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Spiritual Ecology

Our Spiritual Ecology programme is a response to the urgent need to build peace with Earth, our common home. It explores the integration of spiritual values with practical action to sow the seeds for a future based on interconnectedness and reverence for all life.

Amrita Bhohi

Amrita Bhohi

PROJECT MANAGER

About Spiritual Ecology

“The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it. If a mountain is a deity, not a pile of ore; if a river is one of the veins of the land, not potential irrigation water; if a forest is a sacred grove, not timber; if other species are biological kin, not resources; or if the planet is our mother, not an opportunity—then we will treat each other with greater respect. Thus is the challenge, to look at the world from a different perspective.”

– David Suzuki

The calling for us to reconcile our relationship with the Earth, our common home which is in deep crisis, could not be more urgent. As melting ice caps merge into sea and the body of the earth continues to warm, it is obvious that political, economic and even environmental efforts are failing to protect, preserve or sustain life. They may even be exacerbating the desecration we are experiencing. It is clear that a deeper response is required; so what kind of actions can truly create the changes we so desperately need?

Alongside mainstream approaches, there is also a growing awareness that this crisis is not just an outer one, but has it’s roots in an inner crisis. This inner dimension has to do with our underlying attitudes towards the Earth as a resource and commodity, and our failure to recognise the fundamental interconnectedness and interdependence of all life.

Spiritual ecology is both an ancient and newly emerging field, and an aspect of our work that we are exploring in relation to building a global culture of peace, which includes learning to live in peace with the Earth. It brings together ecology and environmentalism with a deeper awareness of nature as alive, as animate, and as sacred. Spiritual Ecology is not based upon any single religion or spiritual path, but rather points to the primary and universal recognition of the sacred nature within creation. It proposes that at this time of ecological unravelling, spiritual values have the potential to provide the foundation from which to respond and rebuild.

 

About the Programme

Our Spiritual Ecology Programme is part of a strand of work we have been exploring for the past three years on environmental peacebuilding and resourcing emerging young leaders in the next generation to put spiritual values into action.

In 2017 we completed our inaugural Spiritual Ecology Youth Fellowship, which brought together ten emerging young leaders between the ages of 25 – 32, from across the UK and Europe (scroll down to view their profiles). Each participant was supported to develop and deliver a small pilot project that integrated the Spiritual Ecology principles, working with a specific community of their choice. We are continuing to support the work of our Alumni with seed funding and organisational support through our Associate Fellowship Programme.

This year our strategy is to take our approach and curriculum to different contexts and communities in the UK. We’re hosting a number of workshops and residential retreats over the year, which are open to people from all ages and backgrounds. One element of this is to offer a ‘Training the Trainers’ retreat, specifically for young people, to continue our work with resourcing emerging young leaders in the next generation.

Our work is supported by Kalliopeia Foundation, and we have a sister programme in the US, which is also in its second year. You can read about the US programme and their inspiring participants and projects here, and the developing global community of Spiritual Ecologists that is emerging through this work.

Participants

Sophie Vandenkerchove

Sophie Vandenkerchove

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

 

Sophie is an Associate Fellow of St Ethelburga’s Centre, and an alumnus of our Spiritual Ecology Leadership Programme. As a gentle and 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. During that period, she practiced and lived for two years in a Korean Zen Buddhist center.
Currently, her home is based in Brussels, where she is starting an interreligious permaculture garden in Molenbeek. Through this project, she wants to welcome people from diverse spiritual and cultural backgrounds to exchange about collective sorrows and hopes, explore interrelations between permaculture and spirituality and deepen their relations to the land and to each other.

Programme project

Permasource
Initiating and inter-religious permaculture and education garden at a Buddhist Zen Centre in Brussels.

Purpose: Sophie’s long term vision is to use the land next to her Zen Centre to create a permaculture garden, to bring together different communities from the local area to explore spiritual ecology through workshops and the direct experience of gardening. In the middle of the city, she hopes that this garden can also be a place for social cohesion between the diverse religious and cultural people in that area. She also wants to engage her own Zen community more in the ecological dimension to spiritual practice.
Future: Sophie is now working on developing this project full time. Website to be launched soon.

“This programme has given me a strong support to not be afraid to do things, just to start small and try out something bit by bit. It’s given me extra motivation to own and follow my vision, a strong belief that it is possible to live and work on your life’s dreams. And a deep trust in the power of a deep and truthful community.”

