The Conscious Cafe offers good coffee and good food, books, and great conversations. Indeed it gathers people with varied interests from many walks of life and a very diverse age range. When I entered the large room, on one side a group of people were sharing about technological advances, computer networking, new robots, new economics, and science in general. They talked about the change in consciousness that is developing according to these new tools and the possibilities they have brought into our lives in term of communication, networking, and adaptation.
On the other side of the room, a group of women is gathered around one of the many tables discussing the book, Incantations: Songs, Spells and Images by Mayan Women, which focuses on the ancient wisdom of the Mayan culture. The women share their knowledge of pre-patriarchal cultures that existed in the beginning of civilization and how this knowledge can help us transition to a paradigm change. The goal is to evolve from a dominator society to a society of partnerships, which may help us bring a more nurturing vision into our emerging realities.
At a table across the room, a pod of people is focused on permaculture. Due to the diligent and persistent work David Hall has brought to this community, the permaculture group is growing. David, a Sunward resident, also teaches classes at the People’s Food Co-op and in the Crazy Wisdom tea room. On this day, he is speaking about cleaning and enriching the soil per mycelium and micro-organism remediation. David states that he finds this community inspiring and he is “looking for people to partner with” to make the collective process more of a reality. Others are joining in the discussion, each sharing their knowledge on this topic.
At another table, the discussion is focusing on climate change. John Russell, a retired ecology teacher, is expounding his views, stating that in the light of the evolving continued disappearance of animal species, it might be too late to remediate climate changes; others disagree, saying that we have new solutions emerging every week, that we are attempting to save every species, and that life is in a constant evolutionary process itself.
People do not always agree here. They discuss with passion, each bringing their point of view. They are learning as they speak, and as the discussions go on, ideas fuse and questions emerge. Resident, Clark Reese says he comes here for a sense of community. It’s an easy way to see his neighbors, discuss current events, and talk about today’s ecology.
Claire Maitre is happy to meet with old friends and make new ones as her grandson plays nearby. She likes to be exposed to new ideas, the synergy found with other people, and the amazing amount of love that is here. “We promote a lot of great opportunities that are in and around Ann Arbor, a crossroad of a lot of interesting people. Children are playing around, and are a vibrant part of the meeting. They link us,” she says.
Miko Fossum, creator of The Dandelion Wild Café, brings food to share or buy to the Conscious Cafe each week. It is organic and plant based and delicious, nourishing for body and soul. Her partner Mike Clarin says, “We were asked to help build capacities, attracting people to the idea of co-creation. We are working now physically on an idea of the extension of Selma Cafe, a restaurant created by Lisa Gotlieb and Jeff McCabe in their home in order to raise money for the hoop house and to support self-starters in their agricultural projects.
On the tables in the middle of the room, there are lot of books to inspire us. With them lays the Synergy Wheel, a tool to help people find balance in their lives, and someone mentions adding mentoring to the wheel. Another offering on this table, one that has crystallized many ideas in this “brave new world” is Reinhabiting the Village: Cocreating Our Future, by Jamaica Stevens. It defines The Village as the place we belong to, and is the ecosystem in which we live. It’s a book that helped us discover other organizations and people offering solutions, services, and collective endeavors.
Buckminster Fuller had said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Wagnon agrees; he believes that we need to move to a higher level of consciousness to be able to solve the problems. “Yes we need a shift,” says Mark, “from a system that is not sustainable, does not teach you evolutionary skills, into a nature based regenerative system.” Indeed, regenerative does mean growing, flowering, healing. Alan Haber, long time activist, agrees the peace system should be regenerative; he contrasts it to the war system in which we now live.
The challenges we will face do require a shift in consciousness, a call to move with inspiration opening to our human potential. With this in mind, it’s exciting to know that what began as a small idea only three years ago has now evolved into a growing movement: the Conscious Cafe is being cloned and has spread to other states and countries.
To be conscious is the ability to be aware of oneself and of our environment. The Conscious Cafe is here to help us find inspiration by offering a community that we can grow in and evolve with, collectively.
We welcome you to the Conscious Cafe.
The Conscious Café meets at 424 Little Lake Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48103, every Wednesday from 9:00am until 2:30pm. The Café is held in the common house and is open to everyone. For more information on the Café and on the Sunward community, visit their website at www.sunward.org or follow them on Facebook.