new short video about Our New Tribe Training

Hello friends of Gift Community,

Our New Tribe Training website page is ready to view, with a short video of us talking about this event. Please check it out and if this speaks to you, do call us.

Bill & Zoe


New Tribe Training – How to Craft a More Beautiful Life Together – May 21-25, 2014

Friends,  We have learned so much in the last few years building our local TRIBE, that we’re now eager to teach you step by step how to find your very own tribe!  Please see the flyer and other info below for details.  If you are ready and truly want deep, long term community in your life, do call us or send us a note!

Feel free to share this info with friends!  Bill & Zoe  (please see our 7 min. video just to the right–>)

Printable flyer: … Scroll down below the flyer for full event details …& creative information


New Tribe Training – How to Craft a More Beautiful Life Together
An Advanced Community Building Retreat

May 21-25, 2014

with Bill Kauth & Zoe Alowan
Buckhorn Springs – Ashland, Oregon

This retreat is for people ready and longing for that long-term, bonded community of people, we call tribe. This opens the possibility for your local face-to-face tribe to be all men, all women or both. This new tribe is designed to deepen love and intimacy in your life as well as create a safety net to navigate rapidly changing times. We learn by doing – experiencing the ways of the tribe; the values, skills and needed structure. The non-residential model (everyone has their own home) we have developed will catalyze great joy and save you a decade of struggle attempting to learn what we now have to share.

Our intention:  We want everyone to experience tribe and return home having learned exactly how to build your own. It will include how to find the people, invite them and facilitate the “orientation and initiation” process we have developed for entering the tribe. Each will know how to hold the “liminal space” of deep intimacy and create beautiful ceremony to mark the passages into tribe.

Participants will:

  • Learn the skills of building long-term personal community (tribe).
  • Explore deep trust between men and women in your tribe.
  • Enjoy deep presence/intimacy and replicate it.
  • Grow your tribe membership in a loving way.
  • Experience emergence into Gift Culture.

Place: We will gather at Buckhorn Springs a peaceful, rustic retreat center just a few miles outside of Ashland.  It’s a beautiful place nestled in a small valley with a year-round creek, old oaks, ponderosa pines, tall aromatic cedars and open meadows. We prefer that all stay on-site.

Buckhorn Springs Per Person Fee: $456 for meals, lodging & gratuities. (four nights, five days)

Costs & Reciprocity:  We offer this retreat as a gift.  At the end we invite a monetary gift contribution to support ourselves and our work.

Information: Apply by phone Zoe or Bill at 541-482-2335 or contact us here.



“You can take people out of the tribe, but you can’t take tribe out of people.”      Lets take a look at how this archetypical quality of tribe, which lives in all of us, can flow beautifully into our current world.

NEW PARADIGM = NEW TRIBE:  Allow us to offer a map to give you an in depth sense of how “new tribe” fits into the larger picture.  The human evolutionary process has taken us from tribal hunter-gatherers to urban competitive creatures, with ever greater speed. Now, we are entering a new global worldview, and our “new tribe” work leaps the fine line. The ManKind Project (MKP) and similar women’s “inner work” guides people from #4 & 5 to #6, then after some years in support-groups they somehow “leap” across that line into the “neo-tribal” possibility.  See this as an evolutionary “world-view” map.

This “leap” is often called the paradigm shift where everything changes because one now includes all past worldviews. Here we move beyond linear cause and effect into synchronicity, the “field” or simply the miracle. Here war ends because we can see and appreciate the human journey and all the people who struggled with their evolving process. Here we see that cooperation simply works so much better for everyone than competition. This is the new culture coming into being.

Notice also how the world-views alternate from “individual” (odd #s) to “community” (even #s) and we keep moving from simple to complex. Our retreat will explore the neo-tribal #8, which barely exists at this time on planet earth. We can not go back to tribal #2 or authoritarian #4, we have become too complex to go back. Many of us grew up in the Humanistic era #6, and now we take on the challenge to build our new “tribes” #8 which includes all we have learned before and moving into the unknown. Join us in this amazing experiment!

