Dialogue, Slow Living, & the Mandela Legacy

by Pamela Booker and Karen Stupski
In the midst of summer’s scorching temperatures experienced across the country, South Africa celebrated with the world, Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday on July 18th. Although there continues to be grave concern for “Madiba’s” (the endearment used for the beloved elder statesman and also the name of the Xhosa clan to which he belongs) health, Mandela’s epoch-making legacy, remains a potent and inspiring example of how we each mirror, teach and transform community—one issue, one solution at a time.
The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory builds on the former president’s vision for respecting the positions and views of others that differ from our own. Rather than creating adversarial roles, the mission “encourages people to enter into dialogue – often about difficult subjects – in order to address the challenges we face today.”
Here are links to more information:
Video interview with daughter Zindzi Mandela
Truth & Reconciliation Commission, established in the aftermath of apartheid rule.
The Slow Living Vision
Closer to Vermont’s shores, Karen Stupski, faculty in Goddard’s Undergraduate Program, is among our most dedicated and knowledgeable eco-activists and educators in areas of sustainabilities and cooperative culture. Last month, she and undergraduate faculty colleague Marilou Esguerra, (areas include gender and social activism) attended the Slow Living Summit in Brattleboro, VT.
All of us who remain concerned for the well-being of the planet and issues relevant to our ongoing social ecology and responsibility as cooperative citizens, will find Karen’s “report” from the field, especially compelling. She also provides links to books and media to support future study.
One of my favorite wisdoms offered for “sustainable time management” posted on the Slow Living Summit website reads: “take your life in hand carefully, consciously, so you really feel good about what you’re doing while you’re doing it.” What apt advice for the Goddard pathways to knowing, being, and doing!
Highlights from the Slow Living Summit by Karen Stupski
Slow Living is a global movement promoting a more sustainable, cooperative and socially just way of life.  According to the Summit’s website:

The Slow Living Vision is of an Earth where humankind, honoring and celebrating the profound connectedness of all people, places and living beings, gives back by co-creating mutually supportive communities, bioregions and economic systems — and where we combine the wisdom of the past with a vision for the future to ensure a balanced, fulfilling way of life for all generations to come.

Since this vision is in alignment with Goddard’s mission and educational philosophy, I decided to attend in hopes of gaining useful information to share with Goddard students, faculty and staff.  I was very pleased to find that the Summit provided a wealth of ideas, tools, resources that are directly applicable to our work at Goddard College.
Here are some of the highlights of the Summit for me:

  • Frances Moore Lappé, the well-known author of Diet for a Small Planet, shared some interesting ideas from her new book EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think to Create the World We Want.  She identified three conditions that bring out the worst in humans:  1) concentrated power, 2) secrecy, and 3) blaming the “other.”  She argues that in order to create societies that are truly sustainable and socially just, we need to create conditions that bring out the best in humans:  1) continuing dispersion of power, 2) transparency, and 3) mutual accountability.  What insights can we gain by using Francis Moore Lappe’s ideas as a lens for viewing conditions at Goddard College?  How can we more fully create the conditions that bring out the best in people within our own Goddard community?
  • I went to a panel entitled “Redefining Ownership: Community Ownership Means Never Having to Sell Out Your Values” with panelists from Equal Exchange, Vermont Electric Coop, Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, and the Lydia B. Stokes Foundation.  These four organizations are inspiring examples of successful enterprises in which wealth is owned and/or invested in the community and decision-making power is shared among the owners/members.  These groups seem to embody the conditions that Francis Moore Lappe identified as bringing out the best in humans.  Can they serve as models for what we could do at Goddard?
  • Pamela Kristan gave a workshop on “The ABC’s of Sustainable Time Management” that was full of helpful ideas.  She argued that in modern culture the saturation of electronic devices has given us the illusion that we can “do it all,” but that is impossible.  This is a systemic problem, and as a result many people in our culture feel overwhelmed and stressed out.  This made me think of my advisees and colleagues at Goddard, who are always so busy.  Kristan’s proposed solution is not to enable us “do it all,” but rather to give us a framework for choosing what we are going to do in a way that feels good.  She claims that the key issues are Attention, Boundaries, and Choices.  Attention is critical, because where you put your attention is where you put your time.  We can protect our time for the things that really matter by setting healthy boundaries.  For example, we can limit the amount of time we spend on projects and learn to say “no” to things that are not a high priority. Finally, she introduced a decision-making process that can help us make conscious choices about where to spend our time. One concept that stuck with me from the workshop is that whenever you say “yes” to one thing you are saying “no” to something else.  Kristan’s book, Awakening in Time: Practical Time Management for Those on a Spiritual Path outlines her framework and provides lots of useful tools to help you put the concepts into practice.

Videos of the plenary sessions and summaries of some of the workshops are posted on the Slow Living Summit website.
The next Slow Living Summit will be June 4, 5, and 6, 2014, in Brattleboro, Vermont.  I hope to see more folks from Goddard there!

Important Announcement

The Board of Directors for Goddard College have made the difficult decision to close the college at the end of the 2024 Spring term.  


Current Goddard students will have the opportunity to complete their degrees at the same tuition rate through a teach-out with like-minded institution, Prescott College. Updates and scholarship funds will be available in the coming weeks and months. Information will be posted to www.goddard.edu

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