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In the Company of Others: Making Community in the Modern World

Claude Whitmyer, editor and contributor. Foreword by Eric Utne

Published by Tarcher/Putnam, New York, 1993.

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"When the stranger says: 'What is the meaning of this city? Do you huddle together because you love one another?' What will you answer? 'We all dwell together to make money from each other,' or, 'This is a community'?"

T. S. Eliot

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"

Psalms 133:1


Creating community and making it work is one of the most powerful imperatives of American life. While many social critics have been lamenting the loss of this precious resource in today's world, few have really treated the subject with the breadth and depth it deserves.

"In the Company of Others: Making Community in the Modern World gathers together 32 essays on this important aspect of contemporary life. As editor of this anthology, editor Claude Whitmyer draws on his experiences as the coordinator of the Briarpatch Community to introduce the sections of this paperback on seeking, making, finding, and living communities.

"New forms of shared life, connectedness, and common purpose have come to the fore in our heterogeneous and pluralistic world. Essayists such as M. Scott Peck, Ram Dass, and Gary Snyder comment on the challenges of communication, authority, decision-making, and purpose in the maintenance of community.

"One thing is for sure: there is no shortage of variety in the forms of association covered in this book. Some of the types include neighborhood service clubs, business support teams, food co-ops, men's and women's ritual groups, intentional spiritual communities, electronic networks, intellectual salons, and artists' groups. The Company of Others is one of the best books on community published in many a moon."

(Review by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com)


From the Prologue

I awoke to the voice of my mother telling us it was time to go. In the cold autumn air of those last few hours before dawn my four sisters, two brothers and I arose reluctantly from the warmth of sleep.

We dressed quickly and loaded the cars. Then the nine of us and two or three boys from the nearby air-force base, who had spent the night on our living-room floor, piled into three cars. We were headed for the Murdocks', another church family, to celebrate the breaking of the annual nineteen-day fast.

The Murdocks' house was across town, and the car heater was just beginning to thaw out my frozen, ten-year old toes when we pulled into their driveway. A few church members were already there, and others were arriving. Hearty greetings were exchanged in the glow of the Murdocks' porch light, which was already beginning to pale as the eastern horizon turned from cherry red to orange.

Everyone carried something inside: groceries, cooking utensils, and thermoses of hot chocolate to push away the morning chill. We had no church building, no hall, only one another and our homes. In the Murdocks' kitchen, Effie was cracking eggs into a bowl, fresh from her farm on the edge of town. George had a kitchen whip in hand ready to fluff them up. Sharon was laying out thick slices of bacon on the broiler tray and Willa added milk to the pancake ingredients while a square griddle preheated on the stove. All over the house, kids were horsing around with their friends, while grown-ups talked about the weather, work, births, deaths, and the price of new cars. We were in the company of others, and it felt good.

BELONGING TO A COMMUNITY

In my teen years, driven by a curiosity to discover how life worked, and encouraged by the teachings of the founder of my family church regarding "independent investigation of the truth," I visited the churches of many denominations. To my surprise, many of the people I met only saw each other at Sunday services. They didn't have the strong bonds that our community had built from countless shared experiences at homes like the Murdocks'.

Our church believed in "equality of the races" and "equality of the sexes," so women and people of color were among our leaders. Compassion and community involvement were implicit in our daily lives. Members of the church came to visit our group every year from Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific.

Growing up in this way, I felt as if I were part of a community of global proportions, populated by many different kinds of very interesting, warm, compassionate people. Thus, in the most critical years of my early development, I experienced the strongest sense of community I have ever known. These early experiences were, I'm certain, greatly responsible for my ongoing efforts to rediscover a sense of community long after I had gone away to college and then to the big city to work.

Although college and graduate school provided a semblance of community, from the time I entered college in 1965 until I moved to San Francisco in the early 1970s, I was without the feeling of belonging that had given such richness to my childhood and adolescent years. And, I think I was quietly afraid I might never know that feeling again.

Then, in 1974, I became involved with what, at the time, was called the Briarpatch Society, a group of people who had been social activists in the 60s and who had become entrepreneurs. What drew us together was a shared belief that business did not have to be synonymous with greed, corruption, and profit at all cost. We were among the early pioneers in a movement that has come to be known by the watchwords "environmental preservation" and "social responsibility."

