Qualities of the Great Turning Movement

This article is based on my ideas about the Great Turning Movement. If you aren’t familiar with them, click here.

The Great Turning movement is diverse in terms of race, culture, gender, class, age, and so on. Diversity is needed not only to be fair and inclulsive but also because diversity is a source of greater insight and strength.

This movement is also intergenerational, (In Our Hands: Handbook for Intergenerational Actions to Solve the Climate Crisis, Wilford Welch). It is largely being led by young people while drawing from the wisdom and experience of elders, like myself. We need to work hard on overcoming barriers to intergenerational collaboration. Youth are central to the movement because they have the most to gain by having a regenerative society in which to live their lives, and because they have the energy and passion that is needed.

The movement is also bioregional, so that we connect with the local regions where we live–learning how the earth operates locally; loving our forests, grasslands, lakes, mountains, and so on; restoring our ecosystems, regenerating our soil and water cycles. This makes our love of the earth real and not just a nice idea.

This movement won’t just aim to gain political power as have many past movements. We need to transform everything as we enter a new era in social evolution. We have an opportunity to contribute something significant to the fate of humanity. 

This proposal is focused primarily on the U.S. and other developed nations. However, ultimately the movement for the Great Turning must spread around the world. Wise and caring people in all parts of the world are already contributing their ideas and organizing their people, and they are increasingly joining the movement. The movement must be global in scope, involving as many nations and cultures as possible, so the whole world is involved in the Great Turning!

The Great Turning Movement needs to integrate the following two poles:
1. Each person and group chooses the actions they feel called to take based on their passion and their understanding of their life purpose.
2. The movement is coherent and works together for its larger goal.

The movement needs to have play, dancing, singing, art, storytelling, theater, meeting in nature, and other fun activities. so that we love being part of it. 


I believe that the movement must be spiritual. I see the widespread interest in experiential spirituality today as an indication that it will be part of the new culture that is emerging in this next era of social evolution. 

Joanna Macy’s work is a great model for including spirituality in activism. Some indigenous groups have also shown us how this can be done, as happened at Standing Rock.

Spirituality often includes having some sense of a higher power or deep source where we are all interconnected in love. It means being open, caring, loving, conscious, and present, and not rigidly attached to your identity, at least some of the time. The movement doesn’t foist spirituality or religion on anyone. People are free to relate to spirit in their own way or not, though some Great Turning groups may be based on a certain spiritual path or religion.

Some people sense an unseen force or flow, perhaps evolutionary, which is moving us toward the Great Turning. At times, we may open ourselves to this to guide us.

Ideally, we would be able to view a person who is doing harm as a human being who is struggling with life circumstances and being driven by unconscious pain. We could be open to them as people while not losing sight of destructive things they are doing that must be stopped. The same applies to people in the movement who may act in ways that harm it.

We want to avoid unnecessarily making other people into enemies in our minds. On the other hand, we need to recognize when someone is truly an enemy of the movement and life, where it would be foolish to try to cooperate with them.


Not only do we need to be open to experimenting with various proposed structures for a regenerative society, we also need to experiment with different ways for the movement to operate and strategies for reaching our goals. In this proposal, I am laying out my ideas for how this might work best, but I don’t imagine that these are final. There will be much discussion within the movement aimed at coming up with the most effective approaches and structures for various situations. But even beyond discussion, we must try out different ideas to see what works.

This movement for the Great Turning must become large and far reaching.
It can be summarized as follows:

  • Working for a regenerative society at all levels.
  • Focused on multiple social, ecological, and political issues.
  • Personal and spiritual as well as political and social.
  • Focused on changing consciousness and worldview as well as social structures.
  • Local, bioregional, and planetary
  • Diverse and intergenerational
  • Playful
  • Spiritual
  • Experimental