This guest News article was written by Holley RauenGary Robbins, and Sima Robbins, Awakening the Dreamer Facilitators and Drawdown Initiative Conveners of the Pachamama Alliance of Southwest Florida Community.

Creating the Pachamama Alliance of Southwest Florida Community

Our Pachamama Alliance of Southwest Florida Community formed in the summer of 2016, inspired by participation in an Awakening the Dreamer Symposium held by Pachamama Alliance Tampa Bay. Once back home in Fort Myers, we gathered interested people together to encourage them to take the Game Changer Intensive. Our goal was to build a foundation for a new Pachamama Alliance Community in Southwest Florida.

During these early days, several of us took the Awakening the Dreamer Facilitator Training, and with the assistance of Cher Tanner from Tampa Bay we offered our first Awakening the Dreamer Symposium in October of 2016, which was attended by more than 60 people.

Symposium Sign
(Photo by Lisette Morales)

Our Core Team was made up of three individuals at the start, and we grew to five over the next year and a half. During that time, we had an amazing number of accomplishments:

  • Six Awakening the Dreamer Symposiums
  • Numerous Game Changer Gatherings the first Thursday of each month at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers. These gatherings are part of our outreach efforts to the public, where local experts supportive of our goals share their experience and insights to educate and motivate participants to become evolutionary pro-activists.
  • Three Introduction to Drawdown sessions
  • One five-week pilot course, Diving into Drawdown
  • Inspired the formation of the Lee County Citizens Climate Lobby
  • Established a seven-member Climate Council, which led to creating a Climate Action Fund focused on funding Drawdown-related projects through the Southwest Florida Community Foundation

All along we spoke monthly with our mentor, Jason Bayless. With his support and our recognition that our small Core Team needed help to sustain and grow what had been started, we knew it was time to bring him in to succeed in that goal.

Core Team Expansion through a Community Day Training

Jason arrived on February 8, 2019, the day before our Community Day training, and met with our Core Team of five before our monthly “Game Changer Gathering” speaker meeting. We got acquainted and reviewed the agenda for Friday’s session. It was a great opportunity for him to get a feel for our Community here in Southwest Florida. Our speaker that night was an expert on climate change in Southwest Florida. It was wonderful to set the stage and firm up our plans for our retreat the next day. 

The next day we gathered early to get started. What a great day we had at the SW Florida Community Foundation’s new green Collaboratory! After Holley Rauen, Pachamama Alliance Southwest Florida Co-founder, led our twenty passionate activists in acknowledging our sacred space using a traditional Sufi meditation, Gary Robbins, another Co-founder, provided a brief overview of our local efforts and our significant role in the community.

Opening Circle
(Photo by Lisette Morales)

Jason then took the lead, sharing a moving video that highlighted the call from the rainforest for us to “change the dream of the modern world.” From there, we learned about the Up to Us Engagement Pathway, from denial, resignation, and/or despair, to hope, vision, and effective action, in community with those who share this vision and these values.”

Interaction kicked up when Gary led us through a guided meditation that asked us to focus on what we would do if we knew we could not fail, and a fascinating discussion followed.

Jason and Meg Krieg facilitated a Co-Active Leadership exercise that centered on “harness(ing) the possibility of many rather than relying on the power of one.” We then practiced the five 5 styles of leadership: co-active leader within, in front, behind, from beside, and from the field. We learned that no matter what group we’re in, we’re exerting some form of leadership, and this helps us understand we’re never without leadership responsibility.

Our full morning left us hungry for food...and for more training. So we enjoyed relaxing and getting to know each other more fully as we ate lunch. Afterwards, Linda Sechrist led our second guided meditation based on the new leadership model for harvesting our learning from what we just practiced. The meditation included questions about how we’re being called to make a difference and what our particular gifts may be.

Next, Jason led us through a challenging brainstorming session that asked us to consider what’s needed for a sustainable and fulfilling Pachamama Alliance Community in Southwest Florida. The group developed a list of core issues to address in small groups. A lot of discussion ensued, as we tackled the “Advice Process Worksheet,” a guide to prepare and bring an idea to the Core Team. This exercise proved to be intense, as we had to focus deeply on real issues in our community and how to solve them. Group leaders reported out the results, and they in turn sparked more ideas from the larger group.

Concluding the day, Joe Bonasia asked us to begin to imagine what each of our roles might be and how our particular interests could be transformed into action as a Core Team member.

The following day we gathered with most of the participants at the beautiful Eco Preserve at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers. Jason asked us each how we wanted to proceed now that we had embraced the Co-active Leadership Model. We agreed to gather together on a monthly basis at the beautiful Happehatchee Nature Center on the Estero River. We focused on creating a dynamic schedule, with activities and outreach building on our current programs. We ended the day with walking the beautiful Labyrinth together.

After our first gathering since the retreat we saw how building our relationships with each other is our first priority. We are delighted in the diversity of our members and the commitment they all made to build a Pachamama Alliance presence in Southwest Florida.

A big shout out to everyone who participated with us and with Jason. We all agreed that his visit strengthened our spirits, inspired seven dedicated individuals to become more involved as Core Team members, and advanced our ability to live into our Mission in a more organic and creative way.

As we reflect on this incredible day, we recognize that we drew on many sources and wish to acknowledge that who we are becoming is built on the work of many people: those who are present and those who have come before us. We are heartened by the fact that our work will likewise affect many who come after us.

– Holley Rauen and Gary Robbins

Gary, Holley, and Jason
Gary Robbins, Holley Rauen, and Jason Bayless (photo by Lisette Morales)