To this day, Briar businesses are either directly involved in the environment or are operated in a way that greatly reduces their impact on the planet .Briars believe in providing the highest quality product or service and in giving something back to our local community. We share resources—from information and financial statements to shovels and pickup trucks. From the beginning, we have shared a belief that it was important to do all we can to ensure the long-term survival of our businesses and our community. To this end, we donate money to hire a coordinator who arranges technical advice and emotional support for members, as it is needed.

In 1983, I was invited to join the team of volunteers that provides the technical advice to Briarpatch businesses, and, in 1984, I was asked to serve as the coordinator. My experience with Briarpatch has given me back that sense of community I had as a child. By sharing resources and interests in the course of the day-to-day operations of our businesses, members of Briarpatch have access to a rich community experience that has no geographical boundaries. While most Briars live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I have corresponded with and talked by phone with at least 200 other members scattered around the U.S. and in other countries. Over the years I have worked with Briars from Canada, the U.K., Japan, New Zealand, and Sweden, entertaining them when they visited San Francisco and traveling to work with them in their own communities. Through parties, workshops, networking, and other social activities, we interact and provide mutual support as if we were all in the same village, much like Marshall McCluhan's "global village."

Briars have basic values very much like the ones I grew up with, including diversity in the membership, and a tolerance (bordering on encouragement) of a wide range of behavior. Through my involvement with Briarpatch, I have developed an active curiosity about how communities come about, why they succeed or fail, and whether anything can be done to increase their likelihood of success. And I have come to know once again the comfort and joy of belonging to a community.

WHAT IS COMMUNITY?

We hear a lot these days about a "sense of community." More and more of us, we're told, are seeking it. We talk about the African American, Hispanic, and Asian communities; the gay and lesbian community; the New Age community; the political community; the university community; a community of peers; a community of interest; the local community.

But what is this thing called community? Why do we seek it? How do we know when we find it?

There is something about being human that makes us yearn for the company of others, to be with and be touched by our family, friends, and clan. Moving about in the world, stuck inside our own skin, we often feel alone and isolated from the rest of creation. Fear and anger at the outrages perpetrated by the irresponsible drive us further into isolation. Introspective solitude can help us learn to live with this deep loneliness, but the only way to truly diminish the feeling is by making deep connections with others. This is what we mean by community.

Many people discount community as a utopian ideal, something unrealistic or destined to fail. Anticipating disappointment, they shy away from trying to find or build one. The truth is a bit more complicated than that, though. Many utopian communities have been quite successful, as the examples in this book will illustrate. But even these are not necessarily perfect .In every group that comes together in community, whether it is utopian or simply a small town, there arises a unique set of problems, challenges, and opportunities.

We don't have to give up our dreams about community just because there are difficulties. Nor do we have to sell everything, pack up, and move to a communal farm to experience community. We can begin by inviting friends into our home, or by using the increasingly ubiquitous personal computer to join an electronic community. We can organize a ritual men's group, a women's group, or a business support group .More and more people are finding a real sense of community at the workplace or within a collaborative housing project. Churches are seeing a renewal of interest in activities that bring people together for mutual support and the betterment of the church community.

A sense of community can also be found within small groups created to meet special needs. There are support groups for battered women, cancer survivors, people living with AIDS, and spouses of soldiers sent overseas. There are groups organized to accomplish a community goal, such as planting neighborhood trees, building a community garden, or starting a day-care center. Hiking clubs, intellectual salons, and softball teams are sprouting up everywhere, just for fun. And, there is no shortage of groups—such as Debtors Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, or Adult Children of Alcoholics, to name a few—that are part of the "recovery community" created around the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is only a partial list, but it is proof that alternative ways of connecting with others are as numerous as the number of groups attempting to connect .The key to turning your contact with people into a sense of connectedness is the effort you are willing to take to make it happen. The rewards can be just as great as the feeling of warmth and love I felt that morning in the Murdocks' kitchen so long ago.

WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT

There is a swelling new wave of interest in the concept of "community." By the time this book reaches your local bookseller this wave will have produced numerous magazine articles and talk show interviews with the authors of the books you find standing on the shelf next to this one. But this book is not just a rehash of the usual words of wisdom on the subject. I have attempted to include a balanced sampling of the best writing on community of the past 50 years, and I have organized it in a way that I hope you will find easily accessible and highly informative. This is a basic collection that addresses the full range of the human need to belong.

