Caravanning towards the Future

August 11th, 2014

Every year, we gather together with friends and family to make a pilgrimage to the BurningMan festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. For 2014, the theme of the festival is “Caravansary,” a place where groups of travelers stop to get supplies, exchange information, and interact with people from other cultures. For centuries, people traveled in groups called “caravans” because they were less vulnerable when they combined resources, shared expenses, and protected each other. A caravansary, or gathering of caravans, is an amazing place. Here we can freely exchange ideas and practical applications, expand our awareness of different cultures, and learn from everyone we meet.

The Cleu caravan makes our pilgrimage to the desert where our combined efforts create Black Rock City, a place where there is no trading or bartering, no buying or selling, just gift-giving and human interactions that are free of commerce. This is a temporary autonomous zone, a place where we can choose how to define ourselves, sharing and participating with others who are as free as we are. Sure, there is law enforcement in Black Rock City, reminding us that the world defined by counties, states, and federal government still has some authority. However, our collective creativity brings into being a city where most of us feel safer than anywhere else, where we feel more protected and supported than in any other city in the world.

Black Rock City is made up of many caravans, all converging in a single place, coming together with a shared intention: to give, to celebrate, to release, to enjoy! We follow the 10 principles of BurningMan: radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, and immediacy. We become bigger than ourselves when we join together in our Cleu caravan, and bigger than our own group when our caravan becomes part of Black Rock City. We share, support, and protect each other, and give freely of our time and energy to create a city that we want to live in.

When you contemplate the future, think about the road you are on. If you are traveling alone, look around to see who else is moving in the same direction. Form or join a caravan with others who share Cleu values. Go camping or do other things that require you to share resources and work cooperatively. Give your Cleu circle wheels, and let it roll! Envision all our caravans coming together as one great caravansary to imagine and create the infrastructure of a better world.

Winter without Snow

May 9th, 2014

We live in the outback country of Eastern Oregon, just up from the California and Nevada borders. In 2014, that means that our area is part of the extreme drought that is likely to be more prolonged due to climate change. We have just seen another winter with hardly any snow. Our mountains have no snow caps, and our reservoirs are drying up.

I recently taught a college writing class using The Global Warming Reader, an anthology edited by Bill McKibben. I knew that global warming had a long history, but I had no idea that the scientific study of the effect of carbon emissions went back over a hundred years. The monthly tracking of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere began in the 1950s, resulting in the Keeling curve which shows rising CO2 levels now over 400ppm. Scientists tell us that anything over 350ppm puts civilization as we know it at risk. You would think it would be in our best interest to listen to the scientists.

The National Climate Assessment shows us that climate change is already happening, primarily due to human-caused global warming. In other words, we have done this to ourselves. We must get over our addiction to fossil fuels. We must begin by acknowledging that our lives have become unmanageable due to our addiction. As individuals, we have become addicts to a petroleum-based economy that fuels our homes, cars, and devices, makes the synthetics for fabrics and plastics, and creates the chemicals for corporate agriculture. How have we come to this sorry state? As part of the recovery process, we need to acknowledge where we went wrong, hurting others and ourselves, so we can begin to make amends.

As oil addicts, we have created an economy powered by fossil fuels with huge profits for the energy companies, our dealers, and all the costs passed on to taxpayers as we struggle to recover from one climate disaster after another. If the energy companies had to pay the cost of these climate disasters, it would not take long to slow global warming and mitigate climate change. As consumers and investors in fossil fuels through retirement plans and other investments, we are all implicated in global warming. It is time to divest from fossil fuels in whatever ways you can.

Knowing that we can mitigate the effects of climate change is a stunning prospect. We literally have the power to change our world, to reduce carbon emissions, and to lessen global warming. We can save ourselves from the worst effects of climate change, but we have to act quickly to shift not only our own lifestyles but our entire economy. The CLEU is here to help you mobilize and support your spiritual community in this effort. You are the clue to our shared future. Let’s work together on behalf of our planet home.

Return to your Roots

September 8th, 2013

Going on pilgrimage gives us a chance to experience more cooperative ways of living by spending these precious days working and playing together face-to-face. We abandon our cell phones and electronic devices choosing instead to rely on each other. Cleu camp is an opportunity for all of us to appreciate the feeling of belonging that comes from living and working together. We experience At-Onement because we commit to each other and our camp. When we return to our roots, we discover that we have the power to manifest the reality we desire. Black Rock City is our collective dream, an amazing city magically appearing on the playa through the efforts of people who take this special time together to create art and to celebrate community, and above all, to live closer to our human roots. More »

Getting a Clue about Climate Change

July 24th, 2013

Climate change is happening. Despite the efforts of think tanks funded by the fossil fuel industry to debunk climate science, there is clear scientific consensus that the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is caused primarily by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. Our atmosphere contained about 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide from the beginning of human civilization up to about 200 years ago. With the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, the CO2 levels began to rise. The carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has now hit 400ppm with CO2 increasing about 2ppm per year. The world’s leading climate scientists warn that exceeding the level of 350ppm of CO2 puts human civilization itself at risk. The organization 350.org, founded by Bill McKibben, promotes 350 events around the world to raise awareness in the struggle to fight fossil fuels and find a new way forward with renewable energy. McKibben calls 350 “the most important number on the planet.”

