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Report From the August Gathering

by Carol Brouillet

         On August 9, 1999 twenty-two people met in Big Sur for a "Pre-Gathering Camping Trip" organized by Amanda Bellerby. The "Strategies to Transform the Global Economy Gatherings" help to bring people together, nurture relationships, collaborations, deeper understandings and insights to help us work more effectively to create a peaceful, just, healthy world. This third gathering brought people from Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada, as well as from all over the country, some for the first, the second or the third time. People met before and after the "official Gathering." Eighty-five people came. Most people stayed for 3 days, although some came for shorter periods of time.

They included:

Sharif Abdullah  Commonway Institute, Donna Austin, Pat Lynch Barrett Women's Radio,  Bruce Baumrucker, Adele Behar, Amanda Bellerby, Dee Berry, Mary Beth Brangan  Y2K World Atomic Safety Holiday Campaign, Carol Brouillet The Who's Counting? Project & Making Contact, Eva Brunner Community Way, Geoff Bugbee, Kenn Burrows   Holistic Health Resource Center & Institute for Holistic Health at San Francisco State University, Nilo Cayaqueo  AbyaYala Fund, Ruthanne Cecil , Keith Cich, Kevin Danaher  Global Exchange, Fusako de Angelis  Y2K World Atomic Safety Holiday Campaign, Darien De Lu Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Stephen DeMeleunaere Community Currency Systems in Asia, Africa & Latin America, Vic Desotelle InKNOWvate, John C. Durham, Lynne Elisabeth New Village, Ann Emmett, Bill Ferguson, Joe O. Flood Indigenous Designs, Jim Fournier Jim & Planetwork, Frances Fox Global Resources Bank, Lee Ann Fujii, Barbara George, Maria Gilardin Time of Useful Consciousness Radio, Thomas Greco Jr.  Community Information Resource Center , Carol Hansen Grey Open Heart & Women of Vision and Action, Victor Grey Open Heart, Bill Heath, Jim Heddle Y2K World Atomic Safety Holiday Campaign, Bill and Joan Holden, David Horton, Norie Huddle The Best Game on Earth & Millennial Goods, Kenneth Jacobsen, Bill Krehm, Ole Fjord Larsen World Parliament of United Peoples, Beata Lewis  Bridging Lives, Austin and Ethel Long Scott  Women's Economic Agenda Project, Sergio and Gaye Lub  Sergio Lub Handcrafted Jewelry & Friendly Favors, Lyn Lyons, Alan R. Marshall, Chris McCormick, Nancy McGinley, Richard B. Miles, Bill Moyer, Dave Muffley Magic, Fumio Nakajima, Sharane and Rio Palley, Richard Persaud  Addapt, John Pozzi Global Resources Bank, Dave Ratcliffe rat haus reality, Sonnie Reyna  One Earth One People, Elisabet Sahtouris  LifeWeb, David Schramm  Magic, Bonnie Starnes, Muriel Strand, Richard and Susan Strong  The Who's Counting? Project, Bob Swann  E.F. Schumacher Society, Julianne Towan, Charles A. Walton, Arthur Warmoth, Rachel Zane, Gary Zupo   Friendly Favors
(Bold names indicate presenters, authors, well known personalities.)

         Some people flew in Wednesday; most arrived Thursday which was devoted to introductions and renewing old friendships. Many people volunteered to help in various capacities, and we tried to institutionalize the "circle process" at meals. The tables were round and held 6 to 8 comfortably. The meal monitors encouraged everyone to fill up tables one at a time, and then gave a talking stick to the last person who sat down. That person was supposed to introduce himself/herself, whatever they wanted to share within 2 minutes and pass on the talking stick. While not everyone got to know everyone else over 3 days, this helped a lot, and improved the quality of our dialogues.

         On Thursday night we gathered in a large circle, each person had one and a half minutes to introduce themselves and we gave an extra minute to newcomers. After we completed the circle, we took a break, conversation was very lively, eventually we reformed the circle, and passed the stick again giving everyone a chance to respond to one or more of 3 questions:

         "What are the blind spots of our civilization? What wisdom, revelation or insight do you wish to share with others? How could we collectively help to realize our hopes and dreams for the future?'

         On Friday we moved into a complicated schedule with 23 people presenting, alongside multiple dialogue sessions on the topics raised. Everyone was encouraged to follow the Law of Two Feet (If you are not learning or contributing, use them.); it was a beautiful summer day and a huge pool, tennis courts, hiking trails beckoned us to relax and play, but most people couldn't resist the excellent "formal" presentations and dialogues, and found it hard to choose between simultaneous sessions. All the presentations were recorded and are still available through T.U.C. Radio.

         Elisabet Sahtouris, Evolutionary Biologist, spoke eloquently of how human social/corporate designers have built an unsustainable economy, but the chaos now resulting actually empowers us to learn the ways of living systems. Certainly the choice before us is to learn, evolve, or become extinct as we wrap up the Cenozoic Age.

