Thursday, August 28, 2008

Transportation Options for Constellations of Hope

We have begun to get questions about transportation options for Constellations of Hope.

IONS Retreat Center is located in Petaluma, California, less than hour north of San Francisco in Sonoma County (which is wonderful wine country if you have time for an extended stay!).

You can fly into either San Francisco or Oakland.

There are several options for transporation from the airport to IONS Retreat Center in Petaluma:

Western Eagle Shuttle (recommended)
Shuttle service from either Oakland or San Francisco airport
$60 one way per person from San Francisco
$65 one way per person from Oakland
$10 for each additional person
(415) 533 - 4466

Sonoma Airport Express
Bus service to Petaluma.
No reservations required
Departs from both San Francisco and Oakland airports about every two hours
Approximately 90 minutes to drop off at Petaluma Fairgrounds.
The bus driver will call ahead to have a cab waiting at the Fairgrounds for the final 10 mile ride to the IONS Retreat Center.
Bus: $32 per person one way
Taxi: @$10

Driving Directions
Driving directions are available on the IONS Retreat Center website

Event Schedule

We will convene the circle at 6 p.m. on Friday - November 7.

We will close the circle at 11 a.m. on Monday - November 10.

We sincerely hope that you can plan to be present with us for this entire time in order to hold the rim of the circle and to contribute your wisdom to our dialogue process.

We look forward to seeing you in November!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Background and History of Constellations of Hope

We are not a formal organization per se. We are a self-organized core of women, with experience working in a variety of women’s organizations, committed to transforming relationships among the many diverse women’s organizations to one of cooperation, interdependence, respect and harmony.

Kathlyn Schaaf (Co-Founder and Former President, Gather the Women, California)
Kathy ‘Won Povi’ Sanchez (Director, Tewa Women United, Arizona)
Dorothy Ettling (Founder and Director, Women’s Global Connection, Texas)
Regina Birchem (Past International President, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Pennsylvania)

Mission and program
We find ourselves in an historic moment of rapid change, accompanied by a sense of confusion and fear, confronted with unprecedented challenges. There is a growing sense of urgency that now is the time we must come together collectively as women to reflect and act.

The project we have initiated is anchored by a collaborative core of women with organizational histories using a model of shared leadership. Our intention is to invite women of diverse cultures and political convictions to come together for a conversation on how we can share our wisdom, our experience, our skills, our resources, and our imagination to create structures of peace and sustainability for the present and for future generations.

To launch this initiative, we propose to invite 50 to 60 women who have, or have had, major leadership or inspirational roles in women’s organizations and networks to come together for a three day facilitated conversation on how we can use our collective power more effectively for the benefit of humankind. Our goal is to capture and conceptualize the common thread that unites the many diverse women’s organizations currently working for a peaceful and just human society in a sustainable, healthy environment.

A new form of community is described by Paul Hawkin as the greatest unnamed movement in history in which hundreds of thousands of organizations have self-organized, similar to the molecules and cells of a living organism, for a common purpose ~ life. Hawkin further writes: “Even though the origins and purposes of the various groups comprising the movement are diverse, if you survey the principles, mission statements, or values, you find they do not conflict.” Hawkin randomly chose groups, printed up their value statements and posted them on the wall. What he found was that the members “share a set of fundamental understandings about the earth, how it functions, and the necessity of fairness and equity for all people dependent on the planet’s life-giving systems.” (p. 21, Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Social Movement in History is Restoring Grace, Justice and Beauty to the World, 2007) It is vitally important for feminine principles and the wisdom of the world’s women to be integrated fully into this emerging global paradigm.

The goal is not to launch a “new” mega organization or to plan a major global conference. Rather, we propose to offer space for a representative small group to explore possibilities of more effective, fulfilling, sustainable and empowering relationships across generations and cultures. We offer the space with the intention that these organizations will discover the unity that fuels their diversity and that when they ‘remember’ their unity they will be inspired to powerful collective action.

Inspiration for the project
The emergence of a plan for this project evolved through focused and intentional conversations over the course of seven months. Through these conversations we were affirmed in the usefulness, timeliness, and urgency of an Invitation to Collaboration among women.

On December 1, 2007, a group of twelve met in Boston at the invitation of Andre Sheldon, a member of WILPF-Boston and business professional who is passionate about helping to call forth the power and wisdom of women as a source of strength in these challenging times.

Three agreements from the meeting were:
~An effective ‘call to women’ would need to come from a core of women representing women’s organizations.
~A gathering of 50-60 organizational representatives could be organized in 2008.
~A gathering should be simple and a call for a conversation on collaboration would not come from any one organization.

Kathlyn Schaaf and Regina Birchem agreed to anchor more discussion of possibilities and the planning of a potential event. An invitation to gather was drafted and initial contacts were made.
As part of the planning process, two exploratory meetings were held in April 2008: Washington, D.C. and Laguna Hills, California. The discussion was very rich and raised questions such as:

~How do we frame the discussion so that a wider circle of women will trust it?
~Do we want just the leaders of organizations or is that an old paradigm?
~Is the competition among organizations an uniquely American wound that needs to be healed?
~Are there actually several different conversations that we want to happen?
~How do we keep love and spirit at the center?

It was agreed that the gathering should reflect diversity of age, ethnicity, culture, economic resources, and geography. Though based in North America, the gathering should reflect a global knowledge, sensitivity, and awareness. It is important to transform an old paradigm of competition, scarcity and distrust in the community of women to one of open acceptance. Women must be offered a tangible reason to spend their time, energy and resources: something to give them a sense of hope and connection to a larger purpose. We need to move from fear to hope.