“The loss of community is a defining crisis of our time. I’m grateful that
Bill and Zoe are applying their extraordinary skills as healers and social
inventors to building intimate tribe as the old world unravels.”
- Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics & The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible

“Hands on, sensory rich, brimming with evocative and practical ideas for making and sustaining community, this book (We Need Each Other) is a seedbed for growing the necessary new culture if we are going to survive and enhance life in this most challenging of times.”
Jean Houston, Ph.D.,
visionary activist, teacher and author.



Our Definition of Gift Tribe:  A group of people who are formally committed to each other, share specific values, meet regularly and hold each other as priority.  We become each-others best friends, social safety net and extended family.

Some Premises on Tribe:

Tribe is the essential social unit.

Tribe helps us know who we are and want to be.

Tribe is place, location as who I am

Tribe connects us constantly from many points

Tribe becomes who I am

Tribe is feeling safe and abundant

The first communities of humans were not families, but tribes. The tribe, not the family is our basic social unit. The human family is embedded in tribal community. The tribe is an integral part of our human social existence that lies beyond recorded history. It is archetypal and it lives in us all. For most of human history we have been tribal beings, and as such knew our “selves” only as tribe, not as separate identities.  To be cast out of tribe was to die.  Then something dramatic changed.

Just in the last several centuries, a majority of humans developed an identity separate from the tribe – we might call this a “separate self identity.”  We have come to call this “ego” as people became distinguishable from the tribe.  With this new separate identity they could feel limitations and constriction of the tribe and could decide to act separately from it.  They could even leave. 

In order for humankind to evolve, this differentiation in consciousness needed to happen.  However, as humans became more and more individualized, many went beyond the realm of autonomy into isolation and alienation.  This painful loneliness came to seem normal, until the next expansion into a new form, which both transcends and includes the traditional tribal ways.  We call this never before known, neo-tribal social form a “Gift Tribe” in which people consciously choose each other and bond as tribe.

“You don’t need everybody, just your tribe!”  Seth Godin

“As your own dreams materialize, I suspect you will come to know that you don’t need much.  Just your tribe, your inner guidance, and the evidence that tells you that you really can create a magnificent life.“                 Martha Beck

Why “Gift” tribe at this time?  Tribes have leaders who represent and articulate a vision and identity that resonates with certain others.  Churches, businesses, sports and politics often filled this tribal role by providing myths and some bonding function.  However many of us now want a significantly new story and trust ourselves to co-create it, in close collaboration with our tribe.  The old story of “fear and scarcity” is giving way to “love and sufficiency” as together we create our new life together.  Join us in this adventure. Contact us!


Bridging Retreat 2012 Group photo
Our 2012 Gift Community tribe at Buckhorn Springs

Gift Community Presents: 5-Week Tele-Courses: Jan-Feb 2013

Finding Your Tribe, Creating Your Family : Building Gift Community

with Bill Kauth & Zoe Alowan

We will explore:

•  How to envision the community you want

•  How to get started

•  What your tribe/family might look and feel like

•  How to invite people to join you

Two 5 week Tele-courses –  dates:

5 Sundays – Jan 27th - Feb 24th - 1:00-2:30 PM – Pacific Time

5 Wednesdays – Jan 30th - Feb 27th - 6:00-7:30 PM – Pacific Time

Format and structure:

  • Calls will be one & ½ hours long.
  • Enrollment limited to 12 participants, allowing time for all of us to share and learn together.
  • Each call will be focused on a specific community building topic.
  • Bill & Zoe offer teaching pieces relevant to the topic of the class.
  • Our process will include open dialogue, personal sharing and bonding, all modeling how to do it with a local group later on.
  • In preparation for each class there will be reading material sent in advance.

Content Overview for the five weeks:

  1. Gift Tribe & Family of choice:  The “Gift” and new story
  2. Membership & Invitation:  How to find and invite people.
  3. Men and Women Together: Creating safe community.
  4. Inspiration & Commitment: Motivation and grounding.
  5. Support & Connection: Reciprocity and gratitude.

$54.00 registration fee, plus a reciprocal gift at the end.

