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Special Issue on the Center for Ecozoic Studies

Gratitude for you

We give thanks for you our readers every day. Many of you have been with us for years. You have given us your encouragement and support. You have shared your essays, poems, art, music, prayers, and dreams with us. You have understood and joined with us in Thomas Berry’s Great Work. It is hard to believe that on January 1, 2019, we will have been in being for nineteen years.

There are about 1,100 people on our email list, approximately 350 of which live within 60 miles of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. To date we haven’t really sought growth in numbers. We haven’t been ready. Now we think we are ready or nearly so. We won’t, however, seek growth for growth’s sake. If there is increased demand for our work, we will do our best to meet it.

Who have we become after 19 years?

It feels like we have come back right to the place from which we started, with nineteen years more of learning and experience. In the late 1990s Herman Greene wrote a letter to Thomas Berry suggesting the formation of a “Berry Society.” Thomas would have none of it. His advice to Greene was “Don’t push the river.” So Greene together with Albert Hardy and Sue Tideman started “Support Groups for the Great Work,” which was in being for a couple of years. In 1999 Greene had the idea of starting a new organization called the “Center for Ecozoic Studies.” At that time he wrote a document that identified the tasks of this new center, which were:

  1. To provide education concerning the “Ecozoic era” and the “Great Work,” so that these terms and their meanings may become part of the global lexicon;
  2. To support research, education, art, and action concerning ecozoic societies;
  3. To assist in the sharing of critical reflections, stories, and dream experiences of an Ecozoic era;
  4. To provide resources for individuals and groups engaged in the Great Work.

This list of tasks has guided the work of CES since its beginning on January 1, 2000.

The primary work of CES over the years has been publishing. At first we published a quarterly print magazine called The Ecozoic Reader: Critical Reflection, Story, and Shared Dream Experience of an Ecological Age. This gave way in 2008 to our current print journal, The Ecozoic: Reflections on Life for an Ecological-Cultural Age. Our circulation has been limited. Our Ecozoic Reader on “The Wisdom of Women” was distributed to a little over 800 people. The Ecozoic Journal on “A Tribute to Thomas Berry” was distributed to about 750 people. Other issues have had smaller circulation.

In 2007 we began publishing an online magazine called CES Musings: Chronicling the Transition from Economic-Industrial to Ecological-Cultural Societies. At first this was a monthly publication and later it became bimonthly. We published it for ten years before beginning a new online magazine with a new format, The Ecozoic Review: Muse, News, Reviews, and Practices for an Ecological Cultural Age. This is a bimonthly online magazine which is distributed to the 1,100 people on our email list.

In 2011 we changed our name to the “Center for Ecozoic Societies.” At the time we felt the 20th century was the time for education about the ecological situation, and the 21st century was the time for action. In addition, we thought we were not for ecozoic studies, we werefor ecozoic societies. At this time we were involved with groups that were promoting “ecological civilization” in China and elsewhere. We were also involved in forming and leading the Interfaith Consortium for Ecological Civilization in connection with the Temple of Understanding in New York City. And in 2011 we became involved in the Ethics and Spirituality Initiative for Sustainable Development in New York City, a coalition of nongovernmental organizations that were working with the United Nations on its sustainable development program. We became an accredited organization for the UN’s second Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, which we attended. While there we helped write a Peoples Treaty on the Ethics and Spirituality Initiative. We stayed involved with the UN through September 2015 when the General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In 2017 we again reassessed our role. In 2014 we had held a Colloquium at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on “Thomas Berry’s Great Work: Development, Difference, Importance, Applications.” Twenty-eight people gave presentations. Afterwards, the presenters prepared twenty-seven papers for publication in our journal. These papers were published in 2017 in the fourth issue of our journal which was 495 pages long. As the work proceeded on this issue, our awareness grew that our primary contributions to the Great Work were to be in the fields of research and education. In December 2017 we changed our name back to the Center for Ecozoic Studies, and we defined our role as being a thought, imagination and dialogue center for ecological civilization. Ecological civilization isn’t the same as the Ecozoic era, but the term does make clear that the kinds of changes needed to respond to the ecological situation are of civilizational dimensions.

The last part of defining who we would be was deciding on our mission statement and the modalities of our work. We adopted as our mission advancing ecology and culture as the organizing principles of societies. We chose the modalities of work given in this image.