         Kevin Danaher, Co-Founder of Global Exchange, has led some of the battles against major institutions like the World Bank, the I.M.F., as well as Nike and the Gap. Kevin compared and contrast the major features of elite globalization (the one usually referred to in the media) and the major features of grassroots globalization (what Global Exchange tries to promote). He detailed recent efforts to boycott World Bank Bonds and promote Fair Trade, as well as other progressive alternatives.

         Maria Gilardin, T.U.C. Radio, a member of the International Forum on Globalization, changed hats, and spoke on the subject of the World Trade Organization, Hunger, Human Rights and Agriculture. Maria has been working on these issues for years, fighting the G.A.T.T., N.A.F.T.A. and helping to educate the public about the "dark side of free trade" and the magnitude of the effects of these undemocratic institutions upon all of our lives.

         Nilo Cayaqueo, AbyaYala Fund, a Mapuche from Los Toldos community in the southwest part of Argentina and active in the international movement for Indian rights for the past 28 years, shared his concerns with us. He will also go to Seattle to oppose the W.T.O. and bring other indigenous people there, too, to voice their concerns, for certainly indigenous people have suffered greatly from the ruthless behavior of transnational corporations and governments. He shared his time with Sonne Reyna, a spiritual advisor of the San Juan American Indian Council, who explained that we were entering a very significant new era, a time for forgiveness and reconciliation among all people.

         Bill Heath, a radio journalist with KPFA's Africa today, shared lessons from history, of the colonization of Africa, and it's remarkable relevance to what is happening now with the "new trade agreements" before congress, as well as what is happening to the world under the W.T.O..

         MaryBeth Brangan & Jim Heddle, Options 2000, also film makers and activists, gave a powerful presentation on Y2K, the Crisis and the Opportunity for systemic change. They were joined by Fusako de Angelis of the Y2K World Atomic Safety Holiday Campaign who alerted us to the immediate threat the millennium poses to nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons systems around the world.

         After lunch, we looked more at solutions, possibilities, beginning with David Schramm, the Founder of Magic, an intentional community dedicated to serving the common good, which had just welcomed home the first babies, twins, that week. David shared how they learned and applied the methods and principles of ecology to their daily lives and how the "gift economy" worked.

         Ruthanne Cecil, advocate for the Tobin Tax has traveled worldwide championing the idea of taxing our speculative global casino (the foreign exchanges) to direct resources to the most dire human and ecological needs and the growing awareness and movement to turn the idea into a reality. She brilliantly made huge numbers comprehensible and persuasively explained how we can craft global solutions while maintaining our grounded local perspective.

         Tom Greco (author of New Money for Healthy Communities), Stephen DeMeulenaere (working with LETS in Canada, Mexico and in touch with Community Currency Systems in Asia, Africa & Latin America), and Eva Brunner, (organizer for the Community Way model of local currency in Santa Cruz) each shared their perspective and experiences with community currencies. They miraculously had a few minutes to spare and we were gifted with a song about money that Darien De Lu was inspired to write and sing to us.

         Sharif Abdullah, Founder of Commonway Institute, author and catalyst for inclusive social, cultural and spiritual transformation, shared his own powerful story, as well as the deep insights he has gained through bringing together incredibly diverse people. With humor and wit, he helped everyone become more aware of what they already knew in their hearts to be true.

         Bill Moyer, Executive Director of the Social Movement Empowerment Project, has been a full-time organizer, author, workshop trainer and participant in a wide range of social movements for political and social change for 40 years in the U.S., Europe, Canada & Australia. He tried to chart all of his wisdom, in a comprehensible, useful way to help us in our work.

         Despite his age and the worries of his family, Fumio Nakajima, traveled from Japan to be with us and share his views on the importance of our efforts. John Pozzi, the acting manager of the Global Resources Bank , gave a brief update. "The GRB is the transparent clearinghouse for a sustainable global economy. The Bank is capitalized by electronic global dollars that measure the economic value of ecosystems. The interdependence of global dollars and the production of ecosystems establishes a life-supporting global monetary system."

         Norie Huddle , author of Butterfly (and other books), spontaneously filled in a gap in the program, and explained to us one of the most powerful tools that she had learned in her life- the KEEPRAH system. This tool helped to show how societies worked and where one could find the most powerful leverage points for transformation.

         Sergio Lub, Founder of Friendly Favors, along with Victor Grey, gave us an update on Friendly Favors. Victor designed the website and everyone was encouraged to use the computer Sergio brought to get hands on experience.

         Alan Marshall, author of Option 3- Neither Capitalism nor Socialism, shared with us some of his experiences with LETS in Australia, and his ideas, but remained quite open to learning from all of us who shared his passion to redesign a failing economic system.

         Ken Jacobsen, social and business entrepreneur, shared what he had learned about Creating Holistic Organizations. He asked us, "How does quality of life and environmental awareness at the center of decision making transform the global economy?" How do we match our processes with our purpose? Ken's workshop/dialogue the next day was filled to capacity.

