Drawdown: From Oregon to Scotland

Pachamama Alliance • 18 January 2020

This guest news article was written by Cynthia Taylor, an Awakening the Dreamer Facilitator, Game Changer Intensive Moderator, and Drawdown Initiative Convener with the Southern Oregon Pachamama Alliance Community.

The story of a Southern Oregon Pachamama Alliance Drawdown team’s journey from Oregon to Scotland is about many things for me. It’s about connection, collaboration, community, impacts of our actions, and it’s about love.

Love in this context is the hardest to explain. This short word, so often used in songs, poems and greeting cards, is so inadequate for what I am referring to—for the experience I had in Scotland, and for what is going on in my head and my heart at this time. So I will leave this for now, even though it’s the most important takeaway, and start with the other parts of the story.

The journey of our Drawdown team from Oregon to Scotland actually begins years ago, but for purposes of this story, I will begin in 2017 when my fellow Core Team member Lorraine Cook and I first learned about Project Drawdown at the Pachamama Alliance Annual Luncheon in San Francisco. When we heard Paul Hawken talk about Project Drawdown, we were immediately hooked by the possibility of reversing global warming. Here were solutions, here was a plan to reverse the results of years of disregard for our planet’s health. We returned to Southern Oregon excited to tell the rest of our team about the Pachamama Alliance Drawdown Initiative, a new way to make a difference.

Soon after our return, Lorraine and I, with the support of our Southern Oregon Core Team and our extended community, presented our first Reversing Global Warming: Introduction to Drawdown workshop. Many projects were set into motion during those early presentations, and for this story I will focus on one of significance to me: bringing the Drawdown Initiative to Findhorn.

Findhorn is an intentional community in northeastern Scotland, one of Britain’s largest. It claimed the world’s attention early on as a community that was, as it remains, according to its website, “a dynamic experiment where everyday life is guided by the inner voice of spirit,” and where its residents “work in co-creation with the intelligence of nature and take inspired action towards [a] vision of a better world.” The story of my journey from Oregon to Scotland is about much more than air travel.

Among the 80 people who attended the first Drawdown Initiative workshop we hosted in Southern Oregon were Kay Lynne Sherman and David Spinney. Both had been involved with the Pachamama Alliance prior to coming to that event, yet at the time none of us knew then that the three of us would comprise one of our Drawdown teams and would frequently present Drawdown Initiative workshops, and eventually, Convener Trainings, together.

We each have different perspectives, life skills, experiences, and connections that lent themselves to our collaboration. Two of us brought the guidance of dreams to our planning sessions, which we shared with participants while highlighting indigenous wisdom keepers who partner with Pachamama Alliance. We were relentless in finding well-made videos to support each session. We shared stories of personal connections and actions related to Drawdown. One notable example was a casual dinner conversation Kay Lynne had among family resulting in a project that empowered young women in both Oakland, CA, and Nepal. A video of that project is now included in our workshop. Throughout 2018 and 2019 we convened events all over Southern Oregon while preparing to present at Findhorn.

For us, spreading the news of Project Drawdown, helping like-minded people connect with each other, and supporting the creation of community projects with the goal of lowering greenhouse gases is sacred work. We also believe changing our relationship with the Earth is fundamental to the success of climate actions. We wanted to somehow weave these convictions into an underlying theme to complement and support the data and models that Project Drawdown offers. I don’t know if we were successful, but we worked many hours on developing materials that convey this message.

One crucial connection in this story was that in the 1970s Kay Lynne lived at Findhorn. When she learned that Peatlands, a subject dear to her heart, is the #13 Drawdown Solution, wheels began to turn and she was soon thinking of presenting the Introduction to Drawdown in her “other” community at Findhorn. She did so first in June of 2018 and presented twice more in March 2019. She spent months in discussion with Findhorn program staff to work out the logistics for bringing a team to Findhorn to present the Reversing Global Warming: Introduction to Drawdown and Drawdown Solutions: Getting into Action workshops, as well as Convener Trainings in November 2019. Kay Lynne, David, and I followed our week at Findhorn with a week at Erraid, a privately owned island in the Hebrides that Findhorn caretakes, where we convened the series for the satellite community there.

