Roundtables on Altruism

 

Forum 21 Institute has co-sponsored extensive publications and videos concerning mainstream science’s new Altruistic Evolutionary Paradigm and its important implications for social change, culture, politics, economics and religion.

 
 

Ethics and Spirituality Initiative

 

 

The Ethics and Spirituality Initiative for Sustainable Development (ESI) began to take shape in December 2010 at the Earth Charter+10 Conference in Ahmedabad, India. The conference’s working group on religion and spirituality framed action steps, which included the development of a statement by religious and spiritual leaders aimed at preparations for the Rio+20 conference. A second action focused on developing educational experiences to help our constituencies understand how they can effectively act to bring about strong sustainability and transformative change. ESI was engaged in 2011-12 in shaping both of the themes for the UN’s Rio+20 conference—a green economy and the institutional frameworks for sustainable development. In addition to lobbying efforts, ESI coordinated the drafting of the Peoples’ Sustainability Treaty on Ethical and Spiritual Values for Sustainable Development. This document was one of fourteen Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties that were presented as alternative outcomes for Rio+20, .  After Rio+20, ESI began working on the UN process for developing a post-2015 development agenda (as the Millennium Development Goals expire). The challenge is three-fold: (1) to be clear on those policy and practice priorities that need to be put in place by governments and other stakeholders, (2) to work effectively together to build a global citizens’ movement that will bring about the political will to adopt these policies and practices, and (3) to implement these policies and practices in our own lives, organizations, and spheres of influence. From 2013 to 2014 the Forum 21 Institute collaborated with ESI to co-sponsor several meetings and conferences in New York City.

 
 
 

 

Side-Events on Ecospirituality and Sustainability at the Parliament of the World’s Religions (Salt Lake City, October 2015).  Partnering with preparation for December’s World Climate Conference in Paris.  Forum 21, with the Interspiritual Network and other partners hosted nightly side-event discussions on preparation and synergy of the world’s religious communities looking toward strategic participation in the World Climate Conference.  The groups created a large display area in the major foyer of the Parliament hosting posting boards for messages and commitments to the delegates and working groups of the World Climate Conference.  Side event meetings and the major Parliament foyer action board are shown in the photos below.  The display area of the Interspiritual Network, Forum 21, Center for Earth Ethics and others initiatives for linking the October 2015 Parliament of the World's Religions to the December 2015 Paris Global Climate Summer in Paris. Each colored ribbon represents a group that made a specific commitment to particular participations at the Global Climate Summit.

 
 
 

Rome and Assisi
June 27 – July 4, 2017

The aim of this conference was to bring together people from a range of ecological and spiritual perspectives, centers and movements to create networks and seek transformative global change
based upon principles related to spirituality and sustainability. A means to achieve that goal was a series of focused conversations to identify recommendations for moving forward to a just, sustainable and peaceful future that would support human development for all in a flourishing Earth community. The conference drew inspiration from earlier Assisi conferences in the 1990’s which featured the visionary environmentalist and eminent scholar, the late Thomas Berry. This conference was also inspired by the vision of St. Francis and St. Clare in the context of the recent papal encyclical on ecology “Laudato Si,” as well as from the Earth Charter and other thought leaders in spirituality and sustainability. The conference focused on explaining the worldviews of participants (grounded in ecological spirituality), on sharing transformative paths for education, lifestyles and communities and on emerging new paradigms for science, economics and law. Strategies to deepen the United Nations new development agenda were explored, with a specific view to including environmental principles in education and protecting and nurturing sacred places. Directors from the Forum 21 Institute worked on the planning of this conference, made key presentations and helped with the recruitment of sponsors. Forum 21 saw this conference as especially important as it was an opportunity to bring together a wide range of faith and value based organizations and NGO’s to work in harmony in the future on important goals. Convenors and several sponsors included the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminar, the Center for Ethics at Saint Thomas University, the Center for Environmental & amp; Sustainability Education at Florida State University, the Thomas Berry Foundation, Earth Charter International (Costa Rica), the Franciscan Action Network, the Forum on Religion & amp; Ecology at Yale, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, the Covergence Academy, Sukyo Mahikari Europe (Luxembourg).

For photos of the event click here

 
 
 

Spiritual leaders from Mesoamerica, Mexico and Sierra Nevada, and Colombia traveled to Fukushima and Mt. Fuji for the healing and restoring the balance of Mother Earth.