Janosch Sbeih

Age : 29
Location : Totnes, England
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 associate for an EU research and innovation project which investigating social innovation and sustainability in the Maker Movement. Starting in October 2017, he will take up the position as Short Course Manager at Schumacher College. As the principal curator of Schumacher College’s short course portfolio, he designs transformative educative experiences in the fields of deep/spiritual ecology, new economics, sustainable horticulture, myth and storytelling with the aim of empowering groups and individuals to become change agents for a sustainable societal transition.

Programme project Working with employees of international NGOs in the environment and development sector in Bonn (Germany) to reconnect them with their deeper values and passion for their environmental work.

Purpose: (Re)connecting employees of international value-based organisations to the depth of their initial motivation and ambition of wanting to work in the environment and development sector. Facilitating this connection to the inner core motivation through methods of deep ecology, personal and group inquiry has the power to refuel people’s energies to act with the utmost integrity and passion for the protection of the world and its species. Janosch co-facilitated two workshops in Bonn (Germany) for employees of international NGOs, governmental agencies and  from the private sector.

Other projects: “Reciproka”  www.reciproka.cc   Reciproka facilitates the development of a co-owned network of co-operatives through ownership transfer, network building and co-operative accumulation.

“It is hard to put into words the manifold impacts that this experience has had on me. The programme has deepened my connection to the Earth as a whole and to other non-human life, striking at a very deep core. It has instilled a deeper sense of commitment and dedication, gifted me with a beautiful community of friends and activists. I have experienced first-hand how spiritual ecology is a central tenet around which individuals from diverse faith groups can come together and even though their traditions and practices may differ, they can be united in their reverence and love for the Earth. I gained additional confidence in my skills of contributing something positive and beautiful to communities by opening and holding a space for interactive reflection and connection.”

Vanessa Reid

Vanessa Reid

Age : 31
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.
Programme project
(In collaboration with Zoe Vokes & Veronica Lopez)
SACRED SUNDAY DISCO SOUP: Food and Farming as a Sacred Act

A one day festival of workshops, meditations, movement practices and more, inspired by the principles of spiritual ecology, along with rich dialogue around the theme of food, farming and spirituality.

Purpose: To educate, inspire, and cultivate a deeper connection between city-dwellers with the Earth/Natural world, each other and ourselves through the celebration of food growing, harvesting, and cooking. To offer an experience of engagement and connection to our food, shifting perspectives around food as ritual and as sacred.  This event was successfully hosted at the Skip Garden in King’s Cross with about 60 people attending throughout the day with lots of lively conversation, fun and food!

Kara Moses

Kara Moses

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

Kara Moses is a facilitator of rewilding – landscapes, ourselves, and society. She offers experiential, educational courses in nature connection, spiritual ecology and skills for social change, combining all three wherever possible.

She is particularly interested in practical applications of nature connection and has worked with many groups to bring the natural world into diverse spheres of society: activism and social change, architecture and the built environment, creative arts, well-being and emotional resilience, spirituality, sustainability, and climate change adaptation.

Kara teaches and facilitates on short courses and Masters programs at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), Schumacher College and St Ethelburga’s. Her passion for the natural world also finds expression in political activism, and she has spent much of the last few years fighting the fossil fuel industry with Reclaim the Power and Plane Stupid. As a freelance writer and editor she contributes regularly to Resurgence and Ecologist magazine and is Environment Editor for Red Pepper magazine. She is a trustee of the Wales Wild Land Foundation, which is currently focused on rewilding land in west Wales, where Kara is based.

Kara is an Associate Fellow of St Ethelburga’s, and an alumni of the Spiritual Ecology leadership programme. Her spiritual practise is inspired by Buddhism, nature-based indigenous shamanism and Sufism.

www.RewildEverything.org
Twitter @Kara_L_Moses

Programme Project

Rewilding land, soul & society
A two day retreat and spiritual exploration of our connection to the natural world at a rewilding project in Wales.

Purpose: To introduce the concept of rewilding in its broadest sense as a holistic framework for regenerating not only healthy ecosystems, but also ourselves and human society. To support participants to deepen their connection to nature, and inspire a spiritual dimension to this relationship. To galvanise action in service of the earth through this shift in perception, encouraging participants to commit to action/change after the retreat, or become involved in the longer-term project ecosystems, but also ourselves and human society.

Future: Kara is developing her work in this area, regularly running workshops and teaching on this theme. Please see her website for upcoming talks and retreats.

I feel I have really stepped into my power, developed my self-confidence, refined my work, my vision, moved closer to realizing my long term vision, found people to work with, integrated my connection o nature with my spiritual practice. It has changed my life, thank you!”