Over the course of these three meetings and several conference calls, the following organizations were represented: Gather the Women, Tewa Women United, Women’s Global Connection, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, The International Grail, Peace Links, World YWCA, Global Women’s Leadership Network, Women’s Corp/Kenya Collaborative,
East Timor Advocacy Network, Berkana Institute, Gush Shalom, Women in Black, Call to Women, Women for New Directions, Dreamweather Foundation, Vessels of Peace, Daughters of the Earth.

Description of the project and the need it serves
We will issue an invitation to North American-based women’s organizations to participate in a facilitated conversation about collaboration. The dates, 7 – 10 November 2008, are confirmed at the IONS Retreat Center in Petaluma, CA (outside of Oakland/San Francisco) for 65 participants. The center provides lodging, meals and meeting space in a beautiful natural environment. The event will be facilitated by women skilled in circle principles and dialogue. We are inspired by a clear sense that the time is right for such a conversation and that women leaders are hungry for connection.

Leadership and staffing
The four women who have volunteered to serve as ‘initiators’ of the Collaborative Conversation come from very different organizations, diverse cultural, political and philosophical perspectives and live in all four North American time zones. We have agreed to work collaboratively and ourselves model shared leadership. Kathlyn Schaaf has the special role of being our primary contact person. We communicate by means of a list serve hosted by Women’s Global Connection, by phone, conference calls and email.

We do not have staff and we have agreed to work without remuneration for our expenses at this time.

The event is carefully fiscally planned with no profit to any organization or individual. Registration costs will cover expenses for food, venue and lodging. Gather the Women has agreed to be the 501c3 fiscal agent for the project, receiving payment of fees and paying all expenses for the event.

Who are we? Introduction to the Constellations Planning Circle

Kathlyn Schaaf ~ Laguna Hills, California
Kathe Schaaf, M.A, M.F.T., is one of the original co-founders of Gather the Women and has served in the core leadership circle of that growing global community for the past five years. She weaves together her years of experience as a teacher and writer, as a non-profit director and a psychotherapist, as a mother and a community organizer with her passion about the value of women to the world. In 2004, Kathe was inspired by the vision of 6 Gather the Women Congresses on 6 Continents as a way to connect the wisdom of the world's women into new constellations of hope. She has been both a container and a catalyst helping that vision to manifest as a powerful reality, with the first three Congresses held since 2006 in Canada, Kenya and Australia.

Dorothy Ettling ~ San Antonio, Texas

Dorothy Ettling, Ph.D., is Professor in the Ph.D. Program at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas and director of Women’s Global Connection of San Antonio.
The mission of WGC is to promote the learning and leadership of women throughout the globe through on-line interactive dialogue and on-ground collaborative learning projects. Her research interests include the process of transformative learning and change in individuals and groups, cross-culture learning, and women’s education in university and community settings.
Recent publications include:
Ettling, D. (2006) Child Development Assessment in Zambia: A Study of developmental norms of Zambian Children aged 0-72 months. Ministry of Education, Republic of Zambia. Lusaka, Zambia.

Ettling, D. (2006). Ethical Demands of Transformative Learning. In E. Taylor (Ed.), Teaching for Change: Fostering Transformative Learning in the Classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Ettling, D. & Guilian, L. (2004). Midwifing Transformative Change. In E. O’Sullivan & M. Taylor (Eds.), Learning toward Ecological Consciousness: Selected Transformative Practices, Toronto: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ettling, D. (2002) The praxis of sustaining transformative change. Teacher’s College Record.

Kathy Wan Povi Sanchez ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico
Kathy Wan Povi Sanchez is an Indigenous award-winning traditional potter from San Ildefonso Pueblo,(Powogeh Owingeh – Where the Water Cuts Through) in New Mexico. She carries on the tradition of her late Great-grandmother Maria Martinez known for the highly prized black ware pueblo pottery.

Kathy, the Director of Tewa Women United, is a community activist caring for Mother Earth and all her relations in the enlightenment of all relations. Tewa Women United (TWU) is a civic socially responsible empowered women's 501(c)3 organization guided by Tewah Pueblo values and beliefs. TWU started as a gathering of grounded-in-spirit women who believed in the inherent power of Tewa women and who felt the need to enhance their strengths through a circle of trust, love, hope, forgiveness and sharing.

“TWU believes our true traditional past practiced no separation of intellect and intuition - the head from the heart, nor the separation of the people from their spirituality. In order to nurture the harmony of all life with oneness of spirit in the relationship of natural law, we must nurture the future generations through our traditional way of spiritual living.”

Regina Birchem ~ Irwin, Pennsylvania

Regina Birchem, Ph.D. is a biologist with research and teaching experience in cell biology, plant propagation and the environment. She has numerous publications related to her research as well as non-scientific articles and papers. From 1990 to 1994 she held the Florence Marie Scott Chair in Developmental Biology at Seton Hill University, Pennsylvania. Through her background in biological sciences and environmental studies, she contributed to the discussion of environment and sustainable development at major United Nations Conferences, such as the Earth Summit in 1992 and the succeeding Commission on Sustainable Development Conferences (1993-2007), the Social Summit (1995), the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995), the Habitat II Conference in Istanbul (1996), the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg (2002), and at various commissions and conferences at the United Nations.

Regina recently served as International President of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF ), an organization founded in 1915 with its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Over the last twenty-five years she met with women around the world including countries experiencing war and armed conflict such as Burundi, Sierra Leone, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, the Middle East, and elsewhere.

Regina currently resides in rural SW Pennsylvania, USA, where she works as a consultant in plant tissue culture and inquiry-based science curricula.