Putting all of this together:

The mission of the Center for Ecozoic Studies is to advance ecology and culture as the organizing principles of societies, through research, publications, education, events, arts, and action.

Over nineteen years we have become an organization to carry out this mission.

Whom do we serve?

CES’s general field of work is the environmental humanities. There are countless roles in the Great Work because it involves changes in all sectors of society. Our role primarily concerns research and education, yet we are, also, an imagination and dialogue center on an ecozoic future.

Here is an example of how we work: One of our tasks is to provide education concerning the Ecozoic era and the Great Work so that these terms and their meanings may become part of the global lexicon. To speak of the ecozoic is to use a term that is not widely understood, and in some ways its meaning is ineffable. The meaning of the term grabs a person and changes his or her life. Once a person is grasped by the term, it provides guidance to the person and becomes very meaningful to him or her. Given the indeterminateness of the term ecozoic, we decided to devote the third issue of our journal to the question “What Is Ecozoic?” and asked people to send in their answers to that question.

The issue was published in 2013. Kim Winchell wrote about the ecozoic this way:

Naming, and claiming, the Ecozoic . . . is the grand invitation before us and before all humankind in this 21st century. I suspect that many of us feel it in our very bones, and know it to be about gracious communication and relationship building, at all levels of Earth Community. It’s about telling our stories and connecting them with THE story of the awakening and unfolding of the whole universe.

“The Ecozoic” is a way to name the vision, and a way of being, that all of creation and its varied members long for, at their deepest cores. We owe so much to the late Thomas Berry, for sparking this vision among us, in lending it a name that can resonate with many (especially when it is held up against the life-diminishing path of the “Technozoic Age”).

Those who have caught sight of this vision, even if only yet dimly, within their hearts, spirits, and minds are being called forth, urged forth, at this time in Earth history, to proclaim the message and vision in many ways and languages.

In the same publication Kathleen Deignan wrote:

“The Ecozoic” is a vision and a summons – a new state of affairs for a new state of being; a new state of being for a new state of affairs.

“The Ecozoic” is a myth and a manifesto, a fire-in-the-head, a fact-on-the-ground.

Already and not yet, it’s the new name for a new world under construction; the writ of reparation for a century of destruction.

It is the name of a planetary embryo in gestation, in the throes of labor begging the questions: “to be or not to be?” and “where are the midwives?”

“The Ecozoic” is an anthem and a koan sung and said over and over ‘til the sayer and the singer awaken to its grace.

Kim Winchell also wrote this “Prayer for the Ecozoic”:

Most Holy and Gracious Creator,

To you be all blessing and honor and praise for all that has been made! You have formed me and placed me within a world filled with beauty, endless variety, and intricate interrelationships. In my life’s journey, you have made my path to cross with those who have helped me to see and understand more fully the complex wonders of this Earth and those things that tear at its life-giving fabric.

You have opened my eyes and my heart to your presence in the wind and the waves and the life forms around me. You have entrusted and blessed me with children and blessed them with a capacity to behold the natural world with curiosity and love. You have lured me into an ever deeper intimacy with the landscapes and creatures around me. I thank you for the sacramental moments at dawn and sundown, for fireflies and ladybugs, for mountains and lakes, for hoarfrost on pine needles, for the turn of the seasons and the gifts of each one.

You have led me to kindred spirits and given me hope that together we, remembering our place and being worthy of it, might witness among our fellow humans a new awareness of how to rightly honor you and restore our souls. Thereby we will consciously, intentionally rejoin the single, sacred community of life, as ordained by you in your infinite creativity, wisdom and love.

To that end let us pledge our lives.

Amen, may it be so!

Here’s how this example of our work—publishing the journal on “What is ecozoic?—relates to our four tasks described above: We aided in understanding of the ecozoic and the Great Work; we supported research, education and art concerning the same; we assisted in the sharing of critical reflections, stories, and dream experiences of an Ecozoic era; and we provided resources for individuals and groups engaged in the Great Work.

We believe that those who are drawn to us are people who are interested in critically assessing ideas and practices concerning the transition to an ecozoic future and who want to express and live those ideas and practices through their own modalities of carrying out the Great Work. We also believe we serve artists and writers for the ecozoic by providing a venue for and a network of support for their work. We also serve people who are part of the “Berry community” who find us a useful source of information about the transition to the ecozoic. And, finally, we serve people throughout the world who are looking for ecozoic connections.