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.

Programme project
(In collaboration with Zoe Vokes & Nessie Reid)
SACRED SUNDAY DISCO SOUP: Food and Farming as a Sacred Act

A one day festival of workshops, meditations, movement practices and more, inspired by the principles of spiritual ecology, along with rich dialogue around the theme of food, farming and spirituality.

Purpose: To educate, inspire, and cultivate a deeper connection between city-dwellers with the Earth/Natural world, each other and ourselves through the celebration of food growing, harvesting, and cooking. To offer an experience of engagement and connection to our food, shifting perspectives around food as ritual and as sacred. This event was successfully hosted at the Skip Garden in King’s Cross with about 60 people attending throughout the day with lots of lively conversation, fun and food!

“The journey as a whole was extremely valuable – including the intangible elements. It was a privilege to be held for nine months and to be given the space to explore the principles of spiritual ecology while working through our own personal development with other likeminded people – all in order for us to get on with the work ahead of us. The formal sessions, the rituals, the exercises, the walks, the group meditations were all valuable, but so were the conversations over a cup of tea or while cooking – all played a huge role in the growth I’ve experienced over the course of the fellowship. As a result, I have found myself stepping up more,  making things happen rather than waiting for the right time, but also making the most of the opportunities and privilege I have in order to create spaces to explore what has felt alive and necessary.”

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.

Programme project

POETICS OF PRESENCE: Haiku & mindfulness

Purpose: A series of workshops exploring the potential of Haiku poetry as an entry way into deep listening and presence with the Earth, and a spiritual ecology practice. Using the blend of creativity through the crafting of poetry, and the unique Buddhist/spiritual practice of Haiku to experience a deeper connection with the Earth as sacred.

Matti has coordinated a tour of ‘Poetics of Presence’ workshops at different locations and events around the South West of England over 2017.

“This has been the best thing I’ve ever done; I’m stronger, more focused and more determined in myself, life and work. Having the encouragement and the backing to get out there and start a project, this was so vitally important and valuable for me. There are thousands of young change-makers who need that push and support to get them rolling, I feel so blessed to have had this push!”

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.

Programme project
NATURE, SPIRITUALITY AND THE FEMINIINE

A three day nature immersion retreat for Muslim women including nature connection, reflection on Islamic environmental teaching, art workshops, meditation and spiritual ecology.

Purpose: To empower Muslim women to reconnect to the wisdom of the sacred feminine and the healing of connecting to the Divine through nature, in order to galvanise action in service of the healing of both themselves and the earth.
Rabiah successfully facilitated a weekend retreat for 15 Muslim women and will be offering similar workshops to her community in the future.

Zoe Vokes

Zoe Vokes

Age : 26
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.’

Programme project
(In collaboration with Veronica Lopez & Nessie Reid)
SACRED SUNDAY DISCO SOUP: Food and Farming as a Sacred Act

A one day festival of workshops, meditations, movement practices and more, inspired by the principles of spiritual ecology, along with rich dialogue around the theme of food, farming and spirituality.

Purpose: To educate, inspire, and cultivate a deeper connection between city-dwellers with the Earth/Natural world, each other and ourselves through the celebration of food growing, harvesting, and cooking. To offer an experience of engagement and connection to our food, shifting perspectives around food as ritual and as sacred. This event was successfully hosted at the Skip Garden in King’s Cross with about 60 people attending throughout the day with lots of lively conversation, fun and food!

“The most valuable aspect of the programme was the group itself – making strong connections with wonderful human beings. The inner development work was also really important as I think it has a huge impact on one’s ability to lead.”

Beth Thomas

Beth Thomas

Age : 28
Location : Edinburgh, Scotland
Background : Eco-theology and inter-faith
Faith/spirituality : Christian

Beth is an Associate Fellow of St Ethelburga’s Centre, and an alumnus of their Spiritual Ecology Leadership Programme. She is founder of Roots into Reverence, an initiative that leads pilgrimages in Britain whose destinations are sacred celebrations inside churches. She closely assisted in the initiation and running of Wild Church, which is a roaming pilgrim’s church whose altars are atop of tors, beside rivers or under the canopy of trees. She has recently moved from Devon to Edinburgh where she is working as an assistant to adults with learning disabilities at L’Arche, and is deeply grateful for such a joyful and loving place of work.

