Forty years ago, Carolyn Brown, Burr Heneman, and I took an astonishing risk. We set out to build a center for healing ourselves and healing the earth on an old RCA transmitter station on 1000 acres of land at the edge of the Pacific.
Forty years later, Commonweal is vibrant. We are stronger than ever. We have more than a dozen major programs in health and healing, education and the arts, and environment and justice.
Our work in health and healing includes the Commonweal Cancer Help Program, Healing Circles, the Healing Kitchens Institute, and the Healing Yoga Foundation.
Our work in education and the arts includes The New School at Commonweal, Visual Thinking Strategies, and our EDGE programs, including the Power of Hope summer camp.
Our work in environment and justice includes the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, the Commonweal Juvenile Justice Program, the Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center, and the Cancer Prevention Initiative.
We’ve learned a lot about how to do our work. We work best with gifted program directors who find their own funding. They have creative freedom to do their work.
We are de-centralized and flexible. We can take on any great project that serves life and fits with our mission.
Projects can be located anywhere in the country. They could be anywhere in the world.
We don’t seek much credit. We let the work speak for itself.
When a great project comes to an end, we don’t try to continue it. We look for the next visionary program leader.
Much of our best work is done in learning communities. Commonweal is a learning organization that supports learning communities. Learning organizations do not punish error. They embrace error in order to learn from it.
We consciously prepare for the radical discontinuities that will take place in the decades ahead. The causes will be many: climate change, environmental degradation, war and terrorism, financial and technological disaster, and much more. The networks of centers we collaborate with across the country and around the world give us resilience.
We value kindness of heart, wisdom of mind, and dedication to service.
Our real lineage is not an organizational form. It is the endless lineage of people who discover that their purpose in life is to be of service. Our joy is that this lineage is endlessly self-replenishing. It will not die as long as there are humans on earth.
Finally, the Commonweal community is in no way limited to those who work at Commonweal. Far from it. Those who work here simply serve the real Commonweal community. The real Commonweal community is each and all of you.
For you are the ones who make our work possible. You are partners in our dozen learning communities that extend across the country and around the world. And you give of your substance to support our work.
For that we are forever grateful. We ask that you continue to support the Great Work to which we are all dedicated—healing ourselves and healing the earth.