This is An Open Letter to Three Women Imagineers of the Integral Age
On The Occasion of the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day
Dear Drs. Hazel Henderson, Barbara Marx Hubbard and Jean Houston
I claimed I was never a feminist in the 60’s or 70’s. That’s because I didn’t see myself as an activist then. But in truth, my father programmed me for some kind of emerging feministic perception and behaviours. When I was still in my mid-teens, he brought me Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, and a dash of Germaine Greer and Gloria Steinem along with many opportunities to discuss and debate their arguments on the lives of women. What’s more, he convinced me there was nothing I couldn’t do. I just believed him and carried on as if it were true. So I didn’t encounter cultural resistance in my family of origin and I simply took for granted the fertile adaptive ground that all the suffragettes, feminists, liberationists and activists had prepared for me.
As an older and more appreciative woman, I am deeply grateful to the women (and men) who came before me that enabled the sexual freedom, conscious awareness, political rights and social structures that have become my life-right (if not my birthright).
On this occasion of the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day (March 8, 1911) I marvel that I have become an activist. I seem to have skipped over the stages of activism that relate to the modern and post-modern woman and plunged directly into the age of the integral woman – even the integral human being.
Based on my understanding and experience of systems, lifecycles, life conditions, change, resilience, self-organization, global perspectives, marriage, human relationships, cities and cultural shifts, I have even formulated a theory of evolution (and involution) for human systems. I am writing this letter of appreciation today because whatever I know has been so greatly influenced by you trio of women who called yourselves the Power of Yin. Thirty-three years ago, in 1978-79 – two thirds of the way through the century following the first International Women’s Day – Hazel Henderson, Barbara Marx Hubbard and Jean Houston – gathered to share your insights about female sensibility and principles.
When my book was published in 2008 “Integral City: Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive” I had not read the book that emerged from your trialogue — now a book called The Power of Yin. I did not discover it until 2010 and serendipitously I am re-reading it this week of the 100th Anniversary of the International Women’s Day. I could not have chosen a more appropriate way to celebrate 100 years of women’s progress than with you three activists, authors and animators. All of you should be in the bibliography of Integral City – but somehow your messages had become so integrated into the meshwork of my thought patterns, your names were most embarrassedly omitted from the book’s Reference record.
I hope this letter somewhat rectifies that sin of omission because it was unintended and is a most grievous oversight. I can only surmise that the reason for the omission was because the principles described in the Power of Yin had become the field from which the ideas for my book were birthed. I didn’t recognize the birth waters I was emerging from.
In the first chapter of Power of Yin, Jean speaks of the beehive as her technological image for how she is in the world. No wonder she so graciously responded to my book which has the subtitle of “Evolutionary Intelligences for the Human Hive” when she was actually present at its launch in 2008. I feel like she anointed and attuned me to her trans-cultural, fractal time, universe-wide sensibilities – which she more recently (in 2010) amplified in me during her “Saging” social artistry course.
Even before those occasions, Barbara impressed me at both World Future Society and the Vancouver Summit events where she had spoken of her long-held vision of the cosmic human whom we are becoming as we reach out to the universe to access, gather and reconfigure the resources we are depleting here on Earth. Barbara’s vision of the evolutionary future was so potent for me that when I met a NASA physician who reminded me of that image, during the final edit of my book, I re-wrote the last chapter to propose that one of the reasons we need to optimize our life in the Human Hive is to learn how to successfully build space colonies. I hugged her when we were together in Perpignan in 2009 – and that was not nearly a sufficient expression of gratitude.
But the longest shadow of your Yin trio has stretched across the doorway of my inquiries from Hazel Henderson. For almost two decades I have been under the influence of Hazel’s healthy community and quality of life indicators as she has redefined how a wholistic economy emerges from the leaky edges of the old paradigms. Since the early 90’s, I have followed your activism from Florida-based Healthy City Indicators to whole systems thinking, to your ethical investing initiatives. Hazels’ courage to question, provoke and challenge the dominant power structures in the face of globalization, international finance and several rounds of whole system banking failure have sustained my own small efforts of imagining city futures, mapping city values and developing integral vital signs monitors.
I honestly believe that I could not be who I am today without the ideas, priorities, imaginations, actions and visions of Hazel, Barbara and Jean. In retrospect, I realize, even the title and substance of my book has been seeded by all that you identified as integral Yin Principles – the integration of all the possible intelligence of being human, our evolutionary past and future and our human hive technology. So Thank You deeply, you whom I have discovered are not just my Yin mentors, but my Yin attuners.
Beyond the book and the work that calls me from the practise now called “meshworking” and “sustainability”, I have been called to gather women leaders to provide peer support to ourselves as we lead other women. Our first gathering in 2008 was called the “Quantum Woman” gathering.
We have discovered in a variety of conversations that women’s path and the power of the human species seems blocked by inappropriate framings for death, sex, relationships and money. Removing these blockages seems reason enough to re-engage the Quantum Woman gathering later this year. However when I re-read the Power of Yin I can see that already thirty-three years ago that you had identified these intractable barriers as relating to the dinosaurs and pterodactyls of the dominant male culture. In your Yin reframings, instead of death as an end point, you offered dying as a natural and necessary stage in the cycle of life. Instead of mere, sex, you acknowledged the power of the maternal energy that wants to birth a new human. Instead of more and indiscriminate relationships you offered the provocation of “Supra-Sex” and the swarming of a living system. Instead of mere money you offered new paradigms for interconnecting resources in an ecologically responsible way.
Thirty-three years ago you offered a completely different way of being – one that called forth not just “Being the Change” we want but “Doing the Change” we want to see in the Universe. Your principles were ecological, fearless, full of Laughter and Life!! Veritably Cosmic!!
That is what I want to celebrate today on this 100th Anniversary and recognize you each and all as exemplars of the indomitable spirit of the evolutionary woman who came of age through you, one-third of a century ago, so we could be reborn in the Integral Age today on this one hundredth anniversary of Women’s International Day.
May the Power of Yin that has mysteriously unlocked an Integral Age for a growing number of women like me, mark not only the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day but also the thirty-third anniversary of Universal Humanity’s birth celebration.