The Well of Light: Reimagining

In This Issue

Since we only send out one newsletter a month we pack a lot in each issue. Please take your time and read the articles that appeal to you and listen to the podcasts that are of interest. We welcome your comments, suggestions and input. Thank you for your part in co-creating a world that works for all life... Blessings, ms

Letter from Michael
• Reimagining Ourselves on a Changing Planet

Upcoming Events
• 10th Annual New Year's
   Community Dance Celebration

Moving Meditation News
• Gabrielle Roth on Conversations
• 5Rhythms Dance at Studio Maui

Book of the Month
The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer,
by Joel Salatin

• How We Saved the Climate (and Ourselves)
• Hands-on Research: The Science of Touch
• Improving Food Security by Strategically Reducing Grain Demand
• Rising Seas and the Groundwater Equation
• Mother Nature Is Not Fooled By Euphemisms
• Don’t Compromise Social Security


Upcoming Shows On Conversations
Listen 24/7 at
Live Streaming Tuesdays at 1pm PST

• Lynne Twist - The Soul of Money
• Undesired
• Katie Makkai - Pretty
• Maude Barlow: With Only Market-Based Solutions...

Hot Site of the Month
• Common Dreams

A Call To Action
Donate To Conversations

Blog Newsletter Sign Up
Seva Team

Poetry Corner
• from Experiencing Death — Liu Xiaobo
Invisible Paths — Charles Eisenstein

Listen to Podcasts from this issue's newsletter:

John Robbins: The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less

Osprey Orielle Lake, MA: Uprisings For the Earth: Reconnecting Culture with Nature

William Bengston, PHD: The Energy Cure

Bill McKibben: Making a life on a touch new planet

Reimagining Ourselves on a Changing Planet

Holiday Blessings
As I put the final touches on this month’s newsletter I am filled with gratitude for all of you who, in your own ways, are co-creating this great planetary shift we are going through with no less of a partner than nature herself. I think it is important to remember that we are not alone in this great evolutionary unfolding. The closer we get to the skin of the mother the more we realize that the climate is not the only thing that is changing. We, who are as much a part of nature as a hurricane, a falcon or a new seed emerging into life, are nature’s way of seeing and knowing that we, like all life must change and evolve. I pray that we will all make the changes necessary to re-imagine ourselves on this emerging new planet and that the coming year be one of great transformation for all. I hope you will join me in prayer and thanksgiving as we contemplate and co-create the kind of world where peace, justice and compassion can finally lead to an earth friendly existence with all life.
With Love and Blessings,

I believe it is essential for our planetary future to develop tools that can change the consciousness which has created the crisis that we are in.
– Stanislav Grof

Things have changed! Never in human history have we had to face the challenges we now face. The lives of sheltered comfort and separation from the natural world that we have grown to take for granted are over. We have pushed nature to the breaking point and now she is pushing back. The good news is that we are not separate. We are the unfolding evolutionary process of nature and we must transform our illusion about being separate from nature to meet the tidal wave of change that is poised above our heads... As Brian Swimme so eloquently stated, “we must reinvent the human as a dimension of the emergent universe.”

How do we do that? How can we reinvent ourselves, at the level of species, in a way that enables us to live in mutually enhancing and life sustaining relationships with the earth and all life? I don’t know the answer to this question but I intend to bring myself to it fully, as if the future of life on this planet depends on it. I believe it does. The following essay is an inquiry into what is needed for us to truly reinvent ourselves in order to build a more sustainable and eco-friendly world. Yes, it is long... It is meant to engage you in the process of discovering what it will take to reinvent ourselves to meet the current and coming challenges. May we live into the question together, as community. Your comments, questions, ideas and participation in this dialogue are welcomed and encouraged...

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
– Rainer Maria Rilke

Read the entire letter from Michael here.

Upcoming Events

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New Year’s Community Service Opportunities
There are many opportunities to support our community on both the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day events. If you would like to volunteer for either of these please email Michael (

Moving Meditation News

Streaming live this Tuesday: December 21st, Gabrielle Roth: Balancing Intuition, Instinct and Intellect on Conversations.
Go to and click on listen at 1pm PST.

