Draft harvest from the "Deepening Our Social Action" gathering

Nov 27 in Housatonic, MA


I. Check-in : In addition to asking "what brings you here?" we wanted to recognize the various community-building efforts already happening locally. To encourage ongoing learning on how to build community, we included the following questions:


-Think back to a community gathering /circle /conversation you've participated in since the election. What was a            positive take-away for you from that gathering or conversation?


-What was one helpful / effective/ meaningful element for you, about how that gathering or conversation was    structured or organized?


Below are some highlights from our check-in, lightly sorted into themes.


 A. Some of us are…


…concerned about mass hysteria. Seeing the need to prepare now, for upcoming changes;

…seeing the importance of our state of mind.


…wanting to see how what is going on 'out there, is affecting me, 'in here';

… wanting to clean up stuff from the past, so we can move forward more effectively.


… seeing the importance of consciousness, and what "eyes" we are looking through;

… seeing the need for a shift from the individual to the collective.


…longing for communion, and for exploring how that relates to community;

…wanting the learning that comes, from being in a group.


…seeing issues of powerlessness and need for control, on all sides;

…seeing things breaking apart, and wanting to stay even-keeled.


…seeing how the inner, has become the outer;

…longing for meaningful connection in community.


…seeing an opportunity for collective transformation;

…searching for what can we do inside ourselves, that can have an effect on the wide world?


….keeping ourselves going by repeating helpful mantras, such as: "out of adversity, comes opportunity".

…connecting with others, for the sustaining power of community.


B. With regard to projects, some of us are…


…working to promote worker co-ops, so we can address underlying economic issues.

…working to promote more effective consensus processes on town boards.


…working on climate change, social justice and economic justice issues;

…attending NAACP meetings.


…wanting to provide safe havens for those who need it,

…wanting to help different groups come together.


...wanting to be more active;

…wanting to make spiritual support more available.


C. With regard to groups, some of us see the value of…


…sharing our pain, and sharing our stories;

…getting to know each other.


…centering into a space of peace;

--focusing on opportunities and possibilities for transformation.


…engaging in silent movement to express our feelings;

…engaging in silent movement to express our "superpowers".


…welcoming the ferocious energy that can arise from being in a group.

…attending to the "four ethers" for a productive group process: warmth, light, movement, and reality.



II. Choosing a topic


We began by exploring some potential topics, before choosing one for our "deep dive". The possible topics that came up included:


A) A myriad of things out there to work on, and so many of us are trying to do everything…with so many causes, how do I find a focus, where to put my energies?


B) The country feels divided in half. I am longing to be in community. It is easy to be with like-minded people, but how can I be in community with those who are not like-minded?


C) Waking up to having  “half of the country afraid of difference.” A family member is outraged at the election results, and coming unglued. How do I work effectively with volatility and rage, on either side of the political spectrum?


D) So many different sources of information, news, media….  each with their own bias/point of view. Who can I TRUST with regard to the news? How do I figure out what is true?


E) I have a family member I care for deeply, and at the same time, we have very different political views. I feel shaken to the core, by not being able to “get to the truth together” with someone I care about…


F) How do I reconcile my spirituality with everything else that is going on?



III. The Constellation process 


We chose D) above as the starting point. We began by exploring the topic with the person who had offered it, and then initiated a Systemic Constellations process. We are not going to recap the details of the Constellation itself here, only the insights that were offered afterward. (There is a separate document for those who may be interested in re-capping "what happened" during the constellation.)



IV. Sharing the insights:  


Some of us felt that…


1) …when the rep for "Everyone-standing-in-their-own-truth" came in to the Constellation, I was finally able to  ‘land’.


2) …the larger situation going on in this country has opened Pandora’s box on racism. The dynamics we are seeing in the constellation are the shadow/backlash of racism.


3) … NOBODY is being heard. Each side has its own views about conspiracies. Under all of the beliefs about conspiracy, is a sense that nobody’s voice is being listened to… and that is the foundation underneath those beliefs.