The purpose of this trip was to accomplish the first trip of the first phase of our ongoing Mission: Healing and Restoring the Balance of Mother Earth. In this trip, we delivered spiritual food and offerings to the sacred sites and affected places; we conducted rituals, walks, fasts, healings and honoring ceremonies to the sacred lands. For more information visit here.

 
 
 

Together with many other faith based community leaders who came from across the country, Forum 21 participated in the People's Climate March on April 29. The march was a huge success, with over 200,000 people participating in Washington, D.C., and tens of thousands more taking part at over 370 sister marches across the country. The march was a peaceful non-violent march that demonstrated solidarity for “climate, jobs and justice.”

 
 
 

In New York from July 10th to July 19th, Forum 21 participated in the HLPF meetings as participants and observers. The High-level Political Forum, United Nations central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, provides for the full and effective participation of all States Members of the United Nations and States members of specialized agencies.

 
 

Forum 21 Institute “Spiritual Values and Agenda 2030” Workshop

 

Forum 21 cosponsored a workshop with leaders of FBO’s and VBO’s.The first session consisted of many wonderful speakers from the UN and civil society who spoke of the relationship between their faith and spirituality and the SDGs, what they and their organizations are doing in its implementation and of the implementation priorities. The second half consisted of a group discussion where the participants sat in a circle and shared with one another the many successes and challenges of working with and within the UN system and the future direction and role of religion and spirituality at the UN.

 
 
 

Crestone is a legendary cultural and ecological vortex, uniting heritages of indigenous wisdom and sacred geometry with a history of harmony and peace building.  It is also the location of multi-faith centres of over a dozen world traditions.

This extraordinary gathering brought together key leaders from a variety of organisations for the purpose of relationship building. The Crestone Convergence represented a unique coming together of a wide variety of people and groups and proved to be a rich and fruitful three days of sharing, deepening into relationship, exploring the richness of the environment, and drawing inspiration from the great work that is being done as well as from the work that is unfolding.

A number of "hubs" were represented at the conference, both locally and internationally.  Internationally, leaders of over a dozen major networks doing transformative work worldwide were represented.  Locally, practitioners, leaders and organizations across the whole Crestone landscape were also there (the Crestone Spiritual Alliance, the Crestone Baca Resiliency Manitou Foundation etc.).  And further, the entire gathering was grounded in indigenous shamanic practice brought by, among others, Mindahi Bastida Munoz, Roger La Borde and John Milton. Ken Wilber created an inspiring introductory video for the event and James O'Dea composed a moving commemorative poem and call to action.  

 

Crestone and the Sacred Sites Program

One of the geographic locations revealed in the sacred sites vision was the Four Corners of the USA. The Four Corners is a region of the United States consisting of the southwestern corner of Colorado, southeastern corner of Utah, northeastern corner of Arizona, and northwestern corner of New Mexico. The Forum 21 Institute worked with Mindahi Bastida (coordinator of the Sacred Sites program) and researched several areas in Crestone. This is because Crestone is located in the eastern most section of the Four Corners. Mt Blanca, a sacred mountain revered by the many indigenous peoples of the area proved to be a high candidate for the Four Corners sacred site. If confirmed by the Otomi and Kogi elders, representatives will be brought to Mt Blanca in September 2018 to carry out the necessary prayers and rituals. 

 
 
 

Forum 21 is a co-sponsor of summer 2016’s “Self Care to Earth Care” events in Colorado.  Co-produced with the Interspiritual Network and Light on Kundalini these events are in their third year.  Cities that have hosted events include Denver, Boulder, Aspen, Carbondale and Crestone. 2016’s schedule includes Boulder, Carbondale and Crestone.  Programs address “Waking Up and Growing Up” as features in Ken Wilber’s video from 2015’s Denver event, which has been seen by over 40,000 viewers worldwide:  

Watch the Video: here

 
 

Waking Up/Growing Up

 

“Waking Up” is about Spiritual Practice and personal direct experience; “Growing Up” is about all the aspects of building a world based on the vision and values that emerges from that depth of that direct experience of who we all are. Prominent in the discussions is the future of the world Sustainable Development Goals and the question of how to create “a world that works for everyone”. The programs involve major international voices on the questions of spirituality and global transformation based on universal vision, values and ethics.

