Now that I’m retired from cab driving, I’m more relaxed and look forward to a fruitful future.
My 50-year-old commitment to help organize “communities of faith, love, and action” remains intact. The language we’ve used to articulate the “faith” part has changed over time, but the spirit has not. For the first 20 years or so following that commitment, the spiritual values behind my work were implicit — until I decided to make those beliefs explicit. Since then I’ve stumbled along: researching, going to workshops, convening workshops, writing, talking, planting seeds, and looking for an open-hearted, compassionate, holistic community to join.
Now I think I’ve found one: Thrive East Bay, a community that’s led primarily — in a very non-hierarchical, “flat” fashion — by young people. As is the case with so many young people these days, the members of that community amaze me. They seem far more advanced than my peers and I were at that age. It definitely gives me hope for the future. The Thrive East Bay people I’ve gotten to know a bit personally have been impressive and highly committed to social transformation.
More than a year ago, I met the Thrive East Bay organizer, Joshua Gorman, at a workshop that he and I attended which was convened by the Center for Spiritual and Social Transformation (now the Ignite Institute). He invited the participants to an event sponsored by Generation Waking Up, a project that provides training, mentoring, and support to young people to help “bring forth a thriving, just, and sustainable world.” That event, which was open to people of all ages and whose participants were a diverse mix, was remarkably inspiring. It included poetry, music, and personal sharing from the stage as well as among the audience, who at times milled about and paired up to interact.
When Thrive East Bay began not long afterwards, I went to their first public event, which was held in a Lake Merritt apartment with about 20 people squeezed in. A similar format was employed and I again found it to be invigorating. But my working full-time interfered with sustained involvement.
After returning to one of their events last week, I’m heartened by their growth. And now that I’m free, I plan to participate fully once I return from visiting folks in Seattle and on the East Coast during the next several weeks.
The Thrive East Bay website homepage identifies the group as “a new kind of community” dedicated to “connect, grow, transform.” The About page states:
Thrive East Bay is a purpose-driven community of people committed to creating a flourishing world for all.
We are a new kind of community offering a relevant space for diverse people seeking meaning and connection in our rapidly changing world. Informed by modern science and ancient wisdom, our culture is both secular and spiritual, infused with a deep sense of purpose and interconnectedness, inspired by the arts, and focused on social change.
We welcome people of all ages and backgrounds as we engage in personal growth, shared learning, and collective action.
We host regular Sunday events, small group circles, workshops, and training courses in the Oakland, Berkeley, and wider San Francisco Bay Area.
We are inspired by the following core principles that guide our community:
Thriving Lives – We support each other in overcoming personal challenges and injustice, and creating healthy lives filled with purpose, joy, and expression.
Love In Action – We let love guide us toward compassion, gratitude, empathy, and community amongst diverse groups of people.
Shared Learning & Practice – We seek to deepen our understanding of the world through conversation and critical inquiry, and to grow together through transformative practices and action.
Systemic Change – We unite to build equitable systems where we can flourish as individuals, as communities, and as a planet.
I particularly relate to the fact that they identify “support each other” at the head of their first core principle. I also respond to the fact that in that principle they affirm “overcoming personal challenges,” which suggests a commitment to self-examination. I anticipate exploring with them whether and how they believe that effort includes “modifying harmful social conditioning,” a key concern of mine recently.
I’m also eager to participate in the “Holistic Movement Building” workshop with Kazu Haga and Sonya Shah June 26-29, which aims to
harness the power to change policies and institutions while cultivating the love it will take to transform relationships…. How do we dismantle systems of oppression without replicating those same patterns in our own relationships? How do we heal our wounds while transforming the systems that perpetuate them? How do we better cultivate the relationship between inner and outer transformation?
Kazu and I have had some rich interaction concerning those issues. I’m very encouraged to see that he, Joshua, and others are keeping the holistic-change fire alive!