Sacred ecology, economies and conference booths

Exchanges - ideas, energy, friendships, trade, stories, seeds, songs, spiritual practices -

create culture.

Creating sustainable cultures are essential to surviving and thriving amidst climate change. Our economic exchanges are a primary part of that. As an ecotheology company, it is critical for sequoia samanvaya to be working within and actively creating innovative, sustainable economic ecosystems. We at Sequoia Samanvaya are cultivating communities of multiple forms of exchanges. Cultivating these relationships between religious/spiritual artisans and artists is a key dynamic of what it means for us to be spiritual entrepreneurs - doing so through various forms of exchanges was soul-enriching!

The Parliament of World Religions, was our first global conference and booth 510 was our first booth at any conference. It was critical that our booth reflect our ethos of artisan heritages revitalized for our current times as essential to the spiritual/earthly path. Our booth also reflects our collaboration with our close partners - namely Samanvaya Social Ventures, which has recently launched the Dharma Institute, and Quaker Institute for the Future.

The image above shows the booth. At the advise of one of my students and colleagues, Kate Newell, we chose to keep the booth very simple and to shape it so that we were standing most of the time at the tall coffee table. The flowers, chairs, pillows and other table were all donated for the week for our use by the Toronto Friends Meeting House, the local home of the Society of Friends (Quakers).

We launched Ramasubramanian's booklet at the parliament, and both it and my own booklet were quite popular. Below is an image of Ram signing a booklet for one of the participants of the Abrahamic Reunion booth - a vendor who was a few stalls away from us. We visited each other's booths regularly. One of the wonderful - and for me unexpected - aspects of having a booth was the community that formed amongst the vendors. Standing around, we got to talking to each other. I learned as much about the Parliament - from behind the scenes logistics to interfaith politics to other cool organizations - from my fellow vendors as I did from the plenaries.

Perhaps the pride of the booth (besides the people in it) was the Sequoia Samanvaya banner. The Banner was created by The Yellow Bag Company based in Tamil Nadu, India.

Saying no to plastic and yes to local community entrepreneur artisans, natural fabrics, organic cotton and ancient, communal approaches to the material wonder of our common home is a spiritual, ecological, economic, and social prophetic stance. We were utterly delighted to collaborate with Krishnan Subramanian at The Yellow Bag in Tamil Nadu to create the banner and the skirt for the tables. At the Parliament, this beautiful hand-painted silk screen organic banner attracted a lot of attention and appreciation. It was one of the few (perhaps only) all-cotton banner with natural dies - the simplicity and unique design stood out.

Above is an image of the banner being dyed by hand in a silk screen style.

it was then hung to dry by these wonderful women (shown above).

For Krishnan, who started The Yellow Bag social enterprise, being able to make our cloth banners for the Parliament of World Religions was a real honor. In its early days, the young enterprise was encouraged by Ramasubramanian. Thus the banner reflected not only a sustainable product made by people who enjoy their livelihood practice (the Yellow Bag company is a preferred place to work), but also relationships of trust and companionship on a shared spiritual journey.

Sequoia Samanvaya Logo - designed by Elissa Ebersold

The Parliament pushed us to get our company logo ready. The original image for the logo was a painting by Sara Jolena. When Rachel Porter, who at the time was working for Sequoia Samanvaya, saw the painting, she immediately said, 'this is the logo'! She reached out to her friend, Elissa Ebersold. Elissa turned the painting into the digital format we are now using.

Elissa finds beauty and inspiration in the colors and contrasts of everyday life. Her Jewish upbringing has her trying to live her best life through sharing the beauty she sees with the world through photography, traveling to experience many cultures, and helping others. Below is a picture of her working on the logo. We sent a digital copy of the swirl-shell logo to Krishnan in India, which he then used for the banner.

Conferences are great opportunities to put together various forms of promo material. We used this as an opportunity to put together our first promotional film. For this, we had the wonderful opportunity to work with Sarah Fohl, the principal consultant at Kalpana Consulting, an international knowledge synthesis and knowledge sharing organization. She's passionate about storytelling, especially in multi-media format, and we enjoyed working together on the film (which is on the front page of this website). She was inspired enough by the experience, that she wrote about it on her own blog!

As an ecotheology company, we know that spirit moves through music. We were delighted that our friend Dr Gray Cox often played the clarinet, and sometimes there were improvisational musical creations, such as the night that he and the global mystical singer, Lixin Chen, jammed together on a song Gray composed many years ago, "Simple Pleasures."

I was also proud that we could showcase the images and poetry of one of my students, Sarah Rabinow. The poem we hung in the booth, which I felt resonated with the Parliament's themes of love and understanding, read:

My landscape goes deeper

than this white dwelling my soul rests in

it blurs deep blue lines

of remembering

flying within darkness

into a past

striving to recover from death to

relearn again

how to breath

green spiritual growth

that pushes you back into life

soaking your landscape

back from the dry grounds

you came from

and will return again


outside this white landscape

I grow back remnant bloodlines

to black seas of peace

from which we all grow

our humanity

the key to healing all landscapes

is to follow your dark veins

erasing hate.

So - poetry and music, digital logos and films, hand crafted banners and self-published booklets, stable religious communities and nomadic seekers - all of these formed the exchanges that wove the web that enabled the booth to be a little sanctuary for healing, conversation, rest, learning, and exploration. Surely, these are amongst the dynamics most needed for creating sustainable cultures.

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