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You are here: Home Resources E-Newsletter Archive Summer 2010, Issue VII Songs for the Great Turning

Songs for the Great Turning

An Interview with our friend Gretchen Sleicher who created a wonderful song resource on the web. Visit her website soon for inspiring music to be shared with your community!

An Interview with Gretchen Sleicher

It is not uncommon to see a group of Journeys participants sharing a song together before a meal, in ceremony or as they wander through the wilderness. Sometimes we sing to the beat of a drum or the shake of a rattle, sometimes we try out harmonies and other times we imagine and create goofy songs that tell the story of our adventure together. Whether silly or ceremonious, we find that singing brings our groups closer together.

We certainly have our stock-pile of quintessential Journeys songs but we are always looking to stretch our vocal chords and expand our songbook. Recently a fabulous online song resource has come into our awareness, created by Gretchen Sleicher, called “Songs for the Great Turning.” Here Gretchen has begun to gather songs for communities to sing together to create harmony in challenging times. Her website is inspired by the work of Joanna Macy known as the Work that Reconnects. The songs are chosen to inspire us as we play our part in making the shift to a life-sustaining society, referred to as the Great Turning. 

Here is a bit more about Gretchen’s website and story directly from her…


Q: Why did you become involved in Joanna Macy's work, The Work that Reconnects?

A: I was seeking practices and ideas to help guide me in how to be at this unique planet time, when the ways of one upstart species – us – have pushed us to the edge of global destruction. I was hoping for a bigger picture perspective, and some practical ways to deal with discouragement and despair.

Joanna has such a gift in weaving together the threads of deep ecology, engaged Buddhism and living systems theory in a way that makes sense of these edgy times we’re in. And it’s the interactive group practices of Work That Reconnects that have this magical way of relating those perspectives to my own experience, of encouraging wisdom to flow through me in a way that connects me with others and how things are. It is hard to explain. You just have to try it.

I’ve never been much of a follower, but Joanna for me is a guide and a true inspiration.

Q: Do you have a favorite song on the website? Why is it a favorite?

A: The Beauty of the Dancer by Sara Thomsen has long been a favorite of mine because the lyrics and the beauty of the song bring me instantly to that treasured place of gratitude and belonging. For me, there's nothing so satisfying as getting a bunch of people to make instant harmony singing the three background parts and then belting out the descant: “You are the beauty of the dancer, you are the beauty of the song, you are the beauty all around you, you're standing right where you belong.”

Q: What inspired you to create this website?

A: I had such a good time picking out songs to accompany the spiral of The Work That Reconnects and then leading participants in singing them at several workshops with Joanna over the past several years. I wanted people to be able to remember the songs, learn the parts and pass them on to others. A website would be the perfect way to do it, I thought. But it wasn’t until I teamed up with webmaestro Dennis Rivers that I was able to make the dream reality. 

Although the website was conceived primarily as a resource to complement The Work That Reconnects, people unfamiliar with Joanna's work are loving the songs and spreading them, which is exactly what I've been hoping for.

Q: When should we start watching for updates? We are going to need more songs soon! And can folks contribute songs to the website?

A: We've already been receiving suggestions of more songs to add, and hope to be adding more little by little. We enthusiastically welcome suggestions of songs that are easy to learn and sing in groups, are rhythmically and/or harmonically interesting and fit into the themes identified on the website (songs for Gratitude, Honoring our Pain for the World, Seeing with New Eyes, Going Forth and Building Community).

Q: Are there other ways to learn more songs like the ones on the website?

A: The songs on the website are just a fraction of the repertoire I’ve got up my sleeves! I'm available as songleader and workshop guide for groups and communities who would like to simply enjoy singing and learning the songs, or engage in Work That Reconnects practices interwoven with singing. I’ll be leading a Singing in the Great Turning workshop in Olympia, Washington, on Sept. 17-18, which is open to all. People can use the contact form on the website if they’d like more information about these offerings.


Q: What is your connection and experience with Journeys, and is there any connection between that and the website?

A: It’s all connected! In Spring of 2008 I had already inquired with Journeys about going on a Vision Quest, when I decided to attend a weekend workshop with Joanna in Seattle. Who should I meet there as fellow workshop participants? Darcy, director of Journeys, Randy, Journeys board member and one of the guides of the September Vision Quest and Artemis, one of the future Questers. The signs were clear: that weekend I confirmed my intention to join the September Quest, surfaced the idea of the website, and got a clearer sense of my gifts as a songleader. Then there's the amazing story of my September 2008 Quest itself, where the creatures and ancestors of the Chiwawa River Valley gifted me with their song and insights that continue to heal me and motivate my journey. But that’s a long story, for another time…


Please visit Gretchen's website, Songs for the Great Turning

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