New Story Summit core team member, Gigi Coyle, shares her insights and reflections on the summit, along with her ideas for taking the movement forward into the future. The New Story Summit: Inspiring Pathways for our Planetary Future was held at the Findhorn Foundation and Community 27 September – 3 October 2014.
Why I joined the Summit and what I feel about it….
After reading a few reflections of the New Story Summit (NSS), I feel it’s time I attempt my own, mostly for myself, our team, and people back home who are asking, and for any in addition who may be interested. Best to do one answer, one complete picture as best I can.
I don’t know that I had expectations or a new story I felt was so essentially needing expression or definition. I feel blessed and committed to be in the living of one, with many others around the planet, as best I can to date. And I know many are in need – suffering – in an old story we are all a part of. So I too live with the questions, What more? What different? What now?
I didn’t hear the 40 Fellows and their original intention and I doubt they all shared a coherent vision in a one-day meeting. I do know that summit co-focaliser, Richard Olivier, in our first encounter was contagiously clear, connected, and open to such a task, bringing forth new story – and continues to be. I remain in the ‘don’t know mind/heart’ listening for ways to contribute or not.
I felt from the start such a summit was worth doing, called to contribute from the very first call of the convening group I witnessed. They asked what I thought about the plan. As I listened, it came clear to me that at such a summit, some First Nation Peoples needed to be there, young people needed to be there, people from different communities that were dedicating their lives to healthy futures for all beings. I saw people from different backgrounds, lands and generations. I thought them all to be allies and partners in the exploration and the journey, those writing about it, those praying for it, those living it as best they could. I felt they/we ☺ would support and inspire each other, educate each other, and perhaps most of all strengthen together a ‘story that served’ – yes, one inclusive of all beings – how could it not be so, situated at the Findhorn Foundation?
And I felt caution, given even the best of intentions, about a dominant western lens and perspective, and apparently the planning of a book to be written whose title seemed already decided. I felt concern we might be part of repeating an old wound of making myth and story and a future for “our” world while saying it was for the whole world. I questioned the need to be “the ones”, the first, the leaders of any movement, this one having been emerging I feel for a very long time.
What I saw and trusted were social justice and enviro-activists, change agents, educators, and farmers along with ceremonial leaders and artists, all of us together, calling in the imaginal realms, the healing realms, the visionary realms, the nature realms, singing a story, dancing it, praying for it, discussing it, working on it and financing it as well. No one being paid and no one earning – all sharing – and those who had more and felt called, who with us, saw the potential, would contribute money to it, whether they could come or not. People willing to fund process not only product!
An imprint would be left, on the place, in the land, in our souls.
This is what I heard when listening to the team, to the dream, from day one, and this is what I then had to give my time, my attention to, my heart, my voice for over a year in preparation. I joined the team. I invited somewhere over 100 people in all of the categories named above. It was not hard, thanks to a sharing of the commitment to reach out, with Yvonne Cuneo and Kosha Joubert, especially. Although we soon were full with wait-list only, I held out four wildcard invites and happily welcomed Kahontineh Swamp and Vicki Downey in the last hours, only to discover with them once there, that Kahontineh coming allowed for a fulfillment of Jack Swamp’s powerful vision that “we” all needed to grieve together. What a blessing.
NSS seemed to be a fulfillment of many visions that we all should come together.
What would happen I/we did not know, of course….
I showed up ready to do my part to honor the land, the hosts, the traditional and modern peoples, the olders and elders, the middlers and youth, the indigenous in everyone of us, the artists, awakening in us our collective poem of the new story. I played but one part in a big puzzle of care. I arrived grateful for so many showing up from busy meaningful lives and jumping into such an opportunity.
So then, what actually did happen?
A learning community for sure for seven days.
And I still wake most nights at 4.00 am sifting through the images, experience, feelings, confirmations, missings, memory moments. I take them all in, a bit as a mirror of the times to come – like four days fasting in the desert in ceremony – as a story, a glimpse of the future to be lived into. I hold them in my being, curious how the experience will be incorporated and confirmed as I walk with the intention of awakening a story that serves, more so – in myself and on the planet where I live.
