The New Story Summit: Voices of Youth

Excerpts from Kosmos Interviews with Nick Joyce and Joshua Gorman
Elder, Gigi Coyle, along with Findhorn community child, Aayana Ito, blow out the Summit candle with a blessing for the children.
Elder, Gigi Coyle, along with Findhorn community child, Aayana Ito, blow out the Summit candle with a blessing for the children.

Kosmos: When you were sharing with the group, you said, “I grew up too fast and didn’t know who I was. The drum changed my life.” Will you share that story?

Nick Joyce: Absolutely. I was raised cross-culturally, without religious dogma, with a lot of independence and a lot of responsibility and accountability. I had a breadth of experience and nurturing. I think, in the West, we have ‘helicopter parents,’ who are trying to deflect negative things coming towards their little ones, despite their actions. This teaches them that they can do whatever they want and it disempowers them from being accountable. I’m a very fiery and proactive individual. When I had deeper realizations and could see what was happening in the world around me, I felt that, at some point, I projected outwards a little too much. And—rather than looking to create a life for myself, I was trying to create change in the world around me. So when I say “I grew up too fast,” that’s what I’m referring to.

One of the elder women called forth the young women to offer a rite of passage from girlhood to womanhood.
One of the elder women called forth the young women to offer a rite of
passage from girlhood to womanhood.

How can we find a way in a world where it’s so time-based and many things are about to hit a tipping point or a point of no return? How can we give the young people who are ready to take action the space to also nurture themselves and become full individuals before they try to create change in the world? The first step is self-mastery and awareness of self. [If not]whatever it is that you’re creating in the world is going to be coming from a craving or desire or frustration, or gung-honess that can ultimately be a little bit damaging rather than creating something that’s grounded, balanced, heart-centered and expansive. I think that’s something that needs some looking at. Some intergenerational community is very empowering for that.

That’s part of what the drumming brought back into my life. I returned home from West Africa with the intention of raising money for an artist cooperative there, to help them move back to the land—also to create cultural immersion experiences between people from my country and people from their country. And in the process of having those drums and trying to sell them to send the money back, I ended up entering the world of the drum community in the United States. What I experienced there was real intergenerational community—coming together with no tension. In most cases it’s either, “I’m an elder, but my society only values me if I stay young, so I have to put down the young people so they don’t take over my position of power,” or the young people are so indoctrinated with that, or just needing to create change in the Now that they aren’t recognizing the importance of allowing in some of the wisdom of their elders. In the container of a drum circle, everybody’s kind of on an equal plane. It also teaches us how to communicate, really listen, and show up. If you’re in a drum circle and no one’s listening, it creates chaos—nothing’s matching up and it sounds terrible. But then if people are holding themselves back too much and haven’t learned how to listen and show up, it’s just incredibly boring.

Kosmos: So the second question is—are you experiencing other youth going through the same kind of experience that you describe? In my own words—almost emptiness—’cause I sense in you a deep, deep connect with spirit, with your own essence. You know that unmet needs drive behavior. So when there’s that big hole and we don’t feel alive with purpose and our essential self, it can be a very painful experience. Are other youth also experiencing what you’re experiencing?

Andreas Hernandez captures video of original music in the Sacred Garden at Findhorn with Matt Bailie on Handpan, Nick Joyce on Drum and Jonathan Santos on Guitar. | photography Dot Maver
Andreas Hernandez captures video of original music in the Sacred Garden at Findhorn with Matt Bailie on Handpan, Nick Joyce on Drum and Jonathan Santos on Guitar. | photography Dot Maver

NJ: Definitely. I think we’re living in a time when the holes in the old stories that we’ve grown up with are showing up more and more. This creates a need in people who are either highly intelligent or highly sensitive and these people are on the rise. I think that there’s really a field of awareness. And it grows the more that people pay attention to it. The phenomenon of young people awakening and seeing that there must be a better way of doing things, and also having the energy and the optimism to pursue it, is something that I encounter quite a lot. And in my personal passage, I’m trying to return to that place of growing up in a better way. It feels really odd and kind of calls me back to a place where I go deeper into myself again, and try to see what’s there. What is it that is really empowering in the transformation process? And essentially at 24-years-old, I’m playing the role of an elder in helping to steward some of these young people who are having these experiences. They are really looking to find a sense of purpose and connection to their essential selves, even in the container of, “Oh my God, so much is going wrong, we need to create change,” or “Oh my God, there are so many things that I want to do in my life, what am I going to do? What’s the choice?” We need to take the time to connect with the self first, and explore that self-mastery piece to better identify our new direction.

