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Rekindle Your Wild Joy and Deep Belonging to the Earth

Free Ecopsychology Webinar this eve July 30, 2020

From Ownership to Belonging: Ecopsychological Models of Relationship with the More-than-Human World of Nature

It’s becoming increasingly obvious how our collective behaviors are bringing the living world as we know it to the brink of destruction. Ecopsychology teaches us that understanding the implicit ideas beneath such behaviors can help us shift them. The currently dominant industrial growth society contains several deeply-seated cultural assumptions that have contributed to our shared situation. This lecture unpacks some of these, then offers alternative models of relationship with the more-than-human world of nature that are often found in older cultures worldwide. Inspiring stories will be told, and participants will be given an easy contemplative nature-connection exercise to do at home.

In this lecture, we will learn (3 points):
• Largely unquestioned dominant cultural assumptions that have led to widespread environmentally destructive behaviors
• Three alternative models of human-nature relationship, some held by older cultures across the globe
• An easy contemplative exercise to come into more conscious, joyful, and mutually beneficial relationship with the more-than-human world right outside your door

7 pm EST. 1 hour, plus perhaps a bit more for Q&A. Free!

https://www.embodiedphilosophy.org/from-ownership-to-belonging

 

Leading a Contra Dance Role-Swapping Workshop June 22, 2017

Filed under: Arts,Dance — BrujaHa @ 10:25 am
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I dance both roles buttons

 

Contra dancers, if you’ve ever been curious about dancing the other gender role, I have published a new article with co-author Erik Erhardt about how to optimally pull it off.

We of course offer tips for smooth swapping points and the like, yet our main point is the “prime directive” of keeping neighbors, shadows, and other dancers in the line comfortable with this kind of play so that acceptance will grow among participants and non-participants alike, thereby ensuring ongoing fun for all. Here’s the beginning:

Leading a Contra Dance Role-Swapping Workshop.
CDSS NEWS (Summer 2017, pp.10-11 with fuller text online)

Introduction

This article offers concrete “hows” for experiencing even more joys in contra dance. A workshop that encourages dancers to play in both dance roles is a fun opportunity that also helps evolve the skill of
your dancers. While swapping roles initially seems like an advanced skill, it is often learned quickly and improves a person’s ability to dance well in either role.

We first provide swapping principles. In the online version of this article, we provide a selection of swap
points in three scenarios, then we offer a workshop outline that you can use, based on the “Gender Shenanigans” workshop we gave at Stellar Days and Nights dance camp held in the mountains of Colorado in February 2015.

While this type of workshop works well as part of a weekend dance camp with most dancers in “traditional” dance roles, small doses have proven to be popular at local dances, too.

Swapping principles

It can be very fun to cultivate the ability to be “ambidancetrous”; that is, to be able to dance either role and even to switch roles multiple times during a given dance.

When considering role swapping, the first thought that arises might be the simple puzzle of body mechanics in the various moves. But first and foremost in community dancing is actually the need for consideration for good dance etiquette. Etiquette is the art of making someone else feel comfortable, and this includes not only obtaining consent from your partner, but also being aware of the expectations of the entire dance line.

Always dance with respect for your neighbors. It is our observation that the essence of truly excellent dancing isn’t making fancy moves, but matching the needs and energy of each person met. Just as the elderly or disabled may need shorter, gentler swings, attention and courtesy must be given to each person encountered when swapping. Be in the right place on time for the next move, and confidently project to approaching dancers, particularly beginners, which role you’re dancing. This can be done by making eye contact, clearly offering the appropriate hand, and additionally saying “I’m the gent/lady” if helpful. If you’re swapping, you shoulder extra responsibility for dance excellence. If we follow this “prime directive” of respecting the line, role swapping will continue to grow in acceptance and popularity, even among those with little desire to do it themselves. …

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Link to the full article, including a list of swappalicious moves and a three-part workshop you can try out with your own local dancers:  Leading a Contra Dance Role-Swapping Workshop

Enjoy! Please let us know your thoughts by posting in the Comments below. Also, if you try the workshop, let us know how it works out for you. It’s through many voices that a community is made.

