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Spiritual Ecology

Our young adult leadership programme explores how spiritual values can be united with practical project development to stimulate social and environmental action for lasting change.

Amrita Bhohi

Amrita Bhohi

PROJECT COORDINATOR

Amrita is passionate about the role of younger generations in coming together to take action for a more environmentally sustainable, socially just and spiritually fulfilling future for all life.

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The Fellowship consists of ten emerging leaders, aged 20-32, who recognise the need to create a future rooted in spiritual values of interconnectedness, service, stewardship and reverence for nature. We are seeking applications from participants from diverse backgrounds and faith and spiritual traditions living in the UK and Europe.

The fellowship offers:

  • An experience of deep study, reflection and teaching to explore the inner dimension of the spiritual ecology worldview and practice, and how the values can be lived.
  • The development and delivery of a practical workshop/project integrating the principles of spiritual ecology with financial and mentorship support.
  • The opportunity to develop a longer term project vision and to pitch for community seed funding to get it up and running.

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Please note that this is the structure for our inaugural 2016-2017 programme, which we are currently revising and updating for 2017-2018. Next year’s programme and dates will look slightly different.

Projects and Initiatives

During the course of the programme, participants will be required to develop a small collaborative or individual practical project. The project must include:

  • the design and delivery of an educative experience that includes a spiritual ecology approach.
  • engagement a community of your choice, ideally a specific faith community that you have direct links with
  • a practical, measurable outcome (this could be creation of a tool such as the eco-church tool, or more direct action like planting trees)
  • Time will be allocated during each retreat for project development, with assistance from teachers and mentors. After each retreat, fellows will receive ongoing post-retreat support and mentorship. Fellows will also be required to complete assigned reading and assignments in between meetings to support the learning process.

Programme dates are as follows and attendance to all of the sessions is required. Some dates and locations are provisional and will be confirmed in the coming months.

Opening Retreat: The Principles of Spiritual Ecology

September 9th – 17th 2016 (dates now confirmed), an 8 day nature immersion retreat including the following:

  • Workshops and classes with teachers and mentors exploring the principles of spiritual ecology, indigenous perspectives and sacred activism
  • Personal and group discussion and reflection time
  • Time to explore personal spiritual ecology practices

Field Visit: Social and Environmental Regeneration

November 25th – 30th 2016, an in depth 5/6 day visit with a leading practitioner in the field.
The purpose of the field visit is to give fellows the opportunity to experience an example of how the principles of Spiritual Ecology can come to life, how it can create positive social and environmental regeneration and to spend some time with a leading practitioner.

Weekend Workshops: Tools for Practical Implementation

January 13th-15th & February 3rd – 5th 2017 (dates now confirmed), two intensive 3 day workshops at St Ethelburga’s in London focusing on the following:

  • Skill building workshops with teachers and mentors
  • Field visits and learning opportunities with local projects and organisations in London and/or UK
  • Development and support for project ideas and initiatives with mentors and teachers

Closing Retreat: Project Presentations and Final Harvesting

May 26th – 28th (dates now confirmed), final group gathering and fellows present their learnings from the practical projects they have implemented.

Spiritual Ecology can be defined as a spiritual response to our present ecological crisis. It is a developing field that joins ecology and environmentalism with a deeper awareness of the sacred within creation. It calls for responses to the environmental issues that include spiritual awareness and/or practice. It acknowledges that at the root of the ecological crisis of our civilisation is a spiritual crisis and therefore to resolve such environmental issues as depletion of species, global warming and over consumption, humanity must examine and assess our underlying beliefs and attitudes towards the earth, and our spiritual as well as physical responsibilities towards the planet.

Central to spiritual ecology is an understanding of the interdependence and living unity of the ecosystem. Real sustainability refers to the sustainability of the whole ecosystem, requiring a way of living in harmony with the earth and a culture that cares for the soul as well as the soil. We are inspired numerous religious and spiritual traditions including: Thomas Berry and Pope Francis from the Christian tradition, Joanna Macy and Thich Nhat Hanh from the Buddhist tradition and Vandana Shiva and Satish Kumar of the Hindu tradition.

In addition to the Youth Fellowship, we will be hosting a series of public talks and workshops open to everyone. These will be listed on our events pages which are updated regularly.

