The Commune Blog

Town Hall

commusings Aug 02, 2020

This week, I am forsaking the typical format of this letter while I mine my childhood for more embarrassing personal anecdotes to share. Fear not, it’s my 25th wedding anniversary this Wednesday and I will more than compensate for any lack of mawkish prose in next week’s missive. That being said, you will not be completely spared my loquacity.

No doubt some of you may be wondering anyways why you receive my interminable screeds every Sunday - prattling on about culture, spirituality and current affairs - when all you did was innocently sign up for a meditation or yoga course. It’s a well-founded question. Your confusion might be compounded by the fact that a platform featuring Deepak Chopra reciting mantras is now releasing a course called Political Hope with Charles Eisenstein. What do meditation and politics have to do with one another?

For years, I have been exhorting, often into the wind, that our personal and societal well-being are inextricably interwoven....

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How to be Plastic-Free with Kate Nelson

podcast Jul 29, 2020

While in college at a party, Kate Nelson looked around at the sea of Red Solo cups half-filled with beer and thought that there must be another option. In the decade since, Kate (aka the Plastic-Free Mermaid) has been single-use plastic free and has helped thousands of people use reduce the plastic in their lives.

Kate: Hello. I'm Kate. I'm Plastic Free Mermaid. I'm a mermaid and I haven't used single use plastics for a decade. I teach that lifestyle. I teach how not to use plastics. I teach about the science, the reasons why we shouldn't use plastics. And then I'm a mermaid so I free dive and I surf and I sail. And I love the ocean.

Jeff: And you didn't just wake up one day, 10 years ago and just say magically, "Plastic free mermaid?"

Kate: Correct.

Jeff: This is sort of like, it's not, would not be a normal response to humanity. I'm wondering what experience in your life led you to make that decision?

Kate: I was volunteering at a nonprofit in...

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Walking Among the Divine

commusings Jul 26, 2020

I am hiking the canyon loop, hunting ideas. I am edgy as I set off due to a constant ominous rustling in the brush along the path. Lizards darting, rabbits bounding, thrashers thrashing, rattlers slithering, imaginaries lurking. Nature welcomes home a long-lost cousin, wresting me from thought into the precarious present. 

This experience, man walking through the wood alone, senses sharpened, is old. For a moment, there is little that to seems to separate me from the hominid forager ambling an East African savannah 70 millennia ago. 

Except she wandered among the divine, sharing her footpath with woodland gods and an occasional drunken satyr. Her tribe worshipped local deities that governed fire, rain, and the moon. Neighboring clans had their own provincial spirits. Moreover, she felt inextricably connected to her surroundings so much so that she shared a spiritual essence with the rock on which she stepped and the leaves that brushed her face.

With the decline of animism...

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Navigating Post-Truth

commusings Jul 20, 2020

On November 22, 1963, Arthur and Adeline sink into their divan to digest their chicken salad sandwiches. Per their post-lunch ritual, they flip on their guilty pleasure, As the World Turns. Just minutes into the program, the soap opera is interrupted by a news flash concerning an incident in Dallas, Texas with the Presidential motorcade. The episode continues only to be suspended again just minutes later.

Flanked by rotary phones and typewriters, Walter Cronkite appears in the CBS newsroom. As he reports on the developing story, he is handed a memo. Cronkite removes his signature glasses and, in his inimitable tenor, announces the death of John F. Kennedy. For just a moment, Cronkite, visibly shaken, looks down and to the side, tightening his lips to hold the anguish of a nation. Lyndon Johnson will now become the 36th president of the United States. Adeline looks at Arthur and begins to cry. Arthur grips her hand reassuringly, “It’s ok. We’ll get through...

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Truth and Conspiracy with Charles Eisenstein

podcast Jul 15, 2020

Our society's war of narratives is preventing us from having thoughtful, meaningful conversations around a shared goal. How did we get here? And how can we hope to agree on conclusions if we also disagree on what counts as valid evidence?

Jeff: Okay. So thank you, Charles Eisenstein for being on the podcast. And I can say I'm not alone in my appreciation for your thought, your critical thinking and your writing on the topic of COVID. And I'll just maybe set the stage for where we are today globally on July 2nd with regards to the pandemic. Which now has an estimated 10.7 million global cases, 2.7 million of which are in the United States, over a half a million total global reported deaths, 128,000 of which are in the United States. And we are now currently experiencing, of course, if you believe mainstream news sources, a spike in reported cases in the United States to the tune of about 40,000 new cases per day.