(NOTE: The very useful “What’s Your Preference? I Dance Both Roles” buttons illustrated at the top of this page are made by Mark Galipeau for the San Francisco Bay Queer Contra Dance (now “Circle Left”), one nexus of the gender-free dance movement. For minimal cost, you can order the buttons for distribution. I’m one of many who has handed out dozens of them to all who want one.)

 

Square Dance in the Rural West: An Oral History July 26, 2016

Don & Fay promenade

Check out my new article in the Country Dance and Song Society (CDSS) online journal. It’s based on interviews with my elders, who can really tell a story, and contains small photos of those faboo 1950s dance outfits.

Best of all is getting to witness how community dance like square dance or contra dance forges community.

*

“Square dancing hit its heyday in the far west during the 1950s, and many elder members of my family were heavily involved in it. Hank Fields, my dad, was a popular square dance caller long before I was born. I follow lightly in his footsteps as a contra dance caller today; thus my interest in what the dance scene had been like for him. What are the similarities and differences with dance today? And what got so many people so passionately interested in square dancing back then?

“At a Fields/Glascock “inlaws & outlaws” family reunion held on my cousin’s ranch in rural Idaho during the summer of 2003, I spoke with a number of older folks who had been active in the square dance scene back in the 1950s, asking about their experiences.”

*

 To read the whole thing, go to:

CD+S Online, vol.1

Or get directly to my article itself

*

 I hope you like it! Please leave comments here.

 

Anthropology of Consciousness July 5, 2016

“Huge thank you to Tina Fields the 2016 SAC keynote address for her talk, ‘I am He as You are He as You are Me, and We are All Together’ — Fostering Ecopsychological Relationship with Place.  Here is a snippet from an interview at Naropa University in 2012 on culture, consciousness, and conditioned assumptions about reality.”

That was reblogged from the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness (SAC)’s Open Access blog. It was a great honor to serve as their Keynote speaker.

If you are interested in exploring issues of consciousness with a group of very smart, kind interdisciplinary thinkers who look at wild topics with both rigor and open-minded humor, SAC may be the group for you.

The interview they spoke of follows below. I’m posting it here for the first time on my own blog (what a concept!) Perhaps you’ll like it too.

Source: SAC in 2016

 

What my students learned this semester December 6, 2015

Unknown

Start paying attention

The difference between me and you (or anything, for that matter)

is the thought that creates that reality.

 

I need to be radical in my love, my thoughts, my actions, my acceptance and surrender – to get to the root,

the seat of life and growth, which is the seat of quintessence.

That’s where i want to be.

 

[What I’ve learned has been] both extremely helpful and devastating:

How unconscious most humans are, but that it can change!

I uncovered some of my own self-defenses that keep me from action.

The application of psychoanalytical theories to understand the great complexity of our environmental situation.

I developed more clarity and compassion, for myself and others

Context for the madness

A lot less anger

At once, I feel the urgency to act and the need to be patient and not act forcefully

To learn to live with and through the earth, not just on her

Gratitude that I owe to my family

 

Humans’ connection with nature

A sense of oneness

Enmeshment within the natural world

Being an integral part of the macro interdependent-system that feels itself, knows itself, and heals itself

Ecological identity

This has forever changed my life

 

I look at all that is around me a little differently now.

Knowing it is all of the earth, and perhaps more importantly that it will go back to the earth, changes the way I operate in my days.

 

This sense was deepened and became more embodied

An exchange in breath: as the plant was breathing out, I was breathing in

Increase my awareness and widen my perception

Eventually feeling the reciprocal awareness of nature

How incredible these realizations have been for me.

 

Awakening has been the most beautiful process I’ve ever endured.

Thank you Earth!

Healing source

Never ending story

 

These are the truths that have become my mantras from being absorbed in ecopsychological concepts.

These are incredible supports that I rely on when feeling distressed, confused, and at times, hopeless.

