Singing, Biking, Sharing in The Great Turning

May 8, 2013 by

Singing, Biking, Sharing in The Great Turning

I’ve just come down from the clouds—the lofty emotional highs—of a two-day workshop on The Work That Reconnects with Joanna Macy herself.

And, yes, I rode my bike the two miles to Fort Worden Conference Center, along with a dozen or so of the 50 workshop participants. That’s a pretty good bicycling turn-out, but then again, this was a gathering of sustainability activists!

I’m still processing, and will be for a while, what I learned from the 84-years-young Joanna Macy  of Berkeley this past weekend, along with the lessons in her excellent book, Active Hope:  How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy.

NOTE: For all you locals, this post includes details on three upcoming Port Townsend events that relate to The Great Turning—including one tomorrow evening. Read on!



Joanna, a Buddhist scholar and Deep Ecologist, coined the term The Great Turning as “a name for the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization.” She introduces The Work That Reconnects with a recap of the three “stories” that are playing out simultaneously in our world today. Which one do you align yourself with?

Business As Usual:  How the industrial growth society has been churning along for (only) the last 300 years, most rapidly in the last 60.

The Great Unraveling:  A term coined by Bainbridge Islander David Korten to describe the despairing global situation I was definitely experiencing until I was introduced to the concept of The Great Turning in Sept. 2011 (read my blog post about it).

The Great Turning:  See definition above. The adventure we can choose to engage in, making constant shifts in our consciousness to counteract the dominant societal viewpoint. This is the story I’m trying to live and be an active participant in.ReconnectSpiral_ByDori

Joanna then led us through the “spiral” of the activist’s inner journey, with small-group exercises at each of four points:
~    opening to gratitude,
~    owning our pain for the world,
~   seeing with new eyes,
~    and going forth.

At the end, we each shared our intentions for going forth, many of which were interconnected. It was a powerful display of the individual and collective energy, skills, and passion we have to work with in Port Townsend. But I truly believe every community possesses this power, and The Work That Reconnects can help recognize and unleash it.



One of my take-aways from the weekend is that The Great Turning is naturally and joyfully accompanied by song. PT Songlines Choir serenaded us throughout the workshop, with co-leaders Laurence Cole and Gretchen Sleicher stepping up at the most apropos times to start short, repetitive, participatory songs that were easy to pick up and easy to harmonize with.

JoannaMacyInPT_05_13 (1)-eHWith many Songlines singers in the crowd, the songs quickly swelled, their lyrics praising the Earth, beauty, peace and love. Laurence’s drum thumped out the rhythm and conducted the dynamics, and we collectively responded like one well-tuned instrument—an apt metaphor for the connected and interdependent parts of the whole that Joanna said The Great Turning movement resembles (think also of neurons in a brain).

For musical inspiration, check out Songs for The Great Turning, a website compiled by the aforementioned Gretchen Sleicher of Port Townsend.

I encourage you to  read the rest of this post while listening to this audio track of one of the songs we sang last weekend:  Let Us See the Beauty. (Play the “full song” file right under the photo of performer Laurence Cole. It was his voice filling our workshop room!)

Doesn’t this song set an incredible tone? I’d like to see every government meeting start with everyone in attendance singing this. I really think it could change outcomes for the better.


PT Songlines’ spring concert-and-participatory-sing happens to be coming up June 1 and is a benefit for a very good cause:  the Jefferson County Farm-to-School Coalition. The concert is 7 p.m. at the Cotton Building. Check them out! (I’m thinking of joining up when their next singing season starts in the fall.)



The organizers of the Joanna Macy workshop made a great effort to recruit a diverse audience, and for Port Townsend that means age-diverse. For once I was not the youngest person in the room. In fact, ages ranged from 24-83, with quite a few 20-somethings.

One of those attendees was 25-year-old Chauncey Tudhope-Locklear, a.k.a. “the bike doctor” and founder of The ReCyclery, a nonprofit bike center in Port Townsend.

mini-RhodyBiking_05_12 (7)Me and my family are big fans of The ReCyclery. In fact, we sourced 4-year-old Soren’s first bike  from Chauncey’s refurbished racks. We were there at the site’s grand opening one year ago and we joined the organization’s bike parade in the Rhody Festival Parade last year and had a blast!

This Sunday, Chauncey brought a copy of the Peninsula Daily News with him to the workshop, and there he was on the front page. The article by Diane Urbani de la Paz captures this young man’s passion, idealism and spirit for promoting bicycle use for a healthier and more sustainable community. I want to share it with you here, in the link below:

PENINSULA PROFILE: He blends love of bicycles with desire to build community

Recyclery Birthday Poster3


I’ll extend the invitation in the article to the ReCyclery’s one-year “birthday party.” Join me and Soren this Thursday, May 9, downtown at the Cotton Building and Pope Marine Park. Starting at 6 p.m., there will be cake, ice cream, unicycling, bicycling songs with PT Songlines Choir, and much more, knowing the zany, fun folks behind the ReCyclery.

Don’t forget to BYOB. Bring Your Own Bike.



Just one more thing… Many of us are planning to continue the conversations we started at the workshop on The Work That Reconnects at the inaugural Sustainability Meet-Up this Friday, May 10.


The invitation is this:  Join with sustainability activists and others concerned about the necessary changes that lie ahead. Bring news of your projects and your concerns to share with others. Individuals of all ages and all involvement levels are welcome to attend.

The majority of the meet-up will consist of a facilitated “Open Space” event, where any individual can host a small-group discussion about a specific area of interest. It is hoped that this series of 20-minute discussions will lead to meaningful exchanges and new connections.

The free event is hosted by Local 20/20, a group I volunteer with.

All are welcome from 4-6 p.m. at the Quimper Grange. Hopefully there will be regular Friday afternoon meet-ups in the future! (More info in the PTGuide listing.)



How gratifying to send an email invitation to this Friday’s Sustainability Meet-Up to my fellow workshop participants and receive this reply:

“This is fantastic! I was just journaling this morning about follow-up on our time together and how I can trust in the self-organizing nature of the Great Turning and that others will show up now to carry this on and kaboom, there was your email….

“I’d love to chat a little with you before Friday about some ideas… Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Singing, biking, sharing. That’s how it goes in The Great Turning!


  1. Friday night and Saturday were awesome. So very sorry I couldn’t make it on Sunday for the grand finish.

  2. Polly Price

    Great to get to read about the fun things you’re doing and the progress being made in your neck of the woods. (Just as we enjoy the posts from others in Spain!) Now, give us a short update on your baby seedlings…we’re wondering about them, too!
    Ohio Love from Family,

  3. Additional opportunity for doing The Work That Reconnects: Scotty Heart Song has convened a group that will begin meeting weekly on May 16 (Thursday evenings) at the EcoVillage in PT. He says: at these gatherings we will “deepen understanding, experience our connection and share our stories.” Contact me for more info.