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The Sunset Assembly

by Eva Schonveld from Now What?! Partner Grassroots to Global

The sun is setting on a system that is incapable of saving us from itself.

We need to find new ways to gather, to make decisions, to organise and to step into taking responsibility for each other that can respect and nourish all life, since those tasked with this responsibility have so disastrously failed.

As the sun goes down on the 29th of October a unique assembly will begin. It will continue for 24 hours, following the sunset round the world. Passed from community to community, this rolling assembly will be held by communities in Peru, West Papua, Australia, Indonesia, Kenya and more.

Community members will speak and listen to one another from the heart. Each community will use different forms of meeting, as we collectively seek a path towards a politics of wholeness where our decisions are based on being deeply present to each other, rather than speaking at each other. Our common focus is on:

“How the system is impacting on me and my community, and how we are resisting, creating alternatives and maintaining connectedness in the face of it”

The timing is no coincidence: COP26 starts on 1st November and will be no different to the previous 25. The Climate COPs are mind-bogglingly successful at pretending they are tackling the climate crisis, while enabling the fossil fuel industry to receive billions in subsidies, emissions to rise exponentially, and corporate interests to perpetually delay real action.

There is no time left to do anything less than change everything.

Grassroots to Global, who have sparked this assembly, are working to build alternatives to our current collective decision making processes. Most of what we have has been wrung from the hands of those with power who have given up the absolute minimum that would be tolerated by the wider public - most often followed by a gradual pulling back of the power to decide back to those with most power.

This is because our system is deeply traumatised. Like all trauma, it is not always visible - especially not to those who appear to benefit from the status quo. Because we are social animals, the connection between personal and cultural trauma is deep and can be hard to disentangle. Our basic assumptions about ‘how things are’, about ‘human nature’ are in fact completely culturally conditioned.

We have to become slow and deep enough to swiftly make the fundamental changes that are needed. It is not our humanity that is the problem, it is an inhumane system of appropriation and exploitation. We are persuaded to rely on it for our survival and well-being, while it devours both. Our well-being can only ever rely on ensuring the well-being of others, not on exploiting them.

Groups who will join the Sunset Assembly include:

  • a diverse group of people from the Andes, the Amazon and the coast in Peru

  • a group in North Sulawesi, Indonesia who will be opening with a sunset ritual held by Minahasa elders

  • elders from West Papua reflecting on the devastation of palm oil and other colonial impacts

  • the Ogiek of Mount Elgon in Kenya, who are holding over part of a wider community meeting so that it can happen within this assembly

  • And more, including from Aotearoa, Scotland, New York . . .

Alongside these assembly holding groups, who will meet to deeply reflect together, anyone from anywhere in the world is invited to join as witnesses at any point. Witnesses are invited to deeply experience and listen to the holding groups. We believe witnessing is an active process in which attention and intention make a real difference to the process.

In between each section we will hold a “Sharing Circle’ which is open to all, taking turns to speak for a few minutes each, bringing our own feelings and reflections, and hearing other Witnesses' voices, where we speak from the heart without the need to prepare.

We hope this can be the beginnings of a whole-globe check-in. If you would like to participate as a witness, please sign up here.

Beyond the sunset, we aim to hold a Sunrise Assembly after COP, hopefully joined by many new collaborators, focusing on how communities can gather locally and trans-locally to make heart-centred decisions, and so take responsibility for the future in a way that can replace a global decision-making system that is paralysed by its own trauma.

These around-the-world assemblies are sparked by Grassroots to Global, building on the Reworlding gathering, through which we encourage everyone to explore their own pathways in their own ways, so that collectively we can create a shared pathway to a politics of wholeness.

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