2016 offers programs in Boulder, June 11-12; Carbondale, June 13-14; and Crestone June 15-16. Presenters include Dr. Kurt Johnson and Yanni Maniates of Forum 21 and The Interspiritual Network, Karuna of Light on Kundalini and, Woody Vaspra of the World Council of Indigenous Elders, along with representatives of local and regional transformational groups. Past presenters have included Ken Wilber, David Sloan Wilson, Mirabai Starr, Rick Clugston, Ruel Walker, Elizabeth McLeod, Maikwe Ludwig, Greg Reitman, Jonathan Ellerby, among others. The Self Care to Earth Care website in the ongoing presence of these annual programs.

 
 

Side-Events on Ecospirituality and Sustainability at the Parliament of the World's Religions

 

Partnering with preparation for December’s World Climate Conference in Paris.  Forum 21, with the Interspiritual Network and other partners hosted nightly side-event discussions on preparation and synergy of the world’s religious communities looking toward strategic participation in the World Climate Conference.  The groups created a large display area in the major foyer of the Parliament hosting posting boards for messages and commitments to the delegates and working groups of the World Climate Conference.  (Salt Lake City, October 2015).

 
 

The Spiritual Summit for Social Change

 

On September 13th, 2014, Forum 21 Co-sponsored “The Spiritual Summit for Social Change” with the 2nd Presbyterian Church and adjoining Alexander Robertson School, NY, NY, 6 West 96th– Central Park West between 95th and 96th. It was one day that included twenty concurrent sessions of New York City transformational organizations strategizing for their 2014-2015 projects, events and plans. 

 
 

Ethics and Spiritual Values, and Sustainable Development Workshop

 

On August 31, 2014, Forum 21 Co-sponsored the panel Augus “Ethics and Spiritual Values, and Sustainable Development Workshop organized by the Spirituality and Ethics Initiative for Sustainable Development” a discussion on the United Nations campus as part of the United Nations annual meeting of NGO’s. Spokespersons included Ken Kitatani, Kurt Johnson, Rick Clugston, and Doug King.

 
 

Making the Leap- Sacred Earth and Global Shift

 

On June 10 &12, 2014, Forum 21 and The Interspiritual Network:  Starhouse, Boulder, and Davi Nikent Center for Human Flourishing, Carbondale, Colorado.  Ken Kitatani, Kurt Johnson, Rick Clugston, Karuna, and Rory McEntee, with Colin Bigelow (from Integral Life, Denver) held the “Making the Leap– Sacred Earth and Global Shift”.

 
 

The International Happiness Conference

 

On May 29-30, 2014,  Forum 21 and The Interspiritual Network held Spiritual Practice Seminars at  The National Happiness Initiative Conference at the University of Vermont alongside Happiness Alliance Organization.   Leaders and teachers from seven spiritual traditions shared spiritual practice tips for happiness and success in a series of special seminars.

 
 

December 2015 Paris Global Climate Summit

 

Forum 21 Institute and the Center for Earth Ethics co-hosted the December 2015 Paris Global Climate Summit Side Event in Paris. They were among numerous fellow travelers and held side-meetings each night at the October 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions to discuss the direction of cooperation across constituencies for Eco-spiritual and Eco-ministry work, and the direction of the Interfaith community for the December 2015 Paris Global Climate Summit in Paris.

See pictures of the event here

 
 
 

Faculty, administrators and graduate students from schools in 17 states, Canada and Israel are gathering on the campus of Methodist Theological School in Ohio Oct. 17 and 18 for the Midwest Symposium on Ecologically Informed Theological Education: Implications for Teaching, Learning and Seminary Life. Representing 15 faith traditions, the 70 participants are exploring how theological education can address today’s ecological reality.

The symposium is being organized by MTSO, the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, and the Green Seminary Initiative. It is funded through a generous grant from the Luce Fund for Theological Education with additional support from the Julia Burke Foundation.

The Ohio State University’s Lonnie Thompson, one of the world’s premier climate scientists, delivers the keynote addressat 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17. The address is free and open to the public. Thompson is a distinguished university professor in the School of Earth Sciences and senior research scientist in the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State.

Valerie Bridgeman, MTSO’s interim academic dean and associate professor of homiletics and Hebrew Bible, delivers the plenary address, “Ground Game: Cultivating Food, Cultivating Communities,” at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 18.

