Forging a New Path

March 19th, 2009


In a casual conversation the other day, my pal Ellen said, "Well, you know that we aren't going back to how we used to be, we can only go forward toward something else." She was referring to the changes we are currently experiencing in this country. She is right. Even if we wanted to, there is no way we could go back to how we used to live, spend our resources or our time.

The question then becomes: what's ahead? What is our vision for this country, our world, our communities, families, movements and organizations? As one who talks about and teaches the importance of vision, I realize that I haven't a clue of what the future will look like. Oh, I have some strong and compelling dreams of global love, justice and peace, of ecological and economic sustainability, of everyone living in harmony, etc. But I don't see a clear path that gets us there. This is quite unsettling to me, and I'm probably not alone in my feelings.

So as visionary leaders, what do we do?

These days, I find it helpful to remember that there is more going on than I can know. For me it is a matter of faith and trust. Faith that the work of my ancestors had meaning, and that their effort was not in vain. Trust that there are forces at work that I may not be able to see, but that I can feel in my bones. Faith that our collective hopes and intentions will drive us in the right directions. Trust that, despite appearances, we have everything we need in order to make the changes we're working for.

I believe that it is time for leaders to take enormous leaps of faith in order to take brave risks, even as it may seem that the wisest course is to seek safety. Really, what do we have to lose? It seems to me that we have everything to gain - but it will mean that everything we do and how we do it is up for reconsideration.

I have some questions:

What is your biggest, most outrageous dream for yourself, for us all?

What is the boldest step you can take to move us toward that dream?

What astonishing possibility will come to pass if your dream comes true?

In this newsletter we offer you two examples of what can happen if we have faith and take risks. Who could have predicted that at least two Rockwood graduates would have a significant place in the current White House (see below on Cecilia Munoz and Van Jones)? It is time to be heroic. Not in the Superwoman, Ulysses way, but in the everyday, get the kids to bed, feed the cat, write the grant, check on the neighbor down the street kind of way. Go for your big, bold vision, like equitable immigration reform or a national green jobs program. Now is the time. The future actually depends on you. On us, and how we live. The choices we make now will have repercussions for many many years. I think it's time to consider our legacies in everything we do. What will you do tomorrow? What will you leave to those who come after you?

It is important to remember that being heroic is best done in partnership. We need each other. People matter. The days of isolated leadership on a mountain top are obsolete, and we can only succeed now if we have good companions with us. It is hard to be bold alone, so I encourage you to find your pals and deepen your 'kinship' networks. Let's use this amazing time and context to create a new path, even as we walk it. And please keep me posted. I'd like to hear how it goes.


March 2009


We're pleased to announce that Rockwood's own Akaya Windwood and Robert Gass, have been named as one of winners of the inaugural Transformative Leadership Award from the Seasons Fund for Social Transformation. The Awards are an opportunity to honor collaborative teams who are defining this emerging field of social transformation and developing new models of leadership itself. Other winning organizations include ForestEthics, Generative Somatics and Social Justice Leadership, Stone Circles, Clergy Laity United for Economic Justice and Make the Road New York.

The Seasons Fund is a collaborative effort led by several private foundations, with the mission to invest in opportunities that couple the expansive power of personal transformation with the public work of repairing societal ills in the United States.