Delaware River Valley Community: A Story of Two Mentors

Gail Burkett • 19 January 2020

May I highlight Two Mentors I have had the pleasure of co-writing with and about. For our way forward, take someone's hand and say again and again, "Game on!"

Part 1. Pachamama Community Finds a Watershed Home

Walk with me into the Delaware River Valley Community to meet conveners and Community co-coordinators, Marty Levin and June Hament who generously shared their time with me, very much like mentors.

Before our call, I pulled up the map of the Delaware River Valley and pure imagination helped me see this place. There’s a sense of Revolutionary history. The Delaware River ancestors, the First People held the entire bioregion through a network of small villages connected by footpaths like shimmering strands on the web of life. It’s good to remember and honor those people of the waters, the indigenous people whose land we walk upon. June said, “They are still here, have always been here, though sometimes hiding in plain sight.”

Centuries later, this Pachamama Community inherited an interconnected network of townships and villages, abundant in this Valley and as old as the earliest occupation. When people gather in different places to enjoy friendly connections and learn about Drawdown, the original web that hung over this place regenerates and renews, with love and enthusiasm. The River is the source of life and connection. Gently wrapped with our need to get acquainted, a little of the story of the Delaware River Pachamama Community poured out.

Part 2. Meeting Around the Work

Marty and June both go back to the beginning of course offerings with Pachamama Alliance. June met Lynn Twist through the Hunger Project. It’s easy to see the sparkle when Marty looks at June. I felt genuine respect for their journey together. Theirs has grown into a richly woven relationship around all the courses offered by Pachamama Alliance.

Like many leaders on this path of service, they began with Awakening the Dreamer and, in partnership with other facilitators, offered many previews and workshops. The Game Changer Intensive also captivated their attention. Marty and June’s first small group spanned the globe from Australia to Japan to Mexico and became close friends. They have met in person in New York and Petaluma and continue to meet by Zoom from time to time.

In 2017, when the Drawdown book was published, Marty and June collaborated with several other Pachamama communities from Ashland, OR, Rochester, NY, San Francisco and Toronto to develop pilot programs of unique Pachamama courses and workshops to help spread the positive message of Drawdown.

June and Marty have taken Paul Hawken’s advice to heart: feedback is essential to healthy growth and survival of any system, so they have continued to modify the programs based on feedback from the many diverse participants. Like good mentors, they have shared all these variations with others stepping out to present these programs. Their web continues to regenerate, growing beyond the Introduction to Drawdown to the 5-Part Drawdown Workshop as well as Drawdown for Children. As networkers in this watershed, they have created and nurtured opportunities to share Drawdown up and down the River through every kind of group where people gather.

Part 3. Drawdown Introductions for Folks from Five to Ninety-five

Project Drawdown has captured their hearts as it has mine. They’re not sure, but think they’ve done perhaps 40 Drawdown events over the past two years from kindergarteners to nearly centenarians.

Emphasizing their role, not as experts but as conveners, they begin their Introductions to Project Drawdown with a welcome statement and share the Pachamama Alliance Vision of an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, socially just human presence on the planet as the guiding principle of our time. This vision informs all the programs of the Pachamama Alliance including the Drawdown Workshops.

June asks people if they are familiar with the Greenhouse Effect. “Who remembers learning about the Greenhouse Effect in school?”

June said, “It was really surprising how few people did remember! You know, people often lack basic understanding what we're talking about ― that carbon dioxide is not the enemy, that greenhouse gases are not bad, we need them to survive. If we didn't have greenhouse gases keeping the planet warm, we'd all be freezing. We wouldn't even be here. It's just a balance. It's a matter of balance. And we're out of balance.”

Because they are freely creative with every Drawdown Program, they experiment with many different videos and presentation concepts. For example, Marty explained, “We found a couple of animations on the NASA website about the change in average temperature over the last 145 years, and also the change in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere over the last 20 years.” The chart showed carbon dioxide levels went from gray and green, all of a sudden, to lots of red and orange. “And the red and orange is the part where it's in the danger zone. So, I think that caught people's attention.”

They understand how headlines and news fill peoples’ minds with “doomsday” information, so Marty and June paired up the participants and offered a moment of silence and meditation followed by 3-minute clearings with a Compassionate Listening exercise. Deeply engaged with the unfolding of this presentation addition, I listened carefully.

