The Web of Life Imperative

One giant step for sanity


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The Web of Life Imperative
Regenerative ecopsychology techniques that help people think in balance with natural systems


FOUND: an organic antidote for personal and environmental disorders.

Have you learned what you need to know?





Natural System Thinking: Why You Need this Readily Available Enabling Process.

May 15, 2003: The deterioration of our inner peace, health, social justice and the environment in has in many cases doubled since Earth Day, 1972.

On April 18, 1972, Karen, a high school junior explained to her principal why she was quitting school. "Dr. Miler," she said. "Neither you nor the faculty can teach me what I want to know because what I want to know is how not to be like any of you. What you teach is insane. It perpetuates our destructive personal, social and environmental relationships."

Karen's words come to mind more and more as I watch well-intentioned folks I love hurt themselves, each other and the environment. Their best thinking about how to solve our crucial problems has proven not to be as thoughtful as it needs to be.

Karen had decided to drop out of school after many attempts to "adjust." She excelled as a student and Dr. Miler pleaded with her to remain. He pledged that if she did, he would teach her anything she wanted to know. That's when she told him he did not have the ability to do that. She explained that the harmful effects of his thinking and relationships depressed her. They showed that neither he nor the faculty knew what she wanted to know, no less how to teach it. That knowledge was unavailable to the public in 1972. It is available now.

Today, most of us suffer from denial. Although crucial information that enables us to improve our relationships has become easily accessible, we seldom use it because we are psychologically addicted to thinking we don't need it and, in the name of normalacy, we deny having this addiction. However, we also know that in the thirty years since 1972 the destructive impact of how we think and relate has dramatically increased. The population has doubled from three billion to over six billion people. The mining and use of natural gas and oil has more than doubled as have CO2 emissions. Earth's temperature has risen one degree. Land conversion for growing wheat, corn and soybeans has more than doubled. Almost half the Earth's wetlands and forests are now gone. Crime, narcotics and abusiveness have increased along with mental illness. Over 50 wars are taking place right now. How sane is this? Costs are soaring. Where are we headed?

Although Karen's faculty played their role well in school, they were a cross section of society then and today. For example, despite the warning labels, 30% of them smoked cigarettes. Because they protected others from the smoke by providing themselves with a smoking area, they were within their legal rights. Smoking was not, and is not, illegal. Karen felt that if cigarettes became illegal, smoking and its adverse effects would not stop. In her social studies paper she wrote "It would be like deer hunting. In many states more deer are poached illegally than are legally killed during hunting season." In that paper Karen also said "We can't make sense of how our society educates, governs and socializes us simply because it is not sensible. I must stop learning how to think like you think."

Karen discovered what most people tell me they know. With respect to helping us sustain happy, responsible lives out of harms way, our education and socialization is no more effective than the warning label on cigarettes. Karen was different than many students because, in counseling, she learned something extra. She discovered the integrity and value of her subconscious thinking. She found that she wanted and deserved more than school provided. She began to realize that the world and its people were at risk. Her paper said, "We are in jeopardy. We don't just need information, we need an effective process that enables us to build responsible relationships with ourselves, each other and our planet. I want to learn how to build supportive and cooperative, not competitive, relationships. That is not happening in this school." She wrote, "To teach it or learn it, you must live it. I have tried, in vain, to achieve this here."

At a meeting, the faculty pleaded with Karen to stay in school, for she was exceptional. "I'm afraid to stay" Karen said. "The abusiveness in the world scares me." She choked, "We are on the brink of nuclear war. And the natural environment is deteriorating so quickly there may not be a world for me to live in." Her tears flowed freely. "There is nothing abnormal with me feeling depressed at times. The hurt I feel is real. It comes from knowing and watching people being killed and bird species decline. I am tired of putting medicine on that hurt in counseling and thinking there is something wrong with me personally. That hurt will only disappear as we stop assaulting the world and as sensitivity, peace and birds reappear. That is not happening here. This school is contaminated; it's a subculture, a breeding ground for our problems."

