Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Windows of Hope: Climate Change in Copenhagen

YOU IDIOTS! Shouts the cover of Rolling Stone magazine for January 21, 2010. In blazing red filling a black background, with subtitles: “Meet the Planet’s Worst Enemies – Inside the Battle over Global Warming.” Heartening to see, as this journal is one voice of a generation not yet entrenched and calcified, a generation that announced a revolt from the status quo with new music and new values. I’m not sure how much impact this issue will have, as I had to drive 20 miles to buy it at a book store chain. But I wish millions would also find it, read it, tear off the cover or copy it and send it to Obama and everyone in the Congress.

The article describes how the right wing and big oil and coal producers spread misinformation and outright lies about the situation and spent vast amounts of money to make sure the US would do nothing to curtail CO2. They name the 17 worst polluters and deniers who do the most to derail all efforts to curb global warming.

I more or less knew all that, in general, but in reading the details I got so angry I had to chill and recall my wonderful experience in Copenhagen during the COP15 climate conference. So I guess I better tell you about that.

In the cold and the dark of December of 2009 the United Nations gathered a conference to plan how to counteract the growing threats to the planet. Most specifically the emissions by human activities of carbon dioxide which has unleashed the fastest chain of global warming in the story of life on Earth. There have been other periods of warming, but they happened slowly, gradually, through eons of time. The speed and intensity of this heating up is shocking, outstripping the direst predictions of the past forty years. It is caused by a now well-known and documented “greenhouse effect” of the sun’s rays penetrating a growing ceiling of CO2 that envelops the planet.

Around the world much hope was vested in this COP 15 conference, as it was dubbed. Knowledgeable people wanted solutions and action from the leaders of the nations. A hundred thousand people marched in the street to urge agreements from the conferees to save our planet before it is too late. Many of the Non-Governmental Organizations, who were turned away from the conference at the Bella Center, formed an alternative conference downtown.

It quickly became apparent that the conference would confound all our high hopes. There would be no cooperation, no compromising of the extreme differences between the rich and the poor nations. The developing nations want to develop and believe the wealthy nations should make greater sacrifices than those who are not creating the problem and are only trying to survive. Certainly the rich could afford sacrifices better than the poor countries.

Some of the young people from our European circles came to demonstrate, and marched to the Bella Center to try and stage a People’s Assembly to “give a voice to those who are not being heard.” The police informed them that the center was closed off, and when the crowd did not disperse the police chose to break up the demonstration even though the activists had signaled that they would not try to enter the venue after all but stage a gathering outside. Demonstrators were then pepper-sprayed and beaten with batons. One delegate shouted “We said we would be peaceful and you’ve reacted with violence. Shame on you.”

When a few of the crowd at the end of the march began throwing stones through business and government windows, the police surrounded and arrested the last 900 people, including our people and the Hari Krishnas! Linda and Rabea, our young women, had their hands manacled behind their backs and had to sit hours on the freezing ground before being carried to cages in a warehouse that had been acquired by the city for this event. All but three were released the next day.

It was not all failure. The day before the end the conference was deadlocked, and the discouragement was leaking out all over the city. Then Obama flew in and insisted that they go back and work harder, find some place to agree to something so it wouldn’t be a total disaster. And they did. They managed a tree-planting program that all nations could sign on to, and they agreed to meet again in a year in Mexico. The hope is that the people of the world will be so disappointed and disgusted and ashamed of the politics and economics of the status quo, that in a year there could be a new dedication, stirring cooperation and the will to sacrifice to meet the common threat to us all.

But there is a greater hope that I found emerging from Copenhagen during the conference – not from the COP15 meeting of the big guys at the top, but from the bottom, the little guys – us. In Christiania we organized an alternative meeting which we called “Windows of Hope.” Christiania, as perhaps you know, is a free haven of around 800 adults and perhaps 150 children that in 1971 was squatted by street people in an abandoned military base in the Copenhagen district known as Christianshaven. Eventually the then socialist government allowed the squatters to remain and called it a social experiment. That community has thrived for over 38 years now, and a whole generation has been born and grown and begun new families there. Ellika has lived there since 1979, and we have based our European travels from her house there since 1984.

