Jul 20, 2021Liked by Brian Stout

The word that comes to mind for me to describe the process of "sensing into a collective" is attunement. In the process of attunement, I am bringing my whole being into sensing who each person is and what is present at individual and group levels. Attunement is different from vigilance in that attunement also encompasses connectivity. I am sufficiently open to the mutuality of being affected and changed by the group, and to my presence affecting and changing the group. It's not a word that is specific to the group context, though.

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Jul 23, 2021Liked by Brian Stout

regarding "re-indigenization":

"Like my elders before me, I want to envision a way that an immigrant society could become indigenous to place, but I’m stumbling on the words. Immigrants cannot, by definition, be indigenous. Indigenous is a birthright word. No amount of time or caring changes history or substitutes for soul-deep fusion with the land. Following Nanabozho's [the first man of a creation myth] footsteps doesn’t guarantee transformation of Second Man to First. But if people do not feel “indigenous,” can they nevertheless enter into the deep reciprocity that renews the world? Is this something that can be learned? Where are the teachers?


Our immigrant plant teachers offer a lot of different models for how not to make themselves welcome on a new continent. Garlic mustard poisons the soil so that native species will die. Tamarisk uses up all the water. Foreign invaders like loosestrife, kudzu, and cheat grass have the colonizing habit of taking over others’ homes and growing without regard to limits. But Plantain [aka White Man's Footstep] is not like that. Its strategy was to be useful, to fit into small places, to coexist with others around the dooryard, to heal wounds. Plantain is so prevalent, so well integrated, that we think of it as native. It has earned the name bestowed by botanists for plants that have become our own. Plantain is not indigenous but “naturalized.” This is the same term we use for the foreign-born when they become citizens in our country. They pledge to uphold the laws of the state. They might well uphold Nanabozho’s Original Instructions, too.

Maybe the task assigned to Second Man is to unlearn the model of kudzu and follow the teachings of White Man’s Footstep, to strive to become naturalized to place, to throw off the mind-set of the immigrant. Being naturalized to place means to live as if this is the land that feeds you, as if these are the streams from which you drink, that build your body and fill your spirit. To become naturalized is to know that your ancestors lie in this ground. Here you will give your gifts and meet your responsibilities. To become naturalized is to live as if your children’s future matters, to take care of the land as if our lives and the lives of all our relatives depend on it. Because they do."

- “Braiding Sweetgrass," Robin Kimmerer (an indigenous writer)

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Jul 22, 2021Liked by Brian Stout

Robin Wall Kimmerer returns again and again in her writing to the word, "reciprocity". I initially felt bothered at the repetition, until it began to dawn on me. She almost certainly means to expand the carrying capacity of this good, solid word. To pry open what already contains emotional, ethical, and ecological connotations. To further expand its application to something like the soma-knowing, and the yearning to decolonize you're exploring here.

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Obviously each of us must find our own place and purpose in these times, but we must also be strengthened and encouraged by our belonging with so many others. I believe inclusivity is one of the key factors for positive transformation and success in true justice in all things. Sadly, there are those who would seek to exclude, something I recently experienced.

From an earlier post elsewhere:

Recently an angry, bitter young woman (23yrs old) told me as a “white man” I ought to “sit out” social justice movements. She also by implication suggested I didn’t belong in the earth justice movement. While I don’t “lead” in either, my heart and soul compel me to join the efforts. Exclusion is what has brought us to the brink of destruction, only an all-inclusive attitude can save us and the earth. }:- a.m.

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Brian, I always appreciate when you offer up open questions/areas of inquiry as well as the lightning bolt insights! On the question of collective embodiment, I'd point to the work of Lucien DeMaris, Cedar Landsman and Mark Fairfield of Relational Uprising. They offer groups and movements an incredible set of embodied practices that deconstruct the "stories of separation" undergirding colonial cultures and weave a "relational culture" that celebrates interdependence and supports co-regulation. I'm using big words, but the practices are concrete and accessible - storytelling and listening practices, touch, play, in combination with an amazing theoretical framework. There's nothing like experiencing it, but their interviews in episodes 20, 32 and 37 of the old Irresistible fka Healing Justice podcast offer a tantalizing taste.

Basically, the practices of collective embodiment are kind of painfully obvious: song, dance, play and story. I feel slightly embarrassed even writing that sentence, which hints at the real obstacle here: shame! For me, Lucien & co's key contribution is their theoretical understanding of shame as the way that the cultural stories of supremacy, separation, and domination land in our bodies and nervous systems and cement those stories in place -- and the brilliant ways they create safety in their course design and facilitation.


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