||Twenty Years of Beginner's Mind by Joseph
The year 1982 was huge for me. Against the backdrop of the escalating nuclear
arms race, I found myself co-ordinating 170 different groups in Vancouver’s 1st
Walk For Peace. Around 35,000 people walked that year, then 65,000 in 1983, and
by 1984 100,000 had joined together. It was magnificent, history to be proud of.
The Walk for Peace created a new context because it was fresh, exciting and inclusive.
Unionists walked with environmentalists, students walked with parents and grandparents.
We were not marching to smash the state, but rather walking with dignity, living
Gandhi’s words, “There is no way to peace, peace is the way.”
Common Ground was born out of the spirit of these times. People
had a need to connect with other people, to achieve something greater
than they could by themselves. I believed anything was possible.
Twenty years on we now stand at the birth of a new peace movement,
one that holds even greater potential. Our collective minds are
being knit together more quickly through a powerful network of independent,
activist web publications and journals like Common Ground. The organic,
sustainable, fair trade, anti-globalization, peace and justice movements
are awakening, joining, strengthening. Inspiration abounds
Ethics commissioners are hammering politicians. Multinationals,
with their government friends in Canada and USA, are squirming about
corporate crime wondering where their morals went.
Meanwhile civil society in Vancouver just celebrated the 9th Annual
Ethics in Action Awards where corporate social responsibility is
honoured. Many large and small companies were nominated with six
final award recipients: Capers, Little Sister’s Books, New Society
Publishers, Small Potatoes, Thrifty Foods, and Whistler/ Blackcomb
Mountain Resorts. Common Ground shared in their joy remembering
when we received the Ethics in Action Award in 2001 for Ongoing
Social Responsibility In Business.
Community arts and culture have bloomed in the last twenty years.
Vancouver’s International Film Festival, then in its second year,
the Folk Festival, Sweet Basil Jazz, Vancouver International Jazz
and Writers & Readers festivals have gone from strength to strength.
So, too, have the Public Dream Society’s outdoor community events
with the brilliant fiery Illuminares Lantern Procession (midsummer
night’s fantasy world at Trout Lake) and their Parade of Lost Souls
(a Halloweenish night at Commercial Drive), since the society’s
formation in 1985.
Ravi Shankar, now 82, blessed us with his masterful ragas in the
Orpheum thanks to Caravan World Rhythms. With so much going on we
are launching a new Arts & Entertainment Section in Common Ground
this month to compliment our Events Calendar Datebook. Enjoy.
Last summer people from 140 countries converged on Victoria for
the 14th Organic World Congress. Hosted by The International Federation
of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) with a theme of “Cultivating
Communities”, the conference looked beyond organics to fair, just,
sustainable agriculture to grow a better future (see Common Ground’s
Organic Earth First edition, August 2002).
Local hero Wendy R. Holm, P.Ag., a contributor to Common Ground,
received her second Queen’s Jubilee Medal for the work she is doing
with Canada’s farmers and water resources. Wendy’s Cuba Farmer to
Farmer Project (see our May 2002 edition) will be profiled in a
full-length edition of CBC-TV’s Country Canada airing noon Sunday,
November 3rd across Canada.
Last month, the Bioneers “Revolution from the Heart of Nature” conference
(www.bioneers.org) brought together 3000 visionaries, activists,
artists and organizations from around the world under one roof in
San Francisco. A short list of the remarkable presenters included
Paul Hawkins, Peggy O’Mara, John Todd, Fritjo Capra, Sylvia Earle,
Naomi Klein, Aqeela Sherrills, Larry Dossey, Percy Schmeiser, Bogaletch
Gebre, Sebatio Salgado.
Rebounding from the Bioneers Conference I had the good fortune to
see an exuberant one-man play, based on the life and writings of
the visionary thinker-inventor-philosopher Buckminster Fuller, at
the Project Artaud Theatre in San Francisco’s Mission district.
This play opened my heart and mind to the brilliance and incredible
life of Bucky. It would be great to have it travel to Broadway,
London and, of course, BC. To make it happen go to www.foghouse.com
for the play and www.bfi.org for
the Buckminster Fuller Institute.
“Think of it. We are blessed with technology that would be indescribable
to our forefathers. We have the wherewithal, the know-it-all, to
feed everybody, clothe everybody, give every human on earth a chance.
We know now what we could never have known before – that we now
have an option for all humanity to “make it” successfully on this
planet in this lifetime. Whether it is to be Utopia or Oblivion
will be a touch-and-go relay race right up to the final moment.”
Bucky said that in 1980 and it is still our choice today.
“I am realizing that I’m only really proud of a handful of things
I’ve done in my life,” a friend recently wrote me in her email.
“Marching yesterday was one of them. Working with you is another
-- one of the only times I’ve spent a significant portion of my
energy on something I truly believe in and believe can make the
Galen, a former Common Ground editor, was in Washington, D.C. on
October 26 protesting against the lies of war, while supporting
human rights and dignity. It is great to see signs of peace and
democracy breaking out in America.
“Yesterday’s demonstration march was wonderful. Somewhere between
100,000 and 200,000 of us in the streets waving signs and chanting.
This is what democracy looks like!” Galen wrote.
At the end of her email she asked, “What do you think are the best
ways all of us can join together to advocate for peace? What can
I do, and what can I suggest to my friends and family? The situation
in this country is becoming more intolerable by the second.”
These are the same questions I asked myself in 1982, so I started
Common Ground. Maybe this is how each of us awakens to our deeper
purpose and connection to life. Twenty years ago it happened to
me. Today there are many, many more of us.
Some may say I’m a dreamer
But I am not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one
Imagine, John Lennon (1940 – 1980)