In Christiania’s “Peace Meadow” we set up a circus tent, three tipis and 3 yurts, plus a heating system, indoor toilet trailer and a sauna. Several hundred people attended during the two-week period. I opened every day’s sessions with our traditional thanksgiving around a fire outside. Every day we had people from ecovillages and environmental groups, and from scientists and technologists who are actually addressing and doing something about the CO2 problem, and from many spiritual leaders. I learned so much every day that in spite of the failure of the COP15 it gave me hope for the world.

Ross Jackson, chairman of the Gaia Trust, started out with the warning that the COP15 would fail to make any meaningful agreements because, as Albert Einstein observed, you can’t solve a problem using the same thinking that created it.

The representatives of both the developed and the developing nations are still motivated by the same national and corporate greed that put us where we are now. The same selfishness and competitiveness and narrow thinking. For those who think in the modes of competition and domination there is no possibility of the cooperative thinking that is needed to save civilization for our grandchildren. They have not been taught by their elders to consider the unborn generations before themselves.

So the hope of the future falls on us, folks. It is up to us to educate everyone about the extent of the threat of global warming, the melting of the Arctic and Antarctic that will inundate major cities and obliterate many island and coastal nations, the disappearance of glaciers that are the main source of water in many countries, the warm-weather insects that will proliferate, with species invasions into new areas, eating up forest and field (such as the Asian tiger mosquito that carries diseases like Dengue fever and malaria) and bringing more disease and epidemics, the ever stronger and more frequent hurricanes such as devastated Haiti and New Orleans, the droughts which are already deadly in many places getting longer, and the wildfires, turning into infernos, wiping out habitats as well as trees and plant life that hold the topsoil, which is disappearing at an increasing rate. And the massive loss of trees speeds the warming ever faster, increasing the greenhouse cloud of CO2. The speed of the warming now is surprising the scientists that predicted it decades ago. The combination of these effects and its unpredictability makes the situation scarier and comprehensive action now more urgent.

And with all that, which any school child can plainly see, “those idiots” are trying to tell us that global warming is all a hoax of the tree-hugging environmentalists, there is no threat, and we can continue to exploit nature and people, burn up the fossil fuels and spew out carbon dioxide without restraint. Of course theirs is the noble motive of making themselves wealthy while the “tree huggers” have the strange and fuzzy motive of preserving life on this planet!

While the delegates to the COP15 were deadlocked in their mode of competition and narrow self-interests, corporate interests, and national interests, they allowed no input from the NGOs that held their own conference downtown. Even there, I was told, there was not so much clarity as confusion, and more competition than cooperation.

We drew fewer numbers to the bottom meeting, but those who came were sincerely interested to learn and solve the problems, to listen to each other and to give and serve, rather than to take and dictate. Some people came every day and a sense of community and comradeship in a shared purpose grew and nourished all who were there.

I offered circles informing about our work in communities, in ecovillages, in the Nature School, and in our prison programs, and was part of several panels of elders, including one of indigenous people.

I have long held the belief that the best hope for humankind is presented by the ecovillage movement, where people are empowering themselves to create alternative sustainable societies and reduce their carbon footprints by using alternative energies such as wind and solar, growing their own food organically, and by conservation, simple living, and recycling everything to the point of zero waste. I have been closely connected with a number of these communities, and have visited, learned from, and assisted many others. Right now there are thousands of communities all over the world that are developing their own ecological styles of sustainable living.

