Workshops 2015

Workshops 2015

On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, (see Program for times) attendees will have an opportunity to participate in one of 10+ workshops that will include information from someone experienced in the field, followed by interaction designed to equip them for thought and action. Between symposium sessions, there will be brief times of stretching/breathing exercises led by Aaron

The current schedule for each day is below, with locations for each workshop. Details about each workshop and each presenter are below the schedule.

Saturday workshops:

Location Presenter (click for bio) Topic (click for description)
Town House Rev. Dr. Gregory Wilson & Helen Wilson  Earth Recovery Groups
United Church of Strafford Sister Patricia Siemen  Laudato Si’: A Call to Protect Our Common Home (Video recording)
Strafford Library Benzion Ptashnik  Creating a mass movement, why we are all the same underneath our causes
Town Clerk’s office (upstairs) Michael Greenman  People of Faith, Working Together, Can Turn it Around!
Tent on the Green Gus Speth  How do we distinguish transformative initiatives from merely transactional ones?

Sunday workshops:

Location Presenter (click for bio) Topic (click for description)
United Church of Strafford Robert Jensen  Green, Red, Black, and Female: The Chance for a Decent Human Future (Video recording)
Town Clerk’s office (upstairs) Rev. Byron Breese  Art in the Prophetic Voice: what’s a painting got to do with climate?
Town House Shelley Alpern  Divestment 101: An Intro to Concepts and Resources
Strafford Library Mark Kutolowski  Praying with the Earth
Tent on the Green Jay O’Hara & Fred Wolfe  Civil Disobedience and Direct Action

Breathing Exercises:

At several periods during the programs on Saturday and Sunday we will have breathing and gentle movement exercises led by Aaron Hoopes

Workshop Descriptions

Earth Recovery Groups

Leader: Rev. Dr. Gregory Wilson & Helen Wilson

Earth Recovery is a process for individuals who have started to realize the extent to which we have damaged the Earth, the consequences for ourselves, and the ramifications for our society as a whole. It is intended to provide a framework for changing our way of relating to the natural world and enabling us to reconnect with the whole. Earth Recovery Groups are designed to help process the realization of the direction we are going and the difficulties we face in changing the culture that continues to diminish the life support systems of this planet. As beings of this planet, we are watching and experiencing ourselves being diminished. Sometimes this is difficult to understand and to process emotionally. Earth Recovery Groups open up space to give attention to understanding and process emotionally. It is a place of care and moving toward healing and appropriate action.

Laudato Si’: A Call to Protect Our Common Home

Leaders: Sister Patricia Siemen

Laudato Si’ issues a call to all people to protect our common home. It sets a cosmological context of belonging, of being relatives and kin within the Earth community. Throughout the encyclical, Pope Francis weaves a story of integral ecology. “A true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate the questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” (49) In this time of climate change and ecological devastation we need an “Earthy” spirituality and an integral ecology that generates the moral commitment to create right relationships, for the sake of future generations and to protect our common home.


Creating a mass movement, how do we unify climate activism and the many causes fighting for justice?

Leader: Benzion Ptashnik

How to build an inclusive climate change movement that recognizes, supports, and incorporates the fights on poverty, inequality, and socio-economic injustice (and others). These issues are at the heart of why the climate change environmental movement has to this point failed to win the majority of Americans attention and their action.


People of Faith, Working Together, Can Turn it Around!

Leader: Michael Greenman

We belong to many faith traditions and hold differing views on important issues. One issue, however, around which there is negligible doubt is: We are Stewards of Creation! We are called by our faiths to protect our home: the Earth. The greed that is built into our current economy is literally changing our climate and creating an untenable future for our children and future generations. Pope Francis, in his recent Encyclical, stresses the responsibility that people of faith have to take the lead in stopping the damage being done to our home. Our constitution includes a mechanism for “We the People” to make changes to it if enough of us agree that it needs to be changed. In this session we will discuss this practical and realistic path forward that is available to us as we come together determined to “Change the Story”!


How do we distinguish transformative initiatives from merely transactional ones?

Leader: Gus Speth

Part of addressing climate change and most other social issues involves moving from our current economic system to a new system. How do we know what direction to move in, how will we know which initiatives to drive to transform our economy instead of simply putting a different face on the same system? Building on current work by the Next System Project, we will discuss ways to work on this.


Green, Red, Black, and Female: The Chance for a Decent Human Future

Leader: Robert Jensen

Which is more important, social justice or ecological sustainability? The answer is, that’s the wrong question, because any progressive project must embrace both goals, no matter what the specific issue or focus. We must adopt a holistic critique of the industrial attack on the planet, capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy. Robert Jensen will offer a framework for understanding the problem of the domination/subordination dynamic that structures the modern world.


Art in the Prophetic Voice: what’s a painting got to do with climate?

Leader: Rev. Byron Breese

How can a painting have anything to do with climate justice?  This workshop employs a single painting by Strafford artist Marcia Bushnell as a focal point for personal discernment and speaking with a voice that calls others to see, listen and awaken.  We’ll also experiment with one’s own prophetic voice.


Divestment 101: An Intro to Concepts and Resources

Leader: Shelley Alpern

An introductory conversation about what it means to divest your investments from fossil fuels. An overview of options and resources available to assist investors with all sizes and types of investments. Shared experiences from a long time investor advocate and workshop participants.


Praying with the Earth

Leader: Mark Kutolowski

In this workshop, we will learn and practice methods of prayer and meditation that incorporate engagement with the natural world as a doorway into encounter with the Divine. The disciplines we practice are rooted in the Christian contemplative tradition, but are open and accessible to all.


Civil Disobedience and Direct Action

Leader: Jay O’Hara, Fred Wolfe

Deliberately putting yourself in harms way to stop a greater harm and to draw attention to situations and events which are deeply meaningful to you, and the world. How to prepare yourself to take action. Ways to form support groups. discussion of potential consequences. First hand stories from the front lines of those who have taken action.


Breathing Exercises

Aaron Hoopes
Aaron will lead a series breathing and gentle movement exercises along with some simple meditation to help keep us focused and energized throughout the symposium.

Aaron is the founder of Zen Yoga and the author of seven books including Perfecting Ourselves and Breathe Smart. He has spent over 30 years studying the martial arts and Eastern healing modalities. He is an instructor of tai chi and kung fu and a zen shiatsu massage therapist.