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James Stark: Opening Windows to Wonder, the Miracles of Life and Nature

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Nuggets From James Stark's Call

Last Saturday, we had the privilege of hosting Awakin Call with James Stark.

James Stark has committed his life to exploring how we might move into greater harmony with who we are and reignite a deep connection with the rest of the natural world. He is the co-director of the Regenerative Design Institute (RDI) at Commonweal and co-founder and co-director of the Ecology of Leadership and the Ecology of Awakening programs, which prepare community leaders for what some are describing as the “Great Turning” of our era: an invitation to face the destructive nature of our modern way of life and urgent need to transition into living in harmony with and support of our Earth home. The Commonweal Garden in Bolinas, California has been developed into a large-scale living permaculture classroom and demonstration center for regenerative design. Jame's non-profit RDI aims to revolutionize the way humans relate to the natural world, and to teach the skills and technology needed to create solutions to the environmental crisis.

We'll post the transcript of the call soon, but till then, some of the nuggets that stood out from the call ...

  • “Starting in my teenage years, I began imagining what the world could look like, and how I could enroll others in making it happen.”

  • “Humanity’s biggest challenge is that we’ve become more and more detached from our larger body, which is Nature.”

  • “We’ve lost so much that changing our lifestyles to be more sustainable is not enough. Our challenge today is to create new lifestyles that will regenerate the Earth.”

  • “[Since my wife Penny Livingston Stark and I came to Marin County, took over the Commonweal Garden, and founded the Regenerative Design Institute], our life has been about living in the selves that we’ve imagined, with all that creativity expressing itself in our relationship to the Earth. Living that way, a lot can happen, and people are drawn to that.”

  • “People who've joined us are learning what they need to transform their lives. It all depends on what's going on with our inner life."

  • “People are discovering that there’s life beyond the shopping mall!”

  • “We all need to upgrade our childhood operating systems. Unless we update to an adult operating system, we can end up as adults operating with a child operating system."

  • “How can we move beyond patterns that no longer serve us in our lives? We have to cultivate our inner garden as much as our outer garden. We try to bring the same joy we experience in our gardening, into the exploration of our mind, heart and body."

  • “The predominate form in our culture is emotional land filling. It's the same thing we do with our garbage out there. It's all connected. What we need to do is to switch to emotional composting.”

  • “Nature always balances and heals and restores vitality. It's only us who keep everything locked in.”

  • "When we go into a mode of community connection, then a healing process begins."

  • "Once our old judgments and stories start to fade, then we get to hear what the universe is calling us to do now.”

  • [Replying to a question on permaculture:] It takes 2 years when we arrive at a new place to observe what's going on. There's already a whole ecology there. After a couple of years, you begin to get a feeling for what's there. With inner gardening, we can also take time to observe the permaculture that's there. Family stories, culture stories, judgments, values, etc. It takes courage to take time to look at all that."

  • “The thing about fear is, when you resist it, it persists. When we observe it, it begins to unravel. Then we can begin to explore who we are."

  • "The Great Turning, with Joanna Macy as a great spokesperson, is human beings turning from destroying our planet, to living in harmony with the living planet."

  • "It's never happened before. With all the information we have now, we're fully in contact with the enormity of what's happening."

  • "Awakening is having the courage to look squarely where we are with climate change, etc. and intuiting what's about to happen. But we want to bring the light into it -- with the amazing potential for us to transform what is happening."
For anyone interested in learning more about and supporting his work, James recommends checking out the Regenerative Design Institute website.

With lots of gratitude to James Stark, LuAnn Cooley, and all the behind-the-scenes volunteers that made this call happen!


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