Category Archives: Right Livelihood

Life Updates – Deepening in the Great Work

The Great Work before us, the task of moving modern industrial civilization from its present devastating influence on the Earth to a more benign mode of presence, is not a role that we have chosen. It is a role given to us, beyond any consultation with ourselves. We did not choose. We were chosen by some power beyond ourselves for this historical task. We do not choose the moment of our birth, who our parents will be, our particular culture or the historical moment when we will be born. We do not choose the status of spiritual insight or political or economic conditions that will be the context of our lives. We are, as it were, thrown into existence with a challenge and a role that is beyond any personal choice. The nobility of our lives, however, depends upon the manner in which we come to understand and fulfill our assigned role.” ~ from “The Great Work: Our Way into the Future” by Thomas Berry

View from Mt Tuam Buddhist Retreat in Salt Spring Island, home of this year Art of Mentoring

Thomas Berry has been one of the most important influences in my life and this year I’ve exploring his life and work through an extraordinary specialization presented by Yale School of Environment and Forestry and Coursera. I have been waking up to my own role/work within this big picture and training in areas that explore and strengthen the gifts I have to offer. I took a detour that lasted almost 30 years so I now have a sense of urgency…

You may have noticed that I’m positing less and less in the past few months. Many factors have contributed to this: less time to write and share, more focus on my inner resilience and growth, lack of enough feedback from readers which has somewhat affected my interest in continuing sharing, interest for so much that is happening in the world at all levels and requires my 100% senses, etc.

Now that summer is slowly leaving us, a new chapter starts for me, probably the last one when I’ll add so much to my plate, preparing for the big jump which will involve focusing on running my own business and doing more community and 1-1 work as a coach.

Starting this week, I’ll be 200% submerged in learning and experiencing and will have even less time to write. I’ll be also increasing the shedding of my participation on causes and projects that may not serve my work any longer.

This Fall and Winter I’ll be starting or continuing with the following courses:

  • Facilitators Development for the Work That Reconnects based on Joanna Macy and Molly Brown’s books and works (12 months commitment). This training will deepen into how we increase and do this important work by also acknowledging and dealing with oppression, privilege and colonization
  • Foundations of Ecopsychology, to support coaching and healing in deeper and more holistic ways
  • Systems Thinking, as a foundation for any work we do, understanding that all around us and within us, including group dynamics, are systems
  • Values-Based Entrepreneuring and how businesses may be tools for healing and transforming the work with do, going from an unsustainable “volunteering” where we basically kill ourselves and our relationships by using up all our spare hours and energies to creating solutions that allow us to make a living
  • Community Economic Development, studying courses like indigenomics, locanomics, cooperatives and social innovation: tools to co-create solutions with our communities by empowering people to “get out” of an extractive, exploitative and enslaving system and “get into” solutions that will also allow them to earn a living
  • Ecovillage Design Education (Design for sustainability): ecovillages are showing a model of what’s possible for humans to live in harmony with each other and the Earth. This 9-months course (with a 2-week hands-on component) includes all the areas we need to transform ourselves if we want to have a chance as a species
  • Herbalism: basic for any activist is to regain her connection to plants and her own natural way of keeping healthy. This is an ongoing study that will never end, but for now needs to prepare me for a test and a diploma!
  • Ecotherapy: similar to the course above, this is a must for my work as a life and career coach
  • Guitar: I always wanted to play and always loved the sound of this amazing instrument. I have been dedicating a few hours to learn the basics as it has been a type of meditation that I plan to continue…
  • I will continue providing workshops on food sovereignty topics at USB-Farm here, here and here and the Food Bank as well as the Food Skills for Families through the CDA
  • And yes, I’m still working at a NGO serving immigrants and refugees

Music is a portal for reconnecting

A week ago, I also attended to the Salt Spring Island gathering and training called “The Art of Mentoring”. This is a life-changing approach to reconnect with ourselves, each other and nature developed by Jon Young and his team through many decades of being mentored, observing and exploring other cultures, how people learn and change and what is missing in this society.

Survival and Primitive Skills, an old passion of mine and part of the Art of Mentoring approach to reconnect with nature and ourselves

That was an experience that deserves its own post, but for now I just want to share that it has made my commitment in life much deeper and has given me the confidence and strength needed to work on my next step. I brought my 16-year old son with me and it was life-changing for him as well. So much that we are already planning to attend next year.

During that experience, I learned how our un-healthy culture has each of us stuck in different developmental areas, casting a shadow where there should be gifts to the world, joy and celebration of the sacred. I also learned some basic practices that help us to reconnect and regain our gifts, making it easier for us to share them with the world. Some of these practices will be incorporated in my ongoing routine and include:

  • A sit spot: a place in nature where I’m going everyday with no other people nor devices
  • Gratitude, not as a denial of what’s happening in the world but as an empowering tool to keep us strong and grounded
  • Deepening of all our senses
  • Story of the day: sharing or journaling about our connection with nature
  • Wandering through the landscape without destination or agenda
  • Journaling
  • Survival living: I have always had a passion for this and learned survival and primitive skills when I was a teenager, but this year have been adding experiences where I’m stretching my edges more and more

Next year (2018) I plan to continue deepening into all these skills and into what Thomas Berry calls “The Great Work” for which we have no choice but participate with what we are and what we have…my interactions and service to OUR Ecovillage, The Art of Mentoring and similar projects will just deepen further and further, so my blog/s may merge into one or may disappear.