Both addresses are being streamed live and archived, as are panel discussions covering pedagogy, interreligious matters, and science and religion. All streams are available here

View a gallery of photos from the symposium.

“An increasing number of Americans are turning to their clergy and spiritual leaders for wisdom and guidance regarding ecological sustainability,” said MTSO Associate Professor Timothy Van Meter, an organizer of the symposium. “This event offers resources to explore how theological schools can address these ecological concerns from a theological and educational perspective.”

Methodist Theological School in Ohio provides theological education and leadership in pursuit of a just and sustainable world. In addition to the Master of Divinity degree, the school offers master’s degrees in counseling, theological studies and practical theology, along with a Doctor of Ministry degree.

Engage with MTSO through Facebook and Twitter (@MTSOedu).

Watch MTSO Video

 

 

Press Release

 
 
 

Political dysfunction is impairing our national ability to deal with clear and present dangers to our survival as a nation and to the habitability of the Earth.
Our focus is neither conservative nor liberal but on democracy which is to say, the set of mutually agreed upon rules by which we conduct the public business. Our Constitutional history and the long evolution of the ideals of self-governance require open and free elections, inclusivity, fairness, transparency, and accountability of officials. To meet this standard, democracy requires a free and fair press, broad civic intelligence, a fair and robust judicial system, and a reasonable distribution of economic costs, benefits, and risks throughout society.
The core idea is that robust democratic institutions are necessary to making real progress on climate change, sustainable prosperity, and security broadly defined.  We intend to further a national conversation about the state of American democracy and to advance the cause of “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Specifically we propose a national discussion focused on two overriding issues but with special attention to those of voting rights and citizenship:

 1.      The Constitutional and historic origins of our present crisis; and the  2.      Long-term changes necessary to accommodate the principles of self-governance to the realities of the 21st century
Oberlin College in collaboration with the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, the Schwarzenegger Institute and other organizations will launch this national conversation about the future of American Democracy on November 15-17. Subsequent events will occur in Denver, Los Angeles, and other cities. 

 
 
 

Key leaders from Korea will gathered in Claremont to collaborate with US leaders around the shared vision of an ecological civilization, and the steps needed to initiate the transition on a global scale. Participants represent leaders in national and local government, NGOs, universities, journalism, and religions. Each participant and key speaker brings a unique set of skills, experiences, and achievements, critical to ushering in a new ecological paradigm. Inspired and guided by the work of John B. Cobb, Jr. whose vision was at the heart of the 2015 Claremont conference “Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization,” we will examine big ideas toward a new paradigm for the future and how this vision is already being actualized by scholars, activists, governments, and politicians, in Korea. Forum 21 Institute will give a presentation on “Yoko Civilization (Kotama Okada’s vision) and Integral Ecology.” 

 

Click here to learn more

 
 

United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Religion, Strategic Retreat with Faith Based and Values Based Organization Partners

 

 

Over 40 senior level directors  of the faith-based partners of the United Nations from the Arab region, South Asia, Europe, and the the United States, representing most world faith traditions/religions participated in the retreat. 15 United Nations agencies - members of the UN Task Force on Religion - also attended. The retreat was a follow up to the United Nations Donor-UN-FBO (DUF) Policy Roundtable in May 2015, which was, then, in preparation for the the post-2015 Development Agenda (now known as the Sustainable Development Goals) or Agenda 2030.  The retreat was a great success in that the participants were able to strategize together for continued realization of the SDGs, in their capacity as the faith-based partners of the United Nations system. 

 
 

Beyond SDGs: Biocultural Wisdom of Indigenous Peoples in Times of Crisis

 

 

Forum 21 Institute, the Center for Earth Ethics and the UN Committee on Religious NGO's collaborated to host this event. As a side event for the UN Indigenous Forum the panel of presenters from the Original Caretakers Program of Center for Earth Ethics highlighted the strengths and challenges of implementing the SDGs that are founded on a GDP based economic framework, as viewed through the lens of Indigenous culture and wisdom.
 

 
 

World Environment Day and the Emerging Discussion on Spirituality, Innovation and Protection of the Environment

 

Forum 21 collaborated with IAAI, The Bhumi Project, CSVGC and Bio-Nutrient Association to present this event in celebration of World Environment Day. The presenters took a look at how innovation, inspiration and commitment each play a role in reinventing how we look at manufacturing, distribution, consumption and trade systems for plastic.