 

Apply now

Participants

Sophie Vandenkerchove

Sophie Vandenkerchove

Age : 23
Location : Brussels, Belgium
Background : Facilitation and education
Faith/spirituality : Zen Buddhism

As a gentle, but wild soul, Sophie grew up in the southern forests of Wallonia. At the age of 19, she moved to Berlin, where she finished her studies in Philosophy and Moral Sciences. While working on several ecological projects in the city, she lived for more than two years in a Korean Zen Buddhist community. Currently, she lives in Belgium and works for a young and dynamic local food organisation, the Food Assembly.

Sophie has a strong affinity to group facilitation and processes. She believes that creating spaces to exchange about collective sorrows and hopes will enable people to express their lives more fully in connection to each other. Through the fellowship, she hopes to start organising reconnecting circles in neighbourhoods, as a way to transform our beliefs and attitudes towards the earth and deal more effectively with the environmental challenges of our times.

Janosch Sbeih

Janosch Sbeih

Age : 27
Location : Cologne, Germany
Background : New economics and social innovation
Faith/spirituality : Spiritual Ecology and Buddhism

Janosch holds a strong interest in structural social change and believes that the key for a transition to a just and sustainable world is to change both our personal relationships with the world and to transform the social structures that govern our lives.

After working for one year in Johannesburg, South Africa, he followed a Liberal Arts programme at the University College Maastricht where he approached topics of sustainable development from interdisciplinary angles of sociology, economics, psychology and philosophy. He deepened his passion for alternative economic structures and organisational models at the M.A. Economics for Transition at Schumacher College, Plymouth University. At the International University College Turin, he pursued his interest in innovative governance institutions for the commons in the LL.M. Comparative Law, Economics and Finance. He has worked for the German development cooperation agency GIZ and is currently employed as a research fellow for a project which investigates social innovation in the maker movement.

Vanessa Reid

Vanessa Reid

Age : 29
Location : Bristol, UK
Background : Artist and campaigner
Faith/spirituality : Hinduism and Spiritual Ecology
Nessie Reid is a political ecologist and a performance artist with a focus on agroecology and organic farming in the South West of England, proposing the need for radical systemic change within our current food and farming system.
As part of her studies, Nessie researched the role of indigenous art in preserving diasporic Tibetan culture and religion in Himachal Pradesh, Northern India and Nepal. Her interest in the link between agriculture, ecocide and climate change emerged during field research for the ICCA Consortium in India, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Over three years she witnessed the catastrophic ecological damage caused by large scale intensive agriculture and the displacement of local and indigenous communities as a result.
Now based in South West Wales, Nessie is manager of the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) and founder of The Milking Parlour, an on-going Rural Artist Residency with Cape Farewell which explores our human, spiritual relationship to food and the values we hold towards it and but more broadly to our place within the environment.
She is also Managing Editor for Biodiversity – a Journal of Life on Earth: a quarterly, scientific publication from Biodiversity Conservancy International.
Kara Moses

Kara Moses

Age : 32
Location : Machynlleth, Wales
Background : Activist, writer and trainer
Faith/spirituality : Buddhist

Kara takes a holistic approach to life and social change, combining grassroots activism and training, journalism, nature connection, art and spirituality.

Her activism involves working with groups including Reclaim the Power and Plane Stupid, focusing on taking direct action on climate justice with a systemic perspective and is increasingly exploring the intersection between art and activism with the un-earthed collective. She trains other grassroots activists and groups in skills for direct action and grassroots social movements. Her journalism focuses mostly on environmental issues; in books, magazines, newspapers and online (including Ecologist, the Guardian, New Scientist, New Internationalist, BBC Wildlife and others), and scientific publications on tropical ecology. She facilitates nature connection and outdoor education with children and adults, aiming to connect people more deeply to themselves, to each other and to the natural environment, creating healthier relationships to self, society and nature.

Kara is interested in the link between environmental, social and economic issues, and is exploring how Buddhism can offer an alternative set of values than the current system; shifting from greed and expatiation to kindness and awareness. An important part of her spiritual practise is challenging structural violence, which she sees as as important and harmful as any other violence. Through her actions she hopes to expose the truth, inspire change, and find alternatives.

www.karamoses.com

Twitter @Kara_L_Moses

Veronica Lopes da Silva

Veronica Lopes da Silva

Age : 26
Location : London
Background : Environmental education, facilitation and urban gardening
Faith/spirituality : Spiritual Ecology

Veronica is half-Portuguese and half-Ethiopian by blood, but growing up between Pakistan, Sudan, Italy, and Angola, has given her a global identity and outlook. Her international experiences has fuelled her endeavour to contribute towards a shift in the way that we perceive ourselves, our relationship to the earth, and those we share it with.