Beth’s big question is how the spiritual path – both personally trodden and collectively shared – can lead into a renewed relationship with the Earth. Her spiritual path was gestated within a Christian context, birthed outside of formalised religion and is now maturing within a Christian context once more. She would describe her spirituality as Eco-Buddhist-Christian, and finds great depths in sharing contemplative and devotional space with those within and across diverse spiritual traditions. She is passionate about restoring the feminine and longs for the day that it is normal to pray to our Heavenly Father and our Earthly Mother.

Programme Project

Roots into Reverence
A one day pilgrimage and sacred dance celebration; a union of contemplation and celebration.

Purpose: To offer a unitive experience of prayer in relationship with the Earth through walking, stillness and dance. To embrace man-made forms of spirituality together with experiences of spirituality in the natural world. To bring together the fractured spiritual streams of Pagan and Christian Britain. Walking in mindful awareness of our bodies in relationship with the Earth, dancing in reverence and celebration of Life.

After the success of her first pilgrimage, Beth is now working on organising her next walks at different locations and churches across Britain. See her website for upcoming events.

“The programme has had a huge impact on me, it was so transformative that I now struggle to put words to it…. on myself it has galvanized me into creative action and boosted my confidence to begin things. In my work it has resulted in me trading the path I am called to with greater balance and a bigger vision.”

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.

Programme Project
HASTEN TO TRUE SUCCESS  (HAYYA ‘ALA AL-FALAH /  َّيَ  ح ّّ َ ّ  ََ ىَلَ  ع َفَْ A short documentary film exploring the role of faith in promoting responsible management of the earth’s resources by highlighting the Cambridge Muslim community’s commitment to sustainability, unity, peace and beauty.

Purpose
This film aims also to promote, through the concrete example of community engagement in Cambridge, the extensive references and messages that are inherent in Islamic sources (i.e. Qur’an and Hadith) about conservation and environmental stewardship, and how these can serve as inspirational guide to Muslims all around the world. To teach ordinary Muslims and non-Muslims about the Islamic environmental practices that British-Muslims are currently integrating into their daily lives. Abdul is currently in the final editing stages of the film which will be disseminated in the next few months.

“The programme has been a very life changing journey for me. The fellowship has given me a sense of motivation, purpose and direction. I now feel that I have the tools, the support and the network to do what I want to do. Spiritual Ecology is an amazing framework to work under and it gives me so many opportunities to bring it into my own aspirations.”

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 Manager - 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.

Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee is an award-winning producer, director, musician and composer.

He discovered the power of “oneness” in jazz music. “An accomplished bass player who was performing and teaching jazz by his mid-20s, he recalls with reverence those rare moments when an ensemble melds into something special that transcends the skills of the individual players,” writes Paul Van Slambrouck.

About eight years ago, he had a dream — to highlight the untold stories of everyday heroes around the world.  So Emmanuel became a filmmaker.  And put that concept of “oneness” into practice on a larger scale: he traveled to dozens of countries producing short films that, while honoring diversity, seek to demonstrate the underlying bonds of humanity. His Global Oneness Project, an award-winning online multimedia platform that brings the values of global citizenry into mainstream education, was born in 2005 and has produced 150 short films while attracting millions of viewers — while offering it all as a no-strings-attached gift.

He also directs the Spiritual Ecology Fellowship, an innovative leadership and incubation program that works with emerging leaders to bring spiritual values into environmental work. The son of Sufi lineage holder Llewelynn Vaughan-Lee, with whom he co-founded the Fellowship, he is a Naqshbandhi Sufi.

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Young Sacred Activist of the Year Award 2019

Seeking nominations for extraordinary young people making an innovative contribution to social change from a place rooted in faith or spiritual values.

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The future of faith: Generation Y, Spirituality and Social Change

An exciting new collection of stories, interviews and essays drawing on St Ethelburga's work with inspiring young leaders around the world. 

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Reconcilers Together

Reconcilers Together is an ecumenical network of Christian peacebuilding and reconciliation centres across the UK and Ireland who share a mission to inspire and equip Christians leaders to become skilled practitioners of reconciliation in their churches and communities.

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Interfaith Activists

Seeking young adults from diverse faith and spiritual traditions!  

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The Fellowship of St Ethelburga

The Fellowship of St Ethelburga welcomes new members! We come together in worship, discussion and prayer. Together, we aim to ask of ourselves what is it be be a Christian Peacemaker?

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People of the Earth

People of the Earth is a project about living from our deepest values, building empathy and fostering friendships between Londoners and refugees seeking to make their home in the UK.