         Friday new people arrived and others had to leave, unfortunately a couple of people fell ill, including Maria Gilardin who had presented and recorded an incredibly full program. That evening we had a "Fair" and people were able to table, barter, buy and trade using Friendly Favors, local and national currencies. Many simply shared their experiences and ideas.

         Later, we formed a circle, and the newcomers had a chance to introduce themselves to everyone. Because it was a special day according to Native Americans, Sonne Reyna had given a ritual to Beata Lewis and instructions on how to do it (he had to leave earlier to be with his people). Beata conducted the ritual, lit and passed around the sacred sage. After an intense day, the silence was welcome, the "ten minute ritual" stretched to an hour as the sage was passed from one person to another, for all of our differences, that evening we were together, united in spirit.

         On Saturday we formally moved into "Open Space." Newcomers were explained the basic laws: "When it starts it starts. Whoever comes are the right people. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened. When it's finished; it's finished. The Law of Two Feet- If you are not learning or contributing, use them. Butterflies and Bumblebees are OK- people can move from group to group and cross-pollinate ideas- it's ok to be a butterfly and make space for a different sort of encounter. People are responsible for their own experience. Anyone may facilitate a workshop/dialogue/presentation on any topic and post it on the wall under a time and place slot. We can negotiate, combine sessions. People can sign up on the sessions that they are interested in to smooth out conflicts. Nancy McGinley facilitated and went over thoughts on Dialogue:

         We will have the opportunity to have powerful conversations about what's important to us. Dialogue is different from business-as-usual conversations in which we attempt to instruct others, convince them of the rightness of our ideas, persuade them to do what we want, or act engaged when we're not. Dialogue includes:

  • Respect: valuing each person's perspective
  • Centeredness: saying what is true for us - sharing our stories, needs, feelings and thoughts without making others wrong
  • Listening: really trying to understand each other - even listening to what is unsaid
  • Exploration: holding our perspectives lightly; feeling our way toward what's new, what we might discover together that none of us ever saw before the conversation began
  • Participation: making sure everyone has a fair chance to speak
These are the sessions that appeared on the wall, as well as the convenors:

    *Creating Holistic Organizations- Ken Jacobsen

    *Restructuring Toward a Plan of Action in 6 Basic Areas- Money, Land, Taxes, Government and Law, Corporate Power, Technology- Tom Greco

    *Ownership, Property, Possession, Belonging... Open ended sharing about our relationship w/ our things- Muriel Strand

    *Women's Gathering

    *Stop the Fed, Issue State Legal Tender- Dave Horton

    *Involving Students- Sharing Experiences & Options, Learning Communities- Art Warmoth

    *Co-Creating Peaceful Relationships (foundation for a new society)- Bill Moyer

    *Option 3- An Experiment! How Can We Test the proposed decision making processes and methodologies- Alan Marshall

    *WTO- Actions Against Official Mtg, Organizing Together, Alternatives & More- Bill Ferguson

    *The Metaphor Project- Brainstorming Workshop, slogans, images, themes, memes..-.Susan Strong

    *Video Showing of Luna- The Stafford Trees (Julia Butterfly)- Amanda Bellerby

    *The Opportunity of Y2K & World Atomic Safety Holiday- Nancy McGinley

    *Consciousness, Spirit & Society

    *Green Movement/Party Spirituality and Politics- Dee Barry

    *Who's Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies & Global Economics (the video)- Susan Strong

    *The Only Existing Strategy for Saving the planet: The United Peoples' world parliament- Ole Larsen

    *Community Way in Your Community- Complimentary Currencies, Strong Local Economy, Community Building, Keep Our Money In Our Communities- Eva Brunner

    *Walk &Talk Report on Structure and Economics with a Vision Conference in Italy- Carol Brouillet

    *Tobin Tax-Ruthanne Cecil

    *Greens Movement/Party, World reconciliation and Economic Transformation- Dee Barry, Sonne Reyna

    *Creating Holistic Organizations- Ken Jacobsen

    *Friendly Favors, Hands on Demonstration at Library's Computer-Sergio Lub

    *Global Resources Bank- Computer demo and shareholder Registration, One World One Currency- John Pozzi

    *Economic Human Rights, March & Movement- Ethel Long Scott

    *The Best Game on Earth & KEEPRAH Holistic Approach to Community Development, Weaving Our Stories Together-Norie Huddle

         On Saturday night we again formed a circle to introduce the truly late arrivals, and to celebrate being together, life, our hopes for the future (plus a few birthdays!!!!) We danced, talked, laughed, sang, got cozy by the fire and gave one another massages until quite late.

         Sunday morning we formed another circle for announcements and to post new sessions. Then we went back to Open Space. Sunday afternoon, we came together for a closing circle and passed the talking stick, one last time. Some people stayed another day, others lingered to swim and enjoy what brought us together, and gave us the strength to continue our work.

         Since August new collaborations have formed, the community and our collective work continues to powerfully confront the W.T.O. and the threat of the nuclear industry, as well as to build healthy alternatives to the existing system.

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