Through years of being involved in campaigning on global and local issues, supporting asylum seekers as a caseworker, and working in legal and anthropological education, she has explored different ways of having an impact on the way we live and organise our society.

Today, she is part of an organisation called Global Generation and works at the Skip Garden project in London, engaging young people and the community on topics including sustainability, seasonality, biodiversity, and cultural diversity. This is facilitated through the medium of harvesting, foraging and cooking together, and in doing so opening up spaces for people to experience the interconnectedness between people, our environment, and our challenges. Currently she is particularly interested in listening to stories from and of the land and people, and to learn alongside others with similar passions and aspirations.

Matti Spence

Matti Spence

Age : 27
Location : Dorset
Background : Eco-poetry and radical landscape poetry
Faith/spirituality : Zen Buddhism

Matti Spence is an Eco-poet, approaching the genre from a visionary perspective, largely influenced by his Zen Buddhist practice. Exploring body/land connections through formal and thematic experimentation, a key area of his work is to understand the path of the poet as an archetypal one, investigating how such an approach to creativity might exist in society today, through a process of deep listening, sharing and a sense of serving the environment through art.

Matti has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and has spent the last year as poet-in-residence for Monkton Wyld Community, a centre for sustainable living in West Dorset.

Rabiah Abdullah

Rabiah Abdullah

Age : 29
Location : London
Faith/spirituality : Islam and Sufism

Rabiah studied western Herbal Medicine at the University of Westminster and has been a qualified herbalist since 2008. After her degree she travelled to Ghana, where her time spent with a local traditional herbalist re-ignited her love for nature and relating to plants from a spiritual worldview. In recent years her experiences with using herbs in her practice has further developed her passion for the symbiotic relationship between nature, humans and spirituality.

Rabiah is a practicing Muslim and her faith forms an integral part of how she relates with nature and her practice. In 2010, she co-founded ‘The Rabbani Project’ a not for profit community collective that is dedicated to the exploration of creativity, nature and spirituality. The Rabbani Project hosts a range of workshops, retreats and event and have worked closely with Rumi’s Cave, SOAS Spiritual Dialogue Society and The Centre of Cultural and Spiritual advancement. Rabiah is also a musician and has performed across the Uk and Europe with the group ‘Pearls of Islam’.

She is currently living in London where she practices Herbal Medicine whilst hosting community herbal walks and workshops.

Zoe Vokes

Zoe Vokes

Age : 25
Location : Brighton
Background : Business and social enterprise
Faith/spirituality : Spiritual Ecology

Though British by birth, Zoe left the UK when she was just 9 months old and grew up in Asia, living predominantly in The Philippines and Nepal. Living overseas exposed her to a variety of religious traditions and world-views, and enabled her to travel to places of extraordinary natural beauty which inspired a deep connection to the natural world early in life. These powerful experiences of awe have been a guiding source in her life ever since.

Zoe holds a 1st class degree in South Asian Studies and the Study of Religions from SOAS, and in recent years has been trying to prove that even for-profit businesses can be a positive catalyst for change, particularly with regards to the environment. Most recently she has been working with her partner to create an independent magazine cum journal called Inherited, which aims to help readers cultivate a deeper connection to Mother Earth. Inherited examines our connection to the natural world, the responsibilities we have towards it, and the joy it can bring to our lives.

Zoe is deeply pained by the destruction being caused to the Earth, and is fully committed to contributing towards the protection and renewal of all life. Through her work, Zoe hopes to inspire others to establish a more loving relationship with the Earth – one that is founded in reverence, respect and reciprocity.’

Beth Thomas

Beth Thomas

Age : 26
Location : Totnes, Devon
Background : Eco-theology and inter-faith
Faith/spirituality : Christian

Beth loves walking in her local rural landscapes of Devon where she has lived for the past 3 years. As a teenager living in the centre of a town in the midlands and absorbed in a lifestyle of consumption and escapism, the landscapes that brought her joy were more often shops and bars. Eventually her desire for connection and depth revealed simpler ways of life, more in tune with the natural rhythms of the Earth. Her passions are now based around facilitating eco-centric cultures in reverence to the more-than-human-world.

Beth has been working with an organisation called ‘Living Spirit’ for the past 2 years, a social enterprise that offers inter-spiritual support such as community, meditation and study based in the Celtic, Christian and Kabbalistic traditions. Her work includes the creation and running of ‘Wild Church’, whose focus is around silent communion with nature and each other.

