving after the training, I suddenly realized that there was very little sadness in me. I have become pretty accustomed to goodbyes, but this was different. Despite having gone through some incredibly powerful experiences together and feeling really connected, there was no sense of ending or loss. It was as if everyone had learned to relate in a new way: in our centers, fully responsible, and all ready to walk back into the world as changed human beings. While my gremlin wants to say that I already knew a lot of this, what has been so incredibly powerful about this is the clear distinctions, thoughtmaps, and experiments I now have to better navigate my own life and share with others. I feel so grateful for the gift I received here and inspired to bring them back into the world.

Intro to Expand the Box: BEWARE!!! May Result in Liquid State.

010 Welcome ETB
A lot of this might very well not make sense, or might even bring up resistance. I’m not trying to convince you of anything, I am just offering some insight into what we covered in hopes that it MIGHT be of benefit to you. This resistance is just your box experiencing fear of entering the liquid state, where your previous rigid self identity is melted and is able to transform. If you are ready to take a plunge into unknown territory then keep on reading and see what lands. I provide experiments for each of the main “Thoughtware Upgrade Maps” as well because all of this takes on a new level of meaning when you try it for yourself. I HIGHLY encourage you to do so and to feel for yourself what I am talking about :)

Some basic distinctions:

  • You have a box. You are not your box. Your box is a defense mechanism that tries to keep you safe by limiting your possibilities (what you think you can do.) Your box also believes it is always right. It’s main purpose is to preserve and protect. You have the power to expand your box by venturing outside of your own limitations and shifting your intention from being right to being in contact with.
  • There are four basic feelings; anger, sadness, fear, and joy. All other feelings either fall under one of these four or are a mixture of feelings. Mixed feelings cannot be used constructively because they are unclear.
  • There is no such thing as good and bad feelings. Feelings are feelings. They are neutral energies that when made conscious serve as helpful navigation tools for recognizing personal limitations and awaken possibilities.
  • There are different levels of responsibility. Modern culture operates at a child level of responsibility, making huge messes with no intention of cleaning them up (nuclear waste, garbage islands, environmental degradation, etc.). Children make messes without taking the responsibility to clean them up. Adults clean up messes. To become an adult we must take responsibility and this means becoming conscious of our feelings, actions, and impacts.

The Map of Low Drama

110 Map of Low DramaLow drama is any action designed to avoid responsibility. Until we become conscious of it and take responsibility for ourselves, low drama is an endless cycle between three roles; the victim, the persecutor, and the rescuer. This cycle feeds another important part of ourselves to recognize: our gremlin. Gremlin is essentially another word for ego, the part in us that wants to win and is happy when others lose. If we are unconscious of gremlin, gremlin controls our lives.

Activity: Find two people.
Pick a situation where you felt attacked, overwhelmed etc.
You will reenact this situation. You are the victim.
Have the other two people choose roles. You need one rescuer and one persecutor.
Provide a brief introduction of the situation.
Reenact the situation for an agreed upon time (30-60 seconds.)
Switch roles and reenact a new situation until each person has played each role.

Rules: Do not hurt yourself or anyone else. Make sure everyone agrees to this rule. For all experiments, this is ALWAYS a rule.
DO NOT change roles (victim, rescuer, persecutor) until the agreed time is complete.

 

Rapid Learning150 Rapid Learning

Often when we receive feedback (information on how we can do something better), we either reject it (What do you know anyway?) or use it to create a negative self-story (I suck at this.) When we do this, we fall into “the swamp.” We can get stuck in the swamp for a LONGGGGG time, maybe even forever, never trying something again. Good news: it’s easy to get out of and stay out of the swamp. When you receive feedback simply reply with “Thank you for the feedback.” and try again.

Activity: You can try this with the exercise above, giving each person feedback at the end of each reenactment. If someone switches roles, simply say “Beep,” tell them they have switched (from rescuer to persecutor for example), they say “Thank you for the feedback,” you say “Shift. Go.” and get right back to the exercise.

