By Leslie Gabriel Mezei
THE PACHAMAMA ALLIANCE & THE AWAKENING THE DREAMER COMMUNITY
Pristine Ecuador rainforestAround 1995 an intact and healthy aboriginal community’s pristine Amazonian environment was threatened by development companies looking for oil, minerals, and other resources. The Achuar people of Ecuador are a “dream culture”; their leaders began to perceive in their visions that they needed to connect with like-minded spirits among people of the very same developed world which was threatening them.
Lynne Twist, a highly successful fund-raiser for nonprofit organizations such as the Hunger Project, heard their call in her own dreams, and soon about a dozen people from the modern world traveled to the Amazon rain-forest, and the Pachamama Alliance was born. Its banner: Connecting indigenous wisdom and modern knowledge for a just, sustainable, and thriving world.
Pachamama refers to the Spirit of Mother Earth, representing the whole Universe, and that spirit has inspired and quickened all of the projects of this amazing organization. Lynne and her husband, Bill Twist, a businessman, have since devoted themselves to leading it. This story is told in Lynne Twist’s 2003 ground-breaking book, The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life, in the chapter on “Change the Dream.” You can also read about the origin of the Pachamama Alliance here.
A Global Partnership Develops
Two major programs grew out of this beginning, The Pachamama Alliance itself, with its California headquarters, and the independent Fundación Pachamama-Ecuador, which assists the indigenous communities of the region in defending their environment and way of life. A major breakthrough for Fundación was passage of the 2008 Ecuadorean Constitution, the first in the world to give Nature the “right toexist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structures, functions and its processes in evolution,” mandating that the government takes “precaution and restriction measures in all the activities that can lead to the extinction of species, the destruction of the ecosystems or the permanent alteration of the natural cycles.”
Alas, in spite of this protection of the ecosystem and Mother Earth, on paper, there is a new setback, with Ecuador’s government wanting to sell out to oil exploration and open some four million hectares of untouched jungle, an area larger than that of the Netherlands. Avaaz.org, “the campaigning community, bringing people-powered politics todecision-making worldwide” with more than 17 million members, has already garnered more 600,000 signatures to protest the sell-out. You can sign here.
For fifteen years, the Achuar have owned and operated a lodge where people from the developed world can visit. Pachamama Journeys offers a unique experience at the Kapawi Lodge, as well as a stay in native villages. They are a powerful way to ‘change the dream’ of the modern world, reconnecting participants to the ecological, cultural, and spiritual wealth our modern lifestyle undervalues, and strengthening their commitment to a just, thriving, and sustainable life and future. Pachamama Journeys are purposeful immersions that go beyond conventional eco-tourism and adventure travel, inviting you into deep relationship with the people and lands we visit through a community-based tourism experience.
Re-Visioning Life on a Healthy Planet
From the beginning, our aboriginal partners told us that to save Earth from the devastation going on, it is not enough to help them. We in the modern world have to wake up from our own dream of a life of plenty at all costs. We have to change our vision and ways if we are to survive. In 2005 the Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream Symposium was born. Its daring , all-encompassing purpose is to bring about a human presence on Earth that is environmentally sustainable, socially just and spiritually fulfilling.
The symposia show provocative videos that bring home to both our minds and our hearts the difficult situation we are in on all fronts, our unexamined assumptions, and the possibilities open to us. One of the main points is that we are not facing separate issues. They all interact, and any solutions need to be sustainable, just, and fulfilling for everyone.
The symposia include speakers like Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, Bishop Tutu, Matthew Fox, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Joanna Macy. They are positive and forward-looking in showing the seemingly sudden major improvements that have already been made – the end of Apartheid in South Africa, the huge reduction in cigarette smoking in North America, and more recently the Arab Spring.
In a typical session of around four hours, there is room for frequent interaction among the participants, often in small groups, with introspetive exercises and consideration of next steps. A 4-minute video tells the story of the symposia. Follow-up Getting Into Action workshops focus on becoming effective change agents and collaborators. Some Brahma Kumaris and Shambhala centers have organized meditation retreats that include Awakening the Dreamer symposia.
Global Re-Dreaming Promoted
A worldwide community of over 3,500 trained facilitators have delivered hundreds of symposia to more than 150,000 people. In some regions Be the Change organizations are delivering the symposia. It’s easy to search for ATD Communities and forthcoming symposia in your area.
Weekend facilitator training sessions are widely conducted, and an option to use online materials to train yourself, preferably with the help of an experienced local mentor. There is also a version of the Symposium which any group can run online or from a DVD , without a trained Facilitator.
Generation Waking Up has a version for youth and its own video introduction. A related activity drawing attention to the urgency of our situation and the need to change direction now is the Four Years Go campaign, where you can watch a brilliant, dynamic three-minute video created pro bono by the world’s largest independent advertising agency, Wieden+ Kennedy. And on a more humorous note, watch Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff , or if you want the whole Symposium in 60 seconds, enjoy the Foundation of Global Community’s delightful Wombat video. A whole community has developed around each of these initiatives, as well as an estimated two million plus NGOs seeking to find new ways to make this a better world.
The environmentalist Paul Hawken, author of the Blessed Unrest, called the Pachamama Alliance “the most important single NGO in the world!” Faith communities, interfaith and interspiritual organizations are all becoming increasingly aware of, and active in, environmental and social justice issues. And, of course, spiritual and personal fulfillment are a major foundation of the work. Motivated by a deep spirituality, the Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream community is a good example of bringing all these issues together in a unified holistic manner for the way ahead for humanity and for our home, Mother Earth.