The following terms and phrases are commonly used within the Work That Reconnects community. Some of the terms arise from Joanna Macy’s teachings and some have emerged through the years of shared practice within our global WTR community. We provide a brief explanation of each of them below to help you understand and relate to the content on this website more easily.


Active Listening

Active Listening is the practice of listening to another person with openness and presence. The active listener refrains from commenting, consoling and cross talk while allowing the speaker to share fully from their heart.

Business As Usual

Business As Usual (BAU) is the story of the Industrial Growth Society, and the European-based colonial empires from which it emerged that functions to maintain the status quo and the power and privilege of the wealthy. Business as Usual is one of the Three Stories of our Time.

Circle Governance

The circle, or council, is an ancient form of meeting that has gathered human beings into respectful conversation for thousands of years. The circle has served as the foundation for many cultures.


Coliberation is a commitment to and practice of supporting the wellbeing, empowerment, dignity and thriving joy of all people.


Commonly defined as the process of working together towards a common goal, collaboration is also the pooling together of our resources, skill-sets, socio-cultural contexts and dreams. Rightly encapsulated as the phrase ‘the whole is larger than the sum of its parts’

Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice gather together to practice the Work That Reconnects on an ongoing basis, deepening their connections with each other and cultivating resilience. They may offer study groups, book groups and ongoing practice opportunities. Find a Community of Practice.

Conscious Conflict Engagement

A perspective that views conflict as a natural aspect of growth and learning; that it often arises around the challenging and unraveling of old structures and that it is a necessary part of the Great Turning.


Decolonization includes the return of power and land to Indigenous communities, commitment to Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination, as well as dismantling oppressive systems of power that place Indigenous communities as less than.

Deep Adaptation

Deep Adaptation is a framework of understanding and a social movement asserting that strong measures are required to adapt to an unraveling of western industrial lifestyles. The term was introduced by British sustainability professor Jem Bendell in his 2018 paper Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy.

Deep Ecology

Deep Ecology celebrates the Earth as a self-organizing living system and recognizes the inherent value of all life forms. The term was coined by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess in 1973. Deep Ecology is one of the foundational teachings of the Work That Reconnects.

Deep Time

Deep Time frames the present moment in the context of the great river of time in which we all live, presencing both our ancestors and the ones yet to be. Deep Time is one of the foundational teachings of the Work That Reconnects.

The Great Turning

The Great Turning is the story of the transition from the Industrial Growth Society to a Life Sustaining Society. The Great Turning is one of the Three Stories of our Time, as described by Joanna Macy. It encompasses these Dimensions of the Great Turning.

The Great Unraveling

The Great Unraveling refers to the ongoing and worldwide unraveling of biological, ecological, economic, and social systems. It is the story told by scientists, journalists, and activists who have not been bought off or intimidated by the forces of the Industrial Growth Society. The Great Unraveling is one of the Three Stories of our Time.


Industrial Growth Society

Industrial Growth Society refers to the economic and social systems developed by colonial-based empires, and is based on the exploitation of human and natural resources. In Work That Reconnects framing, the Industrial Growth Society is often referred to as Business as Usual.


Interbeing is a term used by Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, that refers to the radical interconnectedness among all beings.

Life Sustaining Society

Life Sustaining Society refers to a culture in which the interlocking economic and social systems function to maintain the health of the natural world and the vibrancy of human communities.

Moral Imagination

Moral Imagination employs our ability to imagine beings and scenarios – often of the past or future, from different life experiences or even from other species – to stimulate a sense of our connection to and responsibility to all beings.

Open Sentences

Open Sentences are a practice in which one member of a dyad listens attentively while the other responds to a prompt. This prompt takes the form of an “open (incomplete) sentence” to be completed. Find examples of Open Sentences under Practices in our Resource Directory.

People of the Global Majority

People of the Global Majority (PGM)refers to the people of the world who identify as Black, Brown and Indigenous, and who collectively represent the majority of the world’s population.

Power Over Paradigm

Power Over Paradigmis the deeply embedded and collectively held mindset that positions power and worth within a hierarchy. It has been used by colonizing forces, systematically and historically, to privilege some and oppress others.

Regenerative Systems

Regenerative Systemsrestore, renew and revitalize the interconnected elements that comprise the system. They can include social, ecological and economic systems, as well as many other types of systems.

Regenerative Economy

Regenerative Economy is an economic system that functions to restore, renew and revitalize the human communities and natural resources on which it relies. Learn more about WTR Network’s Regenerative Finance practices and ongoing learning process.

Social Capital

Social Capital refers to the network of relationships among people that enables a society to function based on the theory that social relationships are considered a resource that has the potential to benefit the development and benefit of human capital.


Sociocracy is a method of dynamic self-governance which helps groups of people organize in a decentralized way and make decisions with equity, efficiency, empowerment, trust and transparency.

Spiral of the Work That Reconnects

Spiral of the Work That Reconnectsmoves through four stages: Coming from Gratitude; Honoring Our Pain for the World; Seeing with New/Ancient Eyes; and Going Forth. WTR workshops generally follow this pattern. The concept and practice of the Spiral is fundamental to the body of work.

Systemic Oppression

Systemic Oppression is the intentional and historic disadvantaging of groups of people based on their identity – while members of the dominant group (gender, race, class, sexual orientation, language, etc.) are advantaged.

Systems Thinking

Systems Thinking demonstrates that every component part of a system is interdependent with every other part. The study of systems reveals leverage points for change. Systems Thinking is one of the foundational teachings of the Work That Reconnects.

White Supremacy

White Supremacy is the belief that white people constitute a superior race and should therefore dominate society. This belief is institutionalized as systemic oppression.