Speaker: Mark Dubois

What I Learned From the Rivers

"Despite my strength, I remember the oar being ripped out of my hand like I was a baby. I was not yet paying real attention to the river. I broke seven oars my first year because I wasn’t in rhythm with it. I was fighting against it. The next year I learned to dance with the river. I remember a friend saying, 'You know, Mark, you learned on the river the lessons I learned through years in a monastery,'" Mark Dubois reflects.

When Alan Zulch met this six foot eight inch legend, he wrote this: "I met Mark the other night at a Native American event and pretty much instantly felt like I'd known him for ages. Mark has an illustrious past, as a co-founder of Friends of the River, International Rivers Network, and WorldWise, and was international coordinator for Earth Day in 1990 and 2000 that involved 200 million people from 184 countries. In 1979 he captured national headlines when he chained himself to the bedrock of the Stanislaus River Canyon as a new reservoir filled. While his action forced only a temporary reprieve for the Stanislaus, the growing movement to protect rivers brought a halt to major dam building in the United States. And, for all of his exemplary work past and present, what is was most striking to me about meeting Mark was discovering his profound commitment to Gandhian principles of nonviolence and oneness, both personally and as a (r)evolutionary way forward for activist organizations. Plus his heart filled the room."

Here is how he himself describes his journey:

"When I was in Moscow with Leonid Pereverzeff, I asked, “How do we get more people involved in creating peace between our countries or more involved in the environmental movement?” He replied, “Mark, first I think it’s important that one fall in love.” And as soon as he said that I realized--ah ha! I had fallen in love. I had no choice after that. I realized that we can’t make a difference simply from our intellects. It takes falling in love. Once our heart is open, then the other attributes of conscious activism come into play. But the first step is falling in love. The rest flows from there.

I remember years later, lobbying for environmental legislation in Washington. There was a John Muir statement etched in the wall, “When you try to select any one thing out, you find it is hitched to everything else in the universe.” Likewise, falling in love with one place influenced me to start the International Rivers Network, to become involved as a director of Earth Day, to work on changing the World Bank and to participate with all the other environmental groups and activities I work on.

In some ways we all know that we are connected to something much bigger and much deeper. But we’ve armored our hearts to protect ourselves, so we’ve lost our sense of this connection. It’s not necessary to literally fall in love with the mountain lions or whales. It is sufficient to just remember our connection with any animal. It can then become our totem for our connection to all of Life."

Ali, Atman, Andres

Ali, Atman, Andres

Mar 2, 2013

Holistic Life Foundation

Rani Bang

Rani Bang

Oct 16, 2021

The Talisman of Love

Rob Lippincott

Rob Lippincott

Mar 14, 2020

A Lifelong Learner and Friend: Quaker Values in Business and Governance