For more information call 541-482-2335

Our First Bulletin

Dear Subscribers,

Welcome to our solstice day blog:  While gearing up for our retreat in 3 weeks, I’ve been writing a description of what we offer:  “…our retreat is for people who really want ‘personal’ community, a family of choice, a tribe with whom to face into the future.  It’s not co-housing or living together. Rather everyone has their own place to live and is bonded like family.  It sounds easy, it’s not!”

Writing this triggered two hot related issues for me: connection and liminal space.  Last weekend my old friend Jack Travis, the doctor who launched the “Wellness” movement back in the 70s, visiting us and shared his life devotion to natural birthing and well loved babies.  “It’s all about connection” he kept saying.

Jack told stories of anthropologists who visited Africa decades ago to study child rearing by uncolonized indigenous peoples.  They noted that babies were carried skin to skin for 6 months, were rarely put down until they could walk and around age three were able to distinguish which mother was the biological one.  Try to imagine the “gift” of such bonded pre-verbal nurturing.  These are humans who know they are loved and belong.

The stunning awareness for me was realizing once again how I was born.  I was separated immediately, barely breast fed and put on a ridged feeding schedule even while screaming for hours.  I know my own pain from years of anguished inner work and that the “broken mother bond” is epidemic in our generation.

Modern western men and women suffer this “disconnect” without even knowing it, because it seems so normal.  The work Zoe and I do with close bonded community acts as a powerful healing force. To get started people must be willing to face into the fear to make the human connection they log for.

Liminal Space:  Of all the forms of psycho/spiritual healing for our disconnection the gentle magic of liminal space is our favorite.  As social animals we humans need each other (hey, great book title) and to get really close we need to feel safe.  What we have come to call liminal space happens when there is enough safety, trust and usually touch that a “field” opens up around the group that we might call “oneness.“

When we first started to focus on building authentic community in 2006  I remember one of my target goals for community: “I want to feel liminal space every week when my community gathers.”  I knew the feeling well because in the ManKind Project work we set a “container” or safe place for men to open their hearts.  This “space” we set and held is so safe that nearly every time men are able to go so deep and trust each other so much that “transformation” becomes possible.  For 25 years we have called the Sunday of the men’s weekend “Joy day.” This is liminal space.

So, because I knew that feeling, amongst men I guessed that it was possible with a mixed gender group. Indeed, due to little details like 5000 year of oppression of women by the patriarchy, it has been challenging.  But our commitment has been deep and persevered.

It is my joy to report that about a year and a half ago, Zoe and I looked at each other one day and said, “ You know, we have been hitting liminal space 9 out of the last 10 gatherings.”  It sort of snuck up on us.  We have gatherings at least weekly and were intuitively doing what felt right to bring a group together and connect them in a safe simple ritual way.  So, we had been swimming with these happy fish, enjoying it so much we had not, until that moment noticed the delicious liminal water we were all swimming in.

Fortunately as students of our own experimental process we can track how we were able to catalyze this modern miracle and allow the safe, deep “connection” of people.  This is some of what we will be teaching in our retreat in 3 weeks and you will see it here in this blog.  Look for the next installment called “Beyond pot luck.”

Warm communal blessings,

Bill & Zoe

PS.  If you feel really called to do this Retreat, we do have a few spaces left.

(Here’s a link to our Bridging into Gift Culture retreat held near Ashland, Oregon July 11-15, 2012.)


BRIDGING into GIFT CULTURE: A Community Building Retreat – Ashland, OR – July 11-15, 2012

This playful and deep learning event will happen July 11-15, 2012 at Buckhorn Springs near Ashland, Oregon. Here’s a pdf flyer for the event. This retreat will include the Bridge workshop of Nik and Barbara Colyer.

For information or to register Contact Bill or Zoe (Also, this is our full website, check us out!)

Our vision for this retreat: We gather heart centered people, devoted to creating a more beautiful world. We are looking for social innovators and artists who have already done their “inner work”and are willing to wade deeper into the unknown. Using the magic of dialogue, mindfulness practices, poetry, song and dance we set a resonant field. From this place of deep presence the learning gets grounded, people will return home with the skills and inner knowing of how to build their own intimate, long-term, personal community of both men and women.

