Activism + Transformation Circle

Summary: a group of 40 folks from the local community came together in July 2016 to share stories around their relationship to activism. Below is the content from that circle.

The Invitation

Last week the United States witnessed a spate of violence that left millions reeling. The tragedies here and elsewhere in recent times, raise urgent questions on personal and collective responsibility. How do we navigate the balance between changing ourselves and changing the world? This Sunday these inspiring people will join us to explore these questions and more:

Anshu Gupta, founder of Goonj in India, he won the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award last year (his 5 min acceptance speech)

Mark Dubois, legendary environmentalist whose direct action has saved innumerable miles of rivers around the world

Sujatha Baliga, leading voice in the field of restorative justice, fuelled by her personal journey to forgiveness

Simmy Makhijani, co-founder of United Roots Oakland, organizer at Solidarity Summer and MBA Project (Mind Body Awareness Project, for at-risk youth).

Kazu Haga, founder of East Point Academy, an organization that works with incarcerated populations, deeply rooted in Dr. King's vision of nonviolence. (see his feature on CBS)

The circle will be anchored by Pancho Ramos Stierle -- most of you are familiar with him but for those who aren't, here's a powerful interview with Oakland's shining-eyed Gandhian, An Atheist on Spiritual Transformation. One of Pancho's favorite quotes? "It's time for spiritual people to get active and activists to get spiritual." :)

Some of the questions we'll hold together -- What qualities make activism a tool for transformation?  What is the power of one?  What is therelationship between inner cultivation and external impact?  What makes a movement resilient?

Join us for an evening that explores these and related questions. Simply RSVP below, and we'll send you the details as we get closer.

Before the Circle ...

A question to ponder in preparation: How do we navigate the balance between changing ourselves and changing the world? Should spiritual people get more active and activists get more spiritual?  To wet our appetites, we wanted to send share a couple articles but since it's hard to decide, here's a bunch too many :) ...

Service Legends: Nelson Mandela on 'Liberating Oppressor and Oppressed', Aung San Suu Kyi on Unattainable Goal of Peacefew excerpts from Gandhi and a powerful anecdote when a mob of 600 confronted him with violence

Pilgrimages: Satish Kumar's walk from India to US (without money), Peace Pilgrim on 4 relinquishments, Rev. Heng Sure bowing for peace, John Francis's response to an oil spill: 17 years of silence

Spiritual Perspectives: J. Krishnamurti on 'Why Do Social Work?', Bhikkhu Boddhi on Bridging Spiritual and Mundane, Brother David on 'Contemplation vs. Social Change', Cherokee story 'Conflict of Two Inner Forces' (with the full ending), Ajahn Passano on 'Me without Society', Pavi on Be Vocal in Times of Beauty

Thought Leaders: Einstein on 'Is the Universe Friendly?' Rachel Naomi Remen on 'Helping, Fixing vs Serving', Meg Wheatley on Absurd Heroism, Anonymous on "A Spiritual Conspiracy", Larry Brilliant (who eradicated smallpox) on Bend that Arc of Justice

Children: Just Breathe (video), What Vinny Did After School Shooting, and the 8 year old Girl who Silenced the UN (video)

Post-Circle Shares

What an energizing evening to be with all of you yesterday! We heard a call to act, a call to step into the regenerative cycle of service and compassion, a call to move from me to we, a call to find the "through line of love" amidst the haze, and so much more.  Thank you for co-creating the space, and seeding potent ripples (some which are already in motion!).

Few tidbits that were heard around the circle ... video on Anshu's work: Not Just a Piece of Cloth (made by local friends), Pancho's share of Erika Higgins (who is also Simmy's mentor), the story about Rajesh and his daughter, Annabelle (who told about index cards!) on finding roses, Miki's story of her nephew (that was evoked in the after hours), here's a photo of Mark chained to a river in 1979, the uncommon insight around her Dad's passing that Leah shared last time, a conversation with artivist Sam Bower (who craftily created our circle center piece in minutes!), the gospel song that Sujatha sang (unfortunately, we don't have Sujatha's recording of it, but we're working on another opportunity!).

Rahul took this group photo ...

Leah drew this graphic ...

Sujatha sang this song, sends chills down all ours spines ...

Post-Circle Ripples ...

Coming soon!