I love Joanna Macy’s Work that Reconnects – and the monthly ‘Macy Mondays’ support space I lead in North London for Transitioners and any other ‘concerned citizens’ has just entered its fifth year! This regular exploration has deeply grounded and resourced me – as well as the community who attend whose connections have strengthened as the group has organically evolved over the years. Last year I wondered whether I could offer any of this powerful work in Japan– a land far away but where I used to live and have longstanding connections, including reasonably fluent Japanese. I don’t wish to fly long-haul very often at all these days but I had felt a call particularly strongly after the ‘3.11’ triple disasters of the tsunami, earthquake and nuclear disaster to offer support if I could. Offering Macy work felt ‘right’ despite the distances involved to get there.
I made enquiries to contacts in Japan including the wonderful Hide Enomoto, who I had met when he was living in the UK, and who, with others, brought Transition Towns to Japan. These resulted in my trip there last year. During that time I led five rich Macy and Macy-inspired workshops throughout Japan– in Japanese. They were extremely well received – it really felt as if I was part of ‘seeding’ Joanna’s work and Inner Transition work for Japanese grassroots activists here. Japanese are extremely sensitive people who can access their emotions quite easily – in safe spaces. However just as back in the UK spaces to access and honour pain for the world are few and far between. People were very grateful for my offerings and wanted me to come back to do more as soon as possible.
I have just come back to Japan– 18 months later. This time I am co-running a three day retreat with Hide, running a few other short workshops as well as further seeding Joanna’s work by being part of a number of discussion events sharing information on Active Hope activities around the world to inspire activists here and to encourage people here to take this work forward themselves. These events will also include Joanna’s recent film, aired with Japanese subtitles and will also encourage crowd-funding for the currently underway translation of her and Chris Johnstone’s book ‘Active Hope’. It really feels quite humbling to be part of this – it feels very important for the grassroots activists here.
During the past few months before I came back I have also been working with a group of Japanese in Japanese and over Skype offering ‘Active Hope’ inspiration based on the Joanna Macy spiral. This was an experiment to test this as another way that I and potentially others from within Japan too can strengthen and resource activists without necessarily needing to meet together in person all of the time. A group of 13 of us ‘met’ every two weeks over Skype four times – focusing on a stage of the spiral each time. It wasn’t always easy but people certainly found it helpful to reflect and connect regularly to embed living from a place of Active Hope more into their daily lives.
This time during my visit I will also be joining a ‘Learning Journey’ to visit many groups and communities in Fukushima where of course the disaster is still ongoing. Last year I visited briefly and also met many families with young children who have moved far away from Tokyo in fear of the radiation pollution that is still being emitted from Fukushima. People in Japan generally don’t talk about Fukushima however. The despair is there but ‘business as usual’ and denial is much stronger as Tokyo-ites seem to madly rush around shopping so much. My visit as part of a combined Japanese and international group next week is about learning together from communities in Fukushima about resilience in the face of disaster. I believe Fukushima has an enormous amount to teach us about living in Active Hope. I am curious to learn how they have held onto Active Hope in the face of the size of the despair of the ongoing situation in Fukushima– or what else has kept them going. What has empowered and resourced them? Where do they find hope? Where do they source their resilience – both inner and community level?
I feel very humbled and privileged to be back here in Japan to offer what I can to communities here – seeding their connection with Inner Transition work to sustain them in the challenging times we are in – while also coming to learn much from those who have faced terrible disaster and are living in the face of very challenging and changed times every day.
Debbie is a coach, facilitator and artist who runs “Macy Mondays” an ongoing support space for Transition leaders in London. She will be co-facilitating an Inner Transition workshop with Sophy Banks in London on December 6 – 7th 2014