One of the initiatives I’m currently working on is Powers of Place, developed by Sheryl Erickson, Renee Levi and a host of others with funding from the Fetzer Institute.
The Powers of Place Initiative is a partnership of individuals, organizations and sites catalyzing a new field of study and practice based on the premise that right relationship between people and the places they gather offers the potential for transformative action toward what is needed at this moment in history.
Our work includes:
- Creating and supporting an international network of networks dedicated to the mission of the Initiative
- Conducting seminal research and developing theory
- Producing and distributing educational and outreach materials to support the work of people from a variety of disciplines and perspectives
- A core assumption we’re working with is that the powers of place and our relationship with it, influences a group’s capacity to engage in transformative life affirming action
A calling question for our work is what becomes possible when we are in intentional relationship with the powers of place?
You can get an overview in our introduction Powers of Place Introduction.
What I’m most interested in is how we use the power of place to increase our individual and collective resilience to navigate in these times. Whew — big words.
When I look out at the channel from Cortes Island at the northern tip of British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, I begin to settle. I begin to calm down. The same thing happens to me when I walk the trails of Windhorse Farms in Nova Scotia. Or when I watch a sunset from the big rocks of Kufunda in Zimbabwe. These places vibrate in my being and help me return to who I am.
While I was on Cortes earlier this week, at Hollyhock, I began thinking about Christopher Alexander’s A Timeless Way of Building where he develops the fundamentals of Pattern Langauge. He talks about how when we come into a room we know if it is alive. He goes on to speak of how it isn’t simply the existence of doors and windows and walls, but their relationship to each other. Thinking of this, I stood on the Hollyhock deck looking out at the islands in the foreground and mountains in the distance, with water closeby, and I started wondering if there are particular geographic features which begin to make some places seem more alive.
What’s the mixture here? How does the fundamental pattern of Hollyhock contribute to its aliveness? How much of the good energy of so many people who have been there contributes? And what of my own good memories of being there over many years? Why is it that I settle more easily and more quickly there than when walking the streets of downtown Seattle?