2019 Accomplishments

Sue Staropoli • 23 December 2019
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A highlight of this year was on Oct 27 when we had a powerful community day, entitled “What these times need: opening our hearts, deepening connections, building a movement,”

when 23 of us gathering and did just as the title invited – opening and deepening our hearts and clarifying how we can move forward together for greater impact in our community and world.

From that experience, a new infrastructure for our community has been created, with a new name and vision statement:

Pachamama Alliance Rochester Area (PARA) 

The Pachamama Alliance is an international organization whose mission is to help create a world that is socially just, environmentally sustainable, and spiritually fulfilling. It is rooted in the indigenous worldview that all life is connected. Hope, courage, and meaning grow as people work together to transform their relationship to the earth and to one another.

The Pachamama Alliance Rochester Area Community 

is dedicated to working collaboratively, building a critical mass of committed global citizens, inspired, motivated, and empowered to develop awareness and resilience throughout the Rochester area. We deepen our hearts and minds in community gatherings, foster collaboration with other groups, and offer programs to address issues of climate change (Drawdown Initiative), social justice (racism, democracy, gender circles, and more), and empowering everyone to an engaged and purposeful life.

Within this PARA umbrella we have many work group communities, each flowing from the interests/passions of members. And within this infrastructure, new clear roles are being defined, with many new leaders stepping up.

Here is a brief summary of the accomplishments/growth of each group.



A new PARA communications team is forming with a focus on creating a social media strategy – including a website as a cornerstone, newsletter, FB, Instagram, blogs, twitter, media contacts, and more.  We are always looking for new members who can bring skills and experience to this effort.



  • 15 presenters have offered    

    • Introduction to Drawdown sessions in 18 libraries in our region (Brighton, Brockport, Lyell, Greece, Gates, Irondequoit, Central, Rush, Mendon, Victor, Naples, Penn Yan, Wolcott, Penfield, Pittsford, Henrietta, Avon)

    • Other Intro sessions at many churches, Nazareth College, U of R, OSHER, Ithaca Earth Museum, etc.

    • 3 Getting into Action courses – (Greece Baptist Church, 2 at Victor library) (the team is now focusing on preparing presenters for future courses

  • Al created Events Management documents (available on presenter channel of slack) for us to use in scheduling events, signing up for presenter roles, signing in participants electronically, etc.  Right now we have no Intros scheduled in 2020 so we need everyone to become active in finding hosts and using these forms to schedule events!

  • In 2019 271 people have attended the Introduction to Drawdown program and 64 have attended the Getting into Action 4-session course.  In 2019 overall 409 have been introduced to Drawdown. (Since 9/2017 347 have attended the Intro, 149 have attended the 4-session Getting into Action course.  Overall 795 have been introduced to Drawdown with its positive focus on solutions and action)

  • We have completed an exciting comprehensive Drawdown Solutions Resources list that is being shared broadly within our Rochester area (besides use for participants in our course). This is a living document so we’re always looking for new resources to add. It is a guide for people looking for resources (local and beyond) to learn about and engage in action on solutions that interest them.

  • Outreach to Youth – Some steps have been taken to partner with schools and offer DD programs. Leadership is needed for this work group.  There are many resources to be compiled and used in this aspect of our work, and we are receiving a growing number of requests for our assistance in schools and youth programs.

  • Our Drawdown publicity is growing through buttons and tabling at many community events. The Drawdown t-shirt project is still in process.

  • Our data-base is growing so we are hoping we can use that to continue to grow our network/outreach to past participants, keeping them informed and convening them according to their expressed interest.

  • The team has purchased (thanks to Al Hibner) 2 complete, user-friendly AV sets of AV equipment. – computer, projector, speakers with clear instructions, all in one box for easy transport. One will be kept near Rochester and the other will be used mostly in the outreach efforts in Wayne county.

  • Finances:  Most of our limited funds (gathered through donations and book sales) has been used for the AV equipment and making copies.  We must be bold in asking for donations to continue this work and make final payment for the AV equipment.

  • Sector groups – Exciting new group focused on composting/reducing food waste – LETTUCE – Lowering Emissions Through Thoughtful Unified Community Engagement) – with a broad outreach in schools, restaurants, towns, neighborhoods, congregations, and much more! They meet monthly and are open to new members any time! They now have their own slack channel!

  • We have been working with RPCC and many other groups in collaborative efforts. ( RYCL, RAICA, etc.)

  • A new leadership team has evolved, with Pat Wartinger and Tom Moore as co-leads, and Kren Frutiger as secretary  of the DD Ambassador team.



Though we have not held any local Awakening the Dreamer programs we have been very committed to sending people to the on-line ATD course to become grounded in the broad PA vision/mission.  We also strongly promote the Game Changer Intensive (GCI) program.


We have our monthly healing sessions almost every month on the last Tuesday evening from 7-9pm. We check in and then split the time for personal sharing and empathy time.



