Planting seed for positive change
ENVIRONMENTALIST John Seed is returning to one of his many spiritual homes - Lismore - to present a two-day workshop.
"The workshops arise out of work I've done with (American author) Joanna Macy, sometimes called Despair and Empowerment but now called Honouring Our Pain For This World," John told The Echo.
"We've been raised to suppress our feelings of grief, anger or despair about what's happening in the world.
"That means a lot of our life force is suppressed. If we can't feel the pain of what we're seeing, we are paralysed and feel helpless to do anything, because doing anything requires that we feel some passion.
"People in the environmental movement, like the people currently working on the coal seam gas campaigns, are subject to burnout and depression because of the sort of material we've been looking at," he said.
John Seed has been an environmentalist for 35 years. He was one of the earliest settlers in the Nimbin area after the Aquarius Festival, and built one of the first homes at the Bodhi Farm multiple occupancy in The Channon.
Over the years he has been a leader in many fields of environmental and personal growth work.
He founded the Rainforest Information Centre, an organisation whose influence spread nationally and internationally, supporting campaigns to stop the destruction of rainforests around the world.
John has travelled the world presenting his Council of All Beings workshops, in which participants meet as representatives of non-human life forms and discuss the crisis facing the planet in the voices of the animals, trees and plants directly affected by human action.
He has always been on the cutting edge of helping groups and individuals to surpass their limitations, communicate openly and freely with each other, and take non-violent action - to use one of his favourite phrases - "in defence of Mother Earth".
He was awarded an Order of Australia medal in 1995 for his services to conservation and the environment; he's a Fellow of the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland and occasional scholar-in-residence at the Esalen Institute in California.
John has taken on campaigns including protecting Asian elephants, resistance to bauxite mining in India, food security in Zimbabwe, and was a pioneer in the philosophy of deep ecology.
"I see a need for psychological tools to enable us to face what we see in the world without being crushed," John said.
"I've been holding this series of workshops that allow us to transform feelings of despair and anguish about the state of world into empowerment.
"I would encourage anyone who understands that something is lost, who feels anguish about what is happening to our planet, and would like to transform those feelings into empowerment, to come to this workshop."
John said that it was typical for people to "go through a spiral" in this work.
"We start from gratitude and things we're grateful for, before looking at the things that distress us," he said.
Fees from the workshop will be donated to the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and other groups working on climate change and its consequences.
It's on in Lismore on Saturday and Sunday, September 1-2.