 

Being Centered

180 Giving away Center 2We have a physical center and an energetic center. Just like our box tries to keep us safe but limits our possibilities, we often give away our center to stay safe and this also limits our possibilities. Adaptive behavior is a sign of giving away our center. We give our center away as if to say “I am not a threat. I will get out of your way or do what you want.” Learning to keep our energetic center at our physical center opens up new possibilities for personal empowerment, being more able to stay in control when facing fears, creativity, choice, and authenticity.

Activity: You might not think you can do this but it was one of the most simple and most powerful exercises we did and everyone actually CAN do this. Have some people stand in a line (try for at least 5 so that there is less pressure on each person and more collective intelligence can arise). Their job is to watch you walk back and forth in front of them and give you feedback on where your center is. As they continue to offer feedback and coaching, you will eventually hit a point where everyone sees you in your center. First you will want to just focus on walking. Keep your eyes in front of you, on the horizon, and feel a sense of purpose in your walking. Your coaches might want to offer feedback on length of stride, ease of stride, speed, focus, keeping eyes up, feeling the ground, etc. Then you will want to go into contact (look over at) the people watching you. See them as your brothers and sisters, you are a king or queen blessing them with love and connection. This is your planet and these are your people! Don’t give your center away. Keep going. When you are walking fully centered, trust me, you will know. Maybe you won’t be able to feel the shift in your own center (I didn’t at first) but you will certainly feel the people watching you shift when you get it (this was super powerful).

Using Anger Consciously

Anger is a tool for setting boundaries, for either allowing something to continue or making it stop. The feeling of anger is not positive or negative. Anger can even be “I love this! Keep going!” (This very well might not make sense yet. Don’t worry about it. I wanted to share this distinction anyway because it was really powerful for me.)

Activity: This exercise can be a bit tricky at first, it was for me even during the workshop, but once you understand the purpose it’s easy. Stand across from a partner. Have them run at you, as if to strangle you. Yell “Stop” in such a way that it actually makes them stop running. Use rapid learning here where the person running at you offers feedback on how your “Stop” could be stronger, why it is or isn’t working for them. After you have gotten comfortable making the person stop, switch roles and do the same. (Next Step: Give your attacker instructions after you’ve made them stop. For example: “Stop! Take two steps backwards. Move forward slowly. Stop! Take 5 steps backwards. Move forward quickly. Stop!” This is an opportunity to experiment with your edge between anger and fear. Try to keep your center and stay in control.

Activity 2: Find a partner. Have them sit across from you and ask you for things o try to enter your space (For example: Can I have $5? I’m going to step on your foot now. I’m going to pat you on the head.) Practice saying “No.” Use feedback to get to a stronger “No.”

For anyone interested in learning more about any of this you can get started with Clinton’s book Directing the Power of Conscious Feelings: Living Your Own Truth which provides a much better introduction to the new territory of Expand The Box Training and Possibility Management.

If you made it this far, thank you for being willing to jump into the unknown :) Here are some more “Thoughtware Upgrade Maps” that also probably won’t make much sense without more information/experience but just in case. Try the experiments and let me know how it goes! And if you want more check out Expand The Box

IMG_0362
30
Oct

Into the Unknown, From Scotland to Portugal

IMG_0344

The beautiful Inverness, Scotland

After my ten minute sharing in the Universal Hall during the New Story Summit, one of the event’s organizers took back the mic. As an afterthought he announced to the crowd that I would be walking from Scotland to West Africa after the event. While it was true that I was planning on overlanding these 6,000 miles as the InTerraTree Activation Tour, the idea of literally walking them seemed like an insane feat. As people began asking me about my walking and encouraging me on my journey: among them Sateesh Kumar and Geoff Daigilsh, two men who had both walked several thousand miles themselves, this crazy idea began to root itself inside of me. I still met the inquiries with some hesitation, explaining that I was overlanding and not literally walking, but the collective energy created around this impossible feat continued to grow and I began to deeply consider it as a possibility.

On the last day after the conference, I had a possibility shifting conversation with Clinton Callahan, founder of the Possibility Management trainings. Living up to his work, Clinton immediately brought an entirely new, and surprisingly simple question to the table: why are you walking and how does that fit into your life? This question, and my relative inability to answer, began an internal shift that called me back to my center. As he listened to me explain what I was really looking for, what I considered my life’s work and life’s purpose to be, another question, in fact an invitation, came from him: What if rather than spending three months searching for something on the road, I abandoned the plan and went to Portugal to spend 5 days directly going after what I was looking for, with a group of people to support me, in one of his trainings?

