Ep 2: The Three Stories of Our Time

Joanna & Jess April 24, 2024

Episode details

What’s really going on in the world right now? “Business as Usual”—a comforting narrative in which industrial growth and progress overcomes all? “The Great Unraveling” —a planet careening toward inevitable destruction? Joanna‘s work introduces a third story, “The Great Turning”—a paradigm shift on an epic scale, the creation of a just and life-sustaining society. The stakes are high, the outcome uncertain. This conversation invites you to devote yourself to the Great Turning even as you grasp the truth in all three stories. 

In this episode:

  • Three outlooks on these times: Business as Usual, the Great Unraveling, and the Great Turning
  • What’s behind all three—how they affect us in conscious and unconscious ways
  • What the Great Turning means, and how to devote yourself to it
  • Bonus Exercise: Envisioning the Great Turning

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com

Resources

Links, prompts and exercises to further your inquiry.

The WAGT Toolkit

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Learn more about how to start one here.

Meet Your Hosts

Joanna and Jess

Joanna Macy, PhD, is a scholar of Buddhism, systems thinking, and deep ecology who has been working for peace, justice, and the preservation of life on Earth for seven decades. She is the creator of The Work That Reconnects, a globally celebrated framework of practices that has helped leaders and activists for decades to serve the healing of our world in a more powerful and effective way. Joanna is 95 and lives in Berkeley, California.

Jessica Serrante is a coach, facilitator and trainer who has been supporting activists in the climate movement since 2007. She has served on staff at organizations like Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network and worked with groups like Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion. Her first encounter with Joanna’s work a decade ago changed her life, transformed her burnout, and led to a deep, abiding friendship. Jess is 35 and lives in Oakland, California.

Also By Author

Ep 6: The H-Word

When it comes to the state of our world, the concept of hope can feel elusive. Joanna teaches Jess that the future may be uncertain, but that means that there’s still room for something beautiful to happen. This episode offers insights into embracing uncertainty, cultivating joyousness, and understanding the intricate interplay between hope, courage, and action.

In this episode:

  • “Active hope” is about acting in service of the future we hope for
  • Whenever Jess asks about hope, Joanna talks instead about courage 
  • When hope eludes us, courage and our devotion to life remain steadfast

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

Ep 5 Bonus: Breathing Through

This bonus episode will support you to take the main insights from Episode 4: There is No Future if We Go Numb and Episode 5: This Pain Is Not for Nothing, deeper into your life. 

Both of these episodes are about the second phase in the Spiral of the Work That Reconnects, Honoring Our Pain for the World. This bonus is a recording of Joanna leading a meditation called Breathing Through, recorded at a retreat in 2006. In it, she’ll guide you to create space to acknowledge and honor the pain for the world that you carry without numbing or getting overwhelmed. All you’ll need for this bonus exercise is a place where you can close your eyes and relax.  

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

 

Ep 5: This Pain Is Not for Nothing

Now we get to what may be the toughest part of reckoning with our planet’s situation: dealing with numbness, grief, and despair. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the many crises around us, and natural to want to numb ourselves to the pain. 

Joanna and Jess speak with great vulnerability and candor about what it takes to navigate our darkest feelings—and the strength and beauty that can be found when we honor our pain. 

Trigger Warning: In this episode, we discuss suicide.

In this episode:

  • When it feels like our pain could swallow us whole, it helps to remember that all feelings come and go
  • Desperation can take us to dark places, but we are more than our despair
  • Numbness—Jess opens up about her familiar tactic for escaping pain
  • Our pain becomes sacred when we allow it to deepen our connection with the world
  • Bonus Exercise: Breathing Through

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

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