It was with immense pleasure that I reconnected with representatives from some of the ecovillages I have connected with over the years. With Findhorn, with which I was connected through Peter Caddy in 1974, with Albert Bates from The Farm in Tennessee where for the birth of our first son Emmy and I stayed and worked for two months in 1976, with Twin Oaks in Virginia, with whom our Mettanokit Community shared in the Federation of Egalitarian Communities in the 1980s and 90s, with Auroville in India, with which our community communicated by video mail and provided gatherings for their supporters at our conference center, with ZEGG, where I have been a close friend and supporter since 1992 and of which I am an honorary member, and Sieben Linden also in Germany, with Dyssekilde in Denmark and Tamera in Portugal, where I have made many circles and workshops over the years, and with Solborg in Norway and Damanhur in Italy where I have visited and was enchanted and delighted by their work and gifts to the world, and of course with Christiania, my summer home for 25 years.

There were others new to me, giving fascinating and inspiring accounts of their achievements: Krishna EcoValley in Hungary, the Valley of Flowers in Estonia, Brama Kumaris in India, the Sarvodaya movement of ecovillages in Sri Lanka, the Amsterdam Balloon Company, a city tribe, in Denmark Friland, Hertha Hjortshøj, Thy, Mors, and Tor Jordbo on the island of Fyn, the Ecovillage Network Ghana, Ecovillage Clareado of Brazil, the Brazilian Ecovillage Network, Wongsamit Ashram in Thailand, the Mali Peoples Center, and the Senegal Network of Ecovillages. We heard from many organizations such as the Global Ecovillage Network, Gaia Education, Ecovillage Design Education, Scrap Heap Mountain, The Green City, Earth Restoration Corps, the Nordic Folkecenter, the Global Peace Initiative of Women.

We learned about Transition Towns, Eco Agriculture, Permaculture, Biodymanics, Cradle to Cradle – making everything biodegradable or recyclable so there is zero waste. We learned about horse culture, about natural medicine and health provision, and about the living sea.

We learned about restructuring the global economy in the face of ecosystem overload, global warming, overpopulation, increasing inequalities, peak oil – all results of a dysfunctional political system with no global governance. We learned about a pluralistic perspective on money, about local currencies and mutual credit unions in ecovillages, and how we might establish a more sound and societally oriented financial system.

We heard about Forum that is used in several communities, and I gave a workshop to inform about the use of Co- counseling, which was fundamental to our Mettanokit Community and to our International Family Camps in tribal living. We had a panel on Conflict Resolution, and spoke of non-violence, civil disobedience, theater action, forgiveness and reconciliation.

Another strong contribution to our “Windows of Hope” was made by representatives of the Pachamama Alliance of South America. This global organization came about when elders of the Achuar tribe of Ecuador realized how threatened their lands and their very existence had become when the oil industry began to move in on them. They decided to reach out to the civilization that was portending their doom, and in 1995 some people responded to their plea. Together they built this alliance, Pachamama (Achuar for Mother Earth), to reach out to the people of the world.

olunteers like those who came to Copenhagen are now presenting symposia in man countries to inform the public of what is really going on, the effects of our materialist economy on ecology and the climate, on social injustice in the world, and on our personal happiness and spiritual well-being. I wish their program and also their film “Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream” could be seen by all people on Earth.

We addressed the issue of how we strengthen the economics in and between communities (ecovillages, transition towns, cooperatives, companies and cultural/political/religious groups in the city) in and across bioregions, through liberating local creativity.

We had ecumenical panels of representatives from many and various religious and spiritual groups, such as Andrew Harvey, Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, Swamini Pramananda Saraswati, Dr. Dharmakosajarn, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Ven. Chan Wen, Sarko Andrecevic, Michael Kagan, Sheikh Saliou Mbecke, and Prachar Hutanuwatr and others. It was very encouraging to hear the unanimity of all these various religious traditions in coming together to act passionately to save our beloved planet. We could feel that spirituality may bind us, not separate us, to work together with mutual respect and love for the Earth.

