This time in our history represents an unprecedented opportunity for global collaboration for the benefit of local communities. As esteemed spiritual economist Jim Corbett has noted, “in the boundaries between nations, classes, races, religions, and ideologies...the need now is for nonviolent protective associations that covenant to exclude no one from the basic rights that constitute the substance of civil society.” Cooperation is the key, as we learn to navigate together while new paradigms emerge organizing human activity upon the earth to improve the health, wealth, and social cohesion of all involved, as well as sustainably steward the flora and fauna of the natural world for generations to come. Doing less harm is no longer good enough, we must adapt in real time to have a regenerative impact on one another and on the living world within which we dwell.
Among all of the political upheaval, what we know to be at least one tenet of purely common ground is that human beings cannot learn, grow, or make healthy choices unless their basic need for survival is met. Often times, we view this need for survival solely in terms of physical safety and having sufficient finances to provide for ourselves and families. While the basic need for food, shelter, and clothing should in no way be discounted, psychologist and bestselling author Brené Brown gently reminds us that survival is also about connection – or the need to feel accepted and to believe that we belong and are valued for who we are. This wholehearted connection to self is critical so that we can show up to collaborative efforts such as a political council and feel heard, seen, and wired for reciprocity and fairness. In this way, it is time to shift the conversations dominating policy, programming and practice to include a view of symbiosis between ecological and psychological (i.e. cognitive and social-emotional) thriving.
Supporting this claim is the collective experience of multi-generational and international land holders, particularly the Indigenous peoples of North and South America. Coupled with a wealth of social science data over the past century and especially the last decade, the evidence is insurmountable: In the 21st century, we can no longer ignore the psychosocial necessity of implementing a system of ecological and social symbiosis.
The pillars of this system are:
Universal Access to Holistic Wellness
Material and social development
New functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) technology, has revealed that there are actually ways to regenerate poor habits that have been have been hardwired into our limbic (unconscious) systems both throughout one’s lifespan and inter-generationally – by changing the dynamic relationships between humans and their environments. Essentially, the mind-body health must be built through a connection to the Earth and surrounding communities, not fractioned off from it.
In the face of the national and world-wide epidemic of mental illness, what we are really seeing is that a lack of collective thriving may be the root cause behind poor choices around physical and psychological health.
Particularly noteworthy in the United States, there is a high prevalence of anxiety and depressive disorders. Here are some facts presented by the National Institute of Mental Health:
Approximately 13% of children ages 8-15 have a diagnosable mental disorder
Approximately 46% of youth ages 13-18 have a mental disorder, and about half of those are considered severe
Approximately 19% of adults ages 18 and older have a mental disorder
This is alarming both as a standalone social problem, as well as the related economic costs that the behavioral manifestations incur.
In 2002, the total cost of serious mental illness in the US was approximately 317 billion dollars. Of this, approximately 60% was lost in the category of potential earnings
In 2006, more people paid expenses for health care related to mental disorders than any other medical condition except asthma.
Of the top 5 healthcare expenses studies, the number of people who paid for treatment related to mental disorders showed the steepest increase between 1996 and 2006, rising from approximately 19 million to 36 million people in the US
Promisingly, good work is being done in both the private and public sectors to promote optimal health and wellness. But barriers still exist to the type of dynamic collaboration between systems that will be required to implement sustainable changes on the national and international level. As new problems arise in the sustainable deployment of global resources (natural, manmade, and psychological/experiential) we have a greater need and a responsibility to monitor and govern the collective action/investment into ensuring that the needs and well being of future generations will be taken care of. From food, to wellness, to education and cultural resources, we have to make sure that the resources for thriving will be available both to those in all walks of life (including low income families and veterans), geographical locations, and time periods (future generations)
What is clear is that need to explore what it means and what it looks like when individuals, families, and communities achieve optimal development, and we need a united movement of human beings working together to direct the flow of collective energy/resources into the optimization of community development (e.g., regenerative practices, social permaculture). Therefore, it is of urgent and critical importance that agents of change from all sectors of society work together to ensure that human ecological/social development, cooperation, democracy and solidarity – rather than capital gains – remain the primary philosophies that undergird institutional reform and corporate innovation in the United States and worldwide.
GTI Enterprises takes this bold and innovative stance via a social impact driven business model (similar to a B-Corp model) from which to unite human beings under a spiritual land covenant and under the understanding that we are all related by the Earth. Through the We Are Mother Earth covenant, we can adequately prepare our next generations of youth for their responsibility in becoming stewards of the Earth. Through partnership with it's affiliates, GTI Enterprises will help create a set of of multi-generational and cross-sector programs designed to promote social development (specifically through a multifaceted understanding of how humanity interacts with forest lands/wild lands). By creating a family of like-minded entities, GTI offers a one-of-a-kind service-delivery model. The goal is to enhance and reshape the fields of youth development, family services, education, and organizational management by building bridges between holistic health, spiritual development, permaculture, and ecology.
Through non-profit partner Freedom2Fit, Inc. we to promote holistic health as a means to both personal and community resilience. We believe socio-economic status should not determine a child’s exposure and access to tools designed to promote wellness. Through our process-based Place-of-Opportunity Program (POP model) we can even further connect children and families from suburban, rural, and urban specifically through two pilot sites (ARC 38 and Rickey Farm) that are located within 2 hours (both driving and via public transit) from New York City. This will greatly mitigate the risk factors associated with youth and families in urban environments having such little connection to nature, as well as serve as hubs for transformative culture and incubators for permaculture and biotechnology.