Tag Archives: Interconnectedness

You are because I am, by Isabel Rimanoczy

We love rituals. We think that rituals mark the rhythm of life, create spaces for breathing and pausing, like the rhythm given to a melody. Four years ago we at Minervas.org invented a ritual, which is to go to downtown Fort Lauderdale in February, and connect with the many people lingering in the square, most of them homeless. Why February? Because reflecting on the many messages related to Valentine’s Day, we couldn’t help but thinking of where is love for those that are the ‘unseen’? So off we go, with one purpose: to connect.

We see connection as a sacred moment. With words, through the eyes, in silence or in a smile, the moment of connecting is expressing: I see you, you see me, I am because you are.

It Could Have Been Me

This year, it was even more special. A block away from the square there was a large gathering of families, parents, teachers, and students expressing their feelings for the recent school shooting. Sadness, pain, anger, and rage claiming attention from the political representatives to protect the schools, the children, the population. We want better gun laws, gun restrictions, and safer schools. We the people, was the message in the image of hundreds of mothers, fathers and children holding up homemade signs with their simple and powerful words. It could have been me.

I am because you are. You are because I am.

Saved from Clothfabric.com

If that is so, then there are no strangers here. What is our personal responsibility, our contribution to the situations we face? If we are all connected, like spots on a large fabric, how may we –unintentionally- be part of the problem? One answer may be in how we participate in democratic processes, in the civic life. Are we paying attention, speaking up, expressing our outrage or our values, or are we silent bystanders? Or living room complainers?

Who are we electing, and how are we helping to keep the elected officials honest, accountable? It is clear that the proliferation of guns is part of the problem. Guns call to be used. But there is more than guns.

In a recent school board session one person shared about an organization that trains teachers and school staff to notice behaviors in children, starting with first graders. Trained to pay attention to absenteeism, to introverted attitudes and to angry behaviors, teachers learn to identify children who may be going through difficult situations. They then engage psychologists, social workers, and they establish spaces of dialogue with the children. Teenagers don’t become violent one morning: they carry a long history of emotional pain, to which others have been deaf and blind.

There is much that we can do.

Starting with noticing to what we are protectively deaf and blind. If we were a small community, of, say, a dozen of homes – would we be equally deaf to the pain of a neighbor?  Would we walk by oblivious of the difficult circumstances someone is going through? Urban living has a way to promote anonymity, isolation, with individuals ‘mending’ their own business. How does that contribute to the unseen sadness, the lack of love, the cultivation of pain that has to grow louder, until it catches the attention of the whole block, the school, the media? How large must be the pain, that paying with the own life or freedom becomes an acceptable price?

Each gunshot is a cry, a tear exploding in desperation. It creates pain and more tears, in an unending cycle of grief.

I am because you are.

When we start developing empathy and compassion not only for the grieving families, but for the lost lives on both sides, we may be closer to seeing and listening with the heart. That is when we really stop being part of the problem, and begin to be part of the solution.

Sustainability Advocate, EarthSayers.tv, Voices of Sustainability, February 28, 2018, Portland, Oregon.


About the Author

Isabel Rimanoczy, Ed.D. has made it her life purpose to develop change accelerators. She developed the concept of the Sustainability Mindset by studying what inspired leaders to act in a business-as-unusual way.  She created the UN PRME Working Group on Sustainability Mindset, a network of professors on five continents, is the Global Academic Ambassador of AIM2Flourish, the author of several books, among others BIG BANG BEING: Developing the Sustainability Mindset, and STOP TEACHING, and has published more than140 articles and book chapters.

Dr. Rimanoczy is a Fellow of the Schumacher Institute, UK, a  Strategic Sustainability Adviser for One Planet Education Networks (OPEN) Senior Partner with  Leadership in Motion and co-founder of the charitable organization Minervas: Women Changing the World. Isabel earned her doctorate at Columbia University, has her MBA from Universidad de Palermo and is a Licensed Psychologist from the Universidad de Buenos Aires. She can be reached at isabelrimanoczy@gmail.comwww.isabelrimanoczy.net


The Documentary and Sustainability Awareness

In the last weekend of April I attended the conference, What Is Documentary: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow at the University of Oregon’s Portland campus organized by Gabriela Martinez and Janet Wasko of the School of Journalism and Communication.  As noted in a previous blog post, it was an extremely interesting two days and three evenings of presentations and film screenings. Best of all, I had the opportunity to interview the ethnographic filmmaker David MacDougall.  The interview is in two parts: David MacDougall on Filmmaking and Children in India: Three Places of Learning.

What is Documentary?

In the interview David reminds us there are two kinds of documentary.  Some are made based on pre-existing knowledge and prior research while others are the research process itself, a process using video to discover and explore. He notes with the latter “what you end up doing is a product of what you learned during the making of the film.  The process “often shifts you into an entirely different direction so it’s quite open ended.”


David MacDougall

Documentary Takes Money

Organizations that fund research and explorations, foundations in particular, might follow the lead of early adopters such as The Ford Foundation and their initiative, JustFilms.  JustFilms “focuses on film, video and digital works that show courageous people confronting difficult issues and actively pursuing a more just, secure and sustainable world.” Initiative funds are distributed through three distinct paths, two of which point to support of both kinds of documentary cited by David. They are:


  • Collaboration with other Ford Foundation grant-making programs where the introduction of documentary film could help draw attention to an issue or advance a movement, and


  • An ongoing open-application process that will help JustFilms stay attuned to fresh ideas and stories wherever they may emerge.

It’s the open-ended, exploratory process that in the past made funders and investors nervous, to the point of excluding documentaries all together, and yet it is through exploration that we are more likely to discover what is working at the personal and community level to insure a future for the next seven generations.  It’s learning from what the filmmaker finds and sees, especially about us.   And it’s understanding that such explorations are part of increasing sustainability awareness in the category, culture and consciousness.

The Story of Usdavid macdougall

Even environmental advocates Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Julia Butterfly Hill talk about the “us.” Kennedy noted in this interview, “…first of all we are not protecting the environment for the sake of the fishes and birds so much as for our own sake” and Hill in this video identifies the greatest threat being our disconnected consciousness. This does not preclude producing well researched documentaries about Mother Earth, about the birds and the bees, but growing a body of work around people’s behavior that goes beyond headlines and newscasts and is not bound by preconceptions imposed by disciplines and ideologies.  David MacDougall’s films are good examples of what I am talking about and you will note in his interview he talks about how the story evolved, taking years, not months, to exploring the emotional and physical lives of children.

The Opportunity

Economist and Pachamama co-founder, John Perkins calls out in this video the prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor, an indigenous prophecy told by first peoples all over the world about a time dominated by an intellectual, masculine, mind-driven consciousness, which is followed by an opportunity for balance between that consciousness to one that is heart-driven, intuitive and feminine. It is a call for a shift in humanity’s relationship to the Earth and our relationship to each other and, according to the prophecy, that time is now.

We need to reconnect with Mother Earth and with one another yet how?

It’s documentary filmmakers, using their skills and experience, who can help show us the way, if we invest in them and their projects that explore “fresh ideas and stories wherever they may emerge.”  And in the process bringing to the fore those in relationship with Mother Earth and community so we can learn from them.

Ruth Ann Barrett, Sustainability Advocate, May 6, 2014, Portland, Oregon.