 

I will continue to live mindfully in respect to nature.

Being conscious about what I purchase, what I waste, how and what I eat etc.

“No matter how big you get, don’t forget to take out your own trash.”

 

So grateful to walk this path with you

and share what I can with whoever will listen.

A challenging(!), engaging, deepening, fulfilling and respectful round of studies

I’m so grateful to be receiving wisdom

Like candy for my soul.

 

I bow out to a transformative journey

I and the moon bow in thanks

Your wisdom and beautiful hearts

 

Just bloom.

 

*********************************************

These words are from first-year students’ final self-reflections on their learning in my Ecopsychology class, part of Naropa University’s M.A. program in Ecopsychology, early December 2015

collated into a poem by professor Tina Fields

I composed this as a gift back to them, a lens on what happens in this program, and a reflection for teachers to turn to when times at work get rough. To help us remember that what we do matters.

Students whose words are in here: Katie Poinier, Thompson Bishop, Melanie Gajewski, Colleen Kirkpatrick,  Karen Delahunty, Lauren Mangion, Anne Gordon, Sierra Robinson, Erika Dearen, Bekah Turner, Tessa Stuart and Jakob Ledbetter.

I am extraordinarily fortunate as a teacher, so often getting to feel awe at the depth of my students’ thoughtful engagement with their learning, their passionate desire to care for the planet, and most of all, their souls.

-*-

 

 

 

Fall Has Sprung! contradance May 3, 2013

Filed under: Arts,Dance — BrujaHa @ 7:34 am
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I had a blast calling at the “Fall Has Sprung” contra dance fest in Grass Valley, California.  Held every year in early November, this dance runs 12 hours long, from noon till midnight!

There’s potluck food and comfy bleacher chairs available the entire time, so participants can dance some, have a snack or meal, rest, dance more, go outside and schmooze a bit, do a community chore like taking out some garbage, drink some water, then dance a whole lot more.  Dance, rinse, repeat.

It is a super fun event that I’ve enjoyed going to several times as a dancer, and it was an honor and a delight to be invited to call for it this year.

What a luscious combo: calling 1/3 of the day with amazing bands, and getting to dance the other 2/3 to other amazing bands and great callers, for and with a hall full of zesty dancers.

This year, the bands were Hot Cider, KGB, and Raz de Marée, a.k.a. Tidal Wave, and the callers were Joyce Miller, Frannie Marr, and me.  Many thanks to the Foothills Country Dance Society and their stellar organizers, Eric Engels and Lisa Frankel.

This particular dance you’ll see in the video is “Square Affair” by Becky Hill. It is driven by music played by KGB, a  fabulous Seattle band consisting of Julie King, Claude Ginsburg and Dave Bartley. I found them to be not only breathtakingly good musicians, but also super easy to work with.

Video by dancer John Seto.   Music by KGB.   Calling by Tina Fields.

 

Perpetual e-Motion contras January 3, 2013

Filed under: Announcements,Arts,Dance — BrujaHa @ 11:17 am
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If you love wild contra dancing, the Front Range of Colorado is the place to be this weekend. Perpetual eMotion will play Fri, Sat and Sunday. They are two guys who sound like many more, fusing old traditional tunes with electronic techno looping. Their music makes for dancing that is both rocking and super trance inducing.

I’m calling with them on Friday eve at Boulder’s fabulous Avalon Ballroom – and per the dance organizer’s request, I’ll have my disco ball in tow.

The dance runs 8-11 pm, with a beginner’s lesson/semi-beginners’ refresher course at 7. (If you’ve not contradanced much or at all, do come: you can learn the basic moves in that time and have a great evening. But please make sure to attend the lesson. It’s tough for everyone if you just try to jump in without it. Thanks!)

Two of my favorite callers in the area will call the other dances: Ed Hall in Fort Collins on Saturday, and Rick Smith in Denver on Sunday – and that one will also have ice cream. How good does it get? Hope to see you rollicking out at one or more!

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