A Pilgrimage of Service, Leadership & AncestryBeginning June 2009, a small group of 8 leaders of different ages and backgrounds began a year-long journey around the world with a wilderness quest in the high desert of the Inyo Mountains in California, coming together to form a community with the intention and commitment to serve.
Following this solo time, we all joined to support a youth wilderness quest, six younger pilgrims marking their passage to adulthood. Their stories coming down from the mountain were true inspiration and confirmation of the power of Nature as teacher, of the lessons that we can receive from listening deeply to the world around us and to one another.
These six youth, and hundreds of our supporters, family members, and friends served as a long-distance base camp as we set off for a year-long pilgrimage to a number of places, programs and centers creatively exploring the frontiers of peaceful, regenerative culture. While offering our service and skills, we focused on learning from and with those we met. We found many areas of collaboration and exchange, which we hope will benefit the people and places we visited, as well as the many we will return to in the months and years to come.
Sustainable, holistic, regenerative… many adjectives today are attempting to describe a commitment that is in some ways very old and simple: to live in awareness of the generations to come, to live with care for the earth and all beings, to live with heart and truth, to live in remembrance of the gift that is to be shared. This is not religion or politics but common sense. It goes beyond definitions of class, culture or nation, beyond boundaries. The values of coexistence with all our relations are ones that need to be experienced, learned and practiced.
In whatever ways we could on the Beyond Boundaries pilgrimage, we wanted to bear witness, to join and support those living and working in this way. A year and thousands of miles later, we have gathered the stories, recorded the songs, and shared smiles and tears with hundreds of people working proactively to facilitate positive change for a healthy future for the Earth that we call home. We listened to the stories of celebration and struggle in areas of utopia and crisis, music to the ears and the ones hard to hear; and we bring them home to become part of our transformation. We believe that we have visited and become a part of the places where collaboration and partnerships can truly make a difference. We joined in the stories of success, survival, hope, sustainability, and new beginnings, and gave ourselves fully to our experience.
Our intention was to offer our simple time and labor along with the best of life practices and skills we know, as appropriate and as requested to do so, while opening ourselves to learn from others, and to deepen into a spectrum of cross-cultural community living. Our task now is to incorporate the journey into our lives in numerous ways while supporting and inspiring others. We went with the intention of being part of strengthening the “morphogenetic field,” the matrix of energies that supports all life, which seems to be so threatened in the instability of our time.Return to Projects & Collaborations
Click on the sections below to learn more about the Beyond Boundaries Pilgrimage:
- Program Purpose
- To offer an international walkabout, a leadership training, a cross-cultural, eco-spiritual community education and collaboration, a possible flow-fund site visit, a pilgrimage of service.
- To model and seed a unique education for ‘glocal’ activists and community leaders.
- To inspire international and local action that comes out of listening, bearing witness, ceremony and prayer (as well as those already coming out of science, politics, art and social exchange).
- To form long-term partnerships with specific communities and projects by being in service and exchanging information and experience first hand.
Throughout the world there are key places, people and centers dedicated to a living exploration of the many frontiers of viable system designs for humanity. These people and projects are re-creating communities that offer potential solutions and directions for future development by creating and embodying sustainable and regenerative living systems, restoring people’s balance with the natural world, working through and being part of the healing of domestic and cross-cultural differences, and enhancing spiritual well-being.
Beyond Boundaries pilgrims journeyed to several of these places, including The Ojai Foundation in California, Tamera in Portugal, Auroville in India, Findhorn in Scotland, Damanhur in Italy and the Biosphere Foundation in Indonesia. Each center that we visit is a pioneer in the work of social and ecological design and a regional hub for convening seekers, students and teachers in the realms of health, spirituality, sustainable & regenerative living practices, and the building of new societal structures based in peace, reconciliation, and shared human rights. Beyond the centers, we listened for the ways we can connect with and support indigenous peoples who have been struggling to live these principles despite centuries of repression and genocide. Additionally, each pilgrim visited a number of other projects and places during the independent study time based on their specific areas of interest and inquiry.
We were inspired to be a multi-talented team and bring a unique set of skills as well as curiosities to a ‘mission’, in the best sense of the word, to elicit the voices of both youth and elders in council, and bring those voices home, back to our people. Council was one of our core practices throughout the ten months; it is the act of speaking from the heart, listening devoutly, expressing oneself in a lean manner, and being spontaneous. Though it sounds simplistic, those of us that share council have felt the profound sense of connection that this way can manifest. And last but not least, we were part of a prayer of reconciliation and healing that was and will continue to be part of our work everywhere we go.
- Keys Questions and Areas of Inquiry
- Who is pioneering effective models for peaceful, connected and regenerative ways of life?
- What can we learn from these people and what can we offer them?
- How can we integrate the different strands together, creating the best potential outcome for all?
- Given our increased awareness of the interdependence of the international community and the natural world, how can we live in right relations now and for generations to come?
- What does it mean to be a Global Citizen? What does it mean to “Go Glocal,” or to think and act locally and globally simultaneously?