She has recently started working with young people with learning disabilities, both on the ground as a carer, and through an equine-assisted therapeutic project on Dartmoor. She holds a degree in Anthropology from Oxford Brookes University, and a Masters in Holistic Science from Schumacher College.

Abdulqadir Bashir

Abdulqadir Bashir

Age : 28
Location : Copenhagen, Denmark
Background : Urban design and agro-forestry
Faith/spirituality : Islam and Sufism

Abdulqadir Hussein was born in war-torn Somalia in 1987. At the age of five, his family immigrated to Denmark after the outbreak of the civil war where they settled in a small town in the southeastern part on the peninsula of Jutland.

Abdulqadir holds a bachelor degree in Urban, Energy and Environmental planning from Aalborg University in Copenhagen. He served as intern at Iftiin Foundation, an American-Somali organisation that incubates young social entrepreneurs to promote a culture of change and innovation in post-conflict countries. He has also served as Board of Director and Alumni in the Danish talent network Future Entrepreneurs of Denmark. He has recently trained in agroforestry, a form of environmental regeneration and farming that mimics natural ecological systems. He is also passionate about the potential of technology in urban planning to help create self-sustaining communities.

Deeply concerned about the degradation of natural resources and the rate of deforestation, depletion of species, loss of soil fertility, climate changes etc., Abdulqadir is interested in applying the principles of Spiritual Ecology to the environmental and urban planning sectors. He aspires to raise awareness about the spiritual dimensions of the present ecological crisis, especially in Somalia, by merging the principles of Spiritual Ecology with sacred texts, scriptures and literature from the Islamic Golden Age.

Teachers and Mentors

Adam Bucko

Adam Bucko

Adam Bucko is an activist, spiritual director to many of New York City’s homeless youth, and co-author of ‘Occupy Spirituality: A Radical Vision for a New Generation’ and ‘The New Monasticism: An Interspiritual Manifesto for Contemplative Living’.

He grew up in Poland during the totalitarian regime and spent his early years exploring the anarchist youth movement as a force for social and political change. At the age of 17, Adam immigrated to America where his desire to find his path towards a meaningful life led him to monastries in the US and India. His life-defining experience took place in India, where on his way to a Himalayan hermitage, he met a homeless child who lived on the streets of Dehli. This brief encounter led him to the “Ashram of the Poor” where he began his work with homeless youth. After returning to the US, he worked on the streets of various American cities with young people struggling with homelessness and prostitution. He eventually co-founded The Reciprocity Foundation, an award winning nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of New York City’s homeless youth.

In addition, Adam has established HAB, an ecumenical and inter-spiritual “new monastic” fellowship for young people which offers formation in radical spirituality and sacred activism. He collaborates with spirtual leaders accross religious traditions and mentors young people, helping them discover a spiritual life in the 21st century and how to live deeply from the heart in service of compassion and justice.

Adam is a recipient of several awards and his work has been featured by many newspapers, magazines and media channels.

Amrita Bhohi

Amrita Bhohi

Programme Leader - Spiritual Ecology

Amrita leads on our Spiritual Ecology strand of work which includes the Spiritual Ecology Fellowship, public events and trainings. Amrita’s passion is working with emerging young leaders and visionaries who are in service to bringing fourth a future based on values of interconnectedness and reverence for all life.
Over the three years she has worked at the Centre she has played a key role in designing and embedding St Ethelburga’s young adult leadership work.

Amrita previously worked on the global Eradicating Ecocide campaign and at the think tank, The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House). In 2013 she organised TEDxWhitechapel, one of the most popular and radical TEDx events in London. She holds a BSc in Biomedical Sciences from King’s College, and an MA in Economics for Transition from Schumacher College. She is a fellow of St Paul’s Institute and her broader interests lie in new economics, systems change, and social and environmental regeneration.

Justine Huxley

Justine Huxley

St Ethelburga's Director

Justine has been with St Ethelburga’s for 10 years and has been the Director since January 2014. She has a Ph.D in psychology. Previously she worked as a research and communications consultant and also spent 5 years on the trading floor of a City investment bank. She follows the teachings of the Naqshbandiyya Mujaddidia Sufi Order and represents her Sheikh in the UK. She has led meditation, dream work and discussion groups in London for over 14 years. She has a passion for bringing people together from different backgrounds, co-creating projects that speak to the needs of the time, and for reclaiming our lost connection to the inner worlds. At St Ethelburga’s she has been responsible for re-shaping organisational strategy around energizing youth leadership and building a movement for global peace based on the consciousness of interdependence. She brings a wealth of experience in deep listening, facilitation, and working with emergent process.