Highlights through my lens
- It was a week (and a year-plus) of working longer hours with less sleep then I ever thought possible and finding unending amounts of energy and support from source, spirit, nature realms, community, loved ones, my partner.
- It was a time as in a crisis (the human earth crisis perhaps) when I rarely had moments to interact with any of those I knew and loved… we just all knew we were in it together. I continually interacted and cooperated with people I barely knew; I did not get to meet the ones I felt called to, except when needed; I had time it seemed only for what was essential.
- I witnessed many things I long for in mainstream everyday life: prayer and art in the center of the room, men and women receiving, respecting, and loving each other beyond words, tough truths being spoken that were hard to hear yet beautiful, important to hear, about injustice, suffering, despair, and discontent, grief being shared and released that has been held too long by all peoples, the perpetrators and the victims of our ancestors, as well as of each of us in our shadow cells. I loved the wholeness represented by ceremonies, singing, dancing and meditations, along with spreadsheets, facts, intellectual dialogues and late night raves.
- I felt the edge of great facilitation and praise and appreciation of that – then it turning for some into a rejection of being dependent on others, for instruction, for naming the sacred moment, for the reminder of time. Many of us humans just don’t ever like to be told how we feel, where to go in our meditations, or our tea breaks.
- In some member cells of our newly formed organism, like a slime mold, I witnessed a natural desire rising up attempting to escape and travel beyond the borders and limits of our own making. And I wished at times that we all had a bit more patience and a willingness to both follow and lead and remember our common intention, knowing that what feels like being controlled for one means essential safety for another. I trusted my and others’ “cringe factors” when a feeling of being work-shopped arose. And I was disappointed in part by what I saw sometimes as the “old story way” of responding to such. I trusted the journey and each of our abilities to roll with some small punches compared to what is being experienced daily by our peers in the world out on the streets standing for what we value.
- I worked, as we all did, with the time, and was aware I surrendered to the limits when someone called out in the council evening, ”why are you taking so long to get going?” At that moment I felt like an “older” at best with little push back left in me. Setting the field for something other than old stories, takes time in my experience, and at that moment I gave another person what he asked for… beginning in a single circle with whoever wanted to come in. I let go of introducing another spiral form that would have taken a few more minutes to offer, at most, and actually would have allowed more young people to share spontaneously in the unfoldment of the evening. No wrong or right, just an interesting pressure and choice for me.
- I missed “us” asking who was responsible for the ‘We don’t know’ moment and having the mysterious, mischievous ones come out and continue with it with everyone in the room. I missed them coming forward to be seen and heard. I missed us sitting in the unknown for a wee bit longer before moving on – I missed a suggestion from them or from us coming out of that.
- I missed acknowledging some more key people at the end.
- I missed being there more in person for some of the young ones I invited, along with Kalani Souza, Pat McCabe, Kahontineh Swamp, Shaun Nannup, and Vicki Downey, in particular, who accepted an invitation, with most not knowing any of us, and who crossed many waters on many levels to come. I can only hope the time was as good for them as they helped make it be so for so many of us.
- I missed it all not lasting longer than a week.
A Good News Story
(I wrote this the first week after NSS)
I should first say that I was a co-founder years ago of the Dark Institute, a non-organization 😉 wherein we witness and say the unspeakable, bring attention to the elephants in the room and in our lives, etc. Given that, I could focus on the dark side of NSS…. yet, given what darkness is in the world, I feel I had a week off. It was truly a week to celebrate. It has become increasingly important these last years, to say what I am for, to water the good news and oases in this world, given how much bad there is. So often good news stories are not told because they are not exciting to many. I will take the time to share some good news hoping it will serve to excite more. Maybe we need cultural translators, bridge people, good storytellers and more, willing to live some of the best stories we have.
One of the most significant things to me in such an event is what can happen differently than in the mainstream when there are a lot of global leaders in the room. This demands that people let go of doing things the way they usually do and find new ways of collaboration. I witnessed this happen in the home groups, in facilitation, in the discussions, in the rituals, in the performances, in the reporting. This is a worthy footprint; a story I feel is needed in our times.