- The Inspiration and The Way of Council
In 1980, Gigi Coyle, team leader and visionary behind Beyond Boundaries, was inspired to embark on a year long walkabout, traveling to projects and communities in the U.S. researching what were then considered ‘alternative’ systems, meeting and learning with individuals and groups committed to sustainable living practices and the healing of self, others, and the planet.
This journey seeded Gigi’s life work focused on healing and has included projects in international citizen diplomacy, council leadership and training, and service as a vision quest guide and trainer for the School of Lost Borders. In the early 2000s, Gigi was called to pilgrimage again, to connect many of the people and places pioneering alternative living systems that can offer us viable choices as we go forward as a global community. Based on 30 years of accumulated relationships with individuals and organizations all over the globe, Gigi has developed Beyond Boundaries, inviting a small intergenerational group to join her on this international pilgrimage.
- Host Communities
By journeying to these sites, our commitment was to give away the best of life practices and skills we know, as appropriate and as requested to do so, while learning from others, and to deepen into a practice of cross-cultural community living.
At each site, we not only visited and exchanged information, but also joined in events and participate in community undertakings. Further, as we are increasingly aware of the need to use scarce resources wisely, and further called to limit our international travel because of its true cost to the environment, we were deeply aware of the need to make this journey count on many levels, given its carbon footprint. Among other things, we, literally and metaphorically, we planted trees all along the way.
A United Nations award-winning sustainable community in Northern Italy, Damanhur is an eco-society based upon ethical and spiritual values. In creating community, Damanhur has drawn on ancient knowledge, esoteric traditions, and modern research to promote a culture of peace and balanced development through solidarity, volunteering, a respect for the environment, and social and political commitment.
The “Healing Biotope 1 Tamera” in southern Portugal is an international training and experimental site for the development of peace research villages and healing biotopes worldwide. The goal of Tamera is to live together according to the principles of non-violent cooperation and to establish a center for global peace work.
The Findhorn Foundation is a spiritual community, ecovillage and an international centre for holistic education, helping to unfold a new human consciousness and create a positive and sustainable future. From the very beginning in 1962 the community was founded on the principles of inner listening, co-creation with nature and service.
“Humanity is not the last rung of the terrestrial creation…Evolution continues and man will be surpassed… For those who are satisfied with the world as it is Auroville obviously has no reason to exist.”
“Auroville wants to be a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realize human unity.” The Mother.
The Ojai Foundation
The mission of The Ojai Foundation is to strengthen individuals, families, schools and communities by teaching ways to listen and speak from the heart, to honor life’s passages and to appreciate our connection with nature — supporting the emergence of a compassionate, sustainable and peaceful world.
- Pilgrimage Schedule
Phase 1: June to October 2009
- June 7 – 14: Three Creeks, Big Pine, CA. Team quest and trip preparation.
- June 15 – 19: Three Creeks training in Rites of Passage, Council, and related practices.
- June 21 – July 2: Youth Quest led by Gigi, Will Scott and Win with others in School of Lost Borders Training.
- July 4 – 9: Trip preparation and community service project with the Paiute people.
- July 9 – 19: The Ojai Foundation, Ojai, CA. Gathering of Council Leaders and service project with the Chumash People.
- July 20 – August 20: Tamera, Portugal. Summer University in peace work, sustainability, gender and community relations, and the creation of healing biotopes. Service Areas: Permaculture/Solar Village and peace work projects, participation in earth art creation, and an international quest.
- August 21 – September 1: Damanhur, Italy. Tours of the Damanhur eco-village, art and temples, and service work.
- September 4 – October 4: Findhorn, Scotland. Immersion in eco-village and spiritual practice of Findhorn; service work in the local environment; and Gaia network. One week council work, reforestation project or other project of choice, one week incorporation/farming on Eraid Island.
Phase 2: October 5 – January 15, 2010
- Independent Projects, individually chosen (USA, Europe, Middle East, South America, Africa).
- During this time, each pilgrim worked in the areas of their choice to answer personal calls to service, deepen learning and gain experience in areas of interest and study, and explore their ancestry and heritage.
Phase 3: January 15 – April 15, 2010
- January 15 – February 15: Auroville, India. Permaculture Program, or open work-study in one of the many cross-cultural, eco-spiritual communities.
- February 15 – March 15: Anambas, Indonesia. Planetary Coral Reef Foundation, working with the Biosphere Foundation and the Sea People participating in research work with coral reef and turtle population health.
- March 21 – April 19: Three Creeks, Big Pine, CA. Incorporation: through council and Quest and work on the land back at the place we began, looking at and setting intentions for next steps in education, careers, life, community, work, relationship, and citizen diplomacy.
I’ve found any true vision is not ‘ours’… it is not new or isolated but emerges in different styles, different ages, different places… we are not alone… we join with many others. We pilgrims will be just a few, but if held or seen as acupuncture then much can come of that… ripples throughout the entire earth body.Gigi Coyle, Beyond Boundaries