AUGUST 31, 2019 — NOVEMBER 16, 2019
Gone? is a twelve-week virtual learning community, support space, and facilitated framework aimed at building our collective agency, resilience, and responsiveness in the face of ecocide and climate collapse.
Gone? is a chance to engage with climate collapse in an embodied kind of way, experiencing how our rapidly changing world lands in the intricacies and nuances of the body and the wild intelligences of the earth and the more-than-human world.
Gone? is an opportunity to connect with, receive the company of, and be witnessed by other folks with a mutual concern for the planet and a shared commitment to deep presence through these uncertain times.
Gone? seeks to shift the focus from reactively “fixing” the symptoms of climate chaos to recognizing and resolving deeper widespread collective trauma loops that lie at the root of the interwoven crises we face.
Gone? invites us to develop a discerning gaze, both on the ways we perform “environmentalism” and on the prominent narratives that dominate our one-dimensional analysis of this crisis.
Gone? engages somatic awareness, critical inquiry, and radical togetherness in devotion of an alternate narrative beyond the violent dysfunctions of business-as-usual.
— DURING OUR TIME TOGETHER, WE’LL FOCUS ON —
[ WEEKS 1-3 ] LANDING
Acknowledging our reciprocity with life and with a planet that gives us life
Resourcing support and relative safeness for functional bonding & social engagement
Exploring joy & pleasure as essential forms of co-regulation
Developing a sense of agency through embodied self awareness
Activating our felt sense through introception and proprioception
Orienting ourselves honorably within the field of space and time
Recognizing the underlying intelligence of our (mal)adaptive defense mechanisms
[ WEEKS 4-6 ] NOTICING
Entering into the subtle artfulness of observation
Tracking changes, patterns, and cycles within and around us
Paying attention to, receiving, and interpreting critical internal and external feedback cues
Identifying and naming what we are witnessing
Developing the presence to be with what is
Building our capacity to hold all that is happening in our bodies
Honoring our inextricable relationship with loss and grief
Sitting in the trouble, holding the tension of paradox, allowing for uncertainty
[ WEEKS 7-9 ] PERCEIVING
Interrogating business-as-usual and the ways we’re hooked into harm
Deconstructing dominant narratives, paradigms, perceptual frameworks, and belief systems
Recognizing, reframing, and reworking our understandings of power and
Building greater awareness of our lineages, all our relations, what we’re made of, what’s come before
Realizing our role as story-crafters, culture shapers, and meaning-makers responsibly
Reimagining alternatives and building radical solidarity with that vision in the here and now
[WEEKS 10-12] MOBILIZING
Rooting into the heart of what matters right now
Activating our capacity for “flexible responsiveness” in the face of crisis
Cultivating reciprocity and critical connections for change
Sharing our gifts for systemic transformation
Renegotiating our expectations and definitions of success
Taking action with intention, integrity, and accountability
— TOPICS WE PLAN TO COVER INCLUDE —
[NOUN] a form of psychic or existential distress evoked by environmental change
— THIS OFFERING IS NOT —
Focused on getting the answer right. Invested in the illusion that we can go at this work alone. Perpetuating the assumption that we are all tasked with doing the same thing in response to climate change. Full of platitudes, convenient truths, and simple solutions. A course on personal growth or individual survivalism. An invitation to perform activism or posture yourself as “one of the good ones.” A warm, fuzzy spiritually bypass-y group hug. A chance for complete emotional catharsis. An opportunity for folks to distance themselves from the ways they perpetuate harm.
— RATHER, THIS OFFERING WILL BE —
Focused on leaning and living into our questions. Invested in the truth of our interbeing. Supporting the belief that we each possess unique gifts that will inform the work we’re here to do in and for the world. Full of complex paradoxes, uncomfortable truths, and difficult inquiries. A course on bridging connections and engaging in collective co-regulation. An invitation to commit to the necessary, messy work of critical inquiry, vulnerable honesty, and fierce compassion. A beautiful brave space to bear witness to what’s happening together. A chance to be present with all our individual, relational, and collective nuances and complexities through these rather precarious times here on Earth together. An opportunity for folks to critically examine their sense of power, acknowledge how they benefit from systemic harm, disengage from violent behaviors, and dismantle interwoven structures of oppression.
— HERE CALLING TOGETHER —
Parents, Teachers, Students, Clergy, Activists, Entrepreneurs, Academics, Artists, Writers, Organizers, Engineers, Public Servants, Farmers, Land Stewards, Caregivers, Therapists, Birth workers, Death workers, Healers, Deep Feelers, Seekers, Dreamers, Disruptors…
Really, whomever feels called to be engaged in this space wholeheartedly
— DETAILS —
We will spend time facing harsh realities, courageously leaning into difficult issues, and naming the distress we are experiencing over climate disruption and ecocide—but I don’t want this work to be unnecessarily taxing or traumatizing for folks. We will go slow, take breaks, and pace ourselves. We will alsso regularly root into our joy anden pleasure. This framework was created for us to learn how to work within our system’s “window of tolerance” so as to minimize the harm that can arise when combining a perceived lack of safety with triggered hyper and hypo-aroused states (activation and dissociation, respectively).