This book offers practical suggestions and examples to help you understand what community is and how to go about creating it for yourself. The underlying themes throughout the collection are these:—1) We need not be isolated one from another, and 2) with focus and perseverance, we can build a sense of community for ourselves even in the pervasive urban settings of today's world. A lot of us today, and I mean people of all ages and all cultures, are anxious to escape today's lifestyle of consumption, greed, and isolation. Television sets, CD players, and microwave ovens disappoint us as comrades. We yearn for a chance to belong, to find comfort in the company of others, to feel a sense of connectedness and mutual support. We hunger for some clear guidance in how to rediscover this sense of community. The concept of "community building" is fundamental, and it will become even more important in the coming decades, especially if our cities, states, and nations increasingly fail to meet our basic needs for health, work, and physical security.

There is a conspicuous absence of media reports on successful alternatives to the "lifestyles of the rich and famous." This leads many to believe that there are few models for a new and better way of life. We fear that the greed and corruption that fed on the failing Savings and Loan industry in the late 1980's and the blind rage and sense of hopelessness that fueled the urban riots of 1992, predict a future in which nobody cares about anybody but themselves. It is the premise of this book, however, that there is no real shortage of positive role models for community building. To illustrate this, I have included, in every section, samples of what real people are doing to shape a meaningful sense of community in their lives.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

These essays are organized into six major sections based on the common steps that all of us take in our exploration of community. In Part 1, "Seeking Community: The Need," we focus on why we need community at all. What is it about us as human beings that makes community such an integral part of our behavior? What do we mean by "a sense of community," "common ground," or "the common good?"—What do we long for and what do we fear?—What do we know about the dynamic tension between our longing to be together and our need for privacy; the push and the pull between our quest for community and the ideal of "rugged individualism?" Part 1 concludes, as does every section, with descriptions of actual communities.

In Part 2, "Making Community: The Task," we switch our focus to the actual tools we will need and the steps we will take to create our own sense of community. We explore that special sense of belonging and the psychological processes and patterns of group interaction required to make it happen. We also examine the pragmatic aspects of community economics and local self-reliance. In the sample community described in this section, we hear a personal story about the blending of group process and community economics necessary for a community to survive.

In Part 3, "Finding Community: The Satisfaction," we look at the special circumstances that bring a feeling of satisfaction to our community experience. We explore kinship and friendship, mutual service, the use of ritual, and mindfulness of the daily tasks and intimate relationships which act as the keystones to community building. Descriptions of two communities that exemplify the integration of these keystones are included in this section.

In Part 4, "Living Community: A Wide Range of Choices," we explore some of the many options available in today's world. We begin with a look at so called "intentional communities" made up of people who live and work together with a common focus. We also examine the special community of love that is experienced by couples and which can serve as a foundation for the building of a successful larger community. Beyond the "couple as microcosm," we explore the experience of community in such varied settings as the ritual men's group, the corporate work place, collaborative housing projects, living room salons, and computer bulletin boards. And we conclude this section with a fascinating account of the homosexual community as it learns to cope with the AIDS epidemic.

In Part 5, "The Dark Side of Community: Facing and Overcoming the Pitfalls," we turn our attention to the forces that stand in the way of successful community. There is an all-too-common human tendency to create a destructive tension between the "I, me, mine" of our personal ego (which can be extended to include our family, clan, race, or nation) and the "them, they, theirs" of the Other so easily identified by how "they" are different from us and me. Because this tendency is a strong destructive force working against the establishment of community, we explore it in some depth. Our dual desires for a meaningful work life and a meaningful community are investigated as the two primary driving forces behind the experience of being drawn into the destructive influence of a cult. A check list for telling if you're involved with a cult (no doubt our biggest fear in joining a community) is also included. Finally, we have two chilling examples, one a short story by a Pulitzer prize winning author that depicts the potential horror of human herd behavior, and the other a true story of the worst cult nightmare in modern times, the Jonestown massacre. My intention here is not to frighten or thrill, but to provide an opportunity to look the monster squarely in the face and thereby diminish his power.

Part 6, "Tomorrow's Communities," opens with an essay describing what it will take to create the kind of democratic, self-sustaining communities that could be our legacy to future generations. Any description of future communities is by definition fiction .It comes as no surprise then that this section moves from conjecture about a future society built on the religious principles of Buddhism to a community example drawn from a work of speculative fiction describing an ecological utopia. This section also includes an argument for why we need to reintroduce the Anglo-European concept of "the commons" into our future communities and it closes with a clear statement of what communities in the future stand to lose if we continue to ignore the global environmental crisis.

