Scott Russell Sanders, one of Indiana’s sagest voices for social and ecological justice, led a workshop Sunday called Writing While the World Burns.* His books, from Writing from the Center to A Conservationist Manifesto, have inspired me and countless other readers.
Before I even read the workshop description, I knew I needed to be there.
I wasn’t disappointed. Scott has a generosity, thoughtfulness, and grace about him that may be a product of his years, or perhaps he’s just built that way. He brought together a disparate group of deeply passionate people and got us talking about where our work and lives fit into the bigger picture.
I know I’ve been on a bit of a Wendell Berry kick of late, but Scott’s the one who gave a Berry quote as context for that exercise:
“The significance—and ultimately the quality—of the work we do is determined by our understanding of the story in which we are taking part.”
Where do we fit? What is our important piece of the puzzle?
In my case, my larger story has to do with lighting the Lights—spreading the word about the tremendous work being done on so many fronts. And not only that, but being a Light, in my own small way.
In fact, “story” is an apt word, because I see all of these efforts as a grand transition to the Story of Reunion (in Charles Eisenstein’s words)—leaving the defunct Story of Separation behind.
As writers, Scott told us, (and as teachers, artists, visionaries, and the like) we enlarge people’s vision of what’s possible. We write a new language that can supplant that tired old ethic of economic gain at any cost. We expand people’s understanding of humanity by sharing our knowledge of those they might consider “other.”
In short, we reimagine the world, and invite others to join us.
*Many thanks to the Indiana Writers Center for offering this tremendous workshop.