Aug 25 2014: How Nature can Sustain and Guide us in Our Change work

A feet-on-the-ground exploration in High Park hosted by Mark Hathaway.

This month, Unify Toronto Dialogues took it outside into nature. 

Our August session took advantage of the glories of the season by taking the dialogue out-of-doors, and expanding it to the more-than-human world. 

Together we connected and engaged with the wider Earth community to find energy, insight, and guidance for our work to bring about a life-sustaining society. 

Through experiential practices, we opened our hearts and senses to the wisdom present all around us in the more-than-human world. We also explored where to find the voices of nature in the midst of the city and dialogued about how nature inspires, sustains, and informs us as we endeavour to transform ourselves and society and restore ecological health. 

About guest host Mark Hathaway:

Mark is an adult educator who researches and writes about the interconnections between ecology, economics, social justice, spirituality, and cosmology. Mark worked for many years as an ecological and social justice activist. After completing his degree in math and physics, he lived in Peru for eight years where he helped co-found a small non-profit working in alternative literacy and leadership training using popular education. More recently, Mark has worked with ecumenical social justice coalitions, interfaith ecology initiatives, and in the eco-justice and partnership work of The United Church of Canada. He is currently completing a PhD in adult education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (University of Toronto) where his research focuses on transformative learning, worldviews, and the cultivation of ecological wisdom. He also teaches an undergraduate course on ecological worldviews. With Leonardo Boff, he co-authored The Tao of Liberation: Exploring the Ecology of Transformation (Orbis Books, 2009), a broad synthesis covering such diverse fields as economics, ecopsychology, cosmology, and spirituality in the search for wisdom to address the challenges of the times we live in.

July 28 2014: Be the Story of Positive Transformation

Ryan Genereaux, actor, singer, dancer and all-round inspirational performer moved us in ways we never expected, challenging us to become the change.

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In this fun, interactive session, participants expanded their capacity to embody a state of being that creates inclusiveness, empowerment and connection.

We explored ideas that energized a relationship with the contrast we experience in our personal lives and as part of a movement toward greater support of life on this planet. We explored ways to uncover and express our values and relate to them in a way that supports their manifestation. Through exercises, we anchored the association of personal values, global vision, and embodied manifestation. Multiple senses were engaged to clarify a reality in which respect for the earth and unique, creative expression manifest in individuals, systems and projects that benefit everyone involved.

Every step is the destination…every point is the path. Make a point to step into the path as creator and adventurer. You and I are perfect as the center and beginning of this story we are living. You and I are expressions of unconditional love in this journey we are being.  – Ryan Genereaux


About Ryan Genereaux:

Ryan is a physical actor, singer and sound improviser, dancer, multi-media artist and inventor. He embodies inclusiveness in his speech, his actions and his vision. Empathy, compassion and creative freedom are at the core of his life force. He encourages all to realize that anything we desire is possible and the journey starts with the adventurer, accepting where they are. He has been a regular at the Unify Toronto Dialogues.

Monday, July 28, 2014
6:30-9:00 p.m.
Doors open at 6:00.

OCAD University 
100 McCaul Street (Dundas & University)
Lambert Lounge

“Where is Home? Leadership & the Soul of Placemaking”

A special dialogue with leadership educator, facilitator and Juno-nominated pianist Michael Jones, inspired by his forthcoming book:

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June’s Unify Toronto Dialogue hosted leadership educator, facilitator and Juno-nominated pianist Michael Jones, inspired by his forthcoming book: The Soul of PlaceReimagining Leadership through Arts, Nature, and Community. The book is expected shortly, and will be available in August’s Design with Dialogue as Michael returns to OCADU with a second session for the book launch proper.  In the meantime, his brief brief article titled Recovering the Soul of Place:  Reflections on Place-Based Leadership is available here.

Michael’s approach to placemaking is radically different than the current trend in urban planning and city-building. His book and view is a platform for community leadership grounded in the essential humanity of understanding place, nature, and creativity.

We are shifting from the industrial age and the age of information and technology to the age of biology. We are now asking, “how do we create spaces for life?” “How do we align our thinking with how nature thinks?”  He asks us to create places as living systems inspired by biology and interconnection.

We explored the four patterns in Michael’s book that underlie the soul of place

  • Homecoming  – Where is home and how do we find our way there?
  • Belonging  – How can the connective tissue of life-giving relationships align us with the essence of nature and how nature works, connects, and thinks?
  • Regenerativity – What does it mean to make the invisible visible, to contribute to the conscious evolution of life?
  • Carnival – How can we gather together on the square or in the commons, bringing together diverse energies, democratic spirit and upturning the old for the new?