I have come to think of community as a kind of vitamin .The experience of connectedness with others is as necessary to a fully healthy life as the minimum daily amount of each of the essential vitamins is to a balanced diet. This book will have served its purpose if it helps give you:

  • knowledge of what works and what can go wrong
  • insight into the many different ways you can experience a sense of community
  • exposure to the practical skills necessary to build and maintain a community
  • examples of communities that work
  • and ideas about helping to make community a part of our future and the future of our children.

It is likely that what you know about community will be informed and expanded by this book, making you less susceptible to the traps of cults and political movements that use "community" as a justification for imposing destructive beliefs on hungry followers.

One of the fathers of the community movement in America, Arthur E. Morgan, who has done much to articulate what community means, puts it this way:"The problem of community, as of all society, is to save and to enlarge the priceless values of freedom, while yet developing the qualities of mutual regard, mutual help, mutual responsibility, and common effort for common ends. . . For the preservation and transmission of the fundamentals of civilization, vigorous, wholesome community life is imperative. Unless many people live and work in the intimate relationships of community life, there can never emerge a truly unified nation, or a community of mankind .If I do not love my neighbor whom I know, how can I love the human race. . . If I have not learned to work with a few people, how can I be effective with many?"

CONTRIBUTORS

Margo Adair is a teacher, mediator, and consultant who works with individuals and groups on issues of empowerment. She has created and produced numerous self help tapes, written for many anthologies and magazines, and is the author of Working Inside Out: Tools for Change. Ms. Adair is self educated. Having never finished high school, she is unconstrained by any academic tradition. She lives and works in San Francisco.

Kristin Anundsen is a San Francisco based freelance writer who covers subjects ranging from management and technology to travel and community living. Her work has appeared in such books as The Computer Entrepreneurs and Work In America, as well as in consumer, computer, management, and company publications. As an editor and ghostwriter, she has helped other professionals produce both articles and books.

Juanita Brown is an international strategic management consultant. She is a fellow of the World Business Academy and has served as program faculty at the John F. Kennedy University, School of Management and the California Institute of Integral Studies. She lives in Mill Valley, California.

Tim Cahill lives in Livingston, Montana. Cahill is the author of Buried Dreams, Jaguars Ripped My Flesh, and A Wolverine Is Eating My Leg. He is also a columnist and founding editor of Outside magazine and a contributing editor to Rolling Stone.

Author Ernest Callenbach's books include Ecotopia, Ecotopia Emerging, and A Citizen Legislature (with Michael Phillips). He founded the critical journal Film Quarterly in 1958 at the University of California Press and served as its editor until 1991. He lives with his wife, Christine, in Berkeley, California.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is professor and former chairman of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. A member of the National Academy of Education and the National Academy of Leisure Sciences, he is the author of Beyond Boredom and Anxiety and coauthor of The Creative Vision, Optimal Experience: Studies in Flow Consciousness, and Television and the Quality of Life.

Arthur J. Deikman is clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco. He is the author of The Observing Self: Mysticism and Psychotherapy.

Bill Devall has written extensively on the environmental movement and is the author of Simple In Means, Rich In Ends and Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered. Devall has participated in the Sierra Club and other environmental groups for the past two decades. He lives in Arcata, California.

Duane Fickeisen lives on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, Washington. He is Administrator of the Context Institute; Associate Editor of In Context magazine which it publishes; and works as an organizational development consultant to non-profits. He has written several articles for special issues of In Context covering group process within communities, sex within human family planning, and private rights versus public responsibilities as an issue of empowerment.

Rick Fields is the primary author of Chop Wood, Carry Water: A Guide to Finding Spiritual Fulfillment in Everyday Life and several other books, including How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America, and The Code of the Warrior: In History, Myth, and Everyday Life. He lives in Boulder, Colorado. His co-authors on Chop Wood, Carry Water included Peggy Taylor, founder of New Age Journal; Rex Weyler, founder of Greenpeace; and Rick Ingrasci, M.D., a holistic health physician. Fields, Taylor, Weyler, and Ingrasci were all editors of New Age Journal when they wrote Chop Wood, Carry Water.