I experienced us knowing and not knowing, as those responsible for holding the container throughout, honoring what had been envisioned, letting some of it go while then opening to what was arising and being offered.
I saw a community and a Foundation, with Fellows and guests, working to be inclusive, to be in communion, to find structures that were respectful and transforming and that could hold the hearth and the container and also adapt in the moment, given the reality and need.
I saw a gifting economy in play with the generosity of many expressed in many ways, from giving away money, to receiving money, along with surprises of many kinds. I witnessed the surrendering of one’s airtime, to the daring to give one’s gift.
I experienced film and media offered in professional and respectful ways (though a few too many individual cameras were going off for me throughout).
I saw people given time, amazing people from around the globe, taking and finding within moments offered, the ability to share the power of their lives and work.
I saw people share more from their hearts in the moment, only with a book or a performance or a script if it served…. true also with many prayers/rituals.
I saw most all come off any “conference circuit-ness” (if they were ever on one), and listen again and co-create in the moment in this time what might serve.
I witnessed prophecies being unexpectedly fulfilled through staying true to what was happening.
I met people, who knew they were called to come, gradually discover why they were there.
I witnessed some if not all ☺ people, stretching to let go of their way of “doing things better”, of their need to be seen and heard, and surrender to listening to others.
I heard, saw, and felt many things happening on the edge, in between and all around us, in service to the whole — meetings, healings, discoveries, new collaborations, tough, honest communications, singing and dancing in the wee hours, bearing witness, and unraveling feelings, perceptions, experiences….
I heard many get it – that if we are in our intentions and care – we need not be together all of the time physically to effect the field, even the world.
I appreciated how the youngers showed up throughout and were visibly on and creating the edge at times, for themselves and olders. I hold it as part of learning how to grow and work together – giving attention to young ones marking/taking their place as co-leaders in these times while olders are learning what it is to become elders in our village – I see these as part of the “needed story“.
I saw what some named a revolution as an act of artistic redesign, as a sharing, risked as an intrusion on the work of others, a redesign of open space expressed…
I felt energy come through foot-stomping, singing, dancing, crying, laughing, leaving, loving, learning how to be with so much we were and are given….
I witnessed some great ideas and plans in law, education, economics, and more -being recorded and I expect more to come. And the art, the drawings, the poetry, where would a story be without? Perhaps as Ysae Barnwell says, successful movements have songs!
I bow to the facilitators Ana Rhodes and Robin Alfred, not to mention Richard and Yvonne in their hot seats throughout for what they held, and changed, and let go of, and created, to all of the team who worked tirelessly, some not ever having worked together, opening continually to whoever came forward.
And may we not forget the import of our sacred clown (Lesley Quilty), amongst us and within us, to show us everything we thought, offered or judged as, well, kind of ridiculous; allowing our very selves to be turned inside out with laughter.
I bear witness to the final ceremonies offered from those who came forward and said they needed to close in such a way outside the Universal Hall, in nature…. ceremonies that were unplanned ending, in the four directions; Earth with Cynthia Jurs and the sacred treasure vase at the sanctuary, Air with Woman Stands Shining (Pat McCabe) and the pipe in the original garden, Fire with Visolela Namises, returning to the dunes where we began with the community, Water with Samara Gaev, carried from the altar and offered to the ocean.
Not to mention our Earth/Sky people such as Lesley Quilty and Dürten Lau, hearth keepers, along with all who covered us at the kitchen and carried us through a festival of dance.
Earth Water Fire and Air.… all offered by women, all with both genders and ages and different lands represented and all beautifully held and supported by men, some from ceremonial traditions.
This, to me, these are/were all essential parts of a good news story. May the story continue!
For some it seemed new, for some old and familiar while new and different, for some confirmation of what they are doing and who they are, for others a step in becoming who they are here to be, for some a remembering, for others a birth. I heard appreciation, care, concern, revelation, joy, gratitude, relief, impatience, frustration, grief and sadness, cries of too little, too much, too short, too long. I experienced wholeness and a step forward in a big journey.