We are an active member of the RPCC (Rochester People’s Climate Coalition) Collaboration team and have supported many local events in collaboration with others.  The same with RAICA (the Rochester Area Interfaith Climate Action) - with our Drawdown programs listed as a campaign within their website. We also are very supportive of and collaborating with the Rochester Youth Climate Leaders (RYCL) group.

We also have shared our Drawdown Solutions Resource List to many within our community and beyond, to help foster collaborations.



2019 was the third year of our monthly gatherings whose intent is to inspire, equip and empower people to help create a more sustainable, just and fulfilling world.  Our themes included:

  • Moving into Courage When Tyranny Threatens:  Claiming our Rights and Responsibilities as Citizens

  • Increasing Your Home’s Sustainability

  • Awakening the Dreamer Symposium

  • What Nourishes Us--Held at Nancy Kasper’s organic farm

  • Unmasking What's Happening to Our Democracy – And What We Can Do--a collaboration with the Social Action Committee of Temple Sinai (see below)

  • A 3-session series taking people through “the Spiral” of Joanna Macy’s The Work That Reconnects

In 2020, we plan to incorporate the Spiral into most of our gatherings, to help participants deeply integrate and act on the material we are opening up. 


RECLAIMING DEMOCRACY - Almost 100 people attended a joint PA and Temple Sinai Social Action event on October 6.  “Unmasking What’s Happening with Our Democracy--What We Can Do.” Joan Shelley Rubin, Dexter Perkins History Professor at the U of R and Director of their new Humanities Center,  moderated.

The program included an expert analysis of what is happening now and what actions can be taken to help protect our democracy, as well as what can be done to deal with the emotional effects.

Gretchen Helmke, U of R Professor of Political Science and one of the co-founders of Bright Line Watch, a non-partisan organization that brings together leading political scientists to monitor democratic practices in the US from a comparative perspective, reported.

Michael Brown, Assistant Professor in RIT’s History Department, has studied the forces that shaped 20th Century American political culture. That  formed the background to his discussion of populism, demagoguery, and tyranny today.

Joyce Herman was the third member of the panel.  She is a member of Temple’s Social Action Committee and of the Rochester Pachamama Alliance’s core team. An activist, former counselor (Associate Professor) in the RIT Counseling Center, and founding director of the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI) Rochester, she focused on navigating the emotional effects of these fraught times. She also  facilitated brief interactions among participants.



Dwain and Padme continually offered Men and Women Becoming Allies for Each Other: Learning the Gift of Deep Listening monthly at local libraries in 2019. We offer the listening circles to deepen our connection through sharing stories about how we’ve been affected by the gender imbalance (patriarchy). Using shared agreements and a circle process steeped in restorative justice principles, the circle time is a safe and brave space for folks who attend. We have had circles with one person beside us and as many as 12. Feedback forms have been generally quite positive (usually 5 out of 6, or 6’s out of 6 about how this experience has deepened their understanding about the gender imbalance). We intend to continue offering these community circles in 2020 and have 4 already scheduled.



In February 2019, Padme helped a class on Nazareth College students grapple with US  history of domination and suffering of the Indigenous people through offering the movie Doctrine of Discovery and discussion. A local Indigenous educator added to the richness of stories and Indigenous perspective in the film.



While we have limited resources, depending on donations and small income from  Drawdown book sales - this year we were able to invest in purchasing 2 full AV systems (computer, projector, speaker) - one for the near Rochester area and another for use in Wayne County.  


ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE - Initial organizing meeting held December 13. Harkening back to the origins of the Pachamama Alliance, we will seek to learn from front line communities in our own area in what ways racism and environmental injustices are linked and how we can support these  affected communities. Members will contact People from the Global Majority whom they know to listen to their experiences, concerns about environmental justice issues.



A group of PARA members and non members have met twice to explore what resiliency means to us and what we want to do about it. We are planning a potluck in early January 2020 to build relationships and continue our explorations.


BOOK DISCUSSION - White Fragility

It was agreed that we would have a book club/discussion group on the book White Fragility. Tom Moore is coordinating a date for the group to meet early in 2020.  



This year saw the PARA Community commit to adopting a new way of communicating that functionally replaces the use of confusing and hard to manage email chains. PARA joined the RPCC Slack social teamworking workspace and now counts over 60 members who have currently set up their Slack accounts. Slack has allowed members to more efficiently join together in over a dozen channels, both public and private, to more easily collaborate on topics and outreach efforts that are of utmost importance to them. The Phase I initial on-boarding and training efforts to convert from email to Slack for communications are largely complete as the year 2019 draws to a close. Slack is already allowing PARA community members to be more productive in the important work we are all doing together.


Phase II of implementing Slack in 2020 will result in deeper integration of the current (and yet to come) channels with the many linked applications that are available to dramatically expand the reach of this powerful tool. Apps like Airtable Database, Google Drive, Gmail 2 Slack integration, Doodle Polls, When is Good, SignUpGenius and many others will allow and are allowing members to greatly increase and enhance the value of the Slack social team working environment even more. 2020 should see large increases in the number of PARA Slack members, channels and integrated applications in use by the end of the year. 


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