Sustainable Missoula: Sustainable communities need empowered communicators

Turning the Wheel Missoula focuses on fostering essence qualities in people by giving guided, body-based play experiences that infuse participants with a sense of responsibility for, connection with, and awareness of self and other. (Courtesy photo)

How do we foster the integral life skills of empowered communication, leadership, awareness, expressiveness, creativity, gratitude and the ability to respond quickly to changing circumstances?

This question lies at the hub of nonprofit organization Turning the Wheel Missoula’s mission.

Dedicated to fostering the social, emotional and physical health of all people, TTWM gives participants in our programs a body reference point or experience of the very qualities that facilitate engaged citizens. Remember the saying “I hear and forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”? That’s the gist. 

We operate around the practice that the body is the primary mechanism for change and learning. When we ask what kind of people are going to create sustainable, cooperative communities, we are asking a pivotal question in the journey toward sustainability. Much of the activist work today involves giving people a lot of information as a means to stimulate action. Information is helpful, and there is more to creating the bridge to action that can be offered. 

TTWM focuses on fostering essence qualities in people by giving guided, body-based play experiences that infuse participants with a sense of responsibility for, connection with, and awareness of self and other. We know that conscious work springs from commitment, awareness, compassion, responsibility, connection and engagement, so our goal is to foster that and let the individual walk the path toward conscious change.

Once these qualities are experienced with repetition, they become a body memory and an internal reference point for what the individual wants to create. How might the general notion of what one wants to create blossom? In a myriad of ways: a deep commitment to animal rights, the forests, the farms, the water, zero waste practices, education … the list goes on. 

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and then go and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Sherman 

An oft-repeated integral life skill in education and activism today is resilience. A large piece of the Turning the Wheel Missoula pie focuses on guiding people to key into what makes them come alive. In doing so, we have seen resilience and positive social change flourish in the populations we have served over the last 12 years.

We give experiences of appreciation of self and others and tuning into body cues/intuition about what one wants to happen next to instill an orientation toward working from a place of passion, rather than a place of reaction. Therein, we are gifted with limitless energy and even joy. This is resilience. Trailblazers need resilience. 

When these foundational life skills and essence qualities are in place, we want to take care of ourselves, each other and our world. The stronger our social network and sense of place in our community, the less lonely and isolated we feel, and the more we value ourselves and understand the impact of our offering in the bigger picture.

Ironically, these vital ingredients are often referred to as “soft skills.” However, they are the foundation for visionary thinking and social and ecological change. As facilitators of thousands of groups, we have seen the magic of body-rooted wisdom take hold and infuse the kind of change we want to see time and time again. 

Support Turning the Wheel Missoula’s work in the schools by attending “Enchanted Forest,” a wondrous, art-filled and zero waste event, on Saturday, Oct 26 at Freecycles. 

Lulu Delphine is the director of Turning the Wheel Missoula.

This Sustainable Missoula column is brought to you – via the Missoula Current – every Friday by Climate Smart Missoula and Home ReSource.

Upcoming Sustainability Events

Friday, October 25 – Sunday, October 27. AERO EXPO – Cultivating Community Resilience. MSU Bozeman.

Saturday, October 26. “Enchanted Forest” — a unique interactive art and performance evening that celebrates the wonder and magic of the Halloween season. Turning The Wheel Missoula Fundraiser at Free Cycles, 732 S 1st St W. 6 p.m.

Saturday, October 26. 1000 New Gardens Dig Day — help Missoulians put their gardens to bed for the winter. Meet at noon at Kiwanis Park, Missoula. Facebook page for Dig Day.

Tuesday, October 29. Faith & Climate Action — meeting to plan upcoming climate events. All welcome. Emmaus House, 532 University Avenue, 4 p.m.

Saturday, November 2. Reducing Plastic Pollution in the Flathead — free event hosted by Climate Smart Glacier County. Learn about efforts to Reduce/Reuse/Refuse/Recycle in Glacier County. FVCC Arts & Technology Building, Kalispell, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.