Mrs. Cook tried to speak. "Let me finish please," Karen said, and continued, "The school has just bulldozed the natural area on the building's west side to build still another lawn. That area was not only a nesting and feeding habitat for birds. It was a womb for all forms of life, a place that I loved, where I could find peace at lunchtime and after school. Compared to being in class, or even in counseling, that place made sense. It was beautiful; it felt right. I could go there depressed and safely feel all the beauty and life that flourished there. In just a few minutes, I would feel much better. I refuse to be touched by the thinking here that has been bulldozed into such stupidity as to bulldoze that natural area."

Dr. Miler interrupted, "Karen, there was no choice. That was part of a legal contract from years ago. We had to fulfill that contract or be sued. And some students smoke marijuana in that area."

"I don't smoke marijuana," said Karen, "I feel sad for those that do. I feel even sadder that the law says that I must spend half of my waking life indoors in school. This environment is leveling paradise to make still another lawn. Dr. Miler, you once told me that we learn more from the world around us than we do from books and lectures. I simply refuse to trash paradise or learn to do it. I refuse to let you rub off on me any further. What's wrong with that? It makes sense to me. Why aren't you delighted?" She seemed stronger for her statement and its intensity.

"Earth and its people are at risk," Karen continued. "Every year in this country, five thousand square miles of nature are bulldozed into our built environment. How can you possibly teach us to deal with such a massacre when you are engaged in it? What are you thinking? What sense is there for me to sit in Social Studies class to discover that our nuclear generating plants are dangerous yet their total electrical output equals the energy this country uses just to run hair dryers? That makes no sense. What do we learn here that helps us stop using hair dryers? To be accepted here, I feel pressured to use one, not to desist. Where is the sense in that? In Biology, we learn that a decade ago Rachel Carson showed everybody the danger in using pesticides and chemicals. Since then, we have introduced thousands of new chemicals every year into the environment. What are you thinking when you use these chemicals on our lawns here? I don't want to learn to think like that. What kind of a world is school teaching my mind to build?" she asked passionately.

Dr. Miler calmly advised Karen that the school did the best it could. If she left, she would be truant and there would be consequences. She would not be able to attend college. Karen replied: "I don't care. I choose to learn elsewhere. It's too stupid here. Here, society sentences me to live in an irresponsible mold, a change resistant, indoor learning environment that assaults the natural foundations of life. This environment is so boring, controlled and stifling that most students are drugged out or into something that is outlandish, self-destructive or socially harmful. I'm spending close to 18,000 hours of my most impressionable, developmental years in this nature-isolated school closet. That's like growing up in a destructive culture."

Mrs. Cook, the English teacher, objected, "I, and other faculty members, have taught you repeatedly that these things don't make sense." "Not really," Karen retorted, "You merely say these things don't make sense. What you really teach me by forcing me to be in this setting is that I must adopt to being part of a runaway stupidity, not how to deal with it. Wake up, Mrs. Cook! You don't know how to stop it so how are you going to teach that? Am I supposed to just accept your belief that the communists and minorities cause our problems? At church we have a conflict as to whether it is right to subdue the Earth as the Bible says. Isn't there a separation between Church and State? You are not compelled here to subdue the Earth, so why do you do it and teach it?" "This has nothing to do with religion" said Mrs. Cook. "Maybe not to you." Karen replied, "I have friends for whom that woodland was a cathedral. Think about it, weren't the lives of our greatest spiritual leaders shaped by profound experiences in nature?"

Smiling, Mr. Langely, the social studies teacher said: "Karen, cheer up. You are going to be the first woman President of the United States." Wiping her tears, Karen stammered "Oh sure, the first president with a prison record. State laws say I could go to juvenile prison if I am truant. That sucks! I don't care, I'll take my chances. Go ahead, turn me in. The law has me jailed here right now anyhow. The big advantage to being in this jail is that I can walk out and find a better way to learn. That's what I'm going to do," she stated confidently.

