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Life Arts    H4'ed 10/9/17

The Alpha and Omega of Creative Political Problem Solving

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Our Founders never meant to imply that we should separate the actions of government from spiritual principles.

-- Former Congressman Dennis Kuncinich

Chrissa Santoro: Sure. So much is happening in the world, and in our country. There is a complex interplay between social, environmental and economic issues. Increasingly, people feel divided and overwhelmed, and it's further complicated by fake news and social media culture because it's not always easy to discern what's real. Sometimes it feels easier to tune out, at a time when the future depends on all of us tuning in and staying engaged.

This year's Being Fearless conference brings together leading minds in media, activism, and contemplative wisdom. We will be using mindfulness practices to guide us in talking about the big issues, and learning how to stay grounded when taking action toward making meaningful change.

The event is taking place October 13-15th at our 250-acre campus in Rhinebeck, New York. We are also live streaming the event worldwide. For a modest donation of five dollars or more you can watch all three days in real time and also access the content on-demand for 60 days following the event.

MAB: Thanks, Chrissa, I just signed up, and I am looking forward to attending! I am sure that our current political climate is calling for us to try something radically different. Integrating mindfulness into the chaos of today's politics seems like the best prescription for change that I have heard in a long time, so I am excited about attending this conference. It sounds like you have offered this conference on your campus before, is this the first time it has been streamed? Will you be offering more streaming events in the future?

CS: We have not offered this specific conference before, but we do a have a long history of holding gatherings like it, which are always centered on what is most relevant to the moment in time. We have live streamed select events over the years, but this is the first time we've launched a crowdfunding campaign to support production, and to help us bring the cost down to just five dollars so that more people than ever before could access the material.

We are very excited to have a global audience, and have heard about viewing parties being planned for this event across the country. As a nonprofit organization, we also rely on support from generous donors and sponsors to help us meet our goals. What is exciting about the crowdfunding campaign, is that many people are stepping up and contributing above the five dollar level to help make scholarships possible, and to support us in being able to host future conversations like this.

MAB: That's great! One of the things I was impressed with during my recent visit was the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL). Can you tell us a little bit about that?

OCSL building and environs
OCSL building and environs
(Image by Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, Rhinebeck, NY,
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CS: We opened the doors to the OCSL in 2009. It was a huge undertaking, about five years in the making, and originated as the first green building in America to achieve both LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certification--the highest standards currently available in sustainable architecture.

The building's first practical purpose is to serve as a natural water reclamation facility--cleaning and purifying Omega's wastewater using zero chemicals and net zero energy. People come from all over the world to tour the building and learn about water reclamation, solar power, geothermal heating, and regenerative design. From grade school students to scientists, foreign diplomats to city planners, policy makers to guests of Omega, everyone who visits is amazed by the environmental solutions modeled by the building.

Second, the building serves as an anchor for all of Omega's environmental stewardship efforts, from how we deal with our own organizational impact to the many workshops, trainings, and conferences we offer as educational opportunities. For example, the Being Fearless: Action in a Time of Disruption conference we have been discussing is a program of the OCSL. The OCSL also offers a 4-week residential program called the Ecological Literacy Immersion Program (ELIP), in which participants can earn an internationally recognized permaculture design certificate.

MAB: I'm looking forward to interviewing a representative of the OCSL soon, that's such an exciting project! Is there anything else you'd like to mention before we wrap this up?

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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)

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