Men and women together, in a safe and profound trusting way, has been a dream for 5000 years. Some of us have been exploring gender healing for decades, and we believe humankind is finally ready. Nik and Barbara bring a beautiful process for opening very safe non-sexual intimacy between men and women. This deep and special learning is why a gender balanced retreat is important.

Welcome to heaven: We know “Gift Culture” as a doorway into a joyous life. It sounds like hyperbole, but it not! This is the work many of us have been doing for 20 & 30 years. We have figured out how to have what everyone wants: love, family and deep personal community. And we are fully aware that during these times of systems collapse, the most “secure” thing we can do, is build intimate community – a family of choice.

If this feels like something that you want in your life, please contact us directly – see below for phone number or write: see “Contact” above

For a more detailed look at our work, allow us to offer a map of how we’ll “bridge into new culture.” The human evolutionary process has taken us from tribal hunter-gatherers to urban competitive creatures, with ever greater speed. Now, we are entering a new global worldview, and our work crosses the fine line. The ManKind Project (MKP) and similar women’s “inner work” guides people from #4 & 5 to #6, then after some years in support-groups they somehow “leap” across that line. See this as an evolutionalry “world-view” map.

This “leap” is often called the paradigm shift, where everything changes because one now includes all past worldviews. Here war ends because we can see and appreciate the human journey and all the people who struggled with their evolving process. Here we see that cooperation simply works so much better for everyone than competition. This is the new culture coming into being.

Notice also how the world-views alternate from “individual” to “community” and we keep moving from simple to complex. Our retreat will explore the neo-tribal #8, which barely exists at this time on planet earth. We can not go back to tribal #2 or authoritarian, we have become too complex to go back. We must build new “community” by including all we have learned before and moving into the unknown.

Our retreat will take us down into some creative chaos, and we return as more complex and stable beings:

We call this process dropping into aliminal state and we will go there. This exploration has been brewing for 20 years. We’ve learned to access it for ourselves and how to teach others. This “liminal state” is the magical something that happens almost every time in the MKP training events, which is why authentic “transformation” happens so often there. We will offer a skill-set of how to do this, so that you can apply it and take it into your world to enhance your gifts. Our lonely culture needs this right now!

Retreat Information:

Where: Buckhorn Springs, just a few miles outside of Ashland, is a peaceful, rustic retreat center nestled in a small valley with a year-round creek, old oaks, Ponderosa Pines, tall aromatic cedars and open meadows. Wonderful food and hospitality; we prefer that all stay on-site.

July 11, Wednesday afternoon 5:00, – July 15, Sunday afternoon 2:00. (five-days, four-nights)

Costs & Reciprocity: We offer this retreat as a gift. Buckhorn Springs base fee of $103.40 per night, or $413.60 total per person includes food, lodging and gratuities. Our retreat concludes with a gifting ritual where each participant is invited to contribute a monetary gift to support the teachers.

If all this feels right and exciting to you and you want to play with us in a deep co-creational way, please write or call us directly. Also note that we have some scholarships available.

Evolving together in joy,
Bill & Zoe


Credits: This unique version of the “spiral dynamics” worldview map, adapted by Steve McDonald came from his article:

6 year-old Sabina promotes Gift Circles – from the heart!

Friends, we are seeing a potent interest in Gift Community!!

Last year, one of the stops on our seminar tour was a town in Northern California, where we used a room at the local co-op for 30 people and 60 showed up.  One of those people came with her dad and a painted on wolf face, which sure delighted me.

GV 2011 seminar photo 1Well, the meeting led to a “Gift Circle” in that town. Recently, Andrei, the dad sent us a note saying: “I thought you might really enjoy this short video clip of our 6 year old daughter Sabina, after we had just attended our local Gift Circle.”  The simple truth she spoke about “Gift Community” went viral very quickly with well over 100,000 hits.  We want you to see it!!  Enjoy!

The sheer innocent beauty of Sabina’s clarity and intention sure touched our hearts.  Note how she understands that “…people get what they need, and don’t have to pay, and exchange hugs or money, whatever works as long as it is from the heart.”

We believe that this is where the world is going, as the old systems transition. Please join
us in our “Gift Community” movement.  It’s what we all want, let us build the
new Gift Culture!

