The Work that Reconnects




Aims of the Work That Reconnects (WTR)

The central purpose of the Work That Reconnects is to bring us back into relationship with each other and with the self-healing powers in the web of life, motivating and empowering us to reclaim  our lives, our communities, and our planet from corporate and colonial rule.  


Upcoming WTR events:


ENV650 course: The Work that Reconnects

Inspired by Joanna Macy's The Work That Reconnects, which draws from deep ecology, systems theory, and spiritual traditions, this course asks participants to engage the strong emotions resulting from the ecological crisis and work with transformative practices. Building on mindfulness training, the course introduces specific practices of loving-kindness, non-violent communication, active listening, and group experiential engagement. Participants will work with the arc of The Work That Reconnects: opening to gratitude, owning our pain for the world, seeing with new eyes, and going forth. This course includes a nonresidential weekend intensive. Prerequisite: ENV 600 Inner Work for Resilient Leadership or permission of the Instructor. Required for MA Resilient Leadership students.


Undoing oppression & the work that reconnects: 

In the past few years there has been a growing community of folks who are interested in the Work that Reconnects and who have also committed their time, energy and hearts  into organizing and educating themselves around decolonizing the Work that Reconnects. From this movement many resources, materials and ways to be involved in this "Evolving Edge" have been cultivated. For more information about this Evolving Edge, how decolonization is viewed through the lens of the Work that Reconnects, access to online resources and education, and how to become involved please click here.


Joanna Macy's Recommendations on Anti-Oppression Work within the Work That Reconnects


the Work That Reconnects:

  • provides practices and perspectives drawn from systems science, Deep Ecology, and many spiritual traditions that elicit our existential connectivity with the web of life through space and time.
  • reframes our pain for the world as evidence of our mutual belonging in a relational universe, and hence our power to take action on behalf of life.
  • awakens stamina and buoyancy to live with full awareness of both the Great Turning and the Great Unraveling, historically and in present time, and to embrace the uncertainty.
  • awakens us to the systemic injustice, racism, and oppression of the Industrial Growth Society, and generates our commitment to transform all our institutions for the benefit of all humans, whatever their color, culture, religion, gender identity, and history.
  • affirms that our intention to act for the sake of all beings, and to become allies to all oppressed or marginalized people, can become organizing principles of our lives.
  • helps us identify the strengths and resources we can mobilize in our commitment to the self-healing of the world.
  • presents the Great Turning as a challenge that every one of us, in collaboration with others, is fully capable of meeting in our own distinctive ways.


Core Assumptions of the Work That Reconnects

  • Our Earth is alive.  It is not a supply house and sewer for the Industrial Growth Society.  As most indigenous traditions teach, the Earth is our larger body.
  • Our true nature is far more ancient and encompassing than the separate self defined by habit and Western society.  We are as intrinsic to our living world as the rivers and trees, woven of the same flows of matter/energy and mind.  Having evolved us into self-reflexive consciousness, the world can now know and see itself through us, behold its own majesty, tell its own stories—and also respond to its own suffering.
  • Our experience of moral pain for our world springs from our interconnectedness with all beings, including humans of all cultures, from which also arise our powers to act on their behalf.  When we deny or repress our pain for the world, or view it as a private pathology, our power to take part in the healing of our world is diminished.  Our capacity to respond to our own and others’ suffering–that is, the feedback loops that weave us into life–can be unblocked.
  • Unblocking occurs when our pain for the world is not only intellectually validated, but also experienced and expressed.  Cognitive information about the social and ecological crises we face is generally insufficient to mobilize us. Only when we allow ourselves to experience our feelings of pain for our world, can we free ourselves from our fears of the pain – including the fear of getting permanently mired in despair or shattered by grief.  Only then can we discover the fluid, dynamic character of feelings.  Only then can they reveal on a visceral level our mutual belonging in the web of life and free us to act on our moral authority.
  • When we reconnect with life, by willingly enduring our pain for it, the mind retrieves its natural clarity.  We experience not only our interconnectedness in the Earth community and the human community, but also mental eagerness to match this experience with new paradigm thinking.  Significant learnings occur as the individual re-orients to wider reaches of identity and self-interest.
  • The experience of reconnection with the Earth community arouses desire to act on its behalf, as well as on behalf of humankind. As we experience our essential desire for the welfare of all beings, Earth’s self-healing powers take hold within us. For these powers to function, they must be trusted and acted on. The steps we take can be modest ones, but they should involve some risk to our mental and social comfort, lest we remain caught in old, “safe” limits.  Courage is a great teacher and bringer of joy.




The best way to find out more about the Joanna Macy Center at Naropa is to join our mailing list and attend our events. For any other questions please contact Program Manager, Seann Goodman.

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