IMG_0340

After another powerful moment of receiving some of the deepest support and validation I have ever had, a moment made possible through authentically initiated eldership, my concept of the path ahead had been severely rocked. I spent the next 24 hours in a liquid state, as Clinton would call it, digesting everything that had happened during the incredibly powerful New Story Summit and everything that had just shifted inside of me after my conversation with Clinton. Despite extreme exhaustion, impossible odds, and remarkable synchronicities that kept me moving forward, I found myself landing in Lisbon 24 hours later: coming off a plane out of London, after taking a taxi to a train to an overnight bus to cover the 14+ hours from the northern reaches of Scotland to London.

(left) Sitting on the train from Forres, after literally racing alongside it to the station in a cab from Findhorn. Talk about a James Bond style moment!

(below right) A fruit stand along the dusty roads from Lisbon to Odemira.

IMG_0349Throughout the journey, there was a tremendous deal of questioning, of shifting, of persevering, and of letting go. I felt guilt for changing my plans: fear of being judged for changing my mind; anger towards myself for not sticking with “THE PLAN,” and sadness about of my internal doubts that had led me to give away my center and allow the story of my walk grow. The moment I got off the plane and met with Clinton, Marion, and Vanda, I knew I had made the right choice. As we bounced along dirt roads through the Alantejo of Portugal in a sunbeaten black car for the next three hours, I felt the most comfortable I have in a long time. I was ready for whatever was to come over the next 5 days, or at least I thought I was… :)

circle at new story
21
Oct

New Story Summit @ Findhorn Foundation, Scotland

From September 27 – October 4, Findhorn was home to an emergent event called the New Story Summit. Bringing together over 350 thought leaders and change makers, from over 50 countries, in the growing domain of cutting edge living and culture shifting. The name of the event invited participants to recognize and engage in exploring one of the most powerful tools we have as humans, the ability to use story to derive meaning and guide our actions.

The summit was an experiment for the organizers as well as the participants. It was going to be a leap into the unknown with space for flexibility rather than rigidity in the structure. Walking into the event there was a buzz among the crowd that could be felt, lots of questions, lots of excitement, lots of anticipation for what would be created. This whirlwind of energy created in the build up was exactly what was needed to set the stage for what Charles Eisenstein calls a “temperature reading” on the current climate of our social and cultural evolution.

Without getting too deep into elaborating on the event and the results of the “barometer” reading we received, I refer you to Charles’ synopsis here. I feel that he summarizes very well my personal reflections on the collective field generated by this event. Instead, I will focus on the deeper exploration of a theme I have been asked my a number of people to speak to, namely the tension that arose between “elders” and “youngers.” This more specific tension seems to mirror the larger issues experienced throughout the event: of power and control, assumed roles and structures, as well as a deep longing to be seen. As such, I am happy to put my reflections into this more specific context, but is that just me conforming to the structure again? (This question will make more sense as you read on or read Charles’ piece on this.)

nick presenting at new story

As the only young person invited to speak at this event, I found myself feeling the pressure of playing a rather unique role in the ecosystem. Despite having been honored in this way by the organizers, I understood and resonated with the frustrations of the younger folks. There was a feeling of not being fully seen, a sense of being both celebrated and respected on one level and belittled and disrespected on another. As I sought to better understand how I fit into the structure of the summit, why I had been invited to speak, what they hoped I would speak to,  I felt increasingly like I was being placed into a role to fulfill some structural sense of adequate demographical representation.

As Charles states, I was one of those unwilling to fully dive into the chaos: by questioning the structure that created this role, by taking action to change it; like refusing to speak for example, but instead I just went along with it, excusing my compliance by holding the self-indulgent sentiment of, “at least I don’t agree with this,” as Charles appropriately critiques, “as if that would change anything.” My motives for not standing up were complex: not wanting to offend those who had invited me, feeling a responsibility to fill whatever role I could for the unwitnessed other young people, and partly selfish, because I wanted to speak. I felt caught in a situation where I didn’t feel comfortable saying yes, but also didn’t want to stand up and say no. The feeling of being a demographic was further enforced when I was encouraged to state my age before delivering my message and, in this moment, I made my small act of defiance, saying “I guess my age is relevant here,” before again complying and telling the audience my age.

