Institute of Global Education
Special NGO consultant to United Nations Economic and Social Council
DEPARTMENT OF INTEGRATED ECOLOGY
Maverick Genius in Action
by Janet Thomas
There was a community that lived in a shoe
They had so many problems, they didn't know what to do
There were maverick geniuses that lived in a shoe.
They enjoyed and sustained wellness, they knew what to do.
Michael Cohen is a longtime environmental educator and visionary psychologist whose contributions earned him the description "maverick genius" at the 1985 Bureau of Applied Sciences International Symposium on the Promotion of Unconventional Ideas in Science, Medicine and Sociology, For thirty-five years he has gone to bed outside under the night sky. For more than 40 years he has taken people camping where they can also hear him sing the hundreds of folksongs he learned as a youth. He's a Professor of Integrated Ecology with the Institite of Global Education. He has written six books, the most recent is "The Web of Life Imperative-A Primer of Organic Psychology." He's the founder of the National Audubon Society Expedition Institute at Lesley University, creator of the Natural Systems Thinking Process and the recipient of the 1994 World Peace University Distinguished World Citizen Award. Currently he serves on the faculty of Portland State University and Akamai University where he directs its Institute of Applied Ecopsychology. Early on in his work he conceived the elements of the 1985 National Audubon Conference, Is the Earth a Living Organism?
Throughout his life, and his career, Mike has founded sensory environmental education programs that teach us to wake up to our senses and to the bounty of nurture and knowledge afforded to us by nature. His online PhD courses encourage and enable individuals to develop the skills, awareness and understanding of natural systems thinking so they can, in turn, teach others what we already know but have tragically forgotten: "The world will not perish for want of wonders, but for want of wonder." (J.B.S. Haldane).
Mike lives on the north end of an island in the northwest corner of Washington State.
"The truth is that nature is always restoring. Always attracting, recovering, healing. It feeds our biological and psychological ability to regenerate. And when we connect to the natural world with our reasoning, consciousness, and language, connected to all our other senses, we are opened up to real power that transcends the dollar."
--from "The Battle in Seattle."
"The more alive we are the more rewarded we are by the wisdom of the earth and nature, the less dependent we are on the power of money and prestige, and the less damage we do to one another and to the planet. When are we going to learn this in contemporary society?"
Working with Mike brought me to an understanding of how nature works constantly to bring us into balance with ourselves, with Mother Earth and with one another. He teaches us what we already know but have forgotten. He articulates the language of nature, opening us to metaphor and to meaning in every moment. His work, simple on the surface, takes us down into deep realms of understanding, self-worth and sacred connectedness to the generative creativity that is our universe. When we go there, we are no longer drawn to live unconscious lives of conscious consumption. When we are connected to nature, we are connected to life in a way that precludes our material yearnings for more stuff, more prestige, more fame and fortune. Nature says "yes" to us wherever we are and under whatever circumstances. It is the answer to everything that ails us and this beleaguered planet. All we have to do is wake up and tap into our own maverick genius.
"It takes a lot of time to be a genius," said Gertrude Stein. "you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing." Only when we are doing nothing can we be aware of everything. Our lives, to be fully realized and to be fully meaningful, must move with some sort of grace between knowing and doing, being and not-doing. We must have a sense of our lives as inherently meaningful; only then will we be true partners with life. And only then will we be true partners with everyone alive on this planet.
The work of Mike Cohen has re-introduced me to the language of my own nature. Although I have long felt and known that being in nature serves my spirit in ways that nothing else can, I now know why, and can use Mike's techniques at a moment's notice to ground myself and others in meaning. It's nature's nurture that is always available to us. His work gives us the tools to get consciously connected in ways that restore inner and outer harmony starting with personal grace in nature and ending with a global reach of respect and sustainability.
- Janet Thomas
Janet Thomas is the author of "The Battle in Seattle-The Story Behind and Beyond the WTO Demonstrations in Seattle," a close up look at how and why the demonstrators on the streets closed down the WTO talks and cracked open the corporate egg of entitlement, delusion and deceit. Read her online chapter about nature.
Get Back To Your Inner Maverick Nature.
Find out how to save yourself and the rest of the planet while you're at it.
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INSTITUTE OF GLOBAL EDUCATION Special NGO consultant United Nations Economic and Social Council PROJECT NATURECONNECT Readily available, online, nature-connecting tools for the health of person, planet and spirit
P.O. Box 1605
Friday Harbor, WA 98250
ORGANIC ADVANCED ECOPSYCHOLOGY IN ACTION
The Natural Systems Thinking Process
Dr. Michael J. Cohen, Director
All programs start with the Orientation Course contained in the book The Web of Life Imperative. ...