Gaia 2000: A Global Awakening

Date: Sun, 18 Feb 1996 11:42:10 -0500 From: Tom Ellis
To: Multiple recipients of list GAIA-L Subject: Proposal: "GAIA 2000"

I have been following many of the recent discussions with great interest, and find myself repeatedly wishing that more people were aware of the crucial issues being discussed so thoroughly and intelligently.

This has led me to hatch an idea--a fantasy, more properly speaking-- that I would like to toss out onto the list for your contemplation and discussion.

We are now less than four years from the turn of the millenium, and even though these pressing environmental, social, & cultural issues are widely discussed by academicians throughout the world, the vast majority of the world is still either entirely ignorant of these issues, or in a state of suppressed panic and denial, lulled into complacency by the commercial razzle-dazzle of corporate- sponsored television programs. They mostly don't want to think about the environmental crisis at all, because it makes them feel frightened, powerless, and demoralized: the issues are so vast, complex, and inter- related, that most individuals feel helpless to do anything, so they take refuge in their day-to-day personal concerns, and assume either that (1) "the experts" will find a solution, or (2) we're all doomed anyway, so why worry.

We need to break this cycle of denial--not by trumpeting the bad news even more insistently (that will only increase most people's withdrawal into denial and psychic numbing) but rather by a public relations initiative so big and bold that everyone will sit up and take notice.

We need, in effect, to seize the opportunity posed by the symbolism of a new millenium and proclaim the end of the industrial era and the birth of the Gaian Century. Here's one way to do it:

GAIA 2000: A Global Awakening

Imagine, if you will, a global teleconference and multimedia event, on or about Earth Day, 2000. You have a core conference, in some major city, with as impressive a roster of global visionaries as we could muster: people such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Al Gore, the Dalai Lama, James Lovelock, Lynn Margulis, Wangari Maathai (of the "Green Belt" movement in Kenya), Lester Brown, Norman Myers, William Irwin Thompson, Thich Nhat Hanh, and so forth. Simultaneous with this conference, you have colleges and universities holding their own Gaia conferences, linked by satellite to the big one. Then you play the whole thing for all it's worth over the Internet, and you arouse the enthusiasm and interest of as many television stations and news services as possible. (Ted Turner might really go for it.)

The idea would be to have a "Global Town Meeting" to mark the transformation of a (mostly reactive and political) "environmental" movement into a (proactive and cultural) Gaia Movement, aimed at nothing less than the Spontaneous Remission of the Cancer of the Earth.

I am in the process, now, of setting up a nonprofit organization to be called GAIA International (Global Awareness Interdisciplinary Alliance) that would take the initiative in planning this event, but it would involve the col collaboration of environmental organizations, foundations, and ecologically responsible entrepreneurs all around the world to pull it off.

There's the idea, in a nutshell. We need to seize the initiative in claiming the next century for our own--the Gaian Century--if we are even to have a prayer of reversing the convergent trends toward global ecological catastrophe.

Let me know what you think.

--Tom Ellis

Created: Sunday, February 18, 1996, 2:07:24 PM Last Updated: Sunday, February 18, 1996, 2:07:24 PM