What is Encyclopedia Sophia?

Craig Chalquist, PhD

You are a public speaker or educator faced with an audience full of fear about vanishing species and dying oceans. You haven't been trained for this kind of work. What should you do?

You are a consultant to a corporation at which all the innovation takes place in informal networking and none through official channels. What to do?

You are the designer of a community garden but you have no idea how to work with the conflicts and emotions surfacing in the people who show up. Next move?

You are a counselor or coach whose clients keep talking about their nature dreams. Now what?

You are an activist tasked with bringing a reflective dimension to your work. Where do you go to find one?

Have you noticed that you can find abundant information on how to counsel, heal, journal, meditate--how to perform every conceivable practice of personal transformation--but little on how to work transformatively at the cultural level? That there's no manual on a cultural therapeutics, on community problem-solving beyond generating temporary fixes? No encyclopedia for how to tend deep collective change?

The Encyclopedia Sophia Project is being designed to respond to these and similar questions about how to provide deep education: community mentoring in service to new visions of how to relate to ourselves, each other, and the planet we all occupy but so seldom feel at home with. Our goal is to produce a multi-platform networking hub and compendium of articles, graphics, photographs, and videos for deep social education and community-building. A time in which social systems, economic systems, and ecosystems are crashing requires cultural mentors who can facilitate lifelong education, respectful dialog, collective healing, and community resiliency. At the push of a button or the tap of a screen, Encyclopedia Sophia will offer them a constantly evolving assemblage of best ideas and practices.

Our team consists of a dozen participants with varying backgrounds, skills, and cultures of origin who meet twice a month at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Some are students, others graduates. All are committed to providing a resource accessible via Internet, smartphone, pad, and other media. To what end? To quote from our Vision Statement, we want to see to it that

Humanity consciously, responsibly, and intentionally joins in planetary and cultural evolution to participate in the celebration, regeneration, and renewal of our deeply interconnected world.

The Encyclopedia will emphasize projects, ideas, and practices that do fairly deep work rather than DIY community-improvement information already available in abundance. The same with purely individual transformative practices, which are important but already widely accessible.

Instead of assuming that personal practices automatically lead to collective change, the Encyclopedia will respond to these kinds of user inquiries:

What blueprints can I use for setting up a wisdom group, or even several of them?
How can I encourage my neighborhood to take dreams seriously?
Where can I find a curriculum for critical consciousness, content analysis, and seeing through political rhetoric?
Where can I find examples of how a dysfunctional social system has been successfully redesigned?
How do I study the profound changes triggered by a community art project?
What information is available for training people in transformative leadership?
What might a fully reflective institution look like?
How and where has restorative justice been successfully implemented at the community level?
Is there a toolkit or schema for directing psychologically mature elders and mentors into positions of political responsibility?
How can I set up emotional containers for dealing with “eco-anxiety”?
Who can advise me on how to overcome institutional resistance to positive change?
What makes networks and social ecosystems resilient and adaptive?
Who is working on locating the new stories or working myths for our time?
Is there a support network for others like me who do deep cultural work?

The resiliency of simultaneous accessibility by Internet, phone, radio, local mesh networks, snail mail, word of mouth, and face to face will encourage the spreading replication of transformative ideas.

As director of this project I am proud to witness the wisdom of the group hard at work to create this resource. It affirms what I deeply believe as an educator: that people who work unsubverted or unforced by regressive institutional forces can be counted on to plan the way forward humanely, sustainably, and intelligently.

Toward the end of his life, Joseph Campbell believed that Earthrise, the image of our planet rising over the Moon, conveyed the mythic image for our time. My hope is that our encyclopedia will work in service to the just, hopeful, and beautiful world culture implicit in the image of Earthrise.

To follow our progress, visit oue Facebook public page.

Also, click here to view the slideshow "Earthrise: The New Mythic Image of Our Time."