5Rhythms Dance 2 Workshops Creating 1 Fabulous Experience
January 21-30, 2011
@ Studio Maui
For more info or to register, click here

New Podcasts

Click here to view the Podcasts page, and to listen to the following podcasts:

Osprey Orielle Lake, MA: Uprisings For the Earth: Reconnecting Culture with Nature
Osprey Orielle Lake, is a lifelong advocate of social and environmental justice issues. She is the Director of the Women's Earth and Climate Caucus, on the governing Board of Praxis Peace Institute and an advisor to the International Eco-Cities Standards initiative. Osprey has traveled to five continents studying ancient and modern cultures while making presentations at international conferences and universities. Her themes concern new cultural narratives and the way public imagery and stories either enhance or distance our relationship with the Earth. Her book, Uprisings for the Earth: Reconnecting Culture with Nature, has just been released.

John Robbins: The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less
John Robbins is a bestselling author, social activist, and humanitarian. He is the recipient of the Rachel Carson Award, the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award, the Peace Abbey's Courage of Conscience Award, and Green America's Lifetime Achievement Award. John's latest book is The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less. He is also author of many other books including the international bestseller Diet for a New America and the Food Revolution. John serves on the Boards of many non-profit groups working toward a thriving, just, and sustainable way of life.

William Bengston, PHD: The Energy Cure
Bill Bengston is a professor of sociology and has been involved in energy medicine research for more than 30 years. His research has appeared in a variety of professional publications and journals and he lectures widely throughout the US and Europe. He has also appeared on Oprah and friends. His new book, The Energy Cure: One man’s Quest to Unravel the Mystery of Hands On Healing has just been published.

Bill McKibben: Making a life on a touch new planet
Bill McKibben is an American environmentalist and writer who frequently writes about global warming, alternative energy and localized economies. In 2010 the Boston Globe called him "probably the nation's leading environmentalist" and Time magazine described him as "the world's best green journalist. He is the founder of He is also the author of many books including The End of Nature which has been translated into 20 languages and his latest Earth: making a life on a tough new planet.

Book of the Month

The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer
By Joel Salatin

Environmentalism is important and also controversial. We have choices. We can look for enlightenment on the subject from someone who pontificates from their power-massage recliner in their climate-controlled McMansion in the suburbs or we can look to someone whose livelihood depends on a correct understanding of the environment.

The Sheer Ecstasy of being a Lunatic Farmer is a book written by just such a man. Joel Salatin is the author. He also owns Polyface Farm which has operated for about 50 years under the principles explained by his book. I think that is about long enough to get an idea whether he is going in the right direction or not.

This book is loaded with ideas you don't hear everyday. Bigger is not always better. Artificial insemination may not be a good idea for keeping your herd genetically robust. Is there really a food shortage? He makes an excellent argument for why we should want smart, well-paid farmers. Do we really want something as important as our food to be produced by people who are as poor as dirt and half as smart? What does it say about our culture when we pay millions to rock stars and expect the farmer to take a vow of poverty? We might want to rethink those twisted and unhealthy values. There are too many interesting and great ideas to even list in a review. You'll just have to buy the book.

– Timothy Boyd

Joel Salatin will be on Conversations January 4th
and at the Nevada County Sustainable Local Food & Farming Conference, Saturday, January 22, 2011
The Gold Miner's Inn Hotel and Conference Center
Grass Valley, CA
For more info go to


How We Saved the Climate (and Ourselves)

Bil McKibben
Yes! Magazine

Let’s imagine for a moment that we’re at 2100, and the atmospheric CO2 level is slowly subsiding back toward 350, and the worst is over. Let’s try to figure out how we got there—reverse-engineer a century of halting but ultimately decisive progress.

The first decision, clearly, was the most important. In 2011, after 22 years of hemming and hawing and circling, the world’s governments—moved by a series of devastating floods on every continent that galvanized the already growing climate movement around the globe—grudgingly took the initial steps toward imposing a cap on carbon emissions. The fight was by no means easy: developing countries insisted, with reason, that the cap couldn’t hit them yet, and China insisted that it was still a developing country. Still, the climactic political battle with big oil and bigger coal ended decisively—it would be many years before they ceased to be powerful parts of the economy, but the fossil fuel era began to end on that day when the parties signed on at the Nairobi conference center.

