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Seminar and Transformational Art: Theory and Practice of The Work that Reconnects
Dates: May 12-22
Faculty: Joanna Macy and Anne Symens-Bucher
Class Number: 60190

To Register for this Class, either For Credit or For Audit: please click here


Joanna Macy and Anne Symens-Bucher will offer a special ten-day workshop in The Work That Reconnects. The Work That Reconnects “draws upon spiritual traditions and living systems theory to bring forth the powers within us and between us that can be renewed and deepened for the healing of our world.” These are powers that lie both within us and between us, and belong to no government, corporation, or military force, but to the self-organizing nature of life itself.

17 minute Video from Bioneers Conference 2009 on:  The Five Gifts from a Time of Uncertainty

Drawing primarily on the Buddhist tradition and living systems theory, The Work That Reconnects helps us uncover these powers. We will discover how the renewal of powers within and between us can bring forth fresh vision, courage, and creativity in this time of planetary crisis.  They can be used in a variety of contexts by teachers, social and environmental activists, healers, and more. Joanna and Anne will offer both teachings and experiential group work relating to deep ecology, deep time, and despair and empowerment.



The central purpose of the Work that Reconnects is to help people uncover and experience their innate connections with each other and with the systemic, self-healing powers in the web of life, so that they may be enlivened and motivated to play their part in creating a sustainable civilization. In order to do this, we pursue these contributing goals:

  • to provide people the opportunity to experience and share with others their innermost responses to the present condition of our world
  • to reframe their pain for the world as evidence of their interconnectedness in the web of life, and hence of their power to take part in its healing to provide people with concepts--from systems science, deep ecology, or spiritual traditions--which illumine this power, along with exercises which reveal its play in their own lives to provide methods by which people can experience their interdependence as the ground of their responsibility.
  • to offer inspiration that can be drawn from past and future generations, and other life-forms
  • to enable people to embrace the Great Turning as a challenge which they are fully capable of meeting in a variety of ways, and as a privilege in which they can take joy
  • to bring people into mutual support and collaboration in working for the world
  • to build strong, lasting connections with sister and brother warriors for life on Earth, that can provide mutual support under conditions of political repression, economic breakdown, and ecological collapse.


Joanna Macy is one of the pioneering visionaries of the global movement for a healthy, just and sustainable world.  Few people bring more imagination and humanity to the challenge of building a better world than Macy, a respected scholar of general systems theory, deep ecology and Buddhism, and a leading voice in movements for peace, justice and environmental integrity. Her book “Coming Back to Life” describes the Work That Reconnects, and her memoir, Widening Circles, describes her own awakening to the power of grief, anger and love in addressing such difficult issues as nuclear waste, environmental devastation, species extinction, climate change and the widening gap between haves and have-nots.  At the age of 81, Macy remains passionate and feisty and continues to share her timely teachings and timeless wisdom to eager young audiences all over the world. Do not miss this precious opportunity to be with one of the great elders of our time.

View two powerful clips of Joanna speaking, at:

Anne Symens-Bucher is a co-founder of Nevada Desert Experience and has served as either NDE staff or Board member since 1982. She lives in Oakland, California with her husband, Terry and their five children. She served as the co-director of the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Office for the Santa Barbara Franciscans for 25 years. During her entire adult life, Anne has been in the forefront of efforts to save the earth and in stopping nuclear testing.  She is now working as a personal assistant to Joanna Macy.


Coming Back to Life by Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown.  This will be the central text, and an excellent overview can be found at

World as Lover, World as Self by Joanna Macy. Please re-read this classic.

The Tao of Liberation by Mark Hathaway and Leonardo Boff


Thinking Like a Mountain: Towards a Council of all Beings by John Seed, Joanna Macy, and Pat Fleming.

Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory: The Dharma of Living Systems by Joanna Macy

Eaarth by Bill McKibben


Please write a 3-5 page essay on your longing for reconnection.


A 10-15 page essay on 1) the psycho-spiritual factors that make it difficult for people in the Industrial Growth Society to see and respond to the present global crisis, and 2) specific approaches and steps that cold unblock their intelligence and creativity in response to this crisis.
Note: The Pre- and Post-papers will be read by John Hanagan or Jim Garrison



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