 
 

Eco-Ministry Training, Center for Earth Ethics

 
 

Forum 21 participated in the Eco Ministry Training at the Center for Earth Ethics, Union Theological Seminary. As collaborators of CEE (Center for Earth Ethics), Forum 21 was asked to lead the morning meditation and reflection on the second day. A variety of ministers from different faith and indigenous traditions, leaders of non-profits, artists and academics joined the two and a half day training. The highlight was former Vice-President Al Gore's presentation on climate change based on this years theme, "Water and Faith." With repeat participants from previous year's training and first time participants, the training was highly unified and a strong sense of solidarity and urgency was felt. For more information about the program please go to this link.

See images here.

 
 

Rome and Assisi Conference on Spirituality and Sustainability

 

This second consecutive Rome and Assisi Conference on Spirituality and Sustainability was Co-Convened by Forum 21 and St. Thomas University of Florida. The conference focused on: 1) the ecological convergence of diverse spiritual and religious traditions; 2) the sensibilities and practices of ecological spiritualities; 3) transformative movements such as the Earth Charter and the United Nations Agenda 203 on Sustainable Development; and 4) paradigm shifts in key institutions (e.g. science, law, and education). We also invited and supported young ecological leaders to contribute to the conference and this proved to be very effective. This year's group was much smaller than last year with 35 participants. The group also consisted of a larger variety of  participants, with less academics, business people and lawyers, artists and experts in sports and consciousness. For more details please go to the link.

See images from this event here.

 
 

Laudato Si’ Saving our Common home and the Future of Life on Earth

 

“Laudato Si’ Saving our Common home and the Future of Life on Earth”  on July 5, 6 that was hosted by Pope Francis and the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development

Forum 21 Institute was invited to attend the “Laudato Si’ Saving our Common home and the Future of Life on Earth” Conference to be convened on July 5, 6 by the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and chaired by Cardinal Turkson. This marks the 3d year anniversary of the launch of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’ “Our Care for our Common Home.” 

Learn more here and see images from the event here.

 
 

Sacred Sites work in Independence VA and Four Corners, Crestone Colorado. The Crestone Leadership Convergence and the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco

 

In continuation of the Original Caretakers Program of the Center for Earth Ethics, the Forum 21 Institute partnered with the Oracle Institute, and ICV Group Inc, to sponsor the Sacred Sites work of Mt. Blanca in Crestone Colorado. As in the work carried out in Japan in 2017 (Mt. Fuji, Fukushima), this work is being endorsed by UNESCO (U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) because it recognizes the work of Indigenous peoples to protect and preserve nature’s most biodiverse areas using their traditional wisdom and knowledge.

The Sacred Sites Work involves representatives from the Otomi Toltec peoples of Mexico and representatives from the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Colombia (Arhuaco, Kankuamo, Kogi and Wiwa). Indigenous representatives from the local land (territories) are always invited to participate. For this work as part of Phase 1 of the Sacred Sites program seven representatives participated: three Otomi Toltec elders: Agustin Ranchero, Armando Robles and Mindahi Bastida; one Kogi elder: Mamo Luis; and one Lakota elder: Tiokasin Ghosthorse.


 
 

Independence VA, the New River

 

The “New River” in Independence, Virginia is the oldest river in the Western Hemisphere, nestled in one of America’s most biodiverse valleys.

During the two-day visit, the Indigenous elders carried out the following work:

  • Performing a private ceremony along the New River;

  • Offering a public ritual at Mt. Rogers National Park (highest peak in Virginia);

  • Touring Grayson Natural Farms owned by a neighbor Charlotte Hanes;

  • Blessing and inaugurating the new “Kogi Kiva” (fire & sweat lodge);

Celebrating at a fundraising event in the Peace Pentagon, during which the Elders spoke to everyone of our obligations to the Great Mother – “Aluna.”

 
 

The Four Corners, Crestone Colorado

 

One of the geographic locations revealed in the sacred sites vision was the Four Corners of the United States. The Four Corners is a region of the United States consisting of the southwestern corner of Colorado, southeastern corner of Utah, northeastern corner of Arizona, and northwestern corner of New Mexico.