The event was uniquely facilitated to engage multiple modes of experiencing and presencing the patterns. Michael Jones told several stories about his experiences in embodied leadership and his musical learning journey. He played several pieces while participants listened, contemplated, moved or held small group dialogues. Our gathering hosted dialogue around the four themes and patterns. An integrated sketch by Patricia Kambitsch formed a visual story of the experiences and dialogue in the room:


“By looking at place not only as something to return to but also something to grow out from –orienting us to the future and not only the past; and by realizing that a place is not an object or a thing, but a power and a presence, we can partner with place in a way that is itself deeply transformative, opening our hearts to the experience of beauty, aliveness and possibility.”
– Michael Jones,Recovering the Soul of Place” 

About special guest Michael Jones:

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Michael is a leadership educator, dialogue facilitator, writer and Juno-nominated pianist/composer.  His most recent book, The Soul of Place, is the third in a series on Re-imagining Leadership.  Others in the series includeArtful Leadership and the award-winning  Creating an Imaginative Life.  Michael has also been a thought leader with the MIT Dialogue Project and Dialogos and other prominent leading edge universities and centres. He has co-chaired several place-based initiatives and spoken on the leader’s emerging role as   placemaker in a variety of forums including The Authentic Leadership in Action Conferences (ALIA), The Society  for Organizational  Learning (SoL) and many others. As a pianist/composer Michael has composed and recorded fifteen CD’s of his original piano compositions and performed as a solo pianist across North America  as well as Korea and Japan.  He has been integrating his music in his leadership and dialogue work for over twenty years. See www.pianoscapes.com to learn more about Michael and his work.

June 30, 2014
6:30-9:00 p.m.

OCAD University Avenue. 100 McCaul Street (Dundas & University), Lambert Lounge

Watch Michael’s TEDx Talk on “Who will play your music? The art of leading imaginatively”:

“Who am I really? When do I feel most present and alive? What am I uniquely called to do? Where is home? What is my relationship to beauty? How do I let go? What is my inspiration? How can I best serve the common good?

“In a time of uncertainty and sudden change, leaders will need new questions, ones that help to develop qualities of being that are more organic, creative and whole. It signals a time when leaders will need to develop a capacity for experiencing and understanding a new and more subtle intelligence, a way of knowing that is not a separate mental function, but rather the source of an imaginative response to our world. As a kind of sense organ, this intelligence reaches out and makes tentative contact with wholeness, that is, things of an order larger than we can see directly, making visible that which is hidden, so as to begin to draw into awareness that which cannot yet be heard or seen.”

– From the book description of Michael Jones’ earlier book, “Artful Leadership.” 

Unify Toronto Dialogues presents a Four-Part Series on Embodied Leadership

Mondays Feb 24, March 17, April 28, May 26 2014
6:30-9:00 p.m.
Quaker Friends House
60 Lowther Ave. (St. George & Bloor), Toronto

Unify Toronto co-founders Jon Love and Satya Robinson hosted four sessions introducing participants to the methods, practices and background of “Embodied Leadership.” The third session of the series was presented by multi-instrumentalist Gary Diggins.

What is embodied leadership?

In our view great leadership is not much different from being a really good human being. Leaders build real trust within a group or community, pointing toward a new future and advancing with confidence into the inherent uncertainly of unknown realms. When you actually have capacity to face breakdowns, breakthroughs, unplanned opportunities and defeats without loss of confidence then we say you have “embodied” the essential components of leadership. First you have to be the leader of your own life – then and only then will people choose to follow you.

Arising out of the traditions of martial arts and the “human potential movement” that inspired the founding of Esalen in California during the 1960’s, “somatic practice” (embodied action) has proven amazingly successful as a way for people to awaken their awareness of their “authentic selves.” It has been adapted for personal, institutional and business transformation.

When you speak authentically, from your core, then what you say and how you say it matters. You will need to be able to use language effectively. Human beings are creatures of language, and yet we know very little about how language actually works. The field of “ontology of language” opens up enormous realizations about how we have been creating our own obstacles, when we could be moving through them. Leaders use language to create possible futures and then have them realized.

The series:

Session 1 – February 24
Introduction to the practices of embodied leadership: finding center, accessing energy in the body, training our attention, moving from center, facing and blending with opposing energies.

Session 2 – March 17
Incorporating language:
distinguishing interpretations, declaring ourselves, creating possibility and managing breakdowns.

Session 3 – April 28
Deep Listening: Listening deeply invites us to practise mindfulness and the skill of focusing one’s attention.  In this session, Gary Diggins will facilitate experiential interactions that help us to remain present to what we hear through the media of sound, word, music, and even silence.
 
Session 4 – May 26
Leading for Real: an Inquiry into, “What are you facing in the world that is calling for your leadership? What are we as a human family facing in the world that is calling for our leadership? And how can/will we respond?”
 
Participants in the series will get most value by doing all four sessions, but attending even one session on its own will be valuable. Each session will be highly participative, with activities involving movement, group interactions, dialogue and contemplative reflection.

The Facilitators:

Jon Love has 25 years of consulting, coaching and leadership training, and has experience as an executive in corporate and non-profit organizations.

He is the Founder and Senior Partner of Leadership for Social Change Jonathan has been a practitioner of Organizational Transformation for over 25 years. He has assisted dozens of companies to develop leadership at all levels of the organization, ensuring that breakthrough results are accomplished by the people of the enterprise. Using a model of leadership that incorporates effective practices derived from diverse and eclectic sources, grounded in somatic, linguistic and emotional competence. Jonathan guides participants to discover and then realize commitments that have been suppressed and gone unfulfilled until now.