Kosmos: And as you speak to having the energy and optimism to fulfill your own passion and make your unique contribution in the world, share with us what’s up next for you. Because when the question was asked, “What are you doing in the next phase of your journey?” your radiatory presence filled the room.

NJ: From here at Findhorn, I’m going to be walking over land to Senegal for the Global Ecovillage Summit, where I’ll meet with a friend of mine and then continue on to Togo. That is the country in which the community that I’ve been working with for the past four years is located. And in April, we purchased a piece of land where we’ll be building a cultural immersion and sustainability education center. We’re trying to heal and work with new models of ecotourism, creating an experience of people coming from different countries to experience not just another country, but also each other and the people of that country. So rather than a backpack or lodge where you’re meeting other backpackers and maybe the local woman who turns down your bed at night, these people will be staying on a site where the local artists and musicians live and are living in a sustainable way. They’re growing their own food, building their own houses, and are really encouraged to continue to celebrate and embody their own culture. The sustainability education piece is to empower the local people to take their way of being in this community that we’re setting up and again break down that bubble. They can take what they’re learning from all of this cross-cultural exchange and go out and be ambassadors to the larger area.

And for me, there are a few dots on the map. I know where I’m going, but there’s also a lot of space in-between, which I think is really fitting for the time where I’m at in my life of really wanting to explore those deeper dimensions of myself. It is recognizing and being very open to the space in-between, and diving really deeply into that. I have no idea what will come in the two months and 4,000 miles walking to Senegal, or the subsequent 2,000 miles after that. But I know that it’s going to be good, and I know that it’s going to help me connect to myself and my purpose.

Kosmos: You have been working with youth for a number of years now, Joshua. How is the new generation different?

Joshua Gorman: There’s a new generation of young people waking up and coming of age all across the planet, a generation rising between an old world dying and a new world being born. We are the make it or break it generation. The all or nothing generation.

It’s the crucible through which civilization must pass or crash. That’s the significance of these times, the significance of who we are, that’s what we’re being called to. Young people today are being swept up by the new story and it’s defining our lives, it’s who we are, it’s what we’re up to and we see the new story is playing out in every sector of society and young people are often leading the way.

I see the new story happening in education where young people are self directing their own learning and realizing “I don’t need to go sit in that classroom and in that box, I can take my education and my learning into my own hands,” and they step out into the world and they’re beginning to engage with one another outside of the classroom. They’re beginning to engage with the process of life itself and finding their way forward. Education is going through a radical transformation that’s part of the new story. Young people are waking up and realizing that there’s a new story for politics in our time. It’s not an either/or politics, it’s a both/ and politics. It’s a politics of deeply listening and collaborating on behalf of the common good. It’s a politics of openness and transparency and participation, leveraging the technological tools that we have and the wisdom of listening to one another and sitting together in a circle and in groups and allowing the collective wisdom to inform our decisions as a community, as a nation, as a human family.

The new story is playing in the field of our environment, right? Young people are reconnecting with nature, with the natural world. We’re reshaping the way that we eat and the way that we engage with food, right? People are growing food locally, working to transform their schools and make sure that fresh and organic food is being served. The climate movement is probably the most vital youth and student movement of our time and young people get that, the era of fossil fuels is gone. It’s a new chapter of clean energy that comes from the wind and from the sun. We know that in our lifetime, we will no longer see exhaust coming from cars. We know that a clean energy future is in our midst. It’s already being born and we’re going to continue to make sure that that happens across the planet in every nation, in every community.

So the new story is playing out in every sector and we all have a role to play. Young people are finding their gifts, finding their passions, realizing that hey, we’re all in