Symposium, Collaboration and Engaged Action Takes Off in Northwest

April 01, 2008 | By The Pachamama Alliance

The Northwest is ‘waking up’ at an accelerated rate. There has been an explosion of Awakening the Dreamer related activity there, with 6 Symposiums in Washington already this year, 2008, and 5 more currently scheduled. A flurry of activity in Portland and Vancouver, B.C. has also occurred, with two recent events really marking the region.

Awakening the Dreamer Facilitator and founding director of Be The Change Earth Alliance (BTCEA), Maureen Jack-LaCroix, was joined by facilitators Elizabeth Gorla, Dennis Lucarelli and Sherry Helmke along with twenty dedicated volunteers in the launch of Be The Change Symposium in Vancouver on March 29th, 2008. BTCEA is integrating the Symposium into a comprehensive citizen engagement program that enables participants to form BTC Action Circles for ongoing peer engagement and support. BTCEA has created a handbook that correlates a comprehensive Action Guide with materials from Northwest Earth Institute, of whom they are a sister affiliate. Over 195 people attended the Symposium, representing community leaders from environmental, social justice, business, education, government, organized labor and faith traditions. Participants loved the Symposium that featured Canadian social justice content, interactive group participation and the Points of Awareness ritual ending the section “Where We Are Now”. It is anticipated that over 40 Action Circles (comprised of 10 people each) will result from this first Symposium.  BTCEA will host three more Symposiums in the coming months.

On that same day, Portland delivered its largest Symposium to date. Over 100 people attended the event and experienced for the first time the new format being tested called the "video intensive version” (VIV) of the Symposium. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with glowing comments such as, "it was the best program that you could have in five hours" and "excellent and inspiring.” The volunteer team that produced the event has created a Wiser Earth group website for all of the participants,  and will be using it to reconnect with participants, organize future events, and highlight local resources. As we learn more about how to best utilize the group as a resource, we plan to share our findings with other production and facilitation teams.  A facilitator training was announced at the event, and dozens of people expressed interest in attending. Many people volunteered to host, promote and produce future Symposiums, as well. It was a blessed day with a strong sense of community and service. As a result, a steering committee has been formed in the Portland area and they are already planning future events.

Both of these Symposiums brilliantly created ways for participants to remain engaged after the event was over.  As the Symposium states, “the days of the lone-ranger are gone.” We can’t change the dream of the modern world on our own, and besides, it’s much more fun doing so while collaborating with others.