Written by Frieda Nixdorf
On November 8 – 10, five of us gathered in the small rural community of Boonville, in Northern California. Our intention was to find connection with others doing the work, reconnect with the work and discover ways to move forward in the Great Turning in light of the challenges we’d recently been facing. We convened on the tail end of the Kincade Fire, which burned just a short distance from our gathering location.
Each of us had been touched by fire, either by this fire or by the numerous other devastating fires that have been occurring with greater intensity and frequency in our region. We’d sheltered and comforted evacuees, we’d evacuated ourselves and family members, we’d witnessed flames consume the homes of our neighbors, we’d held vigil as habitat was consumed by fire and lives of those beings lost. In the midst of our electric company’s public safety planned power shutoffs, we’d wondered where and when the next fire would occur, we watched as small businesses within our communities lost revenue and closed their doors, as workers lost wages and struggled to stay afloat.
In our early stages of planning, we acknowledged the significance of the residual trauma of fire and the economic impact of power shutoffs within our rural communities. We agreed this was something we wanted to address, both for ourselves and for those we work with and for others in our communities. We wanted to work with resilience and social justice issues and economic inequity. Additionally, we wanted to convene in a collaborative and playful space, while being accountable to the work, to each other and to our intentions.
We had identified practices ahead of time that we wanted to experience, as well as those we wanted to facilitate and hold for others. Some of those practices included Call and Response, Connecting with Beings, Gratitude for Place, Truth Mandala, Dance of Dismembering the Ego, Seven Generations, Storyteller Gathering with Future Ones, Visioning, Dialoguing with Mara, and Strengthening Our Resolve. We met just a couple of times via Zoom, and began the weekend with a fairly loose structure. Once we convened and introduced ourselves we began to get clearer about what we wanted to share and experience as well as a sense of the space we wanted to hold.
We gathered on a Friday evening for a shared meal at Emerald Earth Sanctuary, a small, off-grid, intentional community located just outside Boonville, California. Surrounded by 189 beautiful acres of land, with a seasonal creek, grassy meadows, and forested slopes of redwood, tan oak, Douglas fir, Madrone and poison oak. We shared the land with deer, bobcat, owls, skunks, newts, frogs, ravens, hawks, foxes, hummingbirds, wild pigs, turkeys, bear and mountain lion.
The facilitation and organization was primarily held by three of us, with the support of the others. We all contributed to our shared meals. A number of obligations required some coming and going throughout the weekend, as folks were called away, and then returned to our small circle to continue the work. We moved with ease through each transition and offered ourselves plenty of time to pause, reflect, and consider how we wanted to proceed. We let the land, our bodies, our hearts and imaginations guide us to listen in to what would really serve our time together and our individual and collective callings in these times.
On our last day together, we gathered with white boards and pens. We revisited our initial intentions and reflected on what we’d learned from our time together. Finally, we identified next steps. We then stepped back and identified the myriad of connections within our lives, work and interests.
We departed feeling grounded, connected and inspired to step more fully into the Work.