In July 2017, a research trip was made to Crestone Colorado to determine the exact location of the Sacred Sites Work in the Four Corners as part of Phase One of the Sacred Sites Work. Forum 21 Institute worked with Mindahi Bastida (coordinator of the Sacred Sites program) and researched several areas in Crestone. This is because Crestone is located in the eastern most section of the Four Corners. Mt. Blanca, a sacred mountain revered by the many Indigenous peoples of the area, proved to be a high candidate for the Four Corners sacred site. After consultation, Mt. Blanca was determined to be the specific location. Cooperating on the research trip were Hanne Strong (of the Manitou Foundation) and Roger LaBorde (of Father Thomas Keating’s decades long Snowmass Inter-religious Initiative). These latter are Crestone region leaders with a long history with the heritage of the region.


On September 8, 2018 Otomi and Kogi elders and representatives from the Dine (Navajo) and Lakota nations went to Mt. Blanca and successfully carried out the necessary prayers, rituals, and payments. The Original Caretakers team, including Mindahi Bastida (Center for Earth Ethics), Ken Kitatani (Forum 21) facilitated the work and then joined a larger group of leaders, activists, and scholars for the two-day Crestone Leadership Conference.

 
 

Crestone Leadership Conference

 

The 2018 Crestone Leadership Conference followed on two years of Forum 21 Institute and partners’ sponsoring of two conferences on “Spirituality and Sustainability” in Rome-Assisi and joining with Unity-Earth and others for The Crestone Convergence program held in Crestone, Colorado, in 2017. Joining to lead this second Crestone Conference were Mindahi Bastida and Ken Kitatani of the Sacred Sites Program and Kurt Johnson of Unity-Earth. These activities highlight several years of Sacred Site ceremonial activities around the world, joining practitioners in healing work for Mother Gaia. These have been sponsored in Japan, Australia, Ethiopia, Italy, and for 2018 at the “Four Corners” near Crestone.

The 2018 Crestone Leadership Conference was an intimate gathering of stakeholders furthering the visioning and support of this work and like 2017 proved to be a rich and fruitful two days of sharing, deepening into relationship, exploring the richness of the environment, and drawing inspiration from the great work that is being done, as well as from the work that is unfolding.

A highlight of the conference was also a journey to, and ceremonial blessing of, the founding vision of a Crestone center for Indigenous peoples long envisioned by Hanne Strong, a founder and facilitator of much of the Baca Region’s diverse interfaith activity for many years. Crestone’s diverse interfaith community of retreat houses and pioneering cultural and artistic communities has been a well known globally for decades.

 
 

Global Climate Action Summit

 

The visit culminated in San Francisco, California with the Elders’ participation in the Global Climate Action Summit. This Summit was sponsored by the United Nations and the government of California and partnering environmental NGOs and businesses. Former governors Jerry Brown and Michael Bloomberg chaired the event, and invited experts in science and technology, business leaders and government representatives. The summit was apparently intended to provide confidence to other nations that the U.S. is committed to addressing and remediating global climate change.

Many side events were organized during the three days including a major Multi-faith Procession at Grace Cathedral. The elders as Indigenous representatives led the procession of faith leaders and had an opportunity to address the audience together with other dignitaries such as Nancy Pelosi, Christiana Figueres (former executive secretary of the UNFCC), Bishop Marc Andrus and others. For details please click here.

 
 
 

Forum 21 collaborated with the Vatican dicastery on Promoting Integral Human Development and the Center for Earth Ethics of Union Theological Seminary and hosted a special panel “Integral Ecology: As Seen through the lens of Laudato Si’ and other Religious Traditions.” The “Laudato Si’On Care of Our Common Home” is Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical letter that addresses the human causes of the current ecological crisis. The panel featured Chief Caleen Sisk, Tribal Chief of the Winnemem Wintu Peoples, Mindahi Bastida, Otomi Toltec leader and Director of the Original Caretakers Program of Center of Earth Ethics, Beth Blissman UN NGO Representative of the Loretto Community and Father Augusto Zampini of the Vatican.

In sum, the Original Caretakers Visit is designed to promote principles of integral ecology, eco-justice, and spiritual earth stewardship. For pictures of these events please click here.