Jeff: And we have seen other countries struggle such as...

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Who Am I

commusings Jul 11, 2020

We all have a story.

A dozen years ago, I co-founded Wanderlust, a company that produces large yoga festivals around the world. Our flagship event in Squaw Valley, California amassed enough yogis in leggings to swaddle the Taj Mahal in lycra. In the summer of 2012, I arrived on-site at our host hotel, the somewhat tattered Village-at-Squaw. Knackered from the trip, I was intent on quickly checking in to my usual ski condo and getting to our production meeting. As the stoner-cum-concierge bumbled through an unnecessary ream of clerical work, my patience began to fray. And I said it. It’s the only time I have ever uttered this phrase and I shudder in the paternalism of it even as I type. 

“Do you know who I am?” I said.

Befuddled, the desk clerk looked at me, turned to his counterpart and said, “This dude I’m checking in doesn’t know who he is.” 

The fool speaks wisely as the wise man acts the fool. 

Who am I? This is...

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The Poetry of Life with Jacqueline Suskin

podcast Jul 08, 2020

As humans, we often struggle to express our emotional realm, which can feel confusing, shadowy, and private. But words are vessels for emotions, and poetry can help us understand why we feel the way we feel — something science struggles to explain. In this episode, poet Jacqueline Suskin discusses the relevance and power of poetry for this moment in time, and how writing teaches us to find healing and hope in our lived experiences.

Jeff: You have one very specific example of how you were able to kind of develop a relationship with a senior executive at a timber company, someone who would probably exist from a political or social perspective in complete diametric opposition to who you are. But can you tell that story and kind of how that kind of shared humanity sprung forth?

Jacqueline: Yeah, I mean, it started with me writing a poem at the farmers market up here in Arcada, where I now live again. And I was doing what I do, I was just there writing poems and this...

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Interdependence Day

commusings Jul 05, 2020

I am in my happy place, snug in the middle lane of the 101 coasting at a modest 60 miles per hour, listening to The Daily, driving to Topanga with Micah. Schuyler thinks I drive too slowly. I prefer “cautious.” It might be genetic.
My beloved Nana, barely 5 feet in heels, seldom broke 25 on the speedometer. As a young boy, I would often accompany her to her sacred weekly hairdresser appointment. There was a soda fountain there in which I enthusiastically indulged, creating madcap papercup cocktails of Mr. Pibb and Fanta. Eventually, she’d emerge from the chair, grip my hand, her long glossy red nails digging at my forearm skin, and lead me out to the mini-mall parking lot.
Automobiles did not spare steel in the 1970’s. Nana would board her colossal Cadillac, often unwittingly parked askew across two spots, like a mouse saddling an elephant. She didn’t drive it as much as it drove her. She’d crawl out of the lot into traffic like a cruise...

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EVRYMAN with Ashanti Branch, Touré, and Sascha Lewis

podcast Jul 02, 2020

It's time we changed the paradigm of what it means to be a man in our society. For so long, the ideal man was someone who suppressed his emotions. Being stoic was being strong. But what has perpetuating these lessons led to? A loneliness epidemic, addiction, grief, and suffering. In this podcast episode, we explore the archetypal characteristics of maleness, mass incarceration, and how the Black Lives Matter movement is different from past civil rights movements. Listen in to learn how EVRYMAN is bringing men together and giving them permission to be vulnerable.

Ashanti: So Ashanti Branch from Oakland, California. I was raised by a single mother. And the journey of fatherlessness adds a lot of flavor to my life. I think the journey of trying to figure out what it means to be a man when there was no man there helping you to figure those things out, has always been one of those things I constantly reflect back to in my life.

Ashanti: I went off to ... I'm trying to think...

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Pandemic of Love with Shelly Tygielski

podcast Jun 26, 2020

When COVID-19 swept through her community, Shelly Tygielski had a simple idea: Connect people who can give directly with those in need. Within days her Pandemic of Love went viral, resulting in more than 187,000 matches and over $25.1 million in direct transactions. And as she reveals, these one-to-one acts of charity offer so much more than financial support — they re-instill our faith in each other.

Jeff: Around the idea of working closely with communities in need, and particularly going through acute periods of collective grief like in Parkland, can you talk a little bit about that experience of what it is like to work in communities that are experiencing that level of acute grief? And to what degree is meditation and other kinds of forms of I suppose wellness, modalities... Are they welcome? How do you actually administer them? What are some of the impacts of them? How do you work with the local community and other clinicians to provide consistency? How does that...

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