Visually, I can see this facilitation beginning to build with the question about greenhouse gases. June tells the audience, “Compared to the conversation that's out there in the world, this is going to be a different conversation. We want to have a clearing of what we are currently feeling and thinking by sharing with a partner and without any kind of feedback, agreement, judgment, commentary at all, just simply listening.”

Marty added, “We asked the person who was speaking to go as deep as they felt they could do it about their thoughts, their beliefs, their fears, their concerns, what's going on for them? We thought people would run out of things to say and really slow down. We found that people wanted the opportunity to speak freely and could have continued for much longer” Then Marty showed a flip chart with a few of the answers which reads like the inside of our minds and our hearts.

I feel privileged to have this insight about convening an Introduction to Drawdown. These steps, the clearing and the mind dump were useful to identify all the current ideas, which then open up the space in our minds for new possibilities. For this primer into the action of reversing global warming, Paul Hawken’s videos offer enough details. This is, after all, the lead into the bigger workshop,

Regional universities, environmental organizations, churches and civic groups, even very large retirement communities have been part of the Delaware River Valley Community’s outreach: All of these groups are natural recipients of the next presentation to get into action.

Part 4. The 5-Part Drawdown Workshop

June and Marty are constantly regenerating ideas for the 5-part Drawdown Workshop. This Pachamama Community aims for detailed Project Plans that small groups, even individuals, can implement and find cooperation for scale.

Participants have wanted to know what other projects are happening around the country so, as Marty explained, “one of the ideas June and Lore (from the DC Metro Community) proposed to Emily and Josh of Pachamama, is to create a place in the Global Commons for people to post their projects that have resulted from Drawdown. It is tentatively called “Inspiring Examples” and they're working out a format now based on a lot of conversations we've had back and forth to make a map that will show where things are located, the people involved and who to contact and whether they want some participation."

With every iteration of the presentations of Drawdown, many other people near and far in Pachamama Communities continue to benefit from June and Marty sharing their ideas and presentation materials. This is powerful mentoring, for me and for everyone with heart for Drawdown.

I found myself sighing over a Project Plan. When the silence arrives and the overwhelm of news and information falls away, implementing our Drawdown Projects will become more and more meaningful. Before long, we will begin to see the Solutions connect together.

Part 5. Drawdown for Children

When I asked about Drawdown for Children, Marty took me back 25 years in his story. With a science and engineering background, he’d been involved with judging science fairs. A teacher who started the Invention Convention Project for K-6 grades in her school systems asked him to help her. Year after year a full day has been devoted to children’s Inventions.

For the last 5 or 6 years, Marty and June have added an environmental component. One year it was “Our Neighbors, the Whales”, another about “Healthy Eating: Good for You, Good for the Planet.” Last year June came up with the idea to “Put Plastic in its Place” (June added “the kids loved the alliteration!”)

Marty explained, “This year, we were trying to do something related to Drawdown because you know, that's our new theme for all of our presentations lately. We came up with asking the children to be an Environmental Superhero, like a Water Superhero, an Energy Superhero or Food Superhero. And we handed out a Pledge Form/Certificate to each child.” June added “Every year we have to come up with something different because the kids have been growing up with us and remember everything we say!”

I volunteered at an elementary school for 8 years, but 25 years mean an extra measure of devotion and care. Little children make great trainers for mentors.

Part 6. The Beginning

Way back in 2006, Marty was among the first to be trained to present the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium. June explained, “I went to his first Awakening the Dreamer presentation while he was still in the training. A friend of mine said, you got to come to this now, so I went because I trusted her, I didn't even know what it was about. I was so moved and just blown away by the ATD that I couldn't wait till my own training to get started. I just got really interested in the Pachamama Alliance and became a supporter. I’d been working in large corporations for many years. My company at the time had a big conference room so I invited my friend and Marty, because he was a great presenter, to lead the ATD. They led the Symposium for a whole group of my friends. Over next year or two, I became a facilitator. Somehow rather before I knew it, Marty and I became partners.

Great mentors are both made and born. I am grateful that Pachamama has become our community connector. To benefit everyone, June and Marty developed their mentoring together.

Offered as an honoring,
With great love, Gail Burkett

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