Global warming makes heat waves, droughts, floods, and superstorms more likely, making all extreme weather events more intense and less predictable. Climate change affects all of our Big Four values: Air, Water, Food, and Energy. Carbon emissions pollute the Air we breathe while adding to the greenhouse effect that causes global warming. Fresh Water supplies are threatened by higher average temperatures and extreme drought conditions while melting ice caps and glaciers lead to sea-level rise, warming and acidifying oceans with dying coral reefs, and storms cause more devastating floods and deluges. Our Food supplies are at risk due to the increased likelihood of more extreme droughts, flooding, and spreading desertification. The Energy we choose for warmth, manufacturing, transportation, productivity, and communication, should be contributing to our sustainable future, not to the collapse of civilization.

What should people with a clue do? Whatever path you choose, take a stand on the right side of history. Take part in climate actions to protect the Air, Water, Food, and Energy where you live. Nonviolent protests raise Consciousness about the devastating consequences inflicted by multinational energy corporations on local communities and the entire world. Global warming affects everyone. Resistance is not futile! Be an engaged citizen. Develop your spiritual community so that you can support each other. Promote respect for science and common sense. There is no arguing with faith, but we must stand against fossil-fuel-funded propaganda that discounts physics and chemistry.

We need to stop taking carbon out of the ground and putting it in the Air. We need to preserve our forests and grasslands so that they can help sequester carbon from the atmosphere. We should support the research and development of renewable energy sources that use sun, wind, and water (including ocean power and geothermal). We must quit coal, stop fracking and tarsands oil production, and abandon nuclear power with its horrific dangers. We must say NO to coal exports. Do your best to wake up the people around you to the amazing potential of renewable energy to revitalize our economy and slow down global warming before we break the planet. Divest from fossil fuels. Be the clue!

The Big Four Values

May 6th, 2013

Make the Cleu vision and values a part of your life. You can do this on your own, but forming a Cleu circle with a few others will give you a greater sense of spiritual community. Use the human rites of music, art, drum, dance, song, and story to bond, the way people have been doing since the beginning of Consciousness. Engage in the spiritual practices that are a vital part of most religious and spiritual traditions, including study, meditation, service, pilgrimage, and mentoring. Read the Cleu Book together. A Cleu circle should be a transformative, participatory occasion that keeps people coming back.

As your circle evolves, begin to focus on the Big Four values: Air, Water, Food, Energy. These are basic survival needs that must be met in order for there to be harmony among people. From world peace to individual health, we are all dependent on our relationship to Air, Water, Food, and Energy. To put it simply: Air is Life; Water is Life; Food is Life; Energy is Life. Use the Big Four to create ceremonial aspects to your circle: Join in a breathing exercise to reflect on Air; use Water in a ceremonial way; host a communion with Food; and light a candle to represent Energy. Try different ways to honor the Big Four.

Providing a structure that leads to more Consciousness about the choices we make as individuals, families, communities, and the world, will increase the spiritual impact of your circle and help guide your decisions about how to use your resources together. By focusing on our most basic needs, you will be better able to set priorities, learn about local issues, and find allies. You are not alone. Spiritual activists, indigenous people, and cultural creatives have been working together to protect our Air, Water, Food, and Energy for over fifty years, and we have learned a lot about the power of the circle.

Now imagine Cleu circles connecting to other Cleu circles in a network that is as flexible, strong, and resilient as linked chainmail. Visualize a shining fabric of circles, healing our communities and our world. We are the clue to our own future.

Signs of a New Paradigm

January 1st, 2013

Happy 2013! I’m looking for signs of a new paradigm, and I have to say, I see them every day. Global consciousness is an unstoppable force, and we know another world is possible.

People everywhere are standing up for universal human rights despite oppression. Global awareness about climate change makes fossil fuels seem so 20th century, and people are rising up in all kinds of ways to defend the planetary atmosphere from excess carbon. More people are choosing organic food and fair trade products, and making healthy choices in daily life. Workers are finding solidarity, and students are fighting debt. Occupy groups all over the country are raising awareness and creating cooperative infrastructure with local churches, providing relief for disaster recovery and ongoing conditions of poverty. Peace is here if we want it.

Social media are giving us ways to connect that were never possible before. We can freely learn and share with people all over the world. Facebook gives us a way of archiving memories and comments with friends and family. Twitter expresses our collective tidbits of conversation and information as a global community. We are learning to think as one people on one planet, but we continually discover that nothing replaces face-to-face communication.

To feel truly connected, we need be in the same place together. Find your spiritual family by looking for people with a clue. Meet in circle often, weekly if possible. Read the Cleu Book and celebrate your human rites of drum, song, and story, music, art, and dance. Share resources to develop your spiritual community, and together, be the clue to a new paradigm.