Monday, March 21, 2011

The Initiation of Warrior without weapons

Dear Beloved Community, I’ve been procrastinating on completing a blog post for my entire time in Brazil, out of being completely stunned as to how to give you an adequate picture of this warriors initiation. There is more to share than I can say, yet here is my account of 5 weeks of learning, stretching, growing and waking up.

After a car, bus, train, two plane rides, another bus, taxi, and handsignals later, I arrived into the arms of my friend Ariane, a member of the Elos team, and of the community of buzzing Warriors on a afternoon coffee break. Completely exhausted, stunned, and joyous I started to settle into my room later to meet my room-mate, Leticia, who spoke Portuguese, and I, English. It wasn’t until the very end of the program that we both realized we were passionate about dance as a healing form. ( ;

We kicked off the first few days getting to know each other, and building trust, respect, curiosity, and translating (almost) everything from English to Portuguese and vice versa. Sim, eu apredi um pouco ou portugues. “Oi! Tudo bem?” Settling into our home, CEFAS, for 35 days with  65 participants and at around 15 on Instituto Elos staff definitely took a few days, and those days were filled with fresh papaya, yogurt, cake and coffee breakfasts and cleaning groups in the name of farm animals.(Baaaa)

Working in the favela communities

On the 4th day I began to work in Tiro Naval, in Santos, while the other 2/3 of the Warriors worked in Pantal, and Mangeseco. I felt really strong and supported by the leadership and warmth of the Elos team and the other participants, as I prepared to enter a community where I didn’t speak their language. As our time went on there, the language Barrior was extremely humbling and challenging. I loved the experience of reaching my edge however, and as I discovered later on, something like “only 10% of language is verbal”. (Especially with children).

Working through the Elos Methodology experientially, I’ll let the photos below depict our journey through The Gaze, The Affection, The Dream, The Care, The Miracle, The Celebration, and The Re-Evolution. (These photos are in no particular order, but if you are more interested in the details of this process, I recommend reading the Blog that was written by the Elos Staff as were in the program

Photos Taken by Julia Toro, of the Elos Institute

Greatest lessons from the Methodology 

Gratitude Attitude/ “Active Appreciation”
Learning by doing
Being a Diverse Co-creative environment Games, Fun, Enthusiasm
The Role of Conversations/ Socializing
The Role of looking for Abundance, Dreams
Collaborative social technologies

I was so deeply moved by the methodology and the results of such a non-traditional way of approaching social entrepreneurship, and community building.  In honor of the last stage: re-evolution, I'll be posting my DREAM, and my NEXT STEPS (many of which have already been taken) shortly. I'm in a deep place of choice and feel like I'm open to co-creating with the entire Universe sometimes. In short: I'm totally committed to these tools and this community of Warriors worldwide. This Generation IS waking up...and is capable of transforming the world RIGHT NOW.

Elements Games
Another large part of the Warriors Program was the Indigenous Games, which "awakened and strengthens in us the qualities of a Warrior through Elemental Cooperative Games. In this Indigenous Pedagogy from the Tupi language, the elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and the 5th element) are what we are created from and can continue to learn from. Connecting to the more-than-human world in this way was deeply important for my experience. 

 The Elements and their names in the Tupi language of our teacher, Kaka Wera Jacupe


The Game: Collaborate as gender separated teams to carry two different heavy logs to complete a circle. Also to do a lap as individuals around the circle with the log! 


 Standing together to learn about perseverance in the cold water for two hours with a song and dance.


Learning about the fire element was deeply satisfying as we were working so hard in the communities, and needed to deepen our quality of focus, action, and transcendence. We all walked over smoldering coals, and I obviously have a bit more to learn as I was one out of a few who was burned. ( ;


The air element was all about Freedom, expansion, and inclusion.  I was sick this day, but the Warriors flew on the hands of each other, used their bamboo staffs to create noise and breathe

THE 5TH ELEMENT:  Nhandereko
 For this game, we first "warmed up" by playing some passing games with bamboo sticks, and "tapping our hearts" by running up to each other, yelling, and being awake enough to STOP right before we got to each other.