Francis Fitzgerald's best selling Fire in the Lake was awarded a Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and Bancroft Prize for history. Her articles on Vietnam, Cuba, Northern Ireland, and the Middle East have appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, The New York Review of Books, and Harper's. She has also written for The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, Look, The Nation, and New Times. Fitzgerald lives in New York City.

Richard J. Foster lives in Wichita, Kansas, with his wife Carolynn. He is a theologian and author of The Challenge of the Disciplined Life, Freedom of Simplicity, and Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth.

Robert K. Greenleaf was Director of Management Research at AT&T and visiting lecturer at M.I.T.'s Sloan School of Management and Harvard Business School. He consulted widely to businesses, universities, foundations, and churches during the 1960s and '70s on the principles of management and organization. He became the country's leading proponent of "servant leadership" in the decade before his death in 1991.

Elizabeth Hingston is a mythologist, writer, and educator with extensive experience in the area of women's empowerment and gender reconciliation .She is a director of the Pangaia Institute for Gender Studies in Santa Barbara and co-author with Aaron Kipnis of The Art of Partnership: Love, War, and Friendship Between Women and Men.

Mark Holloway is a historian with a special interest in utopian communities. He lives in Sussex, England.

Sharon Howell is a community organizer, speaker, and writer living in Detroit. She grew up in a small community of miners and foundry workers who have lived in the Allegheny Mountains for generations. She is author of Reflections of Ourselves: Mass Media and the Women's Movement and is involved in community organizing, speaking, and writing.

Shirley Jackson lives in rural Vermont. Her first novel The Road Through the Wall was published in 1948. Later that year, with the publication of The Lottery in New Yorker magazine, she achieved tremendous fame. She has written numerous magazine articles and two autobiographical works, Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons.

Stephanie Kaza is a Zen student of Kobun Chino Roshi. She lives in Burlington, Vermont, is assistant professor in the Environmental Program at the University of Vermont, and serves on the board of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.

Aaron Kipnis is a psychologist in private practice in Santa Rosa, California. He is author of Knights Without Armor: A Practical Guide for Men in Quest of Masculine Soul.

Geoph Kozeny has visited intentional communities across North America for the past several years. He is co-editor of The Directory of Intentional Communities and founder of The Community Catalyst Project, an educational organization that provides technical assistance and support for established and emerging communities. Kozeny lives in San Francisco, California.

Jiddu Krishnamurti has written books too numerous to list. His works have been translated into many languages and been read by millions of people. Krishnamurti was born in 1895 to a Brahmin family in Madanapalli, a small town in Andhra Pradesh, India. At the age of 12 he was chosen by the Theosophical Society to fulfill a prophecy of the coming of a "great being" who would liberate mankind. Twenty-one years later, in 1928, he announced that he was not a messiah and that he had no disciples. In 1929 he completely dissolved the organization that had been built up around him and returned all property, gifts, and money. Krishnamurti spent the rest of his life trying to help other become free. He is regarded by many as one of the greatest religious teachers of all time.

At the time that she wrote Kibbutz Makom, Amia Lieblich lived with her husband and children in Jerusalem and taught psychology at the Hebrew University. She is a Gestalt therapist and author of Soldiers on Jerusalem Beach.

Wayne Liebman is a physician in private practice in Los Angeles, California. He has been active in the men's movement and is currently writing a novel about medicine and dreaming.

Michael Linton works on the development of local currency systems in British Columbia. He is the founder of Landsman Community Services, developers of the "Local Employment and Trading System" which, in the past decade, has been successfully implemented in several dozen communities .

Malcolm Margolin has written numerous articles for national and local magazines and several books, including The Earth Manual and The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San Francisco Monterey Bay Area. He grew up in Boston and graduated from Harvard College in 1962 and currently lives and works in Berkeley, California. .

Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durett are co-authors of a book on Denmark's "living communities" entitled Co-Housing. They live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area where they offer workshops, lectures, and consulting assistance to people interested in collaborative housing.

Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson are co founders of the Sirius Community, a non profit educational center in Massachusetts. Former members of the Findhorn Community in Scotland, they teach and lecture on alternative communities and social change, and work as consultants to businesses and government agencies on the application of humanistic management practices.

Stephanie Mills is the author of Whatever Happened to Ecology and editor of In Praise of Nature. She lives in a pine forest outside Maple City, Michigan.

