Welcome to CHI, the Saskatoon Community Healing Initiative
by Patti Lindgren Gera with Esther Stenberg
In the fall of 2011, I did something I had never done before when I joined the Occupy movement in Saskatoon. Like many others, I had grown too aware and too concerned about the state of humanity, community, and the world not to join in. Occupy welcomed me like it welcomed everyone. It opened a space for my voice and connected me to others here at home who were joining the global call for justice and our evolution into a consciously co-creative humanity.
Our encampment and grievances came under plenty of fire by those who looked on without understanding or even curiosity, feeling the comforts of their privilege threatened. It didn’t stop us. We had come together in a way I’m not sure any of us had experienced before. We were grieving, confused, and frustrated. We competed amongst ourselves, and yet still felt alive in ways we hadn’t before. We were experiencing the beginnings of a new way of being together.
It was a way that I now recognize as an old instinctual way of being that comes out of natural and village intelligence.
Four years have passed since the encampments were shut down by police, and much has changed. By the look of governments, wars, corporations, and their news channels, our reality remains grim. In communities all over the world, our own included, austerity measures continue and along with them, the callous discarding of human and non-human life.
Fortunately, even though mainstream news won’t tell the real stories, our fresh ways forward have grown considerably since Occupy. In my way of seeing things, perhaps yours too, the resistance is now coming from the other side. The old world is fighting to stay alive in the reality of a new world that’s already been born, if not broadly visible yet.
The Saskatoon Community Healing Initiative (CHI) is a project that Esther Stenberg and I have been working on developing behind the scenes for more than a year. The purpose of CHI is to help us amp up the good works and dig in more deeply and widely. We are opening up a community-wide field for honest connection, healing, and conscious co-creativity.
The ground and centre of CHI is held by four key principles: natural intelligence, village intelligence, synergistic democracy, and social artistry.
Natural intelligence is the intelligence that animates all life and holds within it the codes for life as a member of the living world, connected with all that is. In this modern world, it is very difficult to remember and operate from this intelligence.
Village intelligence springs out of natural intelligence. It values all members and works with the dynamics of masculine and feminine, youth and eldership, rites of passage, and communion with the natural world.
Synergistic democracy is what nature does. It matches needs with resources, resulting in the production of more resources, and every member thrives.
Social artistry uses our talents and skills in any field to bring the order, passion, and skill of an artist to form the canvass of our social reality.
As a grassroots initiative, CHI will be funded by us, we the people of community, through the pooling of our resources of all kinds.
There will be a council to guide CHI’s development and operation as an inclusive, integral, accountable, and effective agent of consciously co-creative community.
CHI is looking at health in terms of the individual as a whole, the health of our families, our neighbourhoods, livelihoods, systems, and the natural world.
CHI will be illuminating, connecting, and relaying news of all the good work already being done and in gestation, facilitating the kind of attention, participation, and support that people and our emerging world require.
CHI envisions a team of community healing facilitators who will be connected and share specific training for the Initiative. They are the people on the ground who will be doing the work of illuminating trouble, matching needs with resources, and informing the changes our systems need for us all to thrive. These facilitators will be people already working in or wishing to become active in positions of healing and guiding
CHI will be reclaiming and reviving the commons as the instigator of our actions and systems for community.
CHI hopes to become a living model for community healing that others can learn from and apply in their own communities.
We plan to facilitate the building of this Initiative through a series of events that flow with the natural rhythms of creation—our natural intelligence—beginning with a weekend of launching activities on the spring equinox, March 18, 19, and 20.
If you feel excited by this idea, are actively working on solutions, or looking for a place to apply yourself, please come to any or all of the weekend events.
To find out about the community launch March 18–20, please go to www.facebook.com/groups/villageofsaskatoon, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. To speak to someone today, you can call Patti at 306-229-1978.
Esther Stenberg is a physician psychotherapist in her 36th career year. She is the visionary and keeper of Ancient Spirals, a powerful gathering location just 15 minutes south of Saskatoon.
Patti Lindgren Gera is a choreographer of co-creative projects, a rewilding woman, an emerging mystic and an experienced manager in business and community organizations.