The second part was spent in a alcove of two enormous, and mythic rocks from the mountain side where we spent time connecting to our own sources. One precious hour was spent singing and sitting alternatively, as the Warriors were finally coming to the completion of their initiation. 

 "The Divine essence that dwells in every living being. From it unfolds the four elements and all forms of manifestation. It's main features are love, compassion, and hidden power waiting to be awakened."
The Qualities of the 5th element are self observation, inner fire, and personal essence. 

In addition to these games, the Warriors were given seeds to disseminate and continue to plant, grow, and harvest year by year, project by project, and to use in our work as change agents of conscious co-creation.

These seeds included:
Non-violent communication
Cooperative Games
Circular Dances
Open Space Technology
World Café

 A web of cultures: language, communication, curiosity, and hugs! 
A huge part of this experiment in Inspired Youth all smooshed together living in a small building for 35 days was the unique ups and downs. Everything being translated back and forth to English or Portuguese, but many of us only spoke one language. All I have to say is that I look forward to learning Spanish or Portuguese more adequately in the coming years. It did, however take a lot of humility and courage to just be ok with being ignorant, often. From now on I do heavily vouch for the power of hugs, however, as a cross-cultural expression of what communication is most essential.

Unlike college where my experience of close proximity started to bring me pain and the need for solitude, this was a radical shift for me, personally. I found that I could spend much more of my day in close proximity with others because of how ignited we all were (most of the time) with what we were doing. This isn't to say that I didn't break down crying multiple times in overwhelm with the presence of so much fire. ( ; But this also yielded huge breakthroughs: from in connecting to others who were feeling the same, to witnessing how much fire I could actually stand. (And where I so often choose to not even test my capacity). 

The ideas of diversity and respect were, for me, inherent in the program's goals of learning how to cooperate as a large group from all around the world. I was curious about my own wishes for us to learn how to really hear each other, but I eventually ended up learning one of the most important and basic aspects of NVC much more deeply: it only takes one person and I don't need to control what anyone says for my response to be conscious and compassionate. Talkin' 'bout some freedom!

What made this experience powerful, impactful, and why we, as participants could be called Warriors without weapons, is because of the intensity to which we were invited to play the game of changing the world, open our hearts and minds, paired with the force of everyone’s commitment to discover ways to cooperation and co-create.

What I loved about this program and rite of passage was the degree to which “social entrepreneurship” or “community organizing” called upon the backbone of myth and metaphor to inspire, empower and call us all forth with the fire of our heart. It touched upon a part of all of us, (literally, the part of our evolved brain that thrives on being a part of something larger than ourself) that I can say was critical in doing the work we were doing.

I would absolutely recommend this experience to anyone itching be in a transformative environment, AND in radical action. The Community of Tiro Naval, the Warriors and Elos leaders have all transformed my life in ways I could not have expected. It was exactly what I was looking for in terms of my dreams of being in a hands on experience and I can't wait to continue more of Elos's "Oasis Games"; short versions of the WWW Program that are only a week or two in the Sacramento and Oakland areas this spring and summer! 

Arriving back onto North American soil, onto California soil, and into the hearts and bodies of my community here in Oakland was a moment of awareness and a inner calling to “Wake Up” to the opportunities of my life, here and now. When I literally touched the ground of Oakland, a flood of emotion started to fill my body, and I experienced an openness and wild gratitude for my country in a way I never quite have before.

To all that made this experience possible for me through their Donations and Support, I thank you so deeply!


New Websites I love!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Journey continues: Personal Responce-ability and Adapt-ability

The Journey continues:  Personal Responce-ability and Adapt-ability
I checked my email first thing every morning for about 3 weeks, I ran off to a facilitator training for a healing and expressive dance modality on a work-trade agreement, and slowly I thought "But, I don't know how to fundraising that much money, and maybe I shouldn't go this year to the Warriors Without Weapons Program, maybe it's just not what I should be doing right now."