The title of this program implies a future-oriented focus. While this is true, this work recognizes that functional future orientation is supported by fully inhabiting the present moment. Deep presence will be one of our primary intentions in coming together.
I’m interested in divesting from our current hierarchal models of teaching and learning, so I will not posture myself as the upmost authority. Our time together will be a blend of sharing and receiving. This means you’ll be learning a lot, but this is also an invitation to offer yourself, your observations, and your brilliance into the space. Authentic connection opens us to the healing power of co-regulation—so, forming the containers and conditions for constructive, functional, joy-full social engagement will be another essential focus of this experience.
I’d like to name that this is an online offering, but I don’t want this to be an excuse for us to spend even more time on the computer, on our phones, on social media. I see this as an entry point into connection that would be otherwise inaccessible without the internet. I also hope that this experience might serve as an invitation into honest assessment of the relationship we each have with these technologies. For a number of reasons, there will be no online forum or Facebook group. Instead, we will focus our online engagement to 12 weekly two-hour ZOOM video conference calls.
There will be no added work or extra reading assignments. Your singular “homework assignment” during this program is to spend more unstructured time outside, paying attention. I will be sending out a weekly digest email with exercises for you to bring this work into the body, but nothing is required.
I am not interested in telling you what you need to do in the face of climate collapse. Because doing so would just work to center my own perspective and perpetuate frameworks of power as dominance and expertise as more valid. Rather, this offering is here to support you in learning to listen to and trust the (often quiet, still) voice within that already knows exactly what needs to be done.
As teacher and guide, my work is always in service of the good of the greater Earth community, not in service of an ideology or sense of authority. I am not the gatekeeper of this wisdom. I do not believe that I somehow “own” this work. That being said—I do believe in honoring lineage and cultivating right-relationship through reciprocity. Reciprocity indicates a commitment to authenticity and generosity in how we choose to relate to one another. If you receive something valuable from these efforts, it is my hope that you carry forth this sense of lineage and reciprocity in how this work becomes translated into your own life.
— INCLUDED —
A weekly email digest with relevant resources and information
An invitation to participate in twelve (12) weekly community learning gatherings, in the form of a two-hour video conference call on Zoom, led by facilitator Rachael Alaia
Access to a video and audio recording of said gatherings
Four bonus guest interviews (TBA) in video, audio, and written transcript
— LOGISTICS —
TIME AND SPACE
We will gather for two-hour long ZOOM video conference calls on Saturday afternoons at 10am North American Pacific/1pm Eastern/5pm Greenwich Mean Time. Because this is our entry point of connection for this program, live participation on these calls is highly encouraged. If you can’t make it live, these calls will be recorded.
Our first gathering lands on Saturday, August 31st. Our last gathering is on Saturday, November 16th. The program runs for a length of twelve calendar weeks. We begin on a New Moon and end on a Waning Gibbous.
DURING OUR CALLS
After an intentional centering and calling together of our energies to open the space, the first portion (~40 minutes) will focus on that week’s theme and course material. Then we will have a short break (5 minutes) followed by an interactive group practice (~25 minutes), to bridge individual and collective, theory and praxis, mind and body. We will also have some time designated to dialogue in council, which will be our time as a community to give voice to that which feels most present and prescient (~45 minutes) We will close with rhythm, sound, and movement (5 minutes).
— ABOUT THE FACILITATOR —
I am Rachael Alaia, your guide and facilitator for this experience.
I created this program out of a deep, compelling need to cultivate community around the most pressing issue of our time—climate collapse.
The framework we move through in GONE? is an iteration of the four-part Spiral of the Work that Reconnects (Gratitude, Honoring Your Pain for the World, Seeing with New Eyes, Going Forth). The Work that Reconnects, a group process and framework brought to life by scholar and activist Joanna Macy, combines systems theory with Buddhist philosophy to explain the workings of Industrial Growth Society, insight into the Great Turning, support through the Great Unraveling, and active hope for a Regenerative
I have been a dancer my entire life, an expressive arts practitioner since my teens, and a movement teacher since my early twenties. This shows up in the work as a strong focus on the body.
I’m also working on the ground, in the early stages of forming a community center and regenerative design hub.