Karen's words bring to mind a study done by a sociologist in Maine. It shows that the students' level of morale in a high school is the same as the prisoners' level of morale in a state penitentiary.

Karen found a solution, an antidote that is now available to the world via the Internet. She located a unique alternative school whose curriculum addressed her discontents for it shared them. Its faculty and students recognized that the disorders that Karen identified resulted from people's acculturation within the consciousness and thinking of industrial society. The school recognized that our indoor-living, nature-exploitive way of relating and its associated problems are seldom found in natural systems or in the consciousness and acts of nature-centered cultures. There, a person's psyche is genuinely plugged into the energies that natural systems use to achieve nature's peaceful equilibrium. The relationships in natural systems produce optimums of life, diversity and cooperation without producing any garbage, without our insanity, pollution, war or abusiveness.

The school Karen found had invented a remarkable process, a tool that recognized that natural systems sustain and flow through us. It enabled its faculty and student community to think and relate while consciously tapped into the balance and healing powers of natural systems that thrived in them and in the environment. Using the tool empowered the school community to build a comparatively utopian subculture, one whose academics taught them how to benefit while further using and teaching how to use the tool. Through the tool, most of the disorders they formerly suffered transformed into constructive relationships. A key factor in the unprecedented success of the tool was that it included doing sensory nature-reconnecting activities, backyard or backcountry.

In 1990 the essence of the school's unique process was published as an award winning training book Connecting With Nature. In 1993, the process was translated into academically accredited principles and activities that could be learned and applied through the Internet. The Internet program started out as one basic activity. As people asked questions, found successes and reported good results the program increased in size and scope. Since that time it has grown into nine activities and readings and been successfully taught over 125 times on the Internet to over 1000 participants. The tool is called the Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) and it is sponsored by Project NatureConnect at the Institute of Global Education, a non-profit, special NGO consultant to the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

The Internet program has now been published in a new book and course, The Web of Life Imperative: regenerative ecopsychology techniques that help people think in balance with natural systems." In it, 36 co-authors enable anybody to master the elements and enjoy the benefits of the Natural Systems Thinking Process in 12-35 days. (That's what Karen learned to do. She, by the way, became a successful Environmental Lawyer and sustainability leader.) The book empowers you with nature's potent antidote to many of our challenging disorders. It helps you walk nature's socially and environmentally responsible path to good health along with rewarding relationships and livelihoods.

The The Web of Life Imperative as a book or Internet course is described in detail at www.webstrings.org
For best results and economics order it there or here via www.ecopsych.com/orderbook.html or by telephone 360-378-6313.

YOUR CHALLENGE: Do you think it makes sense for any person, organization or cause not to include the Natural Systems Thinking Process as part of what they do or teach? If i makes senses, what are you going to do to help them, or yourself for that matter, begin to use it?


The Web of Life Imperative by Michael J. Cohen and 36 co-authors. Publisher: Institute of Global Education and Trafford Publications.

Release Date: July 15, 2003. Pre-publishing copies available by April, 2003. Email for information

Contents: 148, full size, 8 1/2 x 11 inch, Perfect Bound. illustrated pages containing empirical principals, knowledge, activities and opportunities for internships, jobs and degrees.

Price: $35.00. Subsidized copies are available through a grant from IGE.
When purchased from IGE, a percentage of the book's cost supports its distribution and its companion books, courses and scholarship programs.

Institute of Global Education Project NatureConnect
P. O. Box 1605, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
360-378-6313 <nature@interisland.net> www.ecopsych.com


Institute of Global Education
Project NatureConnect
Special NGO Consultant to the
United Nations Economic and Social Council

.............P. O. Box 1605, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
.............360-378-6313 <nature@interisland.net> www.ecopsych.com

.............Educational tools and research for peace that help meet the United Nations manifesto for ............environmentally.sound personal growth and social justice.



Front Cover of Book (below)





Front Cover.


Enjoy the crucial secret to learning with nature
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The Web of Life
Regenerative ecopsychology techniques that help
people think in balance with natural systems

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.Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D.


Rejuvenation power to the people and Earth.






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