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What’s Left Off

No learning plan feels complete any more for me without acknowledging the dreams and passions explored that are no longer my focus at the moment. Maybe this will change again in the future, but, for now, it feels important to just list some of the dreams that are not calling so strongly to me. I know that those embers are still burning if I ever wanted to fan them into a fire again. So, I’m setting aside for now:

  • The years that I believed corporate social responsibility and sustainability initiatives would save the world. I’m no longer a green building professional or a climate change advocate like I was from 2005 -2009, though this is still a passion of mine. I can’t sustain working for organizations that say sustainability is their focus, while demanding that all sustainability initiatives help the company’s bottom line, rather than asking first what is the right thing to do for people and the planet and then figuring out how to make it happen. My passion for this will likely take me more in the direction of things like getting involved with Project Drawdown, Save the Bay, Urban Releaf, or Oregon Climate.
  • A desire to be on the leadership team of an innovative new school, or education program, or social entrepreneurship incubator. While this still resonates as a long-term dream, I feel now like there are still a lot I want to learn and do before I get there. Perhaps this fits better a different phase of life, such as a family phase or an elderly phase.
  • A desire to help change the culture of institutions of higher education from within. My two years at the University of Virginia convinced me that this would require a lifetime commitment, and nothing else. My energy is more drawn now to what’s emerging, rather than to helping convince the leaders of these dangerously out-of-touch institutions that change is necessary. I’ll be ready to dive back in again when there are institutions I can work with who recognize the need to change, and are hungry to learn from the solutions we have been creating at the grassroots.
  • Build a house out of cob. Yea, I still want to do it! But this will be a treat one summer, further down the line: a project I can share with some kids growing up in my community. My emerging interest in design (which includes permaculture) could definitely lead me back this direction sooner than I think, as well as possible projects on the horizon around building community cultural centers or repurposing monasteries with friends like Adam Horowitz.
  • Become a writer or researcher about new economies: for example, writing about the cognitive impact of poverty and affluence on the brain, or about the effect of a Universal Basic Income on voter engagement and corruption in democratic societies. I’m just not sure writing is one of my gifts, or one that I have the patience for right now, and I’m afraid of the ego project that writing (or, having a book) can become.
  • Be the d.Shrink of some organization or team I am part of, and, in order to more fully own that, be trained as a professional counselor or therapist. It’s definitely part of who I am, and what I bring to teams I am part of, but all of my research and the people I interviewed who have gone this path, have convinced me to let it stay at that–part of what I offer groups and teams I am part of, rather than something I go to grad school to cultivate it. The most common refrain I heard was “if you need the credential in order for you to do what you want to do, go for it. But, from what I’ve seen, you already have the skills you’re looking for and that they would teach you.” (And, come to think ofit, I guess I did already get a degree in Psychology!) I feel like my Alt*Div is satisfying most of what was drawing me in this direction, anyway.

In general, I’m finding myself less and less inclined to working on projects that are My Big Ideas, or that feel like they are exclusively created by and for the affluent or white communities only. Increasingly I inclined to stay attuned to what leaders in Queer, Black, Women, and Indigenous communities are creating, and putting myself to work to support what is emerging in these, or intersectional work where I might be able to bring together passions and skills I have have–and communities I am connected with because of whom I am–with movements like #BlackLivesMatter.

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