JH: St Ethelburga’s core aim is to build community resilience for times of ecological and social emergency. We aspire to courageously face the possibility of climate collapse and prepare for it. At the same time, we hold an unwavering vision for deeper transformation, for a world rooted in our interbeing with each other and with Earth. We offer spaces where people can gather and be nourished by that shared vision, and we work with others to plant the seeds of that transformation in people’s hearts, in our communities, and in the earth.
Our work is organised around four key principles, which are reflected in the stories of our centre, which has a very unusual history. These principles are: values into action, opportunity in crisis, community across differences, protect what is sacred.
These 4 values, for us, provide a map for navigating these times of disintegration and opportunity, in which the old systems are falling but the new has not yet been born. We see a real need for such maps. Probably many of the people reading this interview are awake to a new story of interbeing, but there are many who feel increasingly fractured. They live in a disjointed reality, showing up for their regular job and carrying on as usual—but watching disaster unfold globally and feeling powerless. A set of values like these can be an inner container, enabling us to internalise the situation we are in, to face it with courage and integrity. Then, rather than living in an illusion, we can let go of what no longer makes sense and begin to repurpose ourselves for what is coming.
There is an urgency about this work of preparation. We are all needed—to stand in solidarity with people of all races, faiths, and social classes; to bear witness to the greater transition that is happening behind the unfolding collapse; and most importantly, to carry a light within us, a vision, numinous and mythic, powerful enough to transform our relationship with life. We need to hold that vision like a baton, passing it from generation to generation, until a new, more beautiful world can arise from the ashes of our broken civilisation.