Warm blessings,
Bill & Zoe

Strawberry Pie and Community Gatherings

Summer Community Gathering recipes & The Just Right Fresh Strawberry Pie

Our Ashland Gift Circle has a tradition of surprising people with amazing organic desserts. The evening before meeting a request for help washing windows, the urge to make strawberry pie over took me. Berries were gathered from the Growers Market and by the time I went to bed a glorious pie was cooling in the refrigerator.

The next day on Saturday, our crew of window washers celebrated a task well done with this delicious pie. I was so happy, I decided to make an even grander one, a Version #2 Strawberry Pie for our Sunday Community Dinner. What was I thinking?

This second pie had too many textures and, sadly it did not get many points from me. But others claimed it was very nice. (liars)
Jeff blurted out, “It tastes better than it looks.”
My God, I thought, its appearance was its best feature.

There are three morals to this story…
1. Stick to Version #1 (Fresh Strawberry Pie) &
2. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to substitute
cream cheese with the goat cheese..a little too “goatey”, &
Every effort can’t be a crackerjack!

The recipe for Fresh Strawberry Pie from Mom follows below. Enjoy!

Best Fresh Strawberry Pie


Here my dears, is the strawberry pie, handed down to me from my dear mum,

1. Bake a 9 in. pie flakey crust, glaze with egg yolk let cool.
This recipe is only as good as the berries you start with.( Organic, farmers market..fresh fresh fresh)

6 c. strawberries ( rinse, dry and hull; cut any very large ones in half. Measure


4 c. and set aside, Mash
the remaining berries. Whisk together in a medium saucepan:
3/4 to 1 c. sugar (or less)
1/4 c. cornstarch( Rumford now has non genetically engineered cornstarch)
1/8 t. salt
Whisk in 1/2 c. water

4. Stir in the pureed berries along with 2 T. strained fresh lemon juice and 2 T. butter, cut into pieces.
Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium high heat, stirring constantly and cook for 1 minute.
Pour 1/2 of berries into the crust and spoon 1/2 of the hot berry mixture over them, and gently shake the pan to coat the berries evenly. Cover with the remaining berries, spoon the remaining hot berry mixture over them, and shake gently as before.

5. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and it will set.
Best eaten the day it is made!
Whipped cream goes nicely with this.

6. Eat and Delight ! This also goes well with a just up morning sun, afternoon picnic light, evening sunsets or starry nights and candlelight.

2010 Book and Seminar Tour

Building Gift Community - 2010 Book and Seminar Tour - page 1

Building Gift Community - 2010 Book and Seminar Tour - page 1

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Building Gift Community - 2010 Book and Seminar Tour - page 7

The Space Between Stories – article by Charles Eisenstein

2013: The Space Between Stories

by Charles Eisenstein 12/29/12

Every culture has a Story of the People to give meaning to the world. Part conscious and part unconscious, it consists of a matrix of agreements, narratives, and symbols that tell us why we are here, where we are headed, what is important, and even what is real. I think we are entering a new phase in the dissolution of our Story of the People, and therefore, with some lag time, of the edifice of civilization built on top of it.

Sometimes I feel intense nostalgia for the cultural mythology of my youth, a world in which there was nothing wrong with soda pop, in which the Superbowl was important, in which the world’s greatest democracy was bringing democracy to the world, in which science was going to make life better and better. Life made sense.

If you worked hard you could get good grades, get into a good college, go to grad school or follow some other professional path, and you would be happy. With a few unfortunate exceptions, you would be successful if you obeyed the rules of our society: if you followed the latest medical advice, kept informed by reading the New York Times, and stayed away from Bad Things like drugs.

Sure there were problems, but the scientists and experts were working hard to fix them. Soon a new medical advance, a new law, a new educational technique, would propel the onward improvement of life. My childhood perceptions were part of this Story of the People, in which humanity was destined to create a perfect world through science, reason, and technology, to conquer nature, transcend our animal origins, and engineer a rational society. From my vantage point, the basic premises of this story seemed unquestionable. After all, it seemed to be working in my world. Looking back, I realize that this was a bubble world built atop massive human suffering and environmental degradation, but at the time one could live within that bubble without need of much self-deception. The story that surrounded us was robust. It easily kept anomalous data points on the margins.