Eleanor O'Hanlon

Eleanor O’Hanlon

Eleanor O’Hanlon is an award-winning writer and conservationist with a passion for re-connecting with the inner, spiritual dimension of the natural world. Her book Eyes of the Wild Journeys of Transformation with the Animal Powers takes the reader into remote wilderness areas in the company of whales, wolves, brown bears, polar bears and wild horses. These journeys are guided by outstanding biologists and other contemporary observers who are renewing ancient ways of connecting with the consciousness of the animals and the wild. Their scientific research meets ancient shamanic wisdom teachings to show how the natural world can help us to awaken now and know our own connection with the unity of life.

Eyes of the Wild was awarded the 2014 Nautilus Gold Book Award for Nature Writing.

A Catholic born in the west of Ireland, Eleanor has been engaged in conservation since the late 1980s. She has carried out field research for international conservation groups in remote wilderness areas around the world, from the High Arctic to the Caucasus. As communications co-ordinator for Greenpeace International, she travelled on the campaign vessels to previously closed parts of the Russian Arctic, sparking a passion for the Arctic and its wildlife which has never faded. She carried out extensive research into illicit whaling and the illegal trade in endangered wildlife for the Environmental Investigation Agency, the Humane Society and other groups and she featured as on-screen investigator into the wildlife trade in the award-winning ITV/Discovery Channel series Animal Detectives.

Eleanor has worked with outstanding scientists, Arctic explorers, and nature photographers on projects to raise awareness and help protect wilderness and wildlife in Europe and the Caucasus. Her articles on animal behaviour, animal consciousness and conservation have appeared in BBC Wildlife, Geo and other magazines in Europe and the US, and her writing has been published in various anthologies, including Dark Mountain, GreenSpirit and the new edition of the Spiritual Ecology anthology.

Tiokasin Ghosthorse

Tiokasin Ghosthorse

“We have to stop the idea of creating peace on Earth and begin with creating peace with Mother Earth. We’ve tried the first alternative for thousands of years, but look where that has lead us. Now is the time of the Original Ways, the Native Ways.”

Tiokasin Ghosthorse is from the Cheyenne River Lakota (Sioux) Nation of South Dakota. He is the host of First Voices Indigenous Radio on Pacific Radio. Tiokasin has been described as a ‘spiritual agitator, natural rights organiser, Indigenous thinking process educator and a community activator’.

Tiokasin has had a long history in indigenous rights activism and advocacy. He spoke, as a teenager, at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Ever since his UN work, he has been actively educating people who live on Turtle Island (North America) and overseas about the importance of living with each other and with Mother Earth.

He is the survivor of the ‘Reign of Terror’ from 1972 to 1976 on the Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Cheyenne River Lakota Reservations, and the US Bureau of Indian Affairs Boarding and Church Missionary School systems designed to ‘kill the Indian and save the man’.

Tiokasin is also a master musician and one of the greatest exponents of the ancient cedar Lakota flute, and plays traditional and contemporary music using both Indigenous and European instruments. He has been a major figure in preserving and reviving the cedar wood flute tradition and has combined ‘spoken word’ music in performances since childhood. Tiokasin performs worldwide.

Martin Palmer

Martin Palmer

As well as being an environmentalist and religious historian Martin Palmer is an author, broadcaster and public speaker. The Sacred Land project was inspired by his book Sacred Land (Little Brown 2012). He was born in Bristol, the son of a vicar, and explored the city and its outskirts from an early age, acquiring a deep understanding of Bristol’s many hidden curiosities. Before leaving for Cambridge University and a degree in theology and religious studies he spent a year doing voluntary work at an orphanage in Hong Kong. This experience inspired a lifelong fascination with Chinese culture that has led him to study and work with Chinese religions and sacred places and write translations of many important Chinese texts.

His subsequent career as an educationalist took him to Manchester where he wrote Worlds of Difference, a book for schools about how different beliefs shape the ways people treat the natural world. It was the first book of its kind, and it led, in 1986, to him being invited by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh (then International President of WWF) to organise the first ever meeting between the major religions and environmentalists. This crucial meeting, in Assisi, Italy, ultimately led to the formation of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), an international NGO working with many religious traditions to help them create a vision and future of environmental sustainability, and to help them make protecting animals and nature something that is not just taught, but is also carried out. Martin has been the Secretary General of ARC since its launch in 1995. He is married to journalist and author Victoria Finlay and they live in Somerset.

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