Then the email came. And I emailed the Elos team back with, "Thank you so much! I'm honored!, but..." and didn't hear back until I made contact with them about 2 weeks ago. A few days, tears, hour long conversations, and yelps later, I realized on an even deeper level how Brazil was where I was suppose to be this winter. A friend told me a few days later, that "people forget how much they like to be of service.”  I got in that moment that for me to support a diverse movement of participatory regenerative arts leaders in the kind of social change I want to see now, I needed to test myself out in the world of transformative service work: To REALize in myself the capacity for be a part of tangible change, bringing a dream into reality by using innovative community building modalities, personal connection, and celebration of all efforts and achievements. To build the intra and inter-personal skills like the ones in the title of this blog, and technical abilities to contextualize the use of NVC, Dance, Yoga, and so on as essential supportive tools for building a world of peace, sustainability and wellbeing. 

A new game, a new set of tasks, and a whole new level of getting into action and giving myself the chance to really discover the resiliency and creativity in the center of my heart that we all have.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Task #6


In my e-value-ation of myself in the game, and the game in me, I found myself searching for a way to be compassionate towards myself. Also, where I did and didn’t risk stepping outside my comfort zone – and risk “heartbreak” in the face of showing up fully as I am, right now with my strengths and weaknesses. I notice now that I thought about the game within the realm of my relationships alot: to myself, others, society, government, etc. However, when it came time to create a project, I found more difficulty and resistance in myself. The game definitely gave a narrative to what I was doing traveling for a month, and I learned a lot about my fears and judgements that keep me from actively supporting myself and others in REALize our dreams.
Overall I was filled with gratitude often for this and found it provided me with tons of inner transformation and the challenge of having positive impact that is real and tangible. I found myself joyfully stretching my boundaries and creativity muscles in light of this project. I’ve also learned that continuing to take action from a place of gratitude, making life right, and joy in the face of pitfalls IS the destination, and that fear and inertia is to be honored and looked at! They hold great power and breakthrough for us, once we finally sit down at the table with them for a talk.
Oh boy! Here comes the next cycle-the next game! I think I'll try adding 1/2 tsp more Joy this time.

Task #5

Task#5: The time has come to generate transformation in your community using the plan you’ve done, and the resources you’ve gathered.

Something that’s really beautiful is seeing that all but 9 countries in the world had a work party on 10/10/10.  I heard later that my mom got help from someone from the University of Michigan to come get her garden spiffed up. As I read all of the ways that communities were falling together rather than apart in the face of Climate Change and a good chance of difficult times now and in the coming years, my faith in the power of community and the possibility of real resilience, deepened. 

Our small, but impactful bike crew of 4 had the following mission starting the day:
Watch HERE
(unfortunately I couldn't figure out how to have the quality be better on the blog, so it's on facebook)

What emerged that day was definitely different from what our initial goal was in some ways, and fun and great in others.  We ended up not being able to find the group we were initially planning to travel with, but did find another action in Oakland that had gardening and fun.  
As we became more and more excited to capture the voices of this movement and funnel their energy towards self-empowerment, positivity, and personally being the change, I captured a few good video clips (unfortunately the video is poor quality, and therefore these are going to just be audio) of people I met at the Oakland event “Get down and dirty”:

What emerged: Watch HERE

We biked! We Sang! (audio clip of me and david), We goofed! We worked in the dirt! What happened with NOT doing a Wake Up symposium this week, for us turned into fire to more fully collaborate (Bus the Change) with Generation Waking Up. Therefore, we’re going to have a dinner and conversation over the next week, where we'll cook the food, and make sure we have a great gathering to kick start more organized, collaborative change making in the Bay area with our two initiatives. Dinner tonight!