Volunteer organizations from Holland and Germany came and fed the people good vegetarian fare every day for a small donation. Such a noble service – to feed the people! Hearing from some of the speakers about food issues I almost decided to become fully vegan. Almost. I decided it would be a major and more possible step for me to commit to organically and locally grown foods and animal products like dairy only from animals that were well treated and fed without chemical or fossil fertilizers. But I learned that the livestock sector contributes at least 51% of human caused greenhouse gas amd is responsible for more of that gas than all the world’s transport combined. That the world’s population of farmed animals will double in 50 years which would negate emission reductions from all other sectors. That a shift to plant-based diets would increase health and quality of life, reduce soil erosion and deforestation, reduce air and water pollution and loss of biodiversity, hunger and thirst, and animal abuses. So I can report to you that I am now eating and buying food much more consciously and carefully than before.

The actions of a small group of people who use black clothing to identify themselves and who travel to many events in various countries to protest the actions and systems of the rich nations produced continuing counter-actions by the police, who had been expanded for the occasion. I was glad that our house could be a haven for a number of young visitors fleeing the sweeping attacks of law enforcement. After the setting of fires in the street one night the police invaded Christiania and tear-gassed the conference site, the tent and the grounds around it, and a group of young Finns took refuge in our kitchen.

The acts of vandalism against the system by our beloved comrades, our brothers and sisters and children, are very understandable in the light of our frustration with the system, the injustices and inequality, the elitist disregard and exploitation of people, and the unremitting, unrepentant destruction of the home that belongs to all of us, to all life, our Mother Earth.

But these actions of violence, be they only against property, are counter-productive to the real and practical goals of making needed change and creating a truly human society that works for everyone and all life.

All violent acts are demonstrations of powerlessness. And we are not powerless!
We have the intelligence, the creativity, the stamina and the courage to achieve our goals when we get together. Together there is nothing we cannot do.

But violence by our allies makes it harder, distracts us from full concentration on our goals. Violence diminishes our effectiveness. That is hard to see, because it is violence that keeps the dominating systems in place. But I wish I could get all the proponents of violence into a history class. That includes terrorists and national political and military leaders.

The history of civilization is a history of violence which is anti-human and anti-life. I’m not going to go through the class here, but a study of history will show that violence has always and will always only create more violence. Whatever example of war, revolution, or domination you submit I can show you how the human objectives would have been reached more quickly without violence.

We can and we will surmount the hurdles that are created by the violence of our fringes, but we will reach our objective of a more human system faster when all of us are pulling together.

The violent actions of the few are a perfect example of internalized oppression, something that we native and indigenous people know a lot about, that keeps us distracted and fighting each other. The indigenous people’s representatives at Windows of Hope showed that their teachings provide a model for the world. There are over four hundred million indigenous people around the world who are attempting to continue their traditional ways that have helped them survive by harmony with nature and the spirit of cooperation, relatedness and responsibility for all Creation. We heard from natives of western Brazil who are working to preserve the forests of the Amazon, and from leaders of Andean tribes actively pursuing sustainable and spiritual relations with the Earth and all life. In most of Latin America the main contribution to climate change comes from destruction of the forests. Any plan to alter global warming has to include sustainable forest management. Burning to convert the land to agriculture and new settlement on indigenous territory must be stopped. The forests cannot be protected without the cooperation of the people living there and they represent the solution if their territorial rights are recognized and respected. The ones who understand best the way to preserve the environment are those who have lived there in balance with it for countless millennia.

One concrete result of the climate bottom meeting was the initiation of an international and inter-cultural network furthering the Pachamama Alliance. This will be a new kind of cooperation with indigenous peoples as a basis.

It is essential for all of us to encourage a fulfillment of the universal declaration of the human rights and the collective rights of indigenous peoples around the world, as well as respect and reverence for the Earth.

So it seemed completely appropriate that the final words and ceremony of the two weeks of Windows of Hope be given by Carlos Prado, indigenous leader from Bolivia, as well as Antonio Gonzales, director of the American Indian Movement for the west coast, and myself from the Wampanoag Nation of the east coast of Turtle Island (North America). The harmony among us and with the conference and all the international representatives felt good and important for the world.