To read the full article, click here.

Hands-on Research: The Science of Touch

Dacher Keltner
Yes! Magazine

A pat on the back, a caress of the arm—these are everyday, incidental gestures that we usually take for granted, thanks to our amazingly dexterous hands.

But after years spent immersed in the science of touch, I can tell you that they are far more profound than we usually realize: They are our primary language of compassion, and a primary means for spreading compassion.

In recent years, a wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch. This research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health.

In my own lab, in a study led by my former student Matt Hertenstein (now a professor at DePauw University), we asked whether humans can clearly communicate compassion through touch.

To read the full article, click here.

Improving Food Security by Strategically Reducing Grain Demand

Lester R. Brown
Earth Policy Institute

After several decades of rapid rise in world grain yields, it is now becoming more difficult to raise land productivity fast enough to keep up with the demands of a growing, increasingly affluent, population. From 1950 to 1990, world grainland productivity increased by 2.2 percent per year, but from 1990 until 2009 it went up by only 1.3 percent annually. Despite some impressive local advances, the global loss of momentum in expanding food production is forcing us to think more seriously about reducing demand by stabilizing population, moving down the food chain, and reducing the use of grain to fuel cars.

One of the key components of Plan B, the Earth Policy Institute’s ambitious strategy to save civilization, is to halt world population growth at no more than 8 billion by 2040. This will require an all-out population education effort to help people everywhere understand how fast the relationship between us and our natural support systems is deteriorating. It also means that we need a crash program to get reproductive health care and birth control services to the more than 200 million women today who want to plan their families but lack access to the means to do so.

To read the full article, click here.

Rising Seas and the Groundwater Equation

Felicity Barringer
The New York Times

Worldwide overpumping of groundwater, particularly in northern India, Iran, Mexico, northeastern China and the American West, more than doubled from 1960 to 2000 and is responsible for about 25 percent of the rise in sea level, according to estimates in a new study by a team of Dutch researchers published in Geophysical Review Letters.

The general idea that groundwater used for irrigation is running off into ocean-bound rivers or evaporating into the clouds, only to end up raining into the ocean, has been around for two decades or so; it was a focus of a 2005 paper in The Journal of Hydrogeology. But Peter H. Gleick, a leading expert on water issues, said the new paper offers a fresh way of quantifying the phenomenon.

To read the full article, click here.

Mother Nature Is Not Fooled By Euphemisms

Tim Murray

As William Catton has observed, language is a double-edged sword. It can be employed to convey clear and accurate information or be an agent of obfuscation and manipulation. Since the tactics of deceit and camouflage are common to a cross section of species, Catton maintains that they must not be necessarily seen as a character flaw but instead be viewed objectively as a sometimes necessary adaptation to confuse predators and prey. As Churchill said, sometimes the truth must be protected by a bodyguard of lies. It is doubtful that the Normandy invasion would have succeeded without the fiendishly deceptive ploy of creating Patton’s phantom army. Perhaps the imperatives of group living in an hierarchical arrangement primed the primate brain for deceitful tactics, but in language we have developed a means to deceive even ourselves.

To read the full article, click here.

Don’t Compromise Social Security

Doug Pibel
Yes! Magazine

Part of the proposed deal struck between President Obama and Republican legislators is a one-year, two-percent “tax holiday” on payroll taxes—the taxes that fund Social Security.

The idea is being sold as a no-loss gift to wage earners: They keep an extra 2 percent of their paychecks and there’s no loss to the Social Security trust fund because the shortfall is made up out of the general treasury. Which, since the money ultimately comes out of the general fund, is (as one of my law professors was fond of saying) “the long way ‘round the barn.” Why not take the direct route and pay the money out of the general fund in the first place?

To read the full article, click here.

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A radio show, hosted by Michael Stone, features leading edge thinkers in the areas of environmental restoration, social justice and spiritual fulfillment. Offering positive solutions to local and global issues, CONVERSATIONS touches, moves and inspires listeners to action. Weekly guests include community and world experts and concerned citizens working together to heal the wounds that separate, alienate and marginalize people.

