Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Great Turning and How Valle Verde Retirement community is Improving the Environment

Written by: on January 26, 2014



Most people are concerned about the environment and the future of the earth’s ecology and health. Much has been said about environmental warming, the growing pollution in China, the growing population of the earth and the earths ability to support the growth and pollution.

Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone in their book Action Hope How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy address the decline of the environment and how individuals can make a difference to improve the environment. They reflect about three stories and how people  react or respond to the environmental changes that are taking place (Macy, Johnstone, 2013). The first is called “business as usual,” continuing to pursue economic growth without thinking about how it effects the environment. The second story is called the “Great Unravelling” which focuses on the decline of the environment. The third story is the “Great Turning” which focuses on the healing and recovery of our world.

I was first acquainted with the story of the “Great Turning” when I first learned to back pack. My Boy Scout leader explained that when we camp in the forest, we want to leave a camp site better than we found it or that no one would know we had been there. Every time I back pack and camp, I remember these wise words of instruction and leave every campsite better than when I found it.

Likewise, the Retirement Community of Valle Verde in Santa Barbara honors the same principle. For the past 10 years, this retirement community has strived to be self-sustaining and green by adding solar panels every year, re-using gray water for irrigation and recycling their garbage on a monthly basis.

Macy and Johnstone share that active hope is about bring about what we hope for and not just hoping it will come about from outside influences. The Valle Verde Retirement Community has won a number of Green Initiative awards for the past seven years. They are actively participating in making a difference in the environment by their self-sustaining initiatives.

The Valle Verde Retirement Community is putting into practice what I learned early in life about leaving a camp site better than when you found it. Valle Verde’s campsite is an example for all organizations to follow.

Macy, Joanna and Johnstone, Chris. Active Hope:how to face the mess we’re in without going crazy. 2012. Navato, California. New World Library.

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Mark Steele

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