I have been a community activist for five decades, in the US and in Israel, working mostly inside organizations and legistlatures/lobbying for change, in the fields of criminal justice, child abuse and neglect, education for students with special needs, and mostly recently environmental protection. I have developed and delivered training and curriculum to diverse populations across many subject areas all my life.
Why I am called to facilitate the Work
I was first called to deepen my connection with the Work That Reconnects as a result of several incidents that occurred when we moved to our new home by the sea, in northern Israel. With a move like this--after spending over 30 years in Jerusalem, waiting several years for our community to be created and completion of our building and apartment, the perfection of this area reached gigantic fantasy proportions. After we moved I began to see, as Bayo Akomalafe has taught us, the “cracks”--plastic and other garbage on the beach, illegal fishing in an area that is dedicated as a marine reserve, the destruction of the nature reserve that surrounds our house without consideration to transitioning and transformation and preservation.
Prior to COVID I had investigated participating in WTR workshops in person, but we were thwarted in my attempts to travel due to my husband’s health. So for the most part I was an armchair WTR enthusiast (reading and studying books) as well as an armchair environmental activist.
I recall vividly the day I encountered a dead sea turtle, a gorgeous creature, so large, it boggled my mind, something I had only seen in documentaries. With a quick investigation, I reported the death to the appropriate authority, and we learned that the turtle swallowed plastic bags, mistaking them for jellyfish, one of their favorite foods, since the movement of a plastic bag in water looks much like the jelly. I recall being stunned, shocked, blocked to explore my feelings and what to do about them, despite my many decades of meditation practice.
And it happened again!
As COVID hit, WTR turned to online in a moment when I really needed help. Through the Spiral, I learned how to transform those feelings of pain and suffering over these sentient beings, see the reality of how humans are mistreating our planet, and do something about it. Again, as Mr. Akomalafe says, the crack becomes an opportunity….indeed!
But I always come from a place of gratitude for this beautiful world, for my being alive and well enough to enjoy it and do something about it. I was attracted to this aspect because I am basically an optimist, and have learned over many decades of public service work that if there is a problem, there must be a solution, and I am one who has learned to guide others to finding it.
I also am a trainer and guide by nature, training many different professional and volunteers communities from the legal field--lawyers, judges, legislators and their aids; medical and social work and criminal justice professionals in the criminal and juvenile justice fields, as well as child abuse and neglect; and eventually in the educational communities here in Israel, working with students of all ages with special educational needs, as well as training their teachers to work with them, also in the use of adaptive technology.
So having adopted WTR Spiral practices into my daily life, I knew that I wanted to learn how to share these with others.
This work led me to converting from a closet/armchair environmental activist into a very active physical one--first becoming a volunteer with the Nature Authority to rise at dawn to find turtle nests for transfer to the farm, then protecting them at night, and eventually recruiting and coordinating two communities of volunteers to look for nests, as well as assisting the management of those that protected the farm at night, and visiting the nests during the day, and helping the rangers open nests for the public.
And I found an answer to the heartbreak of people throwing garbage on our beautiful lagoons and beaches--I started our community’s beach and sea protection group, connected with the regional and national groups, and we began cleaning the beaches every week, first with a very small group, which eventually grew. We became the emergency core for cleaning tar for several months that hit our beaches as a result of a terrible oil spill, and sponsored a big cleanup where hundreds of families in our neighborhood and from around the country went on tours of our lagoons to learn about sea life, and to clean our beaches. From there, our group has become a springboard for environmental action, speaking up against the building of a marina, illegal fishing, and recruiting volunteers to do citizen research about the climate crisis as well as become part of Nature Authority turtle protection efforts.
How I see the Work serving the Great Turning
What I appreciate most about the Work That Reconnects is the way that it can become a practice for each of us, in our daily lives, not a set of theories and concepts to be consulted occasionally, and then placed on a shelf. In this respect, it is like my meditation practice, something that becomes part of our lives, informs our daily living and especially, helps us to move forward with concern and care through the crisis in which we are living.An excellent adjunct to my Bodhisattva vow.