So many things around us we have disconnected from…

There’s so much to do out there to be sitting inside writing…

May your journey lead you to your own inescapable contribution to the Great Work…

Namaste,

Silvia

Cloverdale, BC, September 2017

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Great changes are taking place. These are not as a result of any one group or teaching, but as a result of millions of people defining one or more ways in which they can conserve energy, aid local self-reliance, or provide for themselves. All of us would acknowledge our own work as modest; it is the totality of such modest work that is impressive. There is so much to do, and there will never be enough people to do it. We must all try to increase our skills, to model trials, and to pass on the results. If a job is not being done, we can form a small group and do it. It doesn’t matter if the work we do carries the “permaculture” label, just that we do it.” ~ Bill Mollison

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Bruno Vernier has taught in self-paced Learning Centers and been involved in the Open Source movement, his focus on Community Currencies has connected him with several world leaders in this field.

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The Gig Economy: My Presentation and Notes from the CDC @ BCCDA 2017 Conference

My father had one job in his lifetime, I will have six jobs in my lifetime, and my children will have six jobs at the same time.” ~ Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar

For many, the quote above makes no sense at all; some think it doesn’t apply to them as they have traditional, stable jobs and careers…for others, that is already an everyday reality. For me, coming from places where collapse and change were so common that people made jokes and songs with them (and where you had to be creative about how you got your basic needs met), and with a deep understanding gained through permaculture life-design and observing (sometimes also coaching) unusual people live diverse lives, this concept is not only not new: it is seen as an opportunity, a waking call to re-think what we are, how we live and why we work.

Here, for those of you attending my presentation at the CDC Conference organized by BCCDA yesterday (March 27) and today (March 28), and for my usual readers, I post as promised my PPT and notes. You are free to connect with me for further exploration of these topics, having a tea together and talking about how to change the world, creating a social business together or just brainstorming ideas of what’s needed and what’s possible.

In the upcoming weeks and months, I will be sharing more details about my integrated vision of how to make this work for us and the clients we serve. A version of my posts will appear as articles at both the Canadian Immigrant Magazine (one of my “gigs”) and the Canadian-Filipino Magazine (again) in case you want a printed or more “polished” version.

I want to credit Diane Mulcahy, the author of “The Gig Economy” with whom I’m in contact via email, for her amazing and innovating book which served as a main source of inspiration for this presentation; I have taken the liberty of adding my own ideas (mostly coming from my permaculture systems thinking) to her “10 rules” of how to survive (and thrive) in this emerging economy. I also want to acknowledge Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, university professors and authors of “Designing your Life” as I took some of their ideas and spiced them up with my own knowledge and experience as a certified career councellor and life coach. You can find information about how to get their books and materials at the end of this post.

Finally, as a permaculturist and social justice activist myself, I will add some ideas that go beyond career counselling: I see the Gig Economy as both a result of our times (and a sign of deepening inequality, loss of values and the emergence of potential abuse and exploitation of those less privileged ) and as an extraordinary opportunity. If we leave it be, we will see more and more of the former (abuse and exploitation and the celebration of unhealthy, unethical and selfish as a “model” to follow)…but if we “design” the change and intervene in the right places, we may end up with a re-distribution of work, a re-evaluation of why we are here and what our priority are and a focus on holistic and global health and equality, ethics and co-operation instead…

Without more preambles, here is my presentation, enjoy!

“Look to this picture above for a minute…what do you see? What’s the first word or thought that comes to you?

Some will see this as a sunset: the day is over and darkness is approaching…others will see it as a sunrise: the sun is raising after a long dark night.

What about the tree and its branches? What season is that? Again, some will see this as the start of the fall: the tree branches look bare, as if all the leaves have fallen…others, will see that it may actually be spring, and the bare branches are now beginning to cover themselves with small buds…

I chose this picture to represent my views on the emerging gig economy because it can be seen as both: the start of a dark period for workers or the rebirth of independence and the opportunity to re-think career, work and even life design!

In the next hour and a half, we will explore the options and you will decide whether this is an end, a beginning or both and what is our role as career practitioners, program developers and managers, funders and social advocates.”

You can download the entire PPT with my notes here: Navigating the Gig Economy PPT with Notes by Silvia Di Blasio

The Books:

The Gig Economy: http://www.dianemulcahy.com/

Designing Your Life: (for book and materials you can download): http://designingyour.life/

Note: this presentation was recorded. If the video is good, I will be publishing it here too for those interested.

More than ever, we at the end of the last century were finding ourselves with big houses and broken homes, high incomes and low morale…we were excelling at making a living but too often failing at making a life. We celebrated our prosperity but yearned for purpose. We cherished our freedoms but longed for connection. In an age of plenty, we were feeling spiritual hunger.” ~ David Myers

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