From 1920 to 1936 Arthur E. Morgan was President of Antioch College, where he and his wife developed the Antioch College Plan of wholeness and balance in education. Franklin Roosevelt appointed Morgan chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority from 1933 to 1938. Morgan helped bring about the League of Nations, protected the Florida Everglades, and championed the small community. He was a prolific author of books on education, engineering, philosophy, biography, and history, including Industries for Small Communities, The Community of the Future and the Future of Community, and Nowhere was Somewhere: How History Makes Utopias and How Utopias Make History. Morgan died in 1975, but his work continues under the auspices of Community Service, Inc., of Yellow Springs, Ohio, an educational organization he founded in 1940.

Thich Nhat Hanh has been a Zen monk for 45 years. He founded Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon and the School of Youth for Social Service. In 1966, he visited the United States to describe to us the enormous suffering of the Vietnamese people, and he was nominated by Martin Luther King, Jr., for the Nobel Peace Prize. Unable to return to his native Vietnam because of his outspoken neutrality, he was granted asylum in France, where today he is head of Plum Village, a small community of meditators and activists. He is the author of Being Peace, The Miracle of Mindfulness, The Sun My Heart, and many other books.

M. Scott Peck is author of the best selling The Road Less Traveled as well as People of the Lie and The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace. He is also founder of the Foundation for Community Encouragement, a nonprofit organization promoting community and world understanding. He lives with his wife in New Preston, Connecticut.

Oliver and Cris Popenoe are the founders of Yes!, Inc., in Washington, D.C., a mail-order catalog and bookshop with the largest offering in the world of books on inner development and holistic health. Yes! also includes a natural food store and a nonprofit educational society. Oliver Popenoe earned a Ph.D. in sociology from the London School of Economics, and served in the Peace Corps. Cris is the author of Inner Development and Wellness.

Peter Rutter is a psychiatrist in private practice in San Francisco. He is a faculty member of the C.G. Jung Institute, and an associate clinical professor of Psychiatry at the University of California Medical School. He is author of Sex in the Forbidden Zone: When Men in Power Betray Women's Trust.

Carolyn R. Shaffer is a hypnotherapist in private practice in Berkeley, California. She is co-author of City Safaris: A Sierra Club Explorers Guide to Urban Adventures for Grownups and Kids, and she is a contributor to The Womanspirit Sourcebooks and The Politics of Women's Spirituality, as well as magazines such as New Age Journal, Commonweal, and Yoga Journal.

Sulak Sivaraksa is a prominent and outspoken Thai social critic and activist. He was founder of Thailand's foremost intellectual magazine, Sangkhomsaat Paritat (Social Science Review) and Chair of the Asian Cultural Forum on Development. He has been a visiting Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Hawaii, Cornell, and Swarthmore. He currently lives in exile in Honolulu and teaches in the Buddhist Studies Program at the University of Hawaii.

Gary Snyder is a Pulitzer Prize winning poet and teacher of literature and wilderness thought at the University of California at Davis. His poetry collections include Turtle Island, Axe Handles, and Earth Household and his best known essay collections include The Real Work and The Practice of the Wild. He is founder of the Ring of Bone Zendo community and lives with his family on San Juan Ridge in the Sierra foothills.

Charlene Spretnak is author of The Spiritual Dimension of Green Politics, Green Politics (with Fritjof Capra), and The Lost Goddesses of Early Greece. She is founder of the Committees of Correspondence, a major Green political organization in the United States. Her work has also contributed to the framing of the women's spirituality and ecofeminist movements. She lives in Berkeley, California.

Starhawk is a peace activist and leader in the feminist spirituality and ecofeminist movements in the United States and Europe. She is author of the bestselling The Spiral Dance and Dreaming the Dark.

In 1953 Life Magazine selected Howard Thurman as one of the twelve "Great Preachers" of this century. The grandson of slaves, Dr. Thurman emerged from the Florida ghetto of his childhood to become Dean Emeritus and Professor of Spiritual Resources and Disciplines at Boston University; the Ingersol Lecturer at Harvard University; honorary canon of the Cathedral of Saint John The Divine, New York City; co-founder of the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, which was the first racially integrated church in America; and recipient of countless awards, including honorary degrees from almost two dozen major universities. Thurman was author of some 25 inspirational books, including The Search for Common Ground, The Luminous Darkness, Disciplines of the Spirit, Meditations of the Heart, and The Centering Moment.

Pat Wagner and Leif Smith are information consultants, network facilitators, authors of The Networking Game, and founders of The Office for Open Network in Denver, Colorado.


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