The Work That Reconnects (WTR) is a set of interactive and experiential practices with personal and group activities designed to deepen connections between ourselves, each other, and our natural world. WTR was developed by Joanna Macy, a systems thinker, activist, and scholar. She draws on her background in Buddhism, ecology, and deep ecology, and her amazing life experiences to create a framework for personal personal, social and collective transformation.
WTR practices and an Active Hope book study group are part of the Greensong Ecopsychology Sustainability of Self (SOS) Project, which promotes resilience, ecological consciousness, and personal and community well-being. This initiative, born from studying a Masters in Applied Ecopsychology, recognizes the interdependence of all beings and encourages a sense of responsibility towards care of our environment, as part of our environment. SOS prioritizes mindfulness, self-awareness, practical skills for sustainable living, and community bonding. Participants develop a meaningful connection with themselves, their community, and the natural world, supporting the wider environment and community.
"Active Hope" is a book by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone which explores how to cultivate resilience, courage, and creativity in the face of environmental, social and multiple crises. It offers practices and exercises that help individuals connect with their inner resources, with each other and with our natural world, building a sense of community, belonging, resilience and empowerment. "Active Hope" offers practical and inspirational guidance for those seeking to respond to the challenges of our time with resilience, courage, and creativity.
The Spiral of WTR (The Work That Reconnects) is a framework which helps people move through four stages. It starts with gratitude, moves into honouring our pain for the world, seeing with new eyes, and finally going forth. When we begin reading the Active Hope book we gain an understanding and validate the context our concerns are birthed from. I often hear a myriad of feelings when people are thinking about the state of our world. I recognise sadness, physical pain, grief, despair, overwhelmed, anger, guilt, frustration, and desperation. Some people also state they feel several of these feelings within a few hours, or in a single day making them feel like they are on an emotional roller-coaster. Many people are needing a place to process these feelings, understand they are not alone, and learn resilience strategies. Without places to process these complex emotional states, people can feel overwhelm, become inactive in causes they care about, lean towards addiction and distraction, and fall deeper into private anguish, burn-out and despair.
“Active Hope is not wishful thinking. Active Hope is not waiting to be rescued . . . . by some savior. Active Hope is waking up to the beauty of life on whose behalf we can act. We belong to this world. The web of life is calling us forth at this time. We’ve come a long way and are here to play our part. With Active Hope we realize that there are adventures in store, strengths to discover, and comrades to link arms with. Active Hope is a readiness to discover the strengths in ourselves and in others; a readiness to discover the reasons for hope and the occasions for love. A readiness to discover the size and strength of our hearts, our quickness of mind, our steadiness of purpose, our own authority, our love for life, the liveliness of our curiosity, the unsuspected deep well of patience and diligence, the keenness of our senses, and our capacity to lead. None of these can be discovered in an armchair or without risk.” ― Joanna Macy
Ecopsychology and ecotherapy are two related fields that share some of the same concerns and goals as WTR, basically, how to address the interrelated crises of environmental degradation, social injustice, and disconnection that are threatening our well-being and survival. Ecopsychology is the study of the relationship between human beings and the natural world, while ecotherapy is the application of ecopsychological principles and practices to promote healing and growth. We seek to integrate ecological and psychological perspectives, to cultivate ecological awareness and responsibility, and to foster a sense of belonging to the wider community of life.
The WTR model affirms the importance of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual engagement with nature as a means of healing and transformation. By using techniques such as guided meditations, storytelling, ritual, and group sharing, WTR encourages participants to develop a deeper sense of connection with themselves, others, and the natural world. This can lead to a greater sense of purpose, meaning, and resilience in the face of environmental and social challenges. Similarly, ecopsychology emphasises the role of nature in promoting biopsychosocial and spiritual wellbeing, and recognises the harmful effects of ecological alienation. Some of the WTR practices can be seen as a way of integrating various forms of ecotherapy. Ecotherapies have been shown to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and trauma, as well as to enhance self-esteem, creativity, and empathy.
The WTR and ecopsychology practices encourage "Seeing with New Eyes," which offers a perspective shift that allows readers to see our world in a new way. It provides insights into how our cultural narratives shape our perception of reality, we look into deep time, and are offered tools for visioning, and changing these narratives to create a more just and sustainable world. Acknowledging our resistance toward feeling uncomfortable sensations opens us to layers of understanding, support and tools to move through the feelings of discomfort. Part of our work is to question ourselves; Do you classify feelings as negative or positive? Why? What have you been taught by the dominant culture about these feelings? What habits do you have that support the feelings in a destructive or constructive way? When we reframe feelings and thoughts as learning opportunities, our focus becomes curious and extends to more than self-focus, we see the relationships and connections of a wider perspective.
What is the Active Hope Study Group?
The Active Hope book is a great tool to process within a group setting, share and learn, deepen our personal wellbeing practices and develop a like-minded peer-to-peer support network. The Active Hope Book Study Group is community-based and focuses on the book Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in with Unexpected Resilience and Creative Power " by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone. The book offers practical tools for facing the global crisis and developing a constructive attitude towards the future. The study group meets regularly to discuss the book's contents, share stories, and explore ways to take action. My Greensong main goal is to create a supportive community that fosters resilience, creativity, and active engagement in social and ecological issues. By deepening our communal understanding of the interconnectedness of all life, members of the study group can cultivate a sense of purpose, community and focused direction.
The Work that Reconnects and Active Hope are part of the Sustainability of Self (SOS) Project offering a holistic approach to healing and transformation that can help individuals and communities to navigate the challenges of our time with courage, compassion, and wisdom.
SOS offers practical tools, promotes sustainability, environmental consciousness, personal and community well-being.and a peer-to-peer supportive community for individuals seeking to develop a healthier future for all beings on our planet.
About the Greensong Active Hope book study group and testimonials