Another result of this event was to give me further support in my belief that the clearest shortest route to changing all society to one that is just, equitable, compassionate, and which delivers the highest quality of life, is found in the ecovillage movement. It increases my resolve to work further in support of individual ecovillages and with the global ecovillage network, to complete the book of my experiences and insights in the world of conscious community building, and to speak and write more in encouragement of creating our own ecovillage based on those insights and experiences.

So now. Who is ready for a Circle Way Village?

Together there is nothing we cannot do.

Who wants to live together with Ellika and me?

Welcome Home!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I have a problem I wrestle with everyday. My vision is complete and clear. I know how every one of us might be able to live the lives we all long for instead of making the best of a badly formed society. And I can see the steps we could be taking right now to get started quickly in that direction. All I have been doing for the past forty years has led the way. But now I am stuck. I can’t take the next needed steps alone.

What we need is the kind of organization that the gurus were able to build in the last century. Remember? The organizing power of Meher Baba, Sai Baba, Yogi Bhajan, Maharishi, even Sri Aurobindo, and especially Osho. The trouble is, I am an anti-guru! The only one who spoke to my heart and mind was that other anti-guru, Krishna Murti, who refused the role of spiritual leader that was offered him. No one has offered that to me, well, a few do try now and then, but I refuse anyway.

Krishnamurti was a teacher, of course, as was Gurdjieff?, as is Thich Nhat Hanh, and they all managed to inspire organizations to continue teaching. I guess we have achieved that in a small way, due to the many of you have been organizing workshops and camps for Ellika and me every summer for 25 years. I am so appreciative of all that each one of you have done. I love you and I love our life of learning circles with you. But, I want more. I want to change the way we live. I want to live together and show the world, to lead the world to a better life for our children and enhance human evolution in the direction of all our hearts.

There are a few who are ready right now, have been for a long time, ready to go anywhere as long as we are together to build community the way we build our camps. There are communities that have invited Ellika and me to join, and I love them, but I want to start from scratch, as we do at camp, and have us in clans, listening and dreaming and planning and working and playing together in the Circle Way.

I have been thinking I need more time, need to write a few more books to explain how and why it works, and to promote them widely. Everywhere I am asked to speak now, all the people are excited and enthused to hear what we are thinking and doing. If we had a place we would start gathering people.

But it’s hard for me to write and to take care of all the business here. I don’t have a secretary or assistant anymore. We need an organization. People to organize the travels, the publicity, the promotion, the office work: accounting, paying bills, filing. We have a lot of potential here: a beautiful big old house that has ten living spaces, a large great hall for events, and an attic space that was a dormitory or could be small rooms, a big kitchen and another large room – all in need of work. We have ten acres of woods, a big backfield, camping area, garden, and a sweat lodge.

I have dreams for the land. In the past, we had many conferences, workshops, and camps here. We could again. I want to build an old Indian village for the Nature School and as an attraction to tourists. I want a gift shop, bookshop, art gallery. A restaurant. I want to make a nature trail with plaques describing the flora and fauna of the area. A small community could live here again. Down the road the Nature School has nine plots of land for building ecological homes and places for the homeowners families to come together and be a circle way ecovillage.

How could we get unstuck? Hmmmm. Well, in Europe if we had land somewhere suitable for camps where a small group could begin to live and work together and there was room for others to come and build, a few could start living and working on this together organizing camps and expanding with people who decide to stay and help build. ZEGG was fortunate to find a place ready to accommodate many people at once, when East Germany opened to the West. Tamera was fortunate to find a large piece of land in Portugal where they have been energetically building for over a decade. The stories go on for all the grand ecovillages, The Farm, Auroville Damanhur, Sieben Linden and so on – but all of those had a committed group of people ready.

Another start could be if one person came here to live with us and take some of the burden that Ellika, Donna and I now struggle with alone, we could make room for more people to come and build organization and community from here.

