Monthly Archives: June 2012

Facing our Future Challenges with Authentic Hope: The Work that Reconnects

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The Work that Reconnects was an evening of dialogue and experiential exercises based on teachings and practices developed over the last 40 years by eco-philosopher Joanna Macy and colleagues. The workshop offered an inspiring context for action and   participation in the Great Turning toward a life-sustaining society and world.

Joanna spoke June 21st to a sold-out audience at OISE, on her new book Active Hope – How to Face the Mess We’re In Without Going Crazy. This special DwD workshop followed Joanna’s recent talks and workshops in Canada for a Toronto community experience of The Work that Reconnects.

The Work that Reconnects

Following the Spiral of the Work that Reconnects, as developed by Joanna Macy, PhD, we journeyed into gratitude and joy in being alive, through honouring our pain for the world, to seeing with new eyes and finally going forth.

Three Stories of our Times: participants were invited to consider narratives by which we understand the times we are living in and what is possible now for life on Earth.

Business as Usual: Industrial Growth Society must and can continue; it is a wonderful success story involving continuous human progress and growth in economic prosperity spreading around the world. Getting ahead is what matters, and the problems of the world are seen as far off and irrelevant to our personal lives.

The Great Unravelling: The destructive consequences of the business-as-usual mode. Life-sustaining systems of Earth and of human communities are in serious decline, as seen in economic instability and inequity, resource depletion, climate disruption, peak oil, social division and war, and mass extinction of species.

The Great Turning toward a life-sustaining society committed to the recovery of our world.

This turning is manifested in three dimensions: 1) holding actions that slow the damage being done by business-as-usual and protect ecological and social systems; 2) alternative or Gaian structures, the creative redesign of practices and societal structures in fields from education and healthcare to housing and justice; and 3) a shift in consciousness that deepens our sense of connectedness and collective identity and inspires us to consider the inner frontier of change and also to take action in the world.

Reflections: How do you see each of these stories unfolding around you in these times?

Which do you want to get behind?

The group process called Meet the Ancestors allowed participants to step outside of time and meet imaginatively as people of the present day and people of the future.

Our Guest Presenters

SALLY LUDWIG M.A., M.Sc. works towards transforming relationships as a therapist with individuals, couples, families and groups. She is a co-founder of Transition Guelph, part of the international movement to build community resilience in a changing world.

NATALIE ZEND M.A., CTDP is a training and facilitation consultant with 14 years’ experience in international development and human rights. She is a co-founder of Unify Toronto, and offers the Awakening the Dreamer symposium, compassionate communication, and other social technologies in her local community.

The process and reflection was live sketched by Patricia Kambitsch of Playthink.


Conflict Resolution: From Blockage to Opportunity

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June 2012 DwD was presented by Rick Wallace of Peacebuilding International Consulting.

We live and work in a world where conflict exists at multiple scales (locally, nationally and internationally) and contexts (social, economic, cultural, political, and environmental).  Conflicts can be interpersonal, collective, organizational, structural and/or psycho-spiritual.  They can be over values, beliefs, relationships, data, structures, identities and/or competing interests

One thing is certain: conflicts are inevitable. Designing a system to transform conflicts involves, among other things, the values of inclusiveness, mutual respect, participatory processes, collaborative and responsive decision-making, and shared power.  One of the factors that separates constructive outcomes from destructive dynamics are the approach, design and skills of communicating and negotiating.

Whether the conflict be a large-scale social-cultural conflict, an organizational dispute or deteriorating interpersonal relationships, one process of transforming conflict involves the use of interest-based negotiating and strategic communication.

In this workshop, we will outline the basic skills and designs for resolving various types of conflict with a focus on our own interpersonal and workplace relationships. To do so, we will focus on the analytical and communication skills that assist in identifying the nature of the conflicts, de-escalates and clarifies issues, and encourages collaborative problem-solving.

This DwD session explored:

  • The dynamics and meaning of conflict
  • Strategies and skills for facilitating communication within conflict
  • Ways to effectively raise issues and concerns
  • How to utilize interest-based approaches for both negotiation and system design

The session adapted our own experiences to think about the ways people (ourselves) generally deal with conflict. Exercises included active listening in simulated conflict, and working in triads to enact role-play scenarios in order to practice these skills and approaches.

Rick Wallace working with participants.

Contributions from group dialogue.

Rick Wallace brings over 20 years of national and international experience as an adult educator and 14 years as a trainer and mediator in conflict resolution, negotiation, strategic planning and leadership skills.

In Canada, he has worked for agencies such as St. Stephen’s Community House coordinating the Community Mediation Program, as well as the Conflict Mediation Services of Downsview, designing and providing training on conflict resolution, mediation, negotiation, restorative justice and facilitation.

Internationally, Rick has worked with the UN Department of Political Affairs and UNHCR in Rwanda coordinating humanitarian relief.   He currently heads up Peacebuilding International Consulting (  He is also the author of a forthcoming book, Community-Based Peacebuilding:  Indigenous-non-Indigenous Alliances in Canada (Spring 2013, Fernwood Press).  Rick holds a PhD (Peace Studies), LLM (International Human Rights) and an MA (Adult Education).