I suspect that the Great Unraveling appeals to my sense of truth--I have always believed that we can’t move forward in our lives and the world, unless we understand where we are (the mess we are in!) and especially how we got there. Thus it is no surprise that one of my minors in college was history, with specializing in pre-Holocaust Germany and world events that led to it. I also suspect that as someone who has never bought into working with corporate America (as many of my law school classmates and colleagues did), and preserved my inclinations to serve underrepresented and helpless communities, the Great Unraveling provides a different perspective on what appears to be a massive takeover by profit interests of our world, its resources, and a form of enslavement to all our people that work for them, or buy from them. I don’t think I explored this side of nature to the extent that was necessary until I began to connect Joanna Macy’s writings to the practical exploration of her theories within a workshop setting, and eventually in our communities. So in my 60s, I settled down to question more and more of what I experienced in my life, and what I learned about the times before I was born, to answer some of the pressing questions I have had about how we ended up in this deplorable mess in our world!
And obviously, the Great Turning is the path of hope, of creativity. It allows any of us who are of a nature to solve a problem that we encounter in our lives or the lives of others with a solution.
This is a huge problem we are facing! It will not “unravel” easily. And it will take the concerted actions of thousands, if not millions of people. The Great Turning is a way to connect the actions of each person and group and community that are moving toward loving and protecting and repairing our earth--connect them to one another, into a movement, one that will begin to reverse the trend of destruction. Or at least, hold it at bay, or minimize its effects.
Audiences I work with
Environmental workers and activists, teachers, lawyers, judges, lobbyists, volunteers, students with special educational needs, meditators, academics
Background & Training
Background & training in the Work That Reconnects
- Spiral WTR Facilitator Training (2020, 6 days)
Facilitated by: Mollie, Mutima, Constance, Jo
6 month training, also wrote an article for Deep Times Journal on guide to My Grandmother's Hands
- Work That Reconnects (2020, 2 days)
Facilitated by: Martin Reinholz
Martin’s workshop had the biggest impact on my adopting the Spiral as a daily practice, and using it to move forward with local environmental issues; beyond the workshop he has mentored me generously on several occasions to explore the WTR website and becoming a facilitator
- Active Hope (2020, 0)
Facilitated by: Anna Swisher
3 months plus several sessions of small study groups
- Active Hope Immersion (2020, 0)
Facilitated by: Margo van Greta and Jackie Buckingham
Other relevant training
- Deep Ecology (2020, 2 days)
Facilitated by: Inna Alex
- Exploring Deep Time (2020, 2 days)
Facilitated by: Gwyneth Jones and co-
- De-escalating Patterns...; Micro-Aggressions (2021, 0)
Facilitated by: Mutima, Aravinda, Janna and others
ongoing, already participated in three workshops
- Facilitator training, In her words, World as Lover...and others (2020, 0)
Facilitated by: Lydia Violet and others
each one online several weeks
- Active Hope (2020, 2 days)
Facilitated by: Kathleen Rude
Other relevant skills & experiences
Everyday Hebrew (not at academic level) for communication in groups and in writing
Amateur musician since age 4 (piano), throughout my life, and many wind and percussion instruments
Amateur potter (8 years) artist (lifetime) and MIksang/contemplative photographer (10 years)
Elder care of mother during her dying process, care of husband for chronic illness for 30 years
Two decade plus meditation practitioner, primarily somatic and Tibetan, although I have explored many paths, meditation “teacher” (guide) for groups, online and F2F. Certified trainer with 16 guidelines and prison dharma groups.