These are the people whom we serve.

What is possible through CES?

The first answer to the question what is possible through CES is that very little is possible by CES alone. The effect of our work depends on our connections. We play a role within a larger array of groups that are working on strong sustainability and justice issues related thereto. More particularly we play a role within what might be called the Thomas Berry community or the ecozoic community, in the process-relational philosophies community, and within networks of other groups with which we have formed connections as described below.

A good thing for us and for those with whom we are connected is we feel we now have a clear enough identity that people can understand what we are doing in relation to what they are doing. Within our connections we don’t know of any group which is doing what we are, and at the same time we are not to our knowledge doing what the groups with which we are connected are doing.

Here are some ideas of what is possible through CES—you can think of these as our fuzzy unrealized dreams that both excite us and frighten us as we think about the work they would entail if they were realized. We don’t measure ourselves by these dreams in the sense of their being our objectives. They are guiding stars, our task is to take the next right steps and follow.

  • Produce a quality, book length copy of The Ecozoic Journal each year. While we call this a journal, it is not a journal in the ordinary sense. These journals are for us along the lines of what the annual “State of the World” reports are for the Worldwatch Institute. We expect to publish our 2018 journal on “The Ecozoic Way: The Foundational Papers of the Center for Ecozoic Study” in January 2019. We anticipate that our 2019 journal will be on “The Lived Legacy of Thomas Berry: Reports from Around the World.”
  • We would like for our bi-monthly online Ecozoic Review (ER) to become something like what the New York Review of Books and Foreign Affairs are for their readers. Our understanding of the ecozoic becomes a filter for what is relevant for us in the field of environmental humanities. Our focus on environmental humanities doesn’t exclude science. We are not involved in developing science; we are, however, quite involved in understanding and applying science in the transition to the Ecozoic era.
  • We would like to develop two lines of educational programs:

o “The Ecozoic Way,” which is education on the philosophical foundations, principles, geohistorical context, and cultural values of the ecozoic way. The Ecozoic Way educational program or programs will build on the materials that will be in CES’s 2018 Ecozoic Journal.

o “The Big Picture: Global Warming, the Anthropocene, and Ecological Civilization.” In this second program area,

▪ “global warming” stands for how we humans got where we are and why ecology is the overarching issue that both limits human-Earth development and brings everyone together in seeking a better future;

▪ “the Anthropocene” stands for where we are in humanistic and cultural terms in the journey from the terminal Cenozoic era to the emerging Ecozoic era; and

▪ “Ecological Civilization” stands for what is needed, what we can realistically hope for, and what we can do to realize an ecozoic future.

The Big Picture educational program or programs will build on a course CES gave at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in spring 2018.

  • Hold events to address specific topics of interest to ecozoans or for purposes of planning or organizing aspects of the Great Work.
  • In regard to the arts, see the discussion of artists and writers for the ecozoic below.
  • In regard to action, this area largely concerns our collaborative actions with other groups and is discussed in our important colleagues and connections below.

Our important colleagues and connections

CES is a part of a network of groups devoted to deep ecology, strong sustainability, ecological civilization, environmental justice, and other like causes. The connections below are connections of Herman Greene, the President of CES. As we go forward, we want to recognize connections of the other members of CES’s Service Group (CES’s Board, officers, and volunteers), CES’s members and donors, and readers of our publications.

  • The Earth Law Center—Herman Greene is assisting in writing and editing a new legal textbook on Earth Law.
  • International Process Network—Herman Greene is co-leading the “Ecology, Ethics, and Law” section of and will give a keynote address at the 12th International Whitehead Conference in Brasilia in August 2019.
  • Institute for Ecological Civilization—Herman Greene serves on the Board of Directors
  • Center for Process Studies—Herman Greene serves on the Board of Advisors
  • Institute for Postmodern Development of China—Herman Greene serves on the Board of Advisors
  • The Great Transition Initiative—Herman Greene is a participant in monthly discussion papers
  • Herman Greene is a member of Global South Working Group of the Carolina Seminars at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Herman Greene is a member of United Earth Ministries at United Church of Chapel Hill • Herman Greene, Jeanyne Slettom, and Michael Lewis are the organizers of a new nonprofit press, the “Process Century Press,” which will be, if its nonprofit status is approved by the IRS, a successor to an existing for-profit press
  • Herman Greene along withMoustapha Barry are the organizers of the Center for Rural Ecological Design and Information Technology (CREDIT), which will be, if its nonprofit status is approved by the IRS, a successor to an existing for-profit operation
  • CES is working with the following groups based in the Piedmont area of North Carolina on a conference on the Living Legacy of Thomas Berry that will be held in late May, 2019