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For it is in giving that we receive.
St. Francis of Assisi

We need your support to continue to provide Conversations, The Well of Light and other up to date information on what is happening in the environmental, spiritual, and social justice arenas. If you get value from these offerings I invite you to support their continuation by funding them. Your contribution makes a difference and so do you. Thank you for being a supporter of Conversations...

You are like a candle. Imagine you are sending light out all around you. All your words, thoughts and actions are going in many directions. If you say something kind, your kind words go in many directions, and you yourself go with them. We are ...transforming and continuing in a different form at every moment.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Upcoming Shows on Conversations

December 21st
Gabrielle Roth: Balancing Intuition, Instinct and Intellect

Gabrielle Roth makes records that people can move to. She is a recording and performing artist, author, teacher, director and creator of the 5Rhythms school of moving meditation and ecstatic dance. The sound of Roth and her band The Mirrors ranges from world music to urban street beat to the chant of Buddhist mantras.

December 28th
Jess Rimington and guests: One World Youth Project

Jess Rimington is a social entrepreneur, spoken word artist and global advocate for the power of international grass roots communication to ignite crowd-accelerated innovation and affect local social change. Jess serves as Executive Director and Founder of One World Youth Project, a youth-for-youth powered movement linking schools globally in service-learning to prepare the next generation for the globalized 21st century. She will be joined on Conversations with members of her staff as well as local youth activists.

January 4th
Joel Salatin and Rita de Quercus: Nevada County Sustainable Local Food & Farming Conference!

Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm will be one of several prominent national speakers at the upcoming Sustainable Local Food and Farming Conference, scheduled for January 22nd. The event features a full day of lectures on the subjects of sustainable agriculture, farm to consumer direct marketing, and raising nutrient dense food and much more. The mission of Nevada County Grown is to foster a sustainable local agricultural economy by making the community aware of locally grown agricultural products and assisting qualified agricultural producers to promote their products. For more information go to

January 11th
Professor john a. powell: Race, ethnicity, poverty and the law

Professor john a. powell, is an internationally recognized authority in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, and issues relating to race, ethnicity, poverty and the law. He is the Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University. He has written extensively on a number of issues including structural racism/racialization, racial justice and regionalism, concentrated poverty and urban sprawl, opportunity-based housing, voting rights, affirmative action in the United States, South Africa and Brazil, racial and ethnic identity, spirituality and social justice, and the needs of citizens in a democratic society.

January 18th
Raffi Cavoukian: Child Honouring and the Compassion Revolution

Raffi Cavoukian is known to millions simply as Raffi, a renowned Canadian singer once called “the most popular children’s entertainer in the western world” (Washington Post). Raffi is also a renaissance man: record producer, author, systems thinker, ecology advocate and entrepreneur. Raffi’s work has changed: he has become a “global troubadour”, lecturing and networking to help create a viable future: a restorative, child-friendly world for ourselves and for those to come. Raffi is chair of the Board of Directors for the new Centre for Child Honouring on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, which serves as an education hub for the advancement of Child Honouring as a universal ethic.

January 25th
Melanie Lenart, Ph.D; Roger Pielke, Jr.; and Jim Miller Ph.D and other scientists on our Climate and our Changing Ecosystem

Melanie Lenart, Ph.D., is an award-winning journalist, is environmental scientist and writer specializing in climate change and forests. As a scientist, she studied forest dynamics in China, Colorado, and Puerto Rico, where she lived during two major hurricanes. She was involved in an Arizona agricultural experiment testing how plants responded to elevated levels of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for the ongoing warming of the planet.

Roger Pielke, Jr. is a professor of environmental studies at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He also has appointments as a Visiting Senior Fellow, Mackinder Programme, London School of Economics and Senior Visiting Fellow at the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University. Pielke is also a Senior Fellow of The Breakthrough Institute, a progressive think tank. His latest book is The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians won’t tell you about Global Warming. about_us/meet_us/roger_pielke/

Jim Miller, Phd is a professor at Rutgers University and systems thinker who co- edited “Scientists Debate Gaia.” His current projects include some fascinating work that seems to be pointing to a mostly unexplored element in the climate system – namely, that the extra water vapor in a warming atmosphere may be contributing to the particularly high rates of warming above the Tibetan Plateau and other icy realms. He was also involved in producing a state-based report on climate change for New Jersey.