Our Current Condition

First, Ellika worries that I have not thanked all of you individually who have so lovingly donated your own money in these hard economic times to help us escape the loss of our home at the end of last year. She is right – I am so embroiled in so much I haven’t been able to keep up with who have given what, so please know how grateful I am.

From my counseling I conclude that none of our parents ever talked to any of us about their financial situations and that confused most of us. Now you all feel like my family and I can understand. As a papa you don’t want to upset the kids. But, even though it is difficult, I think you deserve transparency from Ellika and me out of your concern for us.

Here is the situation. The crisis is ongoing and looms again now. Donna has sold everything she owns and given all she had, not just money but all her time and energy all day and staying up late to fight off the unethical practices of the creditors and the town taxation resulting from faulty appraisals. As you know Ellika and I take no pay for our work. All that we make goes to paying for the expenses and obligations of the prison program and the Nature School. The only benefit to us is being allowed to live in the little house I built on the land we care for. Ellika lives from her Danish pension, and I live on $390 a month from US Social Security, plus Medicare, and assistance in fuel and electric from the state. I gave all the savings I had years ago to keep the land for us and the Nature School. We are tapped out, so now Ellika has given what she was saving from her pension for the future just to pay the mortgage. Now it is April and another $1750- is due.

I think there are still a few donations in the accounts in Europe, and they should be sent now because it takes a while to translate them to dollars in our accounts. Then we need to know the possibilities of future donations, and hopefully to reach more people for small regular gifts. A lot of people giving only a very little every month would make us secure. Just to keep our home and land here now needs $1700- a month. At current rates that is about 1200 Euros. If we had 60 people donating 30 Euros a month, or 600 donating only 3 Euros a month, that would completely pay the mortgage until we got the place fixed and income from events here.

I would like to tell you all more about why we are putting all our efforts into holding the land and rebuilding the Main House (as we called it in our community here). Sometimes when it seems too hard we have wished we were rid of it. But several things prevent that. First, at current value, the property is worth far less than the mortgage, so we would lose even more by selling it. Second, the market is really terrible now and no one will want to buy such a place. Third, I don’t want to lose my house, and it would cost a lot to separate the properties. If we sold all the property I would not have enough money to get another home and my huge library and I would be homeless.

But there is still a good future for us here if we can hold on. When people are buying again Cynthia will have many lots on her property for sale for ecological homes that would make her able to start up the Nature School again and able to pay Donna and me for all that we have loaned and given to it.

Donna works every day on repairing all the damage (fire and flood) to the Main House. She is nearly ready to get an occupancy permit again and then we might rent at lest one room to help with the mortgage payments. She has plans and the equipment to make a vegetarian kitchen for a restaurant and maybe a bed-and-breakfast. We have four rooms upstairs in good shape and six more can be rehabilitated in the wing for rent, community, or for weekend conferences. The old Great Hall can be re-opened for events with only a bit more investment of work. The labor for all this is being provided by Donna’s nephews under her direction very cheaply, with occasional help from friends and unavoidable paid work of licensed plumbers and electricians.

So in a pretty short time we might be able to have working conference center again, and perhaps also a revival of the spiritual community as we had once For the property outside the building of course we need to maintain the sacred sweat area for the ex-prisoners and supporters. I also have long held a vision of creating a model of a woodland Indian village in our woods for the school and as an attraction to tourists and visitors. Another old vision I have is to make a spiritual trail in our woods with small shrines along it from all the major religious traditions that would bring out-of-state tourists. We could also offer a restaurant, café, and gift shop, possibly an art gallery and museum, as well as inter-active workshops, concerts and lectures in the Great Hall.

Donna is a dynamo working on all that, plus trying to keep up the legal and financial battles and keep them from threatening me and my home personally. I’m so grateful to her, she has devoted all her time and energy and assets, her whole life to the preservation of our home, our woods, and the Nature School dream. All the things she does I am not good at, what I am good at is writing and speaking, storytelling and counseling, and I need to stay focused on that, on turning out the books and promoting them and our dreams far and wide.