 
 

International Conference for Ecozoic Culture 2018 “Ecological Transformation on the Korean Peninsula and in East Asia”

 

This conference was co-sponsored by the Institute for Ecological Civilization and the People for the Earth Forum. The theme of the conference was “Ecological Transformation on the Korean Peninsula and in East Asia.” Forum 21 was asked to give presentations on the role of NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) at the United Nations, in particular of faith-based organizations. In a secular environment such as the UN, traditionally religious NGO’s have had challenges in introducing religious principles and stating their own relevance. However, since the rise of violent extremism globally, the UN has realized the role of religious actors in reconciliation and peace building. Additionally, policy and discussions on sustainable development are often criticized as being “value-less” and too mechanistic. FBO’s (faith-based organizations) and VBO’s (values-based organizations) play an important role in contributing ethics and values to the dialogue, process and policy making.

The conference program can be seen on the Korea Ecociv website: https://ecociv.org/event/international-conference-for-ecozoic-culture-2/

 
 

Parliament of the World's Religions, Major Speaker Session "Integral Ecology and Justice" 

 

“Justice is a complex term, an inherently intersectional project. It requires nuanced thought and a multiplicity of perspectives if we are to act effectively and ethically against unjust structures.” Forum 21 joined a panel of esteemed thought leaders to address this topic. The other panelists were: Father Joshtrom Kureethadam (Vatican representative), Vandana Shiva, and Mary Evelyn Tucker. The session was dialogical and engaging—focusing on constructive conversation between panelists and the audience. Key points that were discussed:

• How is integral ecology related to justice? 

• What do environmental problems have to do with social injustices and vice versa?

• What does integral ecology mean to you and what are its implications for action?

• What resources/insights does your religious tradition have for promoting integral justice?

• If we are to address one complex crisis (both social and environmental), where should we begin? 

All of the panelists specialize in the subject of “ethics and environment” “religion and ecology” and wove into their discussions the intersectionality between ethics, environment and justice, that is eco-justice. Each of the speakers spoke from their own religious-spiritual and cultural backgrounds. Ken Kitatani’s talk focused on the indigeneity of ancient cultures and the work of indigenous peoples living at the front lines of the world’s most biodiverse territories and the need for all stakeholders to make further efforts to support these marginalized groups that hold the key to mitigating climate change.

 
 

Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, 25th Annual International Society of Tropical Foresters Conference, Examining Tropical Changes: Resilience in the Context of Disturbance and Transgression “Building Eco-spiritual resilience with traditional environmental knowledge”

 

The world’s indigenous communities have long been the leading caretakers and guardians of rainforests. Respecting all forms of life and cultivating a close relationship with the land are not just embedded in traditional knowledge and practices, they are basic tenets of entire indigenous cosmological worldviews and lifeways. From conserving sacred sites and cultural traditions, to fighting for their communities’ rights to live on and care for their ancestral lands, to advocating for eco-spiritual worldviews on a national policy level, all the people on this stage have been involved in the spiritual and cultural dimension of the fight to shift world values and protect forests. In the panel, the following topics were discussed and presented:

How the wisdom of indigenous traditions and religious traditions can build resilience of socio-ecological systems

• indigenous traditions of protecting forests

• social justice activism and the spiritual/ethical arguments for addressing forest change

• reversing the role of major world religions in the history of colonization / leveraging spiritual resources and influence to protect forests and sacred sites

• how religious communities, indigenous peoples and faith leaders can work with scientists, policy makers, and local people to achieve these goals and shift societal values

• how can an interfaith initiative best serve forest communities

 
 

Gathering of Indigenous Spiritual Elders of South America and the Abya Yala

 

This four day conference brought together native intellectuals and Spiritual Elders from Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica and Guatemala. This unique meeting began with and concluded with a ceremony in front of a sacred fire, that was maintained throughout the gathering. The elders and other participating supporters shared knowledge, ideas and proposed action items for the healing of Mother Earth. One major goal was to further support the unification process of the indigenous peoples of North, Central and South America. One major outcome from the conference and gathering was the creation of a declaration that was signed by the participating elders: https://www.iccsglobal.org/2019march-gatheringcolombia Future gatherings are being planned. Forum 21 Institute shared ideas and strategies particularly on how best to work with the United Nations civil society and agencies that support indigenous peoples.