Sharer--I have created many online groups through Insight Timer (e.g. Third Third for women 50 +), a international meditation sangha based in somatic meditation that has been active for 8 years, European/Asian writing groups based on Natalie Goldberg’s teachings that operates in several languages; informal European/Asian meditation sangha to support being part of Upaya’s year long (and now it will go for a second year) Socially Engaged Buddhist program
Five decades of advocacy and teaching: lawyers and judges, social workers, medical personnel and others for working with abused and neglected children and juveniles at risk; lobbying for the needs of children, youth and families; creation and management of state-wide network of programs to represent children in the courts--abused, neglected, at risk; volunteer management of several programs; Governor’s advisor on children and creation of statewide network of grass roots lobbying and action groups; college, university, law school adn higher education adjunct and visiting professor/teacher for courses related to child welfare, managing a juvenile law clinic, special educational needs and assistive technology; teacher of special needs students from age 5-university, including coordination of university preparation program for blind and otherwise challenged students; teacher training for teachers and staff that work with students with special educational needs, throughout Israel and online; curriculum design and management for all levels of regular and special education frameworks, pre-university, and on-line course offerings; volunteer curriculum and evaluation consultant for Charter for Compassion Education Institute including emphasizing priority for climate crisis and diversity programs; Development Officer and grant writer for international children’s right group, and trainer for other non-profits in grant writing and management, and long-term budget planning; representation of indigent clients including criminal defendants charged with all levels of crime, and part of Death Penalty Defense team; juveniles at risk, abused and neglected children, mentally-at-risk hospitalized patients
Volunteer staff for Israel’s national botanical garden--rare and exotic plants
Volunteer trainer for information services volunteers Israel Museum for creative curriculum and activities for volunteers to become acquainted with museum’s special and regular offerings, disabled access, etc
Many decades of academic and popular writing in a variety of fields (criminal justice, child welfare, assistive technology and adaptive techniques, working with special education needs populations, etc.)
Alternative healing practiionier with certificate in Aromatherapy, use of Reiki and other techniques
Experience facilitating WTR events & workshops
Work That Reconnects workshops I have facilitated
- Active Hope (2020, 0)
Facilitated by: Matt Streit
1.5 hr every two weeks for 8 months; Breaking down the Active Hope book into individual/group of chapters, and recruiting and managing a group of participants, including my own facilitation, using WTR exercises to practice the teachings
- Coming Back to Life (2021, 0)
2 hour workshop once a month for a year; learning from our previous course on Active Hope, we took chapter-by-chapter, with 20 participants including those from the Active Hope group, recent Spiral WTR Facilitation Training, lengthened sessions, revised the container, to allow co-facilitators in each session lead practices of the WTR to gain practice themselves ad facilitators, to receive critiques from other members, and discuss the experience of facilitating with a co-facilitator, as well as the practices they chose
- Mentoring, coaching and training environmental workers during climate crisis (2021, 0)
Location: Achziv Beach Marine Reserve, Nahariya, Betzet beaches, Israel
Facilitated by: Nature Authority, regional and national non-profit environmental group leaders
During this year’s oil spill crisis I became the manager of our local environmental beach protection group’s launching of efforts to clean tar from our beaches, as well as our city’s beaches further south, and those to the north, eventually joining the team for creating a crisis corps of leaders to deal with further crises
- My Grandmother's Hands (2022, 0)
Facilitated by: group
Currently planning to do a practicum of My Grandmother’s Hands, with a broadened steering group (based upon the De-escalating Patterns….workshop and materials, and advice). Each session will be led by co-facilitators and include Mr. Menakem’s and others’ practices, as well as tips for facilitating future groups. During the past year, I have experimented with these practices in my current meditation groups.
- Charter for Compassion Education Institute--course in Introduction to the Work That Reconnects (2022, 0)
course postponed to early next year to cover the basics of the WTR for a broad audience of volunteers and supporters of the Charter for Compassion and others, including Ruzuku-based content and discussion groups, and Zoom call to conduct practices
Experience facilitating other events & workshops
See other experience above