ACTIVE HOPE STORY
On the 24th of September an intrepid group of people gathered together in Totnes and set out on an adventure. They were going to be reading together the book Active Hope – How to face the mess we are in without going crazy by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone.
For 6 weeks, this group met every Wednesday evening to share thoughts, feelings, ideas and inspiration based on the chapters of the book that they had read.
Central to the book Active Hope is the idea that: "Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency.... To hope is to give yourself to the future - and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable." (Rebecca Solnit).
The book introduces us to the stories we live out within the context of the crisis of sustainability currently unfolding in the world. It then leads us through the spiral of the Work that Reconnects (more information here) with the intention of discovering what we can do as a response to this crisis and strengthening our resilience and capacity to act with hope.
By reading the book with a group of like-minded people, and by participating in experiential activities and exercises, the individuals in this group were able to identify and explore what inspired, troubled, and supported them. They shared their fears, successes, grief, dreams and visions. They identified the unique contributions they could make in the healing of our world and made commitments to themselves, each other and the world to take steps towards making these contributions a reality.
Every week everyone in the group read some of the book at home and also met up with a ‘buddy’ to share responses and do some activities together.
The group was a great mix of people of different ages and backgrounds who quickly bonded through the strengthening, supporting practice of beginning with Gratitude for and to all that supports them in their lives. They then shared deep feelings through the ritual of a Truth Mandala in Honouring Our Pain for the World. Many felt that this session marked a turning point in how connected they felt to one another and to the process of figuring out what really mattered to them. Seeing With New Eyes enabled us to look at things from a different perspective and realise our own power and included an interesting exercise in imagining a communication with a human being of the 7th Generation in the future (see a description of this here). The last two sessions were spent dreaming visions and identifying the first steps to take in readiness for Going Forth into the world with our gifts whilst knowing where to turn for support and inspiration.
I am sure it was helpful that we started every session with grounding exercises and ended every session with cake!
It seems that this was a nourishing, supportive and inspiring adventure for all involved.
Here is some of the anonymous feedback that was received at the end of the 6 weeks:
What have you most appreciated about this series of workshops?
“Meeting such an inspiring group of people of all ages, who all want to make a difference.”
“People's courage & authenticity.”
“Really well facilitated & structured.”
“The fact it was free!”
“How well, warmly, bravely, thoughtfully, creatively and respectfully it was held by Elly and Lia.”
“The mutually respectful way they worked together. The tears, laughter, closeness and care which emerged from the depths of our sharing the book and meetings.”
“The group! The facilitators! Exciting feeling so inspired to bring more active hope into my life and others.”
“Warm, nourishing space. Thought provoking, educational, engaging.”
“Thank you for letting the group develop by itself without controlling/imposing too much. This is what made the group so fantastic.”
“Honesty, openness, quality listening of all participants. I feel I have been given a great gift.”
“The other people, it has been a very good group.”
“The opportunity everybody has to express their thoughts or feelings in a ‘safe space’ without fear.”
“The beautiful facilitation”
“The very touching Truth Mandala”
“The love, respect and kindness of the group”
“The courage and open-hearted sharing.”
“Excellent ‘leadership’... I loved the way that each meeting was a ‘surprise’ in its content in taking us forward and not just re-hash of the homework.”
“Congratulations to you both! You are both so talented and powerful!”
“Wonderful – full of wonder”