Task #4

Task #4: Now is your chance to make a difference and do it! Decide who can help you and by what means. Tell us how you managed to gather people and who they are. List the skills and resources you can count on. Show us what your planning.

The exciting day of 10/10/10 came upon us very fast and what the plan changed into was only a bike tour. The reason for this is that the projector we were planning to use for the Wake Up, was recently stolen, and the only other place was only available the very next day. We decided together that it was too much of a stretch to do a wake up the very next day as there was so much more work to be done, there wasn’t an appropriate space (and we wanted our first one to be well prepared).  So with this bump in the plan, the resources and people power gathered really came down to these wonderful people below.



Our goal was to travel with the following group, (  and support their work in gardens. The resources our group acquired were a small audio-video recorder and fixed up and borrowed bikes and costumes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Task #3

Task 3: Great Ideas are born from small causes

I had some difficulty thinking about this task, when I was so uprooted from a sencse of immediate community. I then took a look at the title, and what it allowed me to think was, "start small". That's what i did, and then a string of things showed up for me to help me on the path towards something like a "Bike the Change: a one-day service tour and transformation through goofination." I put a shout out to the loved ones I'm going to be living with, and their co-creative ideas starting flowin'!

For this task, I want to do a one-day service bike tour/ride in Oakland, California and other contacts. After sharing the idea with them, we discovered that the day after I arrive will be’s Work Party for Climate Change; a worldwide play-work day where organizations, groups, and individuals do a project that will help solve the climate crises in their local community.

This day is 10/10/10. It will be a powerful display of projects in the East Bay area where I will be living, and I’m really excited to offer our gifts and ideas to this day of community service/development. The idea for my action is two-fold. The first part will be on the Saturday of the event, and will be comprised of biking from event to event (there’s ~40 in the East Bay!) and supporting each group with the manual work (or at least many groups) spontaneously and with an emphasis on appreciation, creativity, clowning, and possibility. We will whisper inspiring stories of that other grous are doing and how their doing, in an effort to cross-pollinate the energy and power. The second part will be advertising for a “Wake Up” on the coming Wednesday. The reason for this is that this day (10/10/10) will be an incredible day to make leverage of the number of people who will be within our reach to share about the work we’re doing. The intention would be to connect and inform people to a “larger context” within which climate change action is a part of. Meaning, how the actions taken in the realm of environmental sustainability is one element of a Movement of Movements towards socially justice and healthy interpersonal/intrapersonal growth as well (at that we can’t work in one area without, in some way, having our foot my default in the other areas.) In essence, answering part of the question, "What to I do after the 350 day of action?".

As a side note, this landmark event will be the kick off for a potentially monthly Wake Up + something we (my house-mates and i) want to explore/bring (aka, another work party, yoga class, etc. in addition to the half-day program that will be the same every month). It will be a platform and time for experimentation, fun, and community building.

For task 4, I’ll need to contact the following people before Wednesday.

- Cherine

- Ethan

- Clayton

- Valerie

- ATD network

- Ramana coop

The skills and resources I need to make sure I have are as follows:

- bikes

- invitations

- costumes

- location for Wake Up event


Saturday, September 25, 2010

RESULTS OF task # 2

It’s the end of the week, and there are a few changes to what my initial intentions were. For one, the center I was at DID have recycling! So therefore, I just left my recycling there instead of taking in to Boulder, Colorado. I’ll leave the space below for updating soon with my food resource recovery for the rest of the WWW game (until the 15th of October).

My Trash:

Daily: 3-4 paper towels, tissues, tea bag, and toilet paper.

My recycling:

-Paper (3-4, 8’11’ pages)

-Community recycling from food containers: plastic, paper, metal, cardboard.

My excess:

Over this week, I’ve actually accumulated more things! There was a free box at the mountain center, and I got a new bag, shoes, and jeans. The Universe seems to do this despite our most noble intentions. What I’m taking this to mean is that it’s time to shed some more things again and put a pint of: Trusting that my needs will be met, in their place.

