Thursday, 29 November 2007

long time no speak

Yikes! I have been on the road a while now and have not posted anything. By way of making up for this hear is a potted summary of the highlights of my travels. Updates and comments will no doubt come during the 2 months I am about to spend in NZ!


Back in early July, I attended the Wisdom University New Chatres School, France.

Wisdom is making a very brave attempt to bridge between academia and spirituality, and has re-instigated an ancient wisdom school that once operated from within the famous cathedral. I have always found that academic rigour and new age spirituality don’t mix well, so was curious to see if they could manage it. The short answer was no…but as a kind of hybrid spiritual learning experience I found it generally quite informative with some of the speakers listed below being particularly inspirational and worth looking up.

Lynn Bell, a world renowned astrologer, spoke eloquently about collective archetypes and astrology and their relationship to group and societal dynamics. She was a wonderful story teller and had an interesting way of linking seemingly dispirit concepts together.

Jeremy Taylor, an expert on dream work ran sessions showing us how to dynamically, and ethically work with dreams as a device for personal and group growth. He was deeply passionate about his work and extremely skilled at dream analysis. His connection between psychological projection, and the transformative potential of group dream work was an avenue I intend to follow up in my research. I highly recommend his book: The Living Labyrinth: Exploring Universal Themes in Myths, Dreams, and the Symbolism of Waking Life.

Apela Colorado did not do a lot of speaking, but what she did say was worth listening to. I attended a session she ran on dream work and this contained some other of her material on indigenous science.

Carolyn Myss, who spoke about her latest book based: “Entering the Castle – An Inner Path to God and Your Soul” based on the writings of Teresa of Ávila.

The metaphor of travelling through seven mansions in your spiritual growth was interesting…but after reading it I felt a bit worried that I hadn’t even gotten into the hallway of the semi-detached bungalow down the road.

Attending the course provided unparalleled access to historic and beautiful Chatres Cathedral, and is worth attending simply for that experience!


Back to more recent times, in October I attended the 7th Annual Transformational Learning Conference in Albuquerque, NM, USA.

The theme was ‘Issues of Difference and Diversity’ which many of you know is one of my professional areas of interest, and a tangential area of focus for my dissertation. Overall I found the conference interesting but noticed that the overwhelming focus was on individual cognitive development. Much of my own work involves working from a variety of perspectives and there didn’t seem to be much integral/multi-paradigmatic exploration present… at least not this year.

However, there were pockets of extremely interesting work. Teachers College - Columbia University, California Institute of Integral Studies and Fielding University sent some very switched on people, a few of whom I have kept in contact.

Also there was a morning session where non-US delegates were given space to discuss their individual areas of research. The speakers, which included researchers from Europe, South East Asia, Latin America and West Asia, came from a much more systemic, holistic perspective… which was refreshing!

A few of the keynotes were very good:

Dr.Arturo Ornelas: and

Dr. Eliseo “Cheo”,Torres: provided and interesting perspective on transformative education. They have been working to acquaint the public on the importance of folk healing/indigenous medicine…and have created an interesting course at the University of New Mexico on this subject. Also they have some great things to say about egalitarian education.

In the last session of the conference: Stephen Brookfield: and Terrence Maltbia

gave a great in their no holds barred look at “diversity” programmes and education. They were great at naming some dysfunctional dynamics that occur when engaging in (well meaning) discourses related to ‘white privilege’.

Overall it was useful to make contact with people who are extremely reflective and engaged practitioners, and if any of you want to know more please let me know as I can refer you to certain papers and references.


Next I visited Prague, Czech Republic to learn what is happening in the interstices of art and science.

Part of the 40th Anniversary of Leonardo, the Mutamorphosis Conference: was an interesting exploration of art and science collaboration and engagement.

If you take a look at the link you will see some mind bending papers on topics as varied as: Exo-Botany, Nano Art, Eco Sonifications, Memory Extension etc.

Highlights, for me were:

A panel discussion between the group I work with here in Brussels - and some other artistic contributors around human/plant interfaces was very engaging and asked us to consider communication in its most expansive sense.

An artist called Stelarc who gave a very disturbing seminar on Alternate Anatomical Architectures, climaxing with an unveiling of a human ear he has grown on his arm (I kid you not!)

Roy Ascott
( who gave a talk entitled: “Terror Incognito: Steps to an Extremity of Mind” which I’m sure many of you will resonate with. The following is a quote from the abstract but nicely summarises the general gist of his current thought:

“Just as earlier societies approached the terra incognito of the unmapped planet with fearful caution, and our emergent military/police state uses for its own dominance the hostility of its ideological antagonists to exacerbate a climate of terror, so we are encouraged by our scientists and institutions of learning to fear the extreme conditions of mind, to see altered states of consciousness as a threat to the orthodoxies of being, and the stabilities of social norms. This fear prevents research into mind at anything beyond the crudest form of reductionism. The paradox is that the most extreme, unnatural and hostile territory of mind is actually within us, at the simple, everyday level of thought and behaviour. For it is here that we find the most impenetrable barriers to expanded consciousness, and an ecology of mind blighted and laid barren by the constraints of fundamentalist rationality, which has led to the death and extermination of scientific idealism. As global warming accelerates, it is as much the ecology of the mind as of the earth that needs attention."