As I received compliments after my sharing, they felt routine to me: more like a pat on the head for a job well done rather than a heartfelt appreciation of something presenced for the collective through my words. Whether it was my inner turmoil and discomfort surrounding the role I felt I had accepted within the summit, or the frequent lack of specificity in the feedback received, I felt numb. My intention in saying this is not to vilify those who complimented me, but rather, to presence a larger issue I see, namely that we (probably meaning “I,” as a product of Western culture) never really learn how to offer constructive feedback. I believe this plays into the larger architecture of the collective deep longing to be and feel seen and heard, and that through learning how to offer constructive feedback part of this collective pain might be healed.

For the sake of thoroughness, I want to mention that there was a forum held in the Universal Hall one evening, between the elders and the youngers, but I did not attend. Not as any sort of protest, simply because it’s not what happened. Within this environment of incredible wisdom, connection, and rich experience, exploring the wounds between youngers and elders was not my primary focus. I heard a mixed range of feedback, including that one young person had made a rather bold statement regarding the pattern of elders to speak even when they don’t have anything relevant to say, simply because they feel they are supposed to, because they are fulfilling some role. This fits quite well into the story of the struggles we are facing in creating the “new story,” the patterns created by structures based on expectations and conforming to the status quo.

new story conferenceWhat I did attend was a gathering of the youngers on one of the final evenings, in the beautiful Earth Sanctuary room. It was a mixed environment, with one man coming in to represent the larger assembly, questioning the motive of the youngers to separate themselves from the elders on one of our final evenings: “One of the last chances for reconciliation.” The very foundation of this gathering was questioned before it even began, “Why are we isolating ourselves here, together, and not in THERE with everyone?,” but ultimately, it did begin and I, for one, am glad it did.

For me, this was the beginning of taking our power back, of no longer submitting to the structure or the expectations of us as participants, a refusal of the expectation to play nice and find reconciliation based on the timeline of the summit. What I experienced was a collective dive into the not knowing, of deep questioning, and of really daring into what needed to be said. From talking about power and control, to a lack of recognition and a longing for “real elders,” of mentors who had graduated into adulthood and were no longer asserting to prove themselves, a question arose in me and I shared it with those assembled, “What if we initiate our elders?”

This statement was met with mixed responses, anywhere from “Who do we think we are?” to “Where is the respect?” to someone mirroring back the writings of a sociologist, whose name escapes me at the moment, that states it is always the youngers who initiate the elders: that elders initiating other elders is a false concept. In a societal structure that regularly demands for those in power to have all the answers, it is not surprising we become increasingly uncomfortable with the unknown, more fixated on proving our own merits and worthiness the older and more accomplished we get.

nick at findhornFrom my perspective, it is our duty, as youngers, to witness and honor our elders with such sincerity that they no longer feel they have to prove anything. It seems that from this place we, as youngers, would again be able to receive the support we are craving from our elders. It would create a place where our elders truly witness us and can offer their insights and wisdom to us but, even more importantly, it would create a place where it is OK for them to sit with us in the not knowing: for our elders to make contact with the chaos again, through us, and open the door to true emergence happening.

I feel deep appreciation for all that went into this event, and excited about what came out of it. As my journey continues, I feel even more open to the not knowing, empowered by the recognition that this state of chaos is just a landmark on the journey of emerging clarity. I feel inspired to explore how my relationships to power and structure might limit me, where I continue to conform to expectations, where my defiance is empty, and how these recognitions will even further liberate and empower me. With deep gratitude and respect to all those who come before me, and all those who will come after me, I, for one, am diving into the unknown. Will I be seeing you there?

IMG_0328
10
Oct

Global Ecovillage Network @ Findhorn Foundation

IMG_0338

After arriving at Findhorn, dropping into the context was much easier than the initial culture shock of arriving in Scotland.