Conversations airs every Tuesday at 1pm PST on KVMR.

For current shows or more information go to


Lynne Twist - The Soul of Money


Katie Makkai - Pretty

Maude Barlow: With Only Market-Based Solutions on the Table "The Continued Destruction of the Earth...Can Go on Quite Happily"

Hot Site of the Month

Common Dreams

“Common Dreams is a must in my life and work.”
– Bill Moyers, PBS

Common Dreams is a one of the top progressive websites and a powerful online voice for change in America. They publish breaking news from a progressive perspective, offering the latest ideas and opinions of some of the world's best progressive writers and activists.

“We are united by our common dreams of peace and security, equal opportunity, and meaningful participation in our society. We are energized by our passionate belief that these dreams should be within reach of everyone. Regardless of race, gender, or status.” Their mission is: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

This is one of my most trusted resources when I am doing research. I invite you to check it out at

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Well of Light Seva Team

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
— Mohandas K. Gandhi

Seva is selfless service to a cause you believe will benefit others. It is the willingness to perform any task for a greater cause without prospect of recognition or reward.

Well of Light has many opportunities to serve our community. If you would like to participate on the Well of Light Seva Team please call Michael Stone @ 530.477.7757 or email

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."
- Albert Schweitzer

Poetry Corner

from “Experiencing Death”

I had imagined being there beneath sunlight
with the procession of martyrs
using just the one thin bone
to uphold a true conviction
And yet, the heavenly void
will not plate the sacrificed in gold
A pack of wolves well-fed full of corpses
celebrate in the warm noon air
aflood with joy

Faraway place
I’ve exiled my life to
this place without sun
to flee the era of Christ’s birth
I cannot face the blinding vision on the cross
From a wisp of smoke to a little heap of ash
I’ve drained the drink of the martyrs, sense spring’s
about to break into the brocade-brilliance of myriad flowers

Deep in the night, empty road
I’m biking home
I stop at a cigarette stand
A car follows me, crashes over my bicycle
some enormous brutes seize me
I’m handcuffed eyes covered mouth gagged
thrown into a prison van heading nowhere

A blink, a trembling instant passes
to a flash of awareness: I’m still alive
On Central Television News
my name’s changed to “arrested black hand”
though those nameless white bones of the dead
still stand in the forgetting
I lift up high up the self-invented lie
tell everyone how I’ve experienced death
so that “black hand” becomes a hero’s medal of honor

Even if I know
death’s a mysterious unknown
being alive, there’s no way to experience death
and once dead
cannot experience death again
yet I’m still
hovering within death
a hovering in drowning
Countless nights behind iron-barred windows
and the graves beneath starlight
have exposed my nightmares

Besides a lie
I own nothing

- Liu Xiaobo, a poet and literary critic, is the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. China has forbidden him to travel to the award ceremony, held in Oslo. This poem was translated by Jeffrey Yang from the Chinese.

Invisible Paths

None of the roads go where I'm going.
  Promising paths lead nowhere.
They twist and turn,
  And I arrive at my starting point
Again and again.
I strike out anew,
And now even my starting point is lost to me.
I see people walking, purposefully,
And I follow them.
  They seem to know where they are going.
  Are they lost too?
  I cannot be sure.

They lead me to places,
But I do not feel at home there.
People look at me accusingly.
I am unwelcome.
Nor do I feel at home on these endless paths.
Finally I stop.
  There it is! A light!
I knew it. I knew it all along,
  But the path is invisible.
I strike out through the darkness toward the soft glow of home.

The direction is clear but the light is distant.

  An occasional glimmer illuminates my path for a second,

And then more darkness.

  I feel my way through it,

  Deep into unknown territory,

  Leaving a new trail behind me.

  I meet other wanderers and we share a fire

  That promises of our destination.

We set off again, warm and purposeful.

  The night is cold and dark and I am on my way.

– Charles Eisenstein

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