The Great Turning


The world is becoming darker and darker: deforestation, pollution, resource depletion, right-wing and authoritarian “leaders” emerging everywhere, growing gap between the haves and not haves, climate change, species extinction at a higher than ever rate…

Many argue that Business As Usual has its days counted and either the Great Unraveling (war, famine, chaos, climate change) or the Great Turning will come next…

A lot of people (me included!) ask themselves “what can I do?” “is it enough?”, “why do I have to feel responsible for something that’s so big and I didn’t create?” “what if we fail and the Great Turning doesn’t happen?” and many other similar questions…

First a disclaimer: I don’t have the answers, but I can share what has (and hasn’t) worked for me, as well as my own challenges, struggles, doubts, tools and resources.

My firm belief is this: whether we have a chance to “make it” or not is irrelevant. We are not here for guarantees, to “save the planet” or “save humanity”.  None of us will make it alive from this life, and yet, we strive for a meaningful and fulfilling life!

Similarly, not knowing what the outcome will be for humankind or even the planet and all its beings shouldn’t be an excuse for giving up and continuing with a life that is not regenerative, ethical, resilience-building, meaningful and fulfilling…

For those of you new to the term, the “Great Turning” was first introduced by Joanna Macy in her “Work that Reconnects” practices. We find from her book “Active Hope”:

“In the Agricultural Revolution of ten thousand years ago, the domestication of plants and animals led to a radical shift in the way people lived. In the Industrial Revolution that began just a few hundred years ago, a similar dramatic transition took place. These weren’t just changes in the small details of people’s lives. The whole basis of society was transformed, including people’s relationship with one another and with Earth.

Right now a shift of comparable scope and magnitude is occurring. It’s been called the Ecological Revolution, the Sustainability Revolution, even the Necessary Revolution. We call it the Great Turning and see it as the essential adventure of our time. It involves the transition from a doomed economy of industrial growth to a life-sustaining society committed to the recovery of our world. This transition is already well under way.” (emphasis is mine)

Joanna Macy and co-author Chris Johnstone describe the dimensions of the Great Turning here: and divide them into:

  • Holding actions
  • Life-Sustaining Systems and Practices
  • Shift in Consciousness

Joanna also explains the GT here:

David Korten, author of the book “The Great Turning”, also explains it in his words:

As his books description mentions:

“We cannot avoid the unraveling. We can, however, turn a potentially terminal crisis into an epic opportunity to bring forth a new era of Earth Community grounded in life-affirming cultural values.”

Thomas Berry also spoke about this necessary change, he called The Great Work: “Perhaps the most valuable heritage we can provide for future generations is some sense of the Great Work that is before them of moving the human project from its devastating exploitation to a benign presence. We need to give them some indication of how the next generation can fulfill this work in an effective manner.” (Thomas Berry, “The Great Work,” in The Great Work, 7)

He also said:

“The present is not a time for desperation but for hopeful activity.”

Things you can start doing:

  • Take some time off and reflect on the things you may already be or are doing (check the three dimensions, you may already have adopted some of the practices, may be involved in certain areas, such as social justice, creating new consciousness, using permaculture in your life, and so many others…)
  • Think what practices you would like to explore further and check what existent resources may be in your bio-region, community, school, workplace or household
  • Bring one practice to any of your “mainstream” realms: example, you could bring the Circle Way to meetings and gatherings in your school or workplace; or incorporate any other practice that suits your personality, skills and interests.
  • Take some risks and be authentic and vulnerable: share your fears, doubts and also the ways you are engaging with family, friends and even co-workers. While you may find surprise, rejection and even bullying, you will also find support, gratitude and a stronger community, much more real than one sustained in lies and “performing”…
  • Read the books and create a book club and potential action circle so a community may be born to support each other and create change and resilience.

(A guide for discussing and sharing the “Great Turning book”: )

  • Join a free book study circle for “Active Hope” here:
  • Take one of the workshops, or start a practice in your community:
  • Consider a holistic program that covers all the four dimensions that need to be addressed and co-created for the Great Turning to become a reality, such as this program (or individual courses if you want to start slow):

In English:

In Spanish:

In Portuguese:

  • Become a facilitator to support others in their waking up and journeying through the Great Turning:
  • Follow my blog for more ideas and resources!
  • Interact with me through my blog! I want to know what you are being and doing!
  • Connect with me for 1-1 and group support, presentations and more


Some extra resources:

You can learn more about this from Joanna herself:

Or vising the website of one of the groups I work for (Work that Reconnects Network):

Context for the Great Turning:

Three dimensions:

Personal guidelines:

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