Since my childhood in the 1970s, that story has eroded at an accelerating rate. More and more people in the West no longer believe that civilization is fundamentally on the right track. Even those who don’t yet question its basic premises in any explicit way seem to have grown weary of it. A layer of cynicism, a hipster self-awareness has muted our earnestness. What was once so real, say a plank in a party platform, today is seen through several levels of “meta” filters to parse it in terms of image and message. We are like children who have grown out of a story that once enthralled us, aware now that it is only a story.

At the same time, a series of new data points has disrupted the story from the outside. The harnessing of fossil fuels, the miracle of chemicals to transform agriculture, the methods of social engineering and political science to create a more rational and just society – each has fallen far short of its promise, and brought unanticipated consequences that threaten civilization. We just cannot believe anymore that the scientists have everything well in hand. Nor can we believe that the onward march of reason will bring on social utopia.

Today we cannot ignore the intensifying degradation of the biosphere, the malaise of the economic system, the decline in health, or the persistence and indeed growth of global poverty and inequality. We once thought economists would fix poverty, political scientists would fix social injustice, chemists and biologists would fix environmental problems, the power of reason would prevail and we would adopt sane policies. I remember looking at maps of rain forest decline in National Geographic in the early 1980s and feeling both alarm and relief – relief because at least the scientists and everyone who reads National Geographic is aware of the problem now, so something surely will be done.

Nothing was done. Rainforest decline accelerated, along with nearly every other environmental threat that we knew about in 1980. Our Story of the People trundled forward under the momentum of centuries, but with each passing decade the hollowing-out of its core, that started perhaps with the industrialscale slaughter of World War One, extended further. When I was a child, our system of ideology and mass media still protected that story, but in the last thirty years the incursions of reality have punctured its protective shell and have ruptured its essential infrastructure. We no longer believe our storytellers, our elites. We don’t believe the politicians, we don’t believe the doctors, we don’t believe the professors, we don’t believe the bankers, we don’t believe the technologists. All of them imply that everything is under control, and we know that it is not. We have lost the vision of the future we once had; most people have no vision of the future at all. This is new for our society. Fifty or a hundred years ago, most people agreed on the general outlines of the future. We thought we knew where society was going. Even the Marxists and the capitalists agreed on its basic outlines: a paradise of mechanized leisure and scientifically engineered social harmony, with spirituality either abolished entirely or relegated to a materially inconsequential corner of life that happened mostly on Sundays. Of course there were dissenters from this vision, but this was the general consensus.

When a story nears its end it goes through death throes, an exaggerated semblance of life. So today we see domination, conquest, violence, and separation take on absurd extremes that hold a mirror up to what was once hidden and diffuse. The year 2012 ended with just such a potent story-disrupting event: the Sandy Hook massacre. Even realizing that far more, equally innocent, children have been killed in the last few years by, say, U.S. drone strikes, it really got under my skin. No one was immune. I think that is because its utter senselessness penetrated every defense mechanism we have to maintain the fiction that the world is basically OK. Unlike 9/11 or Oklahoma City, and certainly unlike the horrors that go on around the world, there was no convenient narrative to divert the raw pain of what happened.

We cannot help but map those murdered innocents onto the young faces we know, and the anguish of their parents onto ourselves. At the base of our Story of the People is separation, of humanity from nature, of me from you, of each from all, and this event united everyone, of whatever culture, nationality, or political persuasion.

For a moment, we all felt the exact same thing. For at least a moment, I am sure, most people were in touch with the simplicity of what is important; I am sure many people had that fleeting feeling, “It doesn’t have to be that difficult, if only we could remember what is so obvious now, that love is all there is.” We humans have made such a mess of things, forgetting love. It is the same realization we have when a loved one is going through the dying process, and we think, “Ah, how precious this person is – why couldn’t I see that? Why couldn’t I appreciate all those moments we had together? All the arguments and grudges seem so tiny now.”

