14th GCGI International Conference
The Fourth GCGI and SES Joint Conference, Lucca, Tuscany, Italy
‘OUR SACRED EARTH: Spiritual Ecology, Values-led Economics, Education and Society Responding to Ecological Crisis’
Villa Boccella, Tuscany, Italy, 28 August-1 September 2018
A Reflection from John Thompson*
Group Photo-GCGI-SES Lucca 2018. Photo Credit: Angela Bowman
I arrived at the conference with some uncertainty but left full of gratitude. I had been invited to be part of a panel where I was to be a voice for the earth, and also to provide an individual presentation later in the program. When I received this invitation I did not want to undertake the journey from Perth Western Australia to Lucca Italy because of time constraints. A strong intuitive sense of needing to be there overcame any resistance I had and I accepted the invitation.
From the very beginning of my involvement with the organisers of the Lucca conference I was impressed with the welcoming attitude and willingness to provide information for orientation towards the conference outcome. Once the program was prepared I checked out who the other presenters were and discovered that many had academic backgrounds. This was always going to make it interesting for me because I had previous experience of presenting alongside academics. My work is about releasing and moving beyond the constraints of conditioned intellectual mind for full connection with mother Earth and our nature family as sentient beings. It is my view that to re-establish relationship with mother Earth in nature in this way is essential to the shift in psychology necessary for a sustainable future. When I present this work, particularly among academics, I am never sure how it will be received. Hence the uncertainty I arrived with.
I need not have worried as I was made exceptionally welcome by the organisers and other participants I met upon my arrival. Politeness and warmth was abundant and I was inducted into the venue and conference in such a way that I quickly became comfortable and settled into the accommodation. Exploration of the grounds revealed the extent of the natural environment and walk trails available, of which I was most appreciative. Being a systems thinker I am aware of how important initial conditions are in creating a suitable information-processing dynamic and was impressed with the obvious attention given to these types of detail. The warmth of the welcome, the facilities available, the induction into the conference and the setting were all conducive to an exceptional experience emerging for all. I was not disappointed.
The conference was well structured with presentations in the morning, long periods of free time in the afternoon and then additional presentations in the evening. The presentations were not rushed and speakers were given suitable lengths of time to share their wisdom and understandings, and to take questions. I particularly appreciated this as it allowed for processing and deep listening during the presentations rather than being overwhelmed with information. The free time in the afternoon enabled extended exploratory conversations, relationships to be formed and networking to take place. During conference I met some exceptional people, was given the privilege to hear their ideas and had the opportunity to engage in conversation with them. I came away from these relationships encouraged, supported and with additional information and insight that will contribute to the success of my work.
There were many things that impressed me about this conference in comparison to other conferences I have attended. Foremost was the integrity of the presenters and attendees. Everyone I met, without exception, was there because of their concern for planet Earth and humanity. They were open, willing to share information and keen to collaborate with each other to bring about outcomes. A collaborative and heart centred ethic such as this is rare in the conference environment. Another feature of the conference was the range in age of attendees and presenters. I am 63 years of age and in the society I come from it is difficult to gain access to elders with more experience and wisdom. For me this was a rare opportunity to hear what they had to say and to engage in discussion with people whom were open and easy to respect. The attendance of younger people at the conference as presenters and participants was similarly enriching. It was clear in hearing their presentations and talking to them that they are well progressed in embracing a new world view with the commitment to bringing about change. Overall the integration of academic with the social and spiritual was most rewarding.
There were several themes covered and of interest to me was the material on the economic restructuring that will be necessary for a sustainable future and I could see how systems thinking could bring a lot to this. Others presented on projects they were engaged in. I delighted in hearing the information on the work with leadership taking place with the emerging young leaders. Also, the projects that were focused on facilitating healing and transformation from past trauma to assist others to release and reorient toward a better future were inspiring. Overall it was apparent how all of the presenters and participants were contributing their knowledge and wisdom to provide material from which an integrated and necessary new world view could emerge for a better future. A worldview such as this must include all aspects including social, governance, economic, philosophical, psychological, environmental and spiritual and they were present at the conference in very thoughtful and considered ways.
In reflection, I think the challenge remaining is how to make the ideas and wisdom for a better future there were present at this conference available to the emerging younger generations who are in a position to enact change. I would love to see an exploration of how this could take place in a way that is consistent with the emerging philosophy underlying the new world view. Perhaps this involves bringing systems thinking to the establishment and support of self-organising global networks for free exchange of ideas and resources. Whatever this comes to be I can see that information, ideas and wisdom present at this conference will make a valuable contribution.
I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the panel and the opportunity to make a subsequent individual presentation. My work is framed within a transformational process approach and I utilise story and metaphor along with spiritual language to share what I have uncovered in my explorations. It was apparent immediately this approach was welcome and respected by fellow presenters and attendees.
It was with gratitude to the organisers and participants of the conference that I left to make my way back to Australia. Gratitude for the opportunity to be among like-minded respectful and supportive people; the hospitality and warmth offered; the free sharing of wisdom and ideas; the acceptance of difference; the generation of new ideas; the friendships I made that will endure beyond the conference and the opportunity to join with others in this important work for a better future. I arrived back in Australia with a great deal of intellectual, energetic, emotional and spiritual fuel that I am sure will empower my work and bring a great deal to it.
I encourage anyone who recognises the need for collaborative and emergent solutions for a better future to attend conferences such as these that provide such an ideal container held by encouragement and support. In particular I would like to thank Kamran for his initiative that brought these conferences into being and the School of Economics Science for bringing their philosophical and spiritual resources to ‘our sacred earth’.
John Thompson, GCGI Senior Ambassador, is a Transformational psychologist, Perth, Australia. During an extended period of nature immersion in the 1980’s John responded to Mother Earth’s call to be a voice for ‘those who could not yet hear.’ He went on to study psychology, transformational systems, various wisdom traditions, and continued his exploration of earth connection. His work as a transformational psychologist is directed toward reconnection with Mother Earth and understanding the powerful creative and transformational processes at work. These processes enable us to step into our roles as co-creators with Mother Earth and each other. John points towards a peaceful collaborative pathway for a sustainable and just future.