Sirius Community, the 35 year-old woodland ecovillage and sustainability oasis I have been living in for the past 2 1/2 years, was built by two brothers who had gained their inspiration while living at Findhorn and the familiarity was palpable. This, along with the fact that the approximately 300 person population of Findhorn is comprised by dozens of countries, allowed me to fall into my role in the diversity of the human ecosystem without much attracting attention.

I met my wonderful host family, John and Kerstin, (so much gratitude to them for hosting me!) and soon started running into all of my NextGEN family.
***NextGEN is a part of the Global Ecovillage Network, specifically focused on outreach, education, and skill building for young people wanting to become a part of this international movement. Find out more about what we’re doing in North America!

From there, I quickly dropped into a number of meetings for the Global Ecovillage Network, being called to serve my duties as an elected member of the International Board. From meetings about the upcoming Global Ecovillage Summit in Senegal this December, to our Annual General Meeting; connecting the elected Representatives from all Global Regions together, in person and through WebEx, to having a number of process work and active discovery workshops focused on dreaming the future of GEN together, a lot of connections, dreams, and sources of inspiration were born.

Serving as Representative to a Global Network is both a deeply humbling and challenging experience. It is incredible how far our mycelial network reaches, connecting nodes of inspiration, change, and next culture, instantaneously transferring new models and learned lessons across the network to empower us all to take our next steps. There are always things that can be improved and a great deal of responsibility born out of the potential for great impact and every time I meet with this team, I struggle to be patient, to trust the process, to bring my best ideas forward while fully listening to others, and am simultaneously reenergized by the love, connection, motivation, dedication, and pure passion of all those who are a part of this family. Great change is possible and this network isn’t just talking about it, but implementing it on the ground in new and creative ways, all over the world. For anyone looking for new meaning, new stories, new ways of being, and a network to feel supported by in radically changing your life, the inspiration of thousands all over the world who already have, we warmly invite you to join us in the Global Ecovillage Network! Check out the open source Ecovillage Design Curriculum, visit a sustainable community near you, or get in touch with me here :)

GENLogoGES

10668876_920633121283474_7695108912688454105_o
8
Oct

Arriving in Scotland

Screen Shot 2014-10-08 at 2.03.29 PMEarly morning on September 24, I boarded a flight from Boston to Aberdeen (in the North of Scotland).

After a quick stop in London (where they apparently don’t announce departure gates until less than an hour before the flight…?) I landed and was picked up by Stuart, one of the few true Scotsmen living at Findhorn. This turned out to be quite an adventure:

Typically when entering other countries & cultures I am prepared for things to be a bit different and for there to be a learning curve before feeling comfortable. Somehow, knowing that I was going to a country that also spoke English I expected things to be relatively the same. Boy was I wrong! DriveonLeft

Beginning with approaching a row of cars, having him stop at the back corner of one, walking past him to stand at the back right corner (passenger side) and having him open the trunk to his left. Most of you, like I did, probably know that the driver’s side is the right side of the car in the UK and you drive on the left side of the street, but it’s quite different (and a bit scary) when experiencing it for the first time.

As we drove the two hours to Findhorn and I tried to make conversation, it soon became clear that the majority of social niceties and jokes I tried to make didn’t really land. As we drove past road signs that had some of the strangest combinations of letters I have ever seen in the English language, I felt the awkwardness of my American-English words falling out of my mouth and expressed to him how foreign it all seemed.

I think he had had similar expectations, of things being relatively normal between two English speakers, yet as soon as I shared how I was feeling we settled into the strangeness together as we both recognized that language isn’t everything and culture is much broader and deeper than that. We’re certainly off to an exciting start :)

activation tour
15
Aug

Announcing the Tour

From late-September through December, the visionary behind InTerraTree, Nick Joyce, will be backpacking 6,000 miles starting in Scotland down to the InTerraTree site in Togo, West Africa.

nick cutieeYep, that’s right, backpacking from the northern reaches of Scotland to Togo in 3 months. Along the way Nick will be connecting with creative minds, powerful projects, and eco-communities that will inspire the design of InTerraTree. This is a trip to build momentum, to funnel energy all the way from the top of Europe down into Africa. This will be a journey of inspiration, education, and top-notch adventure! This is the InTerraTree Activation Tour.

 

Stay tuned for more details about the trip and how you can get involved coming soon.