4) ….we need to understand how beliefs are born. Can we ever get underneath all of these beliefs? Where is truth, amidst all these beliefs?


5) …getting some distance, going outside of the field, helped to relieve my sense of nausea. And, coming back in as Curiosity helped me find a way to engage constructively.


6) …at its essence, conspiracy is about powerlessness. Feeling that we are at the mercy of forces we cannot control.


7) …there is a lot of unhealed stuff around the Civil War. There's never been a Truth and Reconciliation commission for it.


8) …we have entered an age where there is no "truth", where there are only stories…


9) …at first, it all felt like 'just ideas'. But then something collapsed when "each person standing in their own truth" came in, with a lot of emotion. I felt a very powerful and grounded strength, and a sense of “I contain multitudes”.


10) …maybe looking for "a single truth" is not what we need, as much as connection and curiosity… Feeling some relief in this. We can focus instead  developing our relationships with one another, and finding what matters to all of us.


11) … "standing in my truth" is something that I need to DO something about… it isn't just about the beliefs I hold…


11) …there was an unsettled, vacillating movement between curiosity and wanting to resist, to not resonate with the other person’s position. There was both a wanting to reconcile, and at the same time, a wanting to stand in my own position….


12) … it was Interesting to see how much Conspiracy wanted Curiosity’s attention. They are opposite poles…. certainty  versus open-minded not-knowing. It seemed that Conspiracy wants to be relieved, lightened up by, Curiosity.


13) ….we need to figure out how to balance our complacency with facing what needs to be done. We need to get clear about what we believe in. To respect the opinions of others, to honor what we mean to one another, while still saying “No” to injustice, taking a stand for justice.


14) …the problem goes all the way down to our relationship with Nature. We need to respect Nature and each other. The Water Protectors are showing the way. Perhaps we can all meet one another here.


15) …we live in “interesting times”. Some of us have lived through the Nazi occupation of Poland, and then the Communist regime, where Poland was sold out and great suffering occurred. We need to brace ourselves for what may come next.

This is just the beginning…


16) …everyone’s truth is different. And, our sense of truth can be manipulated by internal and external events, by media, by outside forces. Manipulation by outside forces, eventually comes down to money and moneyed interests.


17) …. there is a deep vulnerability, in all of the players… and this is what gets covered up by “positioning”…


18) … we may need to have a quality of tolerance for things that are unformed, as things shift in the social field.


19)  …. Curiosity was the bright light in this constellation, in this situation…



V. Announcements / Upcoming events / Resources




Nov 30th. An evening exploration of the Civic Council process and Dynamic Facilitation. Email Uli   ulinagel@gmail.com if interested, as there are only a few more spots.


Dec 11 at Hevreh.  Reverend Sheila Sholes-Ross speaks as part of the Berkshire Human Rights Series. The Big Talk: Part 2.

See also the FB event page.


Dec 11 there is also an  "Aging-to Sage-ing" workshop with  Audrey Seidman.


Dec 21 at Monument Mountain High School.  As part of the W.E.B. Dubois Educational Series, a musical performance by Craig S. Harris and his band  of “God’s Trombones”.


January 16th, 2017. Save the date for a MLK Day celebration at First Congregational Church in Great Barrington. Starts at noon, followed by a reception and a community conversation.




Listen, Liberal” by Thomas Frank, offers great perspectives for liberals about how others perceive things and what matters to them.

“The Third Reconstruction” by Reverend Barber. About coalition-building during this period of reconstruction.


News Sources:


Democracy Now by Amy Goodman. Available online: https://www.democracynow.org/ 

The Intercept  Glenn Greenwald. Available online: https://theintercept.com/

CommonDreams.  Available online: http://www.commondreams.org/


Blog post:


The link to Rosa’s essay “Celebrating Our Diversity: Now More Than Ever…”is here: https://madmimi.com/s/bead19