I can’t say I learned much new in the way of content about the state of the world, or heard info I didn’t know. And this is in no way a criticism, or a reflection on my great knowledge. I needed to hear much of it and all of it again and again, like a mantra, in order to live from and with that awareness. What was worth it all was what emerged there for this community, this summit, this story: a way of honoring the past, some ways of healing between peoples, of co-creating a communion amongst men and women, awareness of younger and older, a seeking of ways for all to be heard, an exploration of ways of having wisdom and weavings emerge in discussion, process, poetry, and song, a ceremony throughout.
I too live with the paradox of air travel to such a moment and using the very gas and the computers that contribute to the wounding of people and planet. I do not feel entitled to do so just because it’s for a ‘good cause’. I feel humble and unsure at times of any and all of my actions. I simply make choices of what to do with what I use, like tobacco or travel – may it be a prayer for health and not an addiction.
For now, I join with you all in a celebration of a dream or at least part of a dream come true! I did have an experience of people and place and story that will be carried with me forever.
- I was grateful for who was in the room giving me truly the sense that I need not do it all. That I was part of an awakened community, who were motivated, committed, inspired, and working in some ways I never could or will in this lifetime. Working on the land, through books and workshops, in corporations and NGOs, legal systems and educational institutions, working on the street facing the horror, the realities daily of rape and war. Working for a story that serves.
- I am grateful for the hubs, the bioregional dreams and the ambassadors who return to their homelands feeling, I hope, new connectedness there and with others around the globe. I feel grateful for the networks that already existed and were tapped for invitees in order to cross-pollinate even more. I was gifted and the event was gifted – some of the participants were gifted through Bioneers, Center for Whole Communities, Beyond Boundaries, the Global Ecovillage Network, Threshold, American Indian Institute, and Youth Passageways, to name but a few. I feel grateful for a new web woven both seen and unseen.
May it go on way beyond a week!
Futures: many questions live on
What are we together saying NO to and what are we saying YES to?
What were/are the essentials for co-creating a global community, for even a week? What are the essentials of a story that serves?
And as one old myth I do know says, “Who doth it serve?” Who needs a new story? Those without life’s basic rights? The Hopi? The Kogi? The youth? The genders? The West? The planet? And, where and how do we truly find such? Or make room for one to come through?
And as for more gatherings, summits, or the New Story Movement….
What would it be like to be in a room with 100’s who do not have a need to be seen or heard yet are willing in the moment to share if impulse arises?
What would it be to live in a world wherein each and all were free to follow their callings… even if it took them out of their culture, their tradition, their gender identity, their age, their wealth, privilege or poverty, their being victims or oppressors?
What would it take to have a world wherein one feels heard, seen, held by community, spirit, earth?
What if we each did our part? I feel I know just enough what is mine to do next, thank God. I return to ceremony alone in nature, and in council with the global community, grateful for the opportunity to do my part in the week/in this chapter, feeling strengthened to continue as part of a bigger mob.
I would love to see and be part of how NSS will be storied in the book and in the film as well.
I would love to see the book be a collage of what happened and reveal what it was about through sharings, writings, visual art, poetry, etc.
I would love to see a resource list of all the New Stories already out there….
And last but not least, I continue to envision the value of Global Councils….
…. a kind of United Relations rather than United Nations….
listening and working alone and together for what is needed. It is interesting that the only two people I know who did not want to come unless they had 45 minutes to present, were an author of The New Creation Story and the founder of the World Future Council. Maybe we could give them and a few others, in the ‘NEXT whatever’, a day to spark the fire and then see what emerges….
Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experienced the loss of soul.
Gigi Coyle is a facilitator, mentor, trainer and guide in wilderness rites of passage and the nature of council for both youth and adults. She is a co-creator of The Ojai Foundation, an educational retreat sanctuary for youth and adults. With a master’s degree in international relations, she has worked in many countries and cultures over the past 40 years in the area of citizen diplomacy. She has co-led journeys to the rainforest, to the oceans, to the desert. Today, she leads a number of intergenerational service projects as part of Beyond Boundaries, and continues a lifetime relationship with the School of Lost Borders and The Ojai Foundation, serving as international coordinator for the Center For Council Practice. She is co-author of The Way of Council and The Box: Remembering The Gift.
Photographers: Hege Sæbjørnsen and Hugo Klip