Roger Malina, an astrophysicist who talked about dark matter. This wasn’t particularly new material, but I liked the user-friendly language he used for that context.

Victoria Vesna and James Gimzewski, who talked about lots of different things including their investigation into extra-terrestrials, giant tesla coils in at Joshua Tree National Park and Blue Morph Butterflies. Probably the most interesting, and risk taking stuff I saw there…none the least that they actually dared to mention E.T.s!

See the conference abstracts at

Mutamorphosis was smaller part of the Enter 3 Festival, ttp:// which was taking place in various locations around Prague. Frank Malina’s Kinetic Art/Electric Paintings were one of the featured exhibits and I found these absolutely mind bending as works of art. Particularly since they were created in the 1950’s and 60’s but even now look like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie set. More about Malina and his work can be found at


My most recent jaunt was to the ‘Be the Change’ conference at Westminster, London.

Best described as a large gathering of people working for positive change, the conference has now been going for several years. In the past the general themes have centred on ecology, consciousness and spirituality. This year it narrowed and deepened the focus onto climate and environmental issues. (Perhaps with larger corporate sponsorship in mind!).

Many of the speakers here are worth mentioning, and I have provided links to most of their websites. I must say that this conference had the highest impact on me. The material provided was stark, and shook me at quite a deep level that I am only just now coming to terms with. It was all very well for me to have fun with artists and scientists and educators, and learning lots of things on a conceptual level. But it was here that the reality of what is being faced around the planet really hit home.

Speakers I recommend looking up:

Maude Barlow:

From the Blue Planet Project is working to stop commodification of world's water. She had some very scary stories of what is currently happening, and inspirational stories of what has already been done to conserve what we have all too long taken for granted.

Blue Gold: The Battle against corporate theft of the world’s water. 2003

Julia Hausermann

Founder of an international movement for the promotion and realisation of human rights and responsibilities. She promotes an innovative and very effective human rights approach to development and environmental issues.


Frances Moore Lapp.

Is the Co-Founder of the Small Planet Institute, the Centre for Living Democracy and the Institute for Food and Development Policy. She has put together a lot of diverse material in an interesting way relating to the way humans engage together, the way we see the world and why, what causes us to be so destructive, and things that we can do to change this.

Take a look at


She also cited Eric Fromm in her talk and his material was also quite interesting on the theme of what causes humans to go bad:

Vandana Shiva

She does inspiring work with a particular interest in changing paradigms of agriculture and food. Her books include Violence of Green Revolution and Monocultures of the Mind both of which challenge non-sustainable, reductionist agricultural practices. Her recount of Indian farmer suicides due to Monsanto’s GM seed (mal) practices was heart wrenching…and her very practical and successful response was totally inspirational.

Rob Hopkins

Started the Transition Towns Movement, which is a community led approach to peak oil planning. Rob and his group are doing very innovative and successful community development work. They are developing combinations of tools that wake up large groups of people to important issues and are having a great deal of success at grass roots level.

George Monbiot

An eloquent and extremely knowledgeable speaker who presented not only the reality of what is being faced re climate change and energy, but also very clear and tangible solutions that will deal with the problem.

Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning. Allen Lane 2006

Stewart Wallis

Executive Director of the new economics foundation.

nef, carry out many different initiatives to challenge our dominant global economic model. Several years ago I used nef’s social accounting model to help one of my client organisations to be more accountable socially and environmentally, as well as financially.

nef are an interesting group and it is worth squirreling down into their website.



In addition to conferencing I have talking to a number of interesting people recently. I will put more detailed notes on the site about my interviews but for now two highlights are:

F. David Peat, noted physicist and writer (author of twenty books including Synchronicity: The Bridge between Matter and Mind, Blackfoot Physics, Superstrings, The Blackwinged Night: Creativity in Nature and Mind and From Certainty to Uncertainty). Last year I stayed at his centre in Italy and can strongly recommend it as a retreat space. Go to his site and take a look ...he also regularly runs extremely interesting conferences and workshops on the meeting points between indigenous and western epistemologies, art and science, religion and science and all things in between.

Tassos Stevens. Actor, Director, Guerilla Theatre and Alternate Realty Game Creator. A mysterious character who is working in a kind of trans-genre gap that subverts reality while at the same time building community and organisational cohesion in a very interesting way!


I am currently reading a bunch of great books that I will review in the months to the meantime… I strongly recommend getting a copy of The Shift Report, 2007 by the Noetic Science Institute.

It is a document that puts together all of the most interesting breakthroughs and future trends in most major areas of interest: education, business, neuroscience, biology etc etc. IONS do some interesting stuff and are well worth supporting by becoming a member.


What are the most effective, creative, ethical and sustainable ways to facilitate growth in consciousness?

How can we best encourage and facilitate transdisciplinary collaboration, that builds bridges over the chasms of language, epistemology, territorialism and ego centeredness?

What the most effective ways to increase agency, participation and pro-activity on a mass scale?

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