Put Life back in
our own Hands
photo: Theun Karelse
- Lali Joseph and Fern
Why the Embassy?
Embassy of the Earth has an extensive track record of setting up communities of problem holders, stakeholders to solve problems simultaneously, faster and on a continuing basis. Ways to multiply the problem solving capacity exponentially. With common ground, possible futures, clear strategies, attainable objectives and far enough horizons, communities of learners, planners and designers are radically transforming their current realities of threat, stagnation and destruction.
WHITE MOUNTAIN COMMUNITY
A Maasai led gathering towards 'unprecedented collaboration',
to regenerate landscape and livelihood.
In 1999 a large World Peace Gathering took place in The Hague, The Netherlands, a place I just moved to after a ten year stay in the US. I took my son Frankie to school one morning when the father of one of Frankie’s classmates approached me. He said: ‘We’re looking for host families to offer a bed and a meal to some of the Indigenous Peoples at the Peace Conference.
I offered my house to lodge Catherine, a young Native American woman adopted by Hopi grandmother Carolina from Hotevilla, Arizona, USA. She said to me: ‘This peace conference will lead to nothing if it does not have the sacred fire.’ She continued to explain, sacred fires are important in the great gatherings of the First Nations – native American tribes -. I asked her what do you need? She told me to bring the fire keepers from the Ojibway people to the gathering. And so it was done. Two fire keepers, Bruce Hardwick and Duane Kinnert arrived a few days later.
The right place for the sacred fire was found on an estate in Wassenaar, close to The Hague. The fire was lit and the ceremonial space was kept ‘running’ for the remaining days of the peace gathering, with many people joining ceremonies, mainly in the evenings, including me. I never missed a night because it was such a mesmerizing experience where people were opening up and truly speaking from the heart, from their innermost being. All around this sacred fire.
One of those mornings I woke up from a remarkable, very clear dream, which I shared with Bruce and Duane later that day. I was dreaming about gathering places, Earth homes, on all seven continents of our planet. A gathering place where people with real pressing issues would sit with the ‘moving ground’, having a deep exchange about possible future directions and ways to resolve the crisis. In the dream I really experienced the immense power and spirit of the community. Bruce and Duane listened attentively, after looking at me for a while they responded: ‘Frank, we know.’
In 2000 I was invited by a UN representative to help the brand-new secretaries of state of Kosovo to restore the war-damaged roads and power plants. This had high urgency because of the severe winter nearing, with post war attrocities and tensions ongoing. Our first meetings in Pristina, Kosovo, were at the government building. Secretaries of State of different departments were sitting around the table with the representatives of the international intermediate governance.
After two days of meeting, problems were only increasing and so was the frustration. The British were overruling the inexperienced newly identified secretaries of state, hardly giving them a chance to speak for themselves. My interventions did not seem to make any difference. Later, that same day I was expressing my frustrations to friends joining me in the small hours in a club in Pristina. A young man took notice of my problem and asked: what do you need? Without hesitation I answered: A different place! These government buildings are depressing and confining and remind us of the past. The young man turned out to be the director of the cultural historic museum and answered: I may just have a place for you.
That same night he took me to a house which was a historic gathering place during the Ottoman Empire where Pashas and the Turks made their agreements. In the late night hour the place seemed mesmerizing. Completely kept in its original state and great energy. He continued and explained, this is the Oda, the gathering place where they held their meetings. Sitting on carpets on the ground in an almost ceremonial way with specific rules for the meeting. It was agreed that we could use this space for our meetings and this young director would be our guide in the new space. So, one day later, we were all sitting in a very different space, on the ground, facing each other. Time and space had opened up. The young director explained the history of the place and the age old way of meeting and coming to agreements here. Within hours we had breakthroughs and solutions began to emerge. I called the space and the process, tongue in cheek, as we were sitting on the ground, Embassy of the Earth.
And at the same time, I fully realized the importance of the sacredness of place. Things started to fall into place and the foundation Embassy of the Earth was established, working principles and methodology developed.