Spiritual and Cultural Change

The Present

1. How is spiritual and cultural awareness operating today?

We talked of two currents operating today.  One is the dominant cultural and spiritual views that have brought us to this point of uncertainty about our future as a species.  These views promote values that support the status quo, values such as a fear of change and questioning, encouraging our differences, not rocking the boat, defending against perceived threats to current ways of life.  These values promote fragmentation, confusion and uncertainty.  This is the dominant cultural trend.  We recognize an emerging trend in our cultural and spiritual lives supportive of exploring what is working and what is not working today.  This trend embraces linking life-affirming values, consciousness, and personal responsibility to discover what makes sense in terms of sustaining life on our planet and using this reasoning for motivation toward change.

2. What currently exists that contributes to, or is working toward, long-term sustainability ?

The current social, ecological, economic crisis is perhaps the deepest motivator for people questioning our way of life and for people searching for new ways to relate to each other and our world.  Some of the organizations or practices we identified include:  Tucson Institute of Noetic Sciences; Interfaith Council; alternative healing practices and practitioners; local farmers’ markets; sectors of the art community; organizations promoting water harvesting and solar harvesting.  We would like to explore more entities working in this area.

3. What current practices are at odds with respect to long-term sustainability in the area of cultural and spiritual awareness?

We do not connect thoughts/feelings, with respect to the earth, with actions and are not connecting with each other about these thoughts and concerns.  We understand the mass media, which promotes the dominant consumer culture, exploits our differences, accepts separation, competition, fear of change, as a major impediment.  The promotion of rampant growth for profit is particularly destructive of a quality of life and connection to our environment.  The difficulty of creating change without a community interconnected by common values was noted.

The Vision

(the preferred state where Tucson becomes sustainable)

1. What is the overall benefit in becoming spiritually and culturally sustainable?

Shared values, which can lead to cooperative behaviors to increase our quality of life, our hopefullness, our receptivity to change, our health and well-being, our sense of community, belonging and interconnectedness.  Actions would be initiated that were connected to our feelings for affirming life and living in harmony with society and our environment.

2. What activities, businesses, and/or practices don’t exist today in the area of spiritual and cultural awareness that can lead Tucson towards greater sustainability?

Practices we identified were related to communication-building among diverse groups through vehicles such as neighborhood gatherings, town meetings and community centers to foster active listening and tolerance and a sense of interdependence.  This would include actions linking attitudes and values representing the emergent trends.  Many groups are engaged in communicating or gathering together, yet few do this with a conscious intent to support spiritual and cultural values such as tolerance, forgiveness, creativity, self-empowerment, harmonious living, mutual care and support, and care for the environment.

Practical Steps

(what are the next actions toward the above goals that our working group can take towards the creation of a comprehensive sustainability plan for Tucson)

1. Identify the organizations, businesses, etc., who are engaged in current sustainability practices.

We would like to develop this awareness much deeper and fuller.  Some examples are:  Tucson Green Times; Fair Trade Coalition; Food Conspiracy; the Peace Center; intentional communities; water harvesting groups.  Any entity that engages with the emerging awareness that spirituality is connected to environmental responsibility and action.

2. Identify the organizations, businesses, etc. who are engaged in practices that are not considered to be sustainable for our Tucson community.

This list would be long simply because most entities today support the dominant spiritual and cultural paradigm of separateness, fear and self-interest.  We would say, any organization whose business model does not support life-affirming activities (life-affirming in the sense of all life).  We identified some of these in the first section.

3. Identify realistic projects and activities that the spiritual and cultural awareness group would like to spearhead during the next few years.

We would initiate projects that bring together people who want to develop within themselves and within their community, values and behaviors consistent with a consciousness of ourselves, our world and universe interconnected by a divine urge toward love, creation and an affirmation of life in all its forms. Examples are: value-based outreach via symposiums; speakers bureaus; work in public schools; youth-directed events; neighborhood celebrations; consciousness raising groups; “change” support groups; creating a gathering center for groups and individuals exploring a common vision of a sustainable future; initiatives to reach into under-represented communities and demographic groups.

4. How do these group projects and activities address the core problems Tucson is facing at present in terms of such sustainability areas as fossil fuel use, resource depletion, green jobs, and quality of life?

All activities of the spiritual and cultural change sub-group would be essentially undertaken to provide new lifestyle models in the face of the named issues and others that make up the current social and global crises.  These lifestyle models will be based on values supportive of a move from a dominator society toward a partnership society.  Strengthening a collective sense of community and interconnection by creating forms for gathering, talking, and doing, will help us share our resources and skills to benefit troubled sectors.  Lifestyle changes are difficult when faced with the everyday needs of family and economics.  A supportive environment is necessary to help individuals find and sustain a motivation to change.

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