o Center for Education, Imagination, and the Natural World
o Center for Human-Earth Relations
o The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain
o Emerging Ecology
o The Piedmont Bioregional Institute o Timberlake Earth Sanctuary

In addition to the foregoing, CES has relationships with many people who and centers which are involved in Thomas Berry’s work in the United States and elsewhere. CES also maintains relations with some of the groups which remain involved in the United Nations sustainable development work.

Our 2018 journal on The Ecozoic Way – publication date update

We began work on our fifth issue of The Ecozoic Journal in August 2018. At the time we felt it would be published by mid-October. The writing and editing took far longer than we expected. One section particularly held us up. We selected twenty books as the ones that have most influenced our work. At the outset we were going to do a couple of paragraphs on each book. Later we decided that complete book reviews were needed. These book reviews each took two to three days to complete.

We were ready to send the completed manuscript to our printer on December 31, 2018. We sent a .pdf copy to some of our advisors who had not yet seen the text. They liked the compilation, but they suggested some additions and modifications. We are working on those now and they will improve this issue. We currently expect that the issue will be published and distributed toward the end of January 2019. You may view the table of contents here.

2018 and 2019 members of CES will receive a copy of this issue as a benefit of membership. Others may receive a copy by becoming a 2019 member or by paying $25.00 plus shipping for a copy. The shipping cost for US addresses is $3.50, and, due to a rise in US postal rates, the cost for addresses outside the US is $20 (which is less than our actual postage cost of $34.50). Discounts on bulk orders are available.

Artists and Writers for the Ecozoic (AWE)

We have long wanted to help writers and artists who want to produce ecozoic works. We already provide a venue for publishing ecozoic writings and art. In the coming year we will create a list of the more than 100 people who have already provided articles and art to CES publications. We will reach out to them and see what more can happen in this area.

Intentions for improvements in our operations in 2019

CES needs to improve its operations. To date we have done a lot with a small volunteer staff. We think that most of our work will continue to be done on a volunteer basis. Wikipedia and other organizations have shown what volunteers can do.

To improve our operations in the coming year, we intend, among other things, to:

  • Publish The Ecozoic Review on a schedule. Eventually we intend to publish each issue in the first half of the bi-monthly period of that issue. We intend to set up timelines for the different steps in publishing, one of which will be a timeline for sending out invitations for submissions to the particular issues.
  • Upgrade our database and keep it current. We will need your help in keeping us informed of changes that need to be in personal information. Our database will help us improve our communications with different segments of our constituency, such as our members or our artists and writers.
  • Improve our website so that our materials will be more easily accessible.
  • Improve volunteer coordination so that more people may more fruitfully engage in the internal work of CES.

Membership in, donations to, and volunteering for CES

We end this issue with our invitation to become a 2019 member of CES, make a donation to CES, and volunteer for CES. You may do this online here, or you may fill out this form and send it to us.

We want to emphasize volunteering. All of the things described in this issue involve labor. We could use help in, among other things,

  • Editing
  • Writing
  • Data collection and management
  • Website design and maintenance
  • Graphic design
  • Book design
  • Art work
  • Photography
  • Music
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter, and possibly Instagram) design and postings
  • Event management and conducting events (programs, room set up, food, and more)
  • Nonprofit management and controls
  • Bookkeeping
  • Grant writing
  • Fundraising

We give great thanks for those who are currently working with CES. We are now better staffed for volunteer coordination.

Questions, comments, suggestions

Please send us your questions comments and suggestions.

Center for Ecozoic Studies
2516 Winningham Road Chapel Hill,
North Carolina 27516
Email: ecozoic.studies@gmail.com(Our email will soon be info@ecozoicstudies.org)
Phone/Fax +1-919-942-4358
Website: www.ecozoicstudies.org