Meanwhile Donna will try to refinance the mortgage in her name at a lower rate (she is a veteran with a disability from her military service and should be entitled to that).

Meanwhile I plan to get to work to finish the book on creating community that I have worked on for many years and start working on the many other projects waiting for me in my notes. The financial crisis and the operations (one for cataracts in each eye, one for a carcinoma on my nose, and a heavy one on my right hand to remove DePuytens Contraction) have all kept me from writing this winter, but now it’s spring and a new year and I’m ready to get back to work.

Our circle here has helped cleaning up the land from the devastation of the 2008 ice storm, and some new people have offered to help with organizing the book business, publicity, and fund-raising, and also creating new events. What I really want is a global organization with offices here and in every country. (Much as our friend Serge Kahili King has – see his website: The Nature School also intends for our place to be its international headquarters for training teachers when we can open again. We need volunteer help here with using the Internet, making videos and recordings, and just office organization.

I’m also planning my second book of poetry Birch Cottage and 36 Views of Mt. Monadnock, so here’s a sample. Happy Spring!


The children are waiting
Elders are listening
Your ancestors are calling you

Can you hear them?
I hear them every hour
When winter stretches

Loosens his heavy coat
And lets it fall drop by drop
From my eaves as now

When dirty drifts recede
Puddles become dark pools
Saplings rise from the mud

Grope for sky and sun
Ascending its gift of days
That will bring us forth

To seeds and tender sprouts
And buds dream and blossom
Come lie upon the back

Of Earth and steer her way
Round and round again
Through eons of stars and tales

Of ancestors singing softly
Leave your confusing cares
Come out and breathe the spring

Your ancestors are calling you
The elders are waiting
The children are listening

2009 Highlights

It seems from many folks I have heard from that the year 2009 was a strong one for most people. It certainly was a strong one for Ellika and me. At the very end of 2008 we had an ice storm which felled almost all the beloved birch trees around our house, and I promptly got felled with a fever lasting into the beginning of last year. In January I journeyed alone to New Mexico meeting many old friends: Damacio Lopez, that solitary warrior-hero against depleted uranium, who drove me to meet old colleague and writer Steven McFadden, author of Profiles in Wisdom, with his partner Dawn in Santa Fe, and up to beloved Jaya Bear who arranged a circle for me at her house in Taos, then to one of my oldest friends, Garrick Beck, whom I have known (as the son of Julian Beck and Judith Molina of the Living Theater) since he was four in the 1950s in New York, and who later was a founder and inspiration for the Rainbow Gatherings which I joined at their beginning in 1972. Garrick joined us for a large and wonderful circle that Steven had arranged for me in Santa Fe. There I met more old friends and made many new ones while reading from my new book of poem, Grandfather Speaks.

In February Ellika and I flew to Hawaii, where we made circles in Maui for a week plus a panel of elders that included Alex Grey and his wife and a delightful native auntie and which was moderated by old Rainbow friend and musician Fantuzzi. (Ram Dass was supposed to be with us, ut I missed re-connecting with him because he was ill.) Then we made a camp for a week on the Hilo coast of the big island, with many Swedes (organized by our Swedish friends Camilla and Kalle) four Germans and a handful of Americans. Beautiful Hawaii – I long to return….aloha!

It was a year of transition marking my 80th birthday, which I celebrated with many old friends at the Rainbow Gathering in New Mexico, again with my tribe on our reservation also with members of our prison circles, and in my home town of Salem, Massachusetts courtesy of the Universalist Church, which had a couple of members living in the house I was born in – I got to have tea in the very room where I first saw the light of day! The big celebration was on my actual birthday at the Mundekulla camp in Sweden with 150 people from all over Europe. After that we had a conference on sustainable living where I got to meet old and new friends from some of my favorite eco-villages: The Farm in Tennessee where my son Tokeem was born, Findhorn in Scotland, Sieben Linden and ZEGG in Germany, Solborg in Norway, Tamera in Portugal, and Damanhur in Italy.