HARVEST FOR THE HUMAN SPIRIT

 RECAP: BALLE Shift Capital Summit 2018 |  Eli Zaturanski Photography

RECAP: BALLE Shift Capital Summit 2018 | Eli Zaturanski Photography

A new concept has been introduced into my life by an organization called BALLE (Business Alliance of Local Living Economies).

It is the concept of HARVEST.

What is a harvest? A harvest is the process or period of gathering crops. 

But it’s not only farmers who gather, as a community of global citizens, we all gather. We gather memories, moments, experiences, life lessons, skills, insights, breakthroughs, wisdom, until we bring it all together in one great harvest to share. 

 BALLE Shift Capital Summit 2018 |  Eli Zaturanski Photography

BALLE Shift Capital Summit 2018 | Eli Zaturanski Photography

All around me, I see friends, family, and community harvesting the fruits of their labor. From transcribing their journey's into books, creating works of art, going on once-in-a-lifetime adventures, showcasing feature films, there is an abundance and a ripening, a time to celebrate here and now.

For me, it’s been a year of harvesting breakthroughs. PLURAL.

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I pulled this Osho Tarot Card at the beginning of the year, “Breakthrough” and I feel it’s come true. I sensed it would be a challenging year and rather than my natural tendency to attempt to be in control and fight, I named 2018 my “Year of Surrender” to remind myself to do just that.

OSHO CARD READING:

“To transform breakdowns into breakthroughs is the whole function of a master. It is the greatest adventure in life to go through a breakdown consciously.

It is the greatest risk because there is no guarantee that the breakdown will become a breakthrough.

Zen, or meditation, is the method which will help you to go through the chaos, through the dark night of the soul, balanced, disciplined, alert.

The dawn is not far away, but before you can reach the dawn, the dark night has to be passed through. And as the dawn comes closer, the night will become darker.”

~ Osho Walking in Zen, Sitting in Zen, Chapter 1

This year has offerred challenges as well as incredible opportunities including working with BALLE (Business Alliance of Local Living Economies), which has been one of the most rewarding projects I’ve worked on this year. Not so much because of the work itself (though that was impressive too!) but the privilege of witnessing and contributing in a small way to something incredibly powerful.

 BALLE Shift Capital Summit 2018 |  Eli Zaturanski Photography

BALLE Shift Capital Summit 2018 | Eli Zaturanski Photography

Every year, BALLE hosts an annual gathering where they bring together 250 visionary leaders from across North America to envision and take action towards our country's most pressing and complex challenges.

The BALLE Shift Capital Summit is where people come together to take action.

With the theme of Shift Capital, topics included:

  • Democratizing finance and investing

  • Resourcing women and entrepreneurs of color

  • Investing in rural ecosystem building

  • Prioritizing indigenous communities

  • Accelerating cooperative ownership of business and land

  • Incentivizing independent business and alternative economic development

  • Regenerating soil and nature

 Our fearless, graceful Summit Leader, Leslie Lindo |  Eli Zaturanski Photography

Our fearless, graceful Summit Leader, Leslie Lindo | Eli Zaturanski Photography

In short, BALLE and the community it fosters is HOLDING IT DOWN. Through their tireless work, as one community member calls it, they have become “Hosts of the Human Spirit”.

Having been mostly out of the country for the last two years (conveniently right when Trump was elected) I answered the call to travel and work abroad. Being gone has been one of the best things I’ve ever done, for endless reasons but especially because it provided me new perspective.

I had become like many young Americans, very disillusioned with America’s politics and institutions. Not even being as politically aware as I could be, it’s easy to see the cracks in the system. Leaving a country I perceived as highly self-oriented and ethnocentric felt like a breath of fresh air. Space from my country, space from everything I knew, space from myself.

 Solutions Exchange! Small groups supporting one another on social challenges on the ground.

Solutions Exchange! Small groups supporting one another on social challenges on the ground.

And now coming back, I’ve braced myself for more anger and frustration and yet, this Summit gave me hope. There were courageous conversations on “Restorative Justice” and “Decolonizing Wealth”. There were “Solutions Exchange” sessions and action-planning for movement makers from across the nation where people were actively co-creating, collaborating and working towards a brighter future together.

 “The New Majority” panel |  Eli Zaturanski Photography

“The New Majority” panel | Eli Zaturanski Photography

It was one of the first times in a long time where I was moved to tears with pride for being American. Seeing these men and women who’s families, like mine, have immigrated from all walks of life to the “promised land” to pursue “the American Dream”.

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And for better or worse, they are here now, grateful for the LIGHT and also no longer blind to the SHADOW of this country. The colonization, the violence, the injustice, but I didn’t hear a cry of a victim, I saw people empowered and doing something about it in an intentional and inspiring way...I can’t fully explain it. 

THEY WERE WOKE. REAL & WOKE.

 Vision Session: The Shift We Need | |  Eli Zaturanski Photography

Vision Session: The Shift We Need | | Eli Zaturanski Photography

I left feeling catalyzed, mobilized, and renewed, so inspired by the work people are doing on the ground floor. There have been many moments traveling abroad when I felt embarrassed to be American but these people’s stories give me hope. And I remember how very blessed I am to live in a country (re)founded on freedom.

I wish I could share it more deeply (there’s a video coming out soon!) but a few questions and insights that spurred:

“What are the conditions for emergence?”

"What can we do today to restore balance in our communities tomorrow?”

“We’ve got enough for everyone’s need but not everyone’s greed.”

“How do we pay not just a living wage but a thriving one?”

“We can’t just scale our way from caterpillar to butterfly, we need to undergo a transformation.”

"What are our intentional practices to get us there?”

“How do we make people sacred again?”

And as one new soul friend so aptly put it, “the revolution needs a place and we are the space.” 

With all this goodness being gathered I now wonder, how might we acknowledge, celebrate, and honor our harvests this year? How might we restore balance individually so we can continue to flourish and thrive collectively? What’s next?

Many questions as you can see.

But for now, I’m so grateful. Grateful to be a part of the BALLE team in putting this Summit together. Grateful for the GRACE as I get back in the community building saddle again. Grateful for all those in the world tirelessly dedicating themselves to liberation, transformation, equity, and peace.

THANK YOU for harvesting hope for the Human Spirit.

ASHAY (and so it is)

With love and light,

Kelsey Lotus Wong

 BALLE Shift Capital Summit 2018 Community |  Eli Zaturanski Photography

BALLE Shift Capital Summit 2018 Community | Eli Zaturanski Photography