As an executive with The Pachamama Alliance, a non-governmental organization in San Francisco, CA. he was a key member of the development team that created a multi-media educational Symposium delivered by volunteers. In the first five years over 3000 facilitators were trained to lead the Symposium and over 200,000 people attended.

Satya Narayani Robinson is founder of WEB3, co-founder of JLS Global and employed by Caledon Centre for Recreation and Wellness, with 15 years of practitioner and teaching experience in numerous fields of Health and Wellness including Yoga, Pilates, Meditation and Visualization, Reiki, Reflexology, Massage, Therapeutic Touch, Thought Field Therapy and Card Readings. She offers individual counseling as a Soul Contact Specialist and is an Awakening the Dreamer facilitator. 

Satya is a 22 year resident of Caledon and a blessed mother of 4 children who she declares are her greatest teachers.  She has volunteered for the past 20 years in a variety of initiatives from schools to community gardens. She is currently a member of ecoCaledon and co-founder of Unify Caledon. She is committed to empowering embodied leaders to become a powerful presence in the world and to building communities to take a stand for creating a just, sustainable and thriving life for all, honoring individual process and taking action for personal development and somatic experiencing. 

She is devoted to serving the greatest good by taking on transformation at four levels; Unify Home, Unify Caledon (our local community), Unify Toronto (our metro area) and Unify World, actively seeking to bring harmonious evolution into maximum development in each of these arenas.

Jon and Satya’s training comes from the Institute of Embodied Wisdom in Ojai California and working with Sage Alliance Partners.

Gary Diggins has worked Internationally for the last three decades as an expressive arts therapist, performing musician, and group facilitator.  Before moving to Guelph in 2013, Gary maintained a private practice in Toronto combining counselling with musical forms of therapy.  He continues to serve on the faculty of Fleming College’s Expressive Arts Therapy department.  Gary is passionate and curious about human communication and the universal practice of listening to sound, word, music, and silence.  His recent book, Listening as a Mindful Practice, will be available in 2014. 

Gary has worked in post-conflict communities in Africa including Rwanda, Uganda, Nigeria, and Angola. Some of the multi-national organizations Gary has worked with include: Nestlé Global, General Mills, William Wrigley Jr. Company, Schlumberger, Bell, BP, TD Canada Trust Bank, Procter & Gamble, and IBM.
As a recording artist, Gary appears on dozens of musical projects including six solo albums.  Some of 2013 appearances included the Guelph JazzFest and the Hillside Festival.  In 2011, Gary collaborated with Cirque du Soleil and world music artists from around the world to present a special performance staged in Las Vegas.

Unify Toronto Dialogue: Being Allies–Creating harmony between indigenous people and settlers in Canada

Monday, January 27 2014, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
CSI Regent Park, rm. 2
585 Dundas Street E., Toronto M5A 2B7

With the high-visibility activist movements of Occupy and Idle No More, many citizens are understandably unsure how to learn for themselves about the meaning of contested issues, and most especially, how to participate. The Unify Toronto Dialogues series provides a safe space to learn and be heard in the inquiry of an engaged citizenship. Before we can authentically take any action in the public sphere, we are obligated to discover our own personal connections to issues and the heart-based motivation that joins values to engagement.

Join us for the 2014 series as we kick off the year with a dialogue on creating harmonious alliancing and true friendship among indigenous communities and immigrants and settlers.

  • What does it mean to be a true ally with the Aboriginal Community?
  • What are some short, medium, and long term actions “settler” Canadians can take to be allies?
  • How do Canadians demonstrate solidarity with the Aboriginal community on specific issues?

Special Guests:

Hayden King is an Associate Professor of politics at Ryerson University. He is of the Bear Clan from Beausoleil First Nation on Gchimnissing in Huronia, Ontario and co-author of  Canada’s North: What’s the Plan?. Hayden King will be presenting on Aboriginal Allies and his writings can be found at http://biidwewidam.com/

Mike Ormsby is a well-known aboriginal artist, expert canoe builder, outdoors enthusiast and teacher. Mike Ormsby will be presenting Aboriginal Art from the perspective of an artist, and his work can be found at http://reflectionsoutdoors.wordpress.com/


Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Unify Toronto at the Permaculture Living Convergence

Sunday, Dec. 1 2013 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Permaculture GTA Headquarters
160 Bartley Avenue, Toronto

In our hour-long workshop, we explored what would keep us involved, sane, and sustained as we participate in creating the new story of a just, sustainable and thriving human presence on the planet. An exercise from Process Work took us to a place of deep intuition and earth connection very quickly. Then we harvested the wisdom that we each received through the exercise. It was rich and nourishing and left us feeling more resourced for our change work.  

People United

Thursday, November 28 2013 6-9 pm
Beit Zatoun, 612 Markham St. Toronto

The Toronto Community Development Institute (TCDI) is creating a new space for community dialogue and this is its first meeting. There is so much synergy with Unify Toronto’s purpose and vision that we are making this event our November Dialogue!

Join activists, advocates and organizers to weave connections between community groups, city-wide organizations, social justice networks and progressive movements. Let’s find common ground on issues, goals and values and develop the groundwork for a solidarity strategy.