Following that moment, of course, people hurried to make sense of the event, subsuming it within a narrative about gun control, mental health, or the security of school buildings. Maybe I am imagining things, but I don’t think anyone really believes deep down that these responses touch the heart of the matter. Gun culture, we know, is a symptom of something deeper, and the violence that finds expression through guns would, even in their absence, come out in some other way. Mental illness too is a problem so vast that it is essentially unsolvable in our current system; it too comes from a deeper source. As for school security, a Chinese saying describes all the measures proposed: they stop the gentleman but not the villain.

No one would say that Sandy Hook was more horrible than the Holocaust, the Stalinist purges, or the imperialistic wars of the 20th century and 21st, but it was less comprehensible. Try as we might, we cannot fit it into our Story of the World. It is the anomalous data point that unravels the entire narrative – the world no longer makes sense. We struggle to explain what it means, but no explanation suffices. We may go on pretending that normal is still normal, but this is one of a series of “end time” events that is dismantling our culture’s mythology.

The evident futility of the responses that we are capable of imagining also points to this deep ideological breakdown. The responses are all about more control. Yet control, as we may or may not realize, is a key thread of the old story of humanity rising above nature, imposing technology and reason on the wild world and the uncivilized human. All around us, we see our efforts at control backfiring: wars to fight terrorism breed terrorism, herbicides breed superweeds, antibiotics breed superbugs, psychiatric medications lead to explosive outbursts of violence.

Looking back on the community schools a couple generations past, where children and parents could walk in and out of any door, can we say that the inexorable trend toward fortress schools in a fortress state is something anyone would have chosen? The world was supposed to be getting better. We were supposed to be becoming wealthier, more enlightened. Society was supposed to be advancing. Here I am in America, the most “advanced” nation on Earth, yet even as our financial wealth has doubled and doubled again in fifty years, we have lost wealth of a more basic form; for example, the social capital of feeling safe, feeling at home where we live. Is more security the best we can aspire to? What about a society where safety does not equal security? What about a world where no human being wields an assault rifle? What about a world where we mostly know the faces and stories of the people around us? What about a world where we know that our daily activities contribute to the healing of the biosphere and the wellbeing of other people? We need a Story of the People that includes all of those things – and that doesn’t feel like a fantasy.

Various visionary thinkers have offered versions of such a story, but none of them has yet become a true Story of the People, a widely accepted set of agreements and narratives that gives meaning to the world and coordinates human activity towards its fulfillment. We are not quite ready for such a story yet, because the old one, though in tatters, still has large swaths of its fabric intact. And even when these unravel, we still must traverse the space between stories, a kind of nakedness. In the turbulent times ahead our familiar ways of acting, thinking, and being will no longer make sense. We won’t know what is happening, what it all means, and, sometimes, even what is real. Some people have entered that time already.

I wish I could tell you that I am ready for a new Story of the People, but even though I am among its many weavers, I cannot yet fully inhabit the new vestments. In other words, describing the world that could be, something inside me doubts, rejects, and underneath the doubt is a hurting thing. The breakdown of the old story is kind of a healing process, that uncovers the old wounds hidden under its fabric and exposes them to the healing light of awareness. I am sure many people reading this have gone through such a time, when the cloaking illusions fell away: all the old justifications, rationalizations, all the old stories. Events like Sandy Hook help to initiate the very same process on a collective level. So also the superstorms, the economic crisis, political meltdowns … in one way or another, the obsolescence of our old mythos is laid bare.

We do not have a new story yet. Each of us is aware of some of its threads, for example in most of the things we call alternative, holistic, or ecological today. Here and there we see patterns, designs, emerging parts of the fabric. But the new mythos has not yet emerged. We will abide for a time in the space between stories. Those of you who have been through it on a personal level know that it is a very precious – some might say sacred – time.

Then we are in touch with the real. Each disaster lays bare the real underneath our stories. The terror of a child, the grief of a mother, the honesty of not knowing why. In such moments we discover our humanity. We come to each other’s aid, human to human. We take care of each other. That’s what keeps happening every time there is a calamity, before the beliefs, the ideologies, the politics take over again. Events like Sandy Hook, for at least a moment, cut through all that down to the basic human being. In such times, we learn who we really are. How can we prepare? We cannot prepare. But we are being prepared.

Here’s a pdf download of the article entitled: The Space Between Stories – article by Charles Eisenstein