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Earth Island News

Sustainable World Coalition

Progressives are often accused of focusing too much on the issues, winning a few battles but losing the war. For us, that’s the environment itself.

Our current and relentlessly growing human numbers, coupled with massive resource use and corresponding massive pollution, mean that the only solution is a radical shift in human culture and consciousness. No matter how well we protect selected areas or species, all are doomed as a result of this continuous escalation of resource consumption.

While action on the issues and protection of elements of nature will always be important, Sustainable World Coalition believes that the most powerful way to support the cultural sea change needed is to examine what is driving the destructive behavior that is so endemic to humans, particularly in the US, and work at this root level.

In light of this recognition, the staff of Sustainable World Coalition have been trained to lead the “Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposium,” a unique and powerful one-day experience created by San Francisco’s Pachamama Alliance. This organization has been working successfully for 10 years with tribes in the Amazon rainforest region of Ecuador to help them defend their land against the encroachment of oil, lumber, and mining companies.

The Awakening the Dreamer (ATD) Symposium examines the unconscious assumptions that are built into American culture (and to an extent into that of other industrialized countries). Some examples: “Growth and progress are good.” “Throwing the garbage away means it’s gone.” “Acquiring more of a good thing is always better.” “Technology will solve our problems.” “We each are separate, independent entities.” “Capitalism will allow everyone to live abundantly.”

These cultural assumptions are now driving an ever-expanding rate of resource consumption, and keep people in a kind of hypnotic trance that prevents a clear recognition of the damage that our behavior is causing. So complete is this trance that people are now commonly referred to as
“consumers” rather than “citizens.”

Once there is an awareness of the dire condition of the planetary eco-systems and a recognition of our part in the destruction through our daily actions, it is natural to want to be part of the needed change. The ATD Symposium consistently moves people from concern about the planet to committed action.

photo of people in various costumes holding a large globeJosh MillerThe “Sustainability Action Heroes” performing
at the Sustainable World Symposium last May.

There are three components of the day’s program: speaking by the facilitators, sharing by the participants, and viewing DVD “vignettes” – short documentaries or interviews with experts. The symposium’s curriculum has been honed over a two-year period so that it contains only the elements needed to foster this cultural shift in awareness and inspire ongoing action.

The ATD Symposium is produced and facilitated entirely by volunteers. The cost to participate is only what is needed to cover production expenses, typically $30 or less. This makes it accessible to most individuals, and groups such as organizations, churches, and schools. This vehicle has the potential to reach millions of people worldwide and to make a real difference in the direction that humanity is taking by steering humanity toward sustainability instead of destruction.

Symposia are produced frequently in different locations of the San Francisco Bay Area. To find out when they are happening and the one that is nearest to you, see the Pachamama Alliance’s Web site at pachamama.org.

   

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