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Here’s my close: We are grappling with an enormous shift in paradigm, world-view, world-story—whatever word you prefer—and how good organizing can get hands and minds around this Mother of all crises. Here we are doing it through the humble organizing practice of one-to-ones, two imperfect but magnificent creatures at a time.
We work here with three phases of the capacity of relational meetings, and we emerge with a focus on the power of mutual recognition, at three levels, scales, or stories:
—Our political economy.
—Earth, its living organisms and systems.
In each phase of capacity, relational meetings, done well, have the potential in which we can discover the I-Thou dimension of everyday experience.
I’m positing or claiming that local organizing work done with this lens, this new set of glasses, brings a new resource for a new response that is commensurate to the catastrophe that we face.
Yes, the threat of our crisis is unprecedented in human history. But so is our opportunity. Our new glasses are bifocal: we see both sides of the crisis.
Finally, the arena of organizing is first in local places, at specific points where our political economy has been impacting Earth and its living creatures, including us.
—The biggest barrier to organizing in our crisis is denial, the cover for unacknowledged, unrecognized grief. If we don’t include processing grief in our organizing, we won’t get very far: read Breuggemann on lament.
—There are now no silos between traditional social justice and creation justice issues. We can see them as symptoms, breaking out all over the place, but symptoms of a raging addiction, a metastasizing cancer, a runaway fever— all words for deep imbalances in the body. Once we re-see the whole body, we’ll know how to move. Chasing symptoms as if they’re isolated is whack-a-mole. What’s driving and relating the obviously-related symptoms?
—The key is to learn how to teach this stuff, to develop workshops that integrate people’s experiences, your best existing workshop content, and this new material. It’s still trial and error, experimenting, but now it’s about survival and resilience—creativity for the highest stakes.
I look forward to your critique, and learning from it.
Dick Harmon worked with IAF from 1961 to 1977, and from 1994-2008; in the interim he helped build the Brooklyn Ecumenical Cooperatives (BEC). Since retirement, he has served as a co-teacher for a class, Organizing In Biocommons, co-sponsored by Eco-Faith Recovery, Wilderness Way and Leaven. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his spouse Carole.