Written by Beth Remmes
The seeds of the Southeast Bioregional Gathering were planted in the summer of 2017 when an email went out to people listed in the Southeast on The Work That Reconnects (WTR) website to see if there was any interest in forming a regional hub. We had some group calls and had hoped to gather at the Eco-Institute in North Carolina in May of 2018, but the timing did not work out for enough people to have that vision realized….yet…
Then in the spring of 2019, the call came from our beloved teacher, Joanna Macy, and the WTR Network Weavers, for facilitators in various bioregions to join together to strengthen our spirits in solidarity and to share resources that can continue to expand the reach of this work and support our world more deeply through these challenging times. This was the spark that we needed to rekindle our desire to come together with other Facilitators in the Southeast.
Val Silidker, Meg Toben, and I sent out e-mails to the 11 people listed on the network and people who we knew were connected with the WTR to get a sense of interest and availability.
Given that we were traveling long distances and had a small group to pull from, we decided to hold the Facilitator Gathering on Thursday and Friday and then open it up to the public for a weekend program called, Deep Resilience: The Work That Reconnects Retreat. This schedule made it more accessible to others who are not necessarily interested in becoming a facilitator, and more financially feasible for the Eco Institute and organizers. It also allowed people from the Facilitator Gathering to stay longer and dive deeper into the practices.
We had eleven people join us at the facilitator gathering, many of whom are aspiring facilitators. After welcoming everyone, we began with a centering meditation, introductions, open sentences and discussion on their experience and interest in WTR.
We went over the Foundations and Aims of WTR and were joined by Lydia Violet Harutoonian on Zoom to share her experiences facilitating with Joanna. We also watched clips of Joanna on Lydia’s webcast earlier in the week, discussing lessons and insights she has learned from leading WTR workshops over the years. It was so wonderful to be able to connect Joanna in that way.
Later in the day we discussed working with grief and trauma and were led in some breathing exercises from other facilitators who have expertise in this area. From there, we connected with Lydia again via Zoom for a conversation on equity in WTR. It was very helpful to learn which exercises and portions of the teachings have been updated to encompass indigenous wisdom and more sensitivity to the experiences of people of color.
After dinner, we experienced the updated version of the powerful ritual, Harvesting the Gifts of the Ancestors.
On Friday, we spent the morning in Going Forth discussing how we each see ourselves continuing with this work, and ways we hope to stay in touch and grow our network in the Southeast.
We concluded the Facilitator Gathering with a Council of All Beings in the afternoon, which helped us expand our ecological self and feel as if we had elements of the universe behind us as we continue our work in the world.
Following our facilitator gathering, we had six participants stay with us and were joined by 13 new registrants as we flowed into a full WTR weekend workshop and journeyed more fully through The Spiral. It was a great opportunity to share ideas, conversations and updated exercises that we had explored during our facilitator gathering. There was such an immediate connection in this group, by the end of the first night we had a beautiful group hug and felt a deep sense of solidarity. Throughout the weekend, we experienced the Mirror Walk, Truth Mandala, Cosmic Walk, Open Sentences, Seventh Generation, Calling and Resources, Corbett and more. It was well-received and ended with several people excited to go deeper and to facilitate the work.
Some of the feedback we received was, “Deep, enlightening, transformational, beautiful, and life-changing!”
During our four days together, we were nourished by healthy, beautiful organic food lovingly prepared by Zion & Liyanna of https://www.therefugejamestown.com and by our beautiful surroundings of the Eco Institute https://eco-institute.org/ and tender attention of Director, Meg Toben.
Overall, it was a very needed experience for all of us, which left us feeling raw, broken open, inspired, and full of hope.