Reconnecting to Place and Re-shaping our Future
The world’s institutions – business, education, governance, community development – are caught between conflicting forces. The disruption of the global pandemic has created new forms of vulnerability, anxiety, and uncertainty. At the same time, we experience a yearning for a “return to normal.” Yet, this yearning sits juxtaposed with an awareness that “normal” was the problem, and that continuing our relentless destruction of natural, social, and cultural capital is making the whole world a poorer and far less hospital place.
Against this backdrop, leaders and change makers across sectors are aiming to find answers and to build institutions that can help us re-direct ourselves. We have chased the chimera of GDP growth for centuries; how can we re-orient our societies to genuine social and ecological well-being? We have fostered a global epidemic of stress, anxiety and suicides (which increased almost 100% among US teenagers in the decade before COVID); how can we make mindfulness, compassion and genuine human development mainstream priorities? We have sanctioned businesses that seek profit at any cost and schools that educate young people habitually in the skills and mindset of the Industrial Age; how can we re-create our core institution as loci of local and global connectedness and balance? What guiding ideas are enabling innovators around the world to translate such deep intentions into action?
The Blackfoot Indians say that our first relationship is with Mother Earth, and if that relationship is damaged, all others will suffer as well. Perhaps, it also holds a key for our shared future? Could re-connecting deeply with where we are play a catalytic role in awakening to our inherent inter-connectedness with one another and with all life?
This is not a journey of a few years or even decades and it is not a journey of the head only. Reconnecting to place starts with how our whole mind-heart-body system re-awakens to its ancestry as an expression of the Earth system.
The annual gathering of the ECW will focus on exploring these questions and ideas. The ECW brings together leaders from many levels and institutional settings working on finding ways to step into an emerging future that enables the well-being.
The ECW history
For over twenty years, the ECW has offered a unique space for reflection and conversation among people in diverse leadership positions. The ECW is anchored in a place – in this case, the quiet energy of the Green Mountains of northern Vermont at the Trapp Family Lodge. Building on the Trapp family’s stewardship of this land for 80 years, the program, held outside in a tent for three days, has deeply touched many of us. It has rained, sometimes fiercely. The wind has blown so strongly that we have had to hastily gather up our chairs and small café tables. And the sun has shown brilliantly – mercifully, most of the time. Most of all, we have come to know the trees, the birds, the grass and the stone walls as our companions on a journey of slowing down and paying attention in a different way.
2023 will mark a new phase for the ECW. For the first time, it will be hosted by The Presencing Institute, a global leader in “Theory U” and related tools, in partnership with The Center for Systems Awareness, which focuses on the “compassionate systems” framework in re-creating primary and secondary education. While participants come from around the world, two years ago we began to develop partnerships with Vermont-based organizations that help make the state a leader in the US in place-based regeneration of economy and community. The ECW 2023 brings together diverse leaders from around the world who share a vision of helping people connect more deeply to place and one another as a basis for regenerating the institutions that shape our society.