My own knowledge lineage, to which I heavily credit in the development of this work:
Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Minor in Math & Science Education from University of California, Santa Barbara (2010)
Master of Arts in Environmental Conservation Education from New York University (2012)
Comprehensive facilitation training in The Work that Reconnects with Joanna Macy, Mollie Brown, Constance Washburn, and Mutima Imani (2018)
Participation in the Cross Cultural Studies Program with Clarissa Pinkola Estés (2015, 2016)
Shipibo plant medicine immersion (2014)
Vipassana meditation training, as taught by S.N. Goenka in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin (2014)
Yoga training in the lineage of Krishnamacharya with Nicki Doane and Eddie Modestini of Maya Yoga (2012, 2013)
The Red Thread with Laura Larriva Page (2016)
Coaching as Activism with Andréa Ranae Johnson (2017)
Consent Culture for Kids with Isabelle Faith Abbot (2018)
Grief Literacy Training with being here, human (2019)
Unraveled with Staci Jordan Shelton (2018)
Dismantle with Abigail Rose Clarke (2017)
Blood and Belonging and Writing Resilience with Marybeth Bonfiglio (2018, 2019)
Trauma Informed Embodiment therapy with Gwynn Raimondi (2019)
While I’ve not studied directly with any of these folks, I’ve learned a great deal from them and feel compelled to name them here:
Judith Herman, Peter Levine, Bessel van der Kolk, Peter Walker, Gabor Mate, Charles Eisenstein, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Francis Weller, Martín Prechtel,
And, beyond those already mentioned, this program could not have been made possible without the guidance, support, and rapport of friends, colleagues, loved ones, mentors of mine, including:
my partner Alberto, my parents Allen and Susan Helschein, Jen Lemen, Rachael Rice, Jesse Heid,
— COST + COMMITMENT —
This twelve-week program is priced at $240 USD ($80/month).
There are a limited number of scholarships available to folks who wish to register, but find this price point inaccessible. Folks with marginalized identities (ie. Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Trans, Queer, Disabled, Single mothers) will be offered priority. You can apply for those spots here.
If you have the economic power, I highly encourage you to contribute to the scholarship fund for this offering. You will be invited to contribute additional funds upon registering.
Full participation in this program implies a weekly commitment of two (2) hours per week for our virtual gatherings, as well as (ideally) at least one (1) hour spent outside every day.
— A FINAL WORD ON ACCOUNTABILITY + JUSTICE —
I am a woman with Celtic (Irish, English, Scottish), Swedish, Western European (French, German, Dutch), and Native American (Haudenosanee, Pawnee) ancestry. I was raised as white, dissociated from any cultural heritage or indigenous roots. I am an only child in an upper-middle class nuclear family. My father’s family does not have generational wealth. My mother’s family does. I am in a long-term heterosexual partnership with a man. I am a mother to an active two-and-a-half year old. I navigate life with a variety of symptomatic manifestations of Complex PTSD.
I was born in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to “expatriate” parents from the United States. I have dual citizenship between Mexico and the United States. I spent most of my formative years in Mexico, Northern California, and Maui. I currently steward and occupy a small tract of land, per a community-land agreement, in El Tuito, Jalisco, Mexico. This land was originally stewarded by the Tecoxquin, the Nahua, the Wirarika. The indigenous people in this area have experienced colonization in this area for hundreds of years.
POTENTIAL FOR HARM
While I do a great deal of ongoing personal + community work to unhook from the harmful systems, institutions, and patterns of relating that I’ve been culturally programmed to perpetuate (ie. colonialism, whiteness, misogyny, ableism, classism, transphobia, scientific reductionism… among many others), I know that I simply cannot trust that these weapons won’t wield themselves unconsciously in my work, my words, my actions.
No matter how intentional I am about creating an inclusive space committed to liberation for all beings, my own identities, cultural associations/dissociations, and patterns of trauma contribute to an oppressive colonial framework that is inherently violent towards marginalized bodies, namely Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC).
To be responsible to this reality and in right-relationship with this community, I recognize that I myself must be held accountable. To assist me in this task, I’ve enlisted the support of a handful of respected colleagues and trusted mentors for due-diligence. I also hope that this community will also help to keep us all accountable to the values that anchor this work.
During this experience, you will not find me appropriating objects, stories, practices, or stances that are not mine to engage with or share. I will practice honesty about my own gaps in understanding, about my shortsightedness and failings, and about any conflicts that may arise. I will put forth every effort to ensure that everyone person in this space is granted the opportunity to be held, protected, and supported with the upmost care and dignity.
Twenty percent of what comes in for this course will be given away to
Black Lives Matter
The Indigenous Environmental Network
Giving money to folks isn’t the final solution—creative on the ground help is required to resist business-as-usual and work for the conditions that support necessary change. But people and organizational entities have real needs that, for the time being, necessitate a cash flow. And, the transfer of capital and economic power to marginalized folks is one way to facilitate .