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Great ... storytellers build rapport with their audience by providing openings so that the readers and listeners can insert their own emotions, experiences, hopes and dreams into the story. ... They are invited to "live" within the story, to make their own stories come alive within the context of the tale.

Jim & Miriam Willis
Taos Institute Focus workbook


The genesis of this website was a book, that then became an educational document - a workbook, and then, because of its very organic nature became this website. If you choose to use it as a workbook, it is recommended that you begin here with the Introduction and follow the sequential order of Sections and Chapters shown on the Home Page. If there are only certain portions of the workbook that are of interest to you, please feel free to participate as fully as you wish. The remainder of this Introduction is written from the perspective of creating a web-based workbook.

Each of my most memorable mentors has, to one degree or another, been a storyteller - offering me an invitation to blend my experience, knowledge and questions with their profound teachings and thoughts. And each has awakened something deep within me, because there is an integrity that comes forth when their speech emanates from their own connection with life. This it seems is all part of a virtuous cycle when we awaken the best in each other.alt

The quote above serves as a guiding principle for this electronic workbook for learners. It is written for those who pursue active self-discovery and fulfillment through participating in addressing one of all living systems gravest threats - our sustainability.

Sometime in the very near future, we must recreate our deepest story of our relationship to the Universe, the Earth and all that is life. Since I believe in the latent goodness in each of us - a listening and a searching for more gratifying ways to live and to leave a heritage for the generations who follow, the workbook is written from an appreciative perspective. By that I mean that its intent is to help the reader get in touch with those virtues they most cherish - love, generosity, kindness, sense of place, spiritual connection to name a few, as well as to find a place from which they can move forth in a fulfilling manner.

The underlying themes in the workbook reflect my deepest beliefs. One of those beliefs is that no matter how dire we might understand our ecological and social problems, the ultimate motivation for addressing them will come from an awe, reverence and love of this living system that sustains us. Shifting from a problem orientation to an appreciative one is of the utmost importance - thus the title, "Appreciative Sustainability', as well as a Chapter in the Transformative Learning Section titled, ‘Appreciative Inquiry'. A second belief is that no matter how oriented we are to developing goals and objectives followed by plans with measurements to solve these problems, each of us living ethically everyday is far more important to getting us where we wish to be. I don't believe this is a duality - we need both the plans and the ethics, but the ethics are the overarching paradigm - thus, the subtitle, ‘Co-Creating Our Sustainability Ethic', and the Chapter, ‘The Power of Ethic'.

My request is that you take the opportunity to tell your own stories of your experiences and the facets of life that you most cherish. Some you may wish to be private; others of you may wish to share on this website. Each of us, in our own way, is developing a clearer model of our lives that leads us to a more fulfilling role in being sustainable. There are many ways to participate on this website, and our hope is to stimulate a dialogue in the broadest sense of the word - emulating Nature until we are in harmony with her.

I would like to share with you a challenge I faced while writing this workbook, and solicit your support. The challenge, that I suspect we share, is the contrast between the tone of the workbook and the tone of our political environment. The workbook is written from the perspective that life is a blessing, a cosmological mystery and miracle, with an essence to, and energetic connection among, all the systems of the Universe. This is my source of deep appreciation that serves as the workbook's organizing principle. The tone of the country is often one of fear and disregard for life. It is one of dominion, over both people and Nature that relies on war for political capital and personal wealth. It is imperialistic - still very much attached to the Colonial mores from which we need to detach ourselves. Part of my internal conversation doesn't belong in this workbook, and while writing, I feel this conversation leeching into the story. I attempt to rewrite it out, but doubt I've been completely successful, and I ask you, the reader, to apply your own positive perspective, and provide feedback.

Please let me share with you a little of the genesis of this workbook as it gives some insights regarding content and flow, as well as an understanding that the workbook itself is a work in progress. If I have a gift at all, it is being able to synthesize ideas. I find that the synthesis emerges when I can tap into the guiding principles of the various ideas, and find a certain simplicity that brings orderliness to what others might observe as chaotic. Several years ago at a Sustainability conference, I heard an incredible, presentation by Dr. Betty Sue Flowers on ‘Archetypal Behavior'. It stimulated my interest in archetypes, and over the years I developed the construct, ‘Archetypes for Sustainability'. In June of 2006, Betty Sue was the keynote speaker at an ‘Organizational System Renewal' Conference in Seattle, and I met with her to see if she thought there was merit to my work. I also shared the construct, ‘Epochs of Sustainability: The Curve of Hope'.

Her feedback was very positive, ‘Milt, you should write a book'.

I was reluctant to write a book, not just because it is a first for me, but because the constructs strike me as quite mechanical, and the Earth and all its systems are organic. My challenge was to blend the maps with the territory: the constructs with our life-sustaining planet. For some, these constructs offer a new perspective for understanding sustainability - the ‘picture that is worth a 1000 words'. ‘Archetypes for Sustainability' is the basis for Section IV while ‘Epochs of Sustainability: The Curve of Hope' serves as the basis for Section VI. In order to understand the ‘territory' they are mapping, the workbook takes two approaches. The first is to discern the principles of humanity being in harmony with the Earth, find sources of greater wisdom, and how, individually and collectively, we develop the will to make the necessary changes. The second is to bring the constructs off the 2-dimensional page so that there is an organic sense of flow, change over time, a touch of quantum reality, and mystery. Essentially we are bringing the maps more in sync with the territory.

In most ways I was able to grapple with the enormity of the task in that I could lay out a flow and fill in most of the blanks. But in spite of my technical upbringing, (see Markewitz's Bio), I had become quite technically obsolete particularly in terms of designing for the web and utilizing its powerful functions. I emailed my friend Ken Roffmann, who has vast experience with writing and utilizing web curricula and basically said, "Help!!". Ken responded with his own call for help, and the desire to address his needs through our collaboration. The value he has added to the process of making this a living, breathing process is present in every portion of the website and the workbook.

Ken passed away on November 29, 2009, and I acutely feel the loss. He was dealing with leukemia all the time that we collaborated on this site. This work was a mixed blessing in that it was both tiring and energizing for him; much more the latter, and I'm so glad we had this time together. My partner and I were overseas to attend the Parliament of World Religions in Melbourne Australia when Ken died. The last time I saw him was on November 7th, the weekend before we left, when we had a workshop on one of Ken's favorite topics, ‘Ancient Hebrew'. He was so vibrant and in his element - affirming, teaching and creating ‘aha' moments for others. I feel very blessed that I have this as a last memory. I miss Ken very much, and, in addition to my father, dedicate this work to him.

I ask the reader to keep a journal as they read the workbook, and to take enough time after each chapter to reflect and answer the ‘appreciative' questions intended to put them in touch with their own positive learning and living experiences. The last section of the workbook will use these writings to help the reader better understand their personal lifework.

I hope that you will find the website and the workbook both enjoyable and challenging, and that you will be open to sharing your learning with others.


Milt Markewitz


Go to: Your Journal
Download PDF of this Chapter: icon Introduction Rev. 2009-02-02
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Next: Section I : Chapter 1 - Our Most Fundamental Paths


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