Things I won’t use in the coming months because I intent to be in a warm climate, and will give to:

-1 pair fleece pants (Fabio)

-Dress shirt (Yuko)

-1 wool sweater (Holly or June)

-1 pair wool leggings (holly or June)

-1 pair wool socks (Fabio or Holly)

-REI Stuff sack (Fabio)

-Brown wool hat (June or Holly)

Lessons and struggles:

I have learned first-hand about the dynamic of my attachment to stuff. I’ve also learned about how wonderful it is to be able to carry most if not all of your possessions, as well as joyfully give something to someone who needs it. It actually feels better than getting more stuff! This process has been going on for the past few months, but especially this week of traveling and doing this task had made me notice it even more. Two friends of mine were able to get down to only that which they could take on bikes. Click here to check out Mandy and Ryan’s bike-packing Journey across the states: Newspaper: ( The site for their documentary film: ( (An abundance of thanks for the inspiration you two birds!)

My consumption: Food choices, water uses, and energy sources

What food choices (vegan)- what was it, where was it from, and how much was it?

Unfortunately I left the notebook I wrote down everything I consumed and threw away during this past week, AT the center in the mountains of Colorado! Therefore this is going to be a very generalized list.

Wed: vegan supper.

Thursday 16- Wednesday 22: Vegan breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner everyday. Coffee 2X day, tea bags once a day. (Truth-telling: Honey in my coffee = Weak spot!) I was able to eat mostly vegan, with a few dairy products thrown into dishes that I ate by the buffet style food service at the center. I am also waiting to hear from the kitchen staff, the direct locations from which our food was sourced.

What water did I use this week?

I wasn’t able to calculate the amount of water personally used, but I thought it was a good idea track this as I was living in a bioregion in which water conservation is of high importance.

-I used the shower three times during the week.

-The toilet at least four times a day

-Washed my hands at least four times a day

-Brushing teeth, and washing my face ~2x day

-Drinking water (~1/2 gallon day)

What energy did I consume? - What was it and how much was it?

In my search for discovering approximately how much energy I consumed at the center for ~7 days, I had a conversation that led me to discover that the center can’t currently discern how much energy use an individual would use in a given day. The variables include season, population, and living arrangements. This would also not include that the kitchen uses on a given day and season to cook. (What they make and how). I know that it was mostly propane that was used, but I look forward to updating this part of the blog once I find out more.

-What I could economize during one week:

I was able to actually economize my clothing and water use, as I didn’t wash my clothes the whole week, and borrowed clothes from the free box at the center. I economized travel costs by traveling to and from the center with others. I help others economize by giving free haircuts? (2)

My feelings behind the results:

One of the things I have difficulty with is an unexamined assumption that I “deserve” to buy new things and services. This is more than an individual consciousness I know, but as I see what that sneaky belief does within the greater culture, I’m that much more motivated to break apart the manifestation of it in my life. This month I bought a new sleeping bag, and new shoes. Simple, needed items that were well-made products. What I want to examine here, is how incredibly tempted I was to: get a tattoo, a piercing, a new yoga mat, a new notebook, a new book on yoga, a necklace, a new CD, a bus ticket (vs. rideshare), a hotel room, and so on. It’s ingrained into the minds of my generation that we need new stuff, and even though I find myself to be pretty accomodating, sometimes I find it might be more show than what’s really possible. I want to continue to take this task on in all aspects of my life, remembering that often, "the personal is political."

“Out beyond a field of right doing and wrong doing there is a field, I’ll meet you there.” - Rumi

What I’m passionate about is continuing down this road of radical simplicity, compassionate discipline, and together in community with a thousand pounds of fun added! Below is an article and youtube clip of some of my shero’s and hero’s on this topic.

Educational opportunity!

Julia Butterfly Hill on Disposability consciousness!

Ethan Hughes and The Possibility Alliance