 
 

The Grounded Summit, “Guardian of Nature” Panel

 

Forum 21 Institute, shared a panel “Guardians of Nature” with representatives from the Center for Earth Ethics (Otomi leader and Director of Original Caretakers Program Mindahi Bastida) and Amazon Frontlines (Waorani leader Nemonte Nemguimo, Executive Director Mitch Anderson) to speak about Indigenous people’s homelands that encompass many of the planet's last tracts of wilderness - ecosystems that shelter endangered species and buffer global climate change. These territories continue to be under constant threat. The panelists each spoke of the work that they are doing to lift the voices of indigenous communities to help them become more effective in ecological activism, resulting in changes in policy, awareness and greater support. The program of the summit can be seen at: https://www.grounded.org/schedule.html

 
 

Indigenous-Vatican Dialogue

 

Forum 21 Institute co-sponsored this event with the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Center for Earth Ethics (host of the event at UTS). Father Augusto Zampini represented the Vatican Dicastery on Integral Human Development and engaged in a two-day dialogue with indigenous representatives from North, Central and South America. Although Pope Francis has been engaged in dialogue with indigenous communities of South America-to culminate in the Amazon Synod (Synod of Bishops of the Pan-Amazon region), there has been no focused engagement with indigenous communities of North America. This was the first time that the Vatican-through a representative, met with and had dialogue with indigenous representatives from North America “Turtle Island.” Topics discussed were: the wisdom that Indigenous traditions offer to the world as we forge a new development paradigm, and how we all may support them as they protect their land.

The program of the event can be seen here.

 
 

Loka Symposium: Faith in action for a flourishing planet

 

Forum 21 Institute has been working closely with the Loka Initiative-Center for Healthy Minds and was very pleased that the Loka Symposium was successfully convened. The symposium brought together faith leaders and culture keepers from diverse religious and indigenous traditions with scientists, scholars, policy makers, philanthropists, and experts to develop new and stronger faith-led environmental partnerships. The symposium examined global progress in environmental and climate change strategies while investigating the potential for faith-led environmental action by building understanding, motivating change, and creating practical goals. As such, the symposium created a goal to integrate spiritual resources such as scripture, meditation, sacrament, ritual and symbolic art to support this exchange of faith-based and scientific ideas and strategies. 

We aspired to have the symposium be inclusive and representative of faith communities and religious institutions that are dedicated to environmental change, reflecting diversity in traditions, nationality, ethnicity and perspectives and welcome expertise from the domains of ecology, climatology, psychology, neuroscience, health, education, religious studies and research. For more information please go to: https://centerhealthyminds.org/assets/files-uploads/Symposium-Agenda-Final.pdf

 
 

Sacred Sites Work at Mt. Etna

 

In continuation of the Original Caretakers Program of the Center for Earth Ethics, Forum 21 Institute carried out the Sacred Sites work of Mt. Etna in Sicily, Italy. As in the work carried out in the Four Corners in 2018 (Mt. Blanca, Colorado) and Japan in 2017 (Mt. Fuji, Fukushima), this work is being endorsed by UNESCO (U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) because it recognizes the work of Indigenous peoples to protect and preserve nature’s most biodiverse areas using their traditional wisdom and knowledge. This trip was co-sponsored by The Fountain.

Mount Etna was revealed as one of the four key geographic locations in the Sacred Sites vision. At 11,000 feet high, Mount Etna is one of the highest mountains in Italy south of the Alps. As one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Etna has had a number of major eruptions over the last 100 years. In ancient times, the volcano occupied a special place in Roman mythology, as the home of Vulcan, their God of Fire. The etymology of the word volcano derives from this deity.

The Original Caretakers team was led by Mindahi Bastida from the Center for Earth Ethics and Ken Kitatani from Forum 21. To carry out this work, Mindahi Bastida and Ken Kitatani travelled twice to Mount Etna. A preliminary research trip was made to determine the exact location of the Sacred Sites at Mount Etna, and to prepare logistics, in 2018. A suitable site was chosen for the 2019 ceremony, and the preparations were laid.

After consultation, a small group of elders was selected to conduct the Ceremony. On June 12, 2019 Ken Kitatani accompanied Otomi and Kogi elders to the location in Sicily and successfully carried out the necessary prayers, rituals, and payments. The elders observed that this was the most significant ceremony to date. The elders who participated were three Otomi Toltec elders: Agustin Ranchero, Armando Robles and Mindahi Bastida; and two Kogi elders: Mamo Manuel and Hatte Roberto. Other specialists who accompanied the trip were Fabrizio Frascaroli, a scientist and Stephen Vasconcellos-Sharpe,

This ceremony and work at Mt. Etna concludes Phase One of the Sacred Sites Work. Preparations to continue with Phase Two of the Sacred Sites Program are being made now.