The trip was physically and emotionally challenging. Our timetable was compressed—we usually lead the workshop series over five weeks and the Convener Training over an additional 6 – 8 hours. At Findhorn and Erraid we did the programs in five and a half days, which included free time, tea and meal breaks, and field trips.

Here is where the love part comes in. Given the reputation of Findhorn, I was somewhat intimidated by presenting there, but was supported by Kay Lynne, David and the participants themselves. It took days for me to settle my Convener nerves, but toward the end of the week, as I looked around the room and heard the group’s intentions, I became overwhelmed with relief and love for these people. They understood about collaboration, they understood they are not alone in their missions. But more than that, I felt their love. Not greeting card “love,” but love for their fellow beings, love for the planet, and love for life itself. This feeling of love poured over me and at the same time I believe I felt the love of the universe. I was enveloped by it, and for several minutes, I was incapacitated. People find their way to Findhorn for a reason. This gift of love is in the soil, the trees, the air there. I will be forever grateful to Findhorn participants, staff, and the spirits of that land for having felt this so keenly while I was with them. Nurturing this awareness of the universe’s love is a personal goal of mine. I believe this feeling is possible everywhere. As Desmond Tutu says, "We are made for loving."

There were nine Findhorn participants representing at least seven different countries and all nine attended the Convener Training as well. All nine pledged commitment to action at the end of the series. Some of the intended projects planned by the Findhorn participants are:

  • All 9 participants will present Introduction to Drawdown workshops in their communities
  • One participant intends to translate the workshop into Italian
  • One will present to a long-existing women’s group and then will make contact with her network of approximately 20 other organizations and friends, one of which works in a governmental department dealing with environmental issues
  • One participant, active in Extinction Rebellion movement, will explore possibilities for presenting the workshop to fellow activists
  • Our focalizer, Findhorn’s equivalent to a facilitator, is a family friend of Kay Lynne’s and was already involved with permaculture practices at her and her husband’s farm, which is also being developed as an eco lodge and outdoor classroom on sustainability. The couple began introducing silvopasture at their farm after the 2018 Findhorn Drawdown workshops. They have already planted 3,000 trees on their property.
  • Our focalizer will also, along with a long-term Findhorn resident and fellow Drawdown participant, work to develop a Core Team to present Drawdown curriculum in schools
  • Several of the Findhorn residents/participants agreed to form a Drawdown Core Team to:
    • explore the connecting of dormant batteries to existing wind turbines at Findhorn. The wind turbines currently produce electricity during peak winds but don’t currently store excess energy
    • ensure food waste is minimal at Findhorn. Findhorn is pretty conscious in this respect, already composting anything leftover, but as food waste is so high on the Drawdown list of solutions, they felt it is worth taking a closer look at practices.

Following the week at Findhorn we went to Erraid. Due to the caretakers’ work schedules, the series was even more compressed than at Findhorn. There we presented the intro to nine residents and three neighbors who also attended some of the workshops. The workshop series was attended by three to five people most days, with people cycling in and out due to work commitments. Two participants, one of whom was there primarily for the Drawdown workshops, completed the Convener Training.

Our Erraid focalizer later reported that they have created a project moving Erraid toward energy self-sufficiency and are excited about keeping the momentum of Drawdown going. Another Erraid participant started a school for artists, architects and designers who will use Drawdown solutions as a basis for creative projects.

For me, the two main take-aways from Drawdown Findhorn and the journey leading up to our time there are: 1) Love is the biggest, most important and most powerful part of life and should be our first consideration in our life’s work, and 2) Everything we do has an impact, a consequence. The energy of every action we take, no matter how small, flows out in concentric rings. We don’t know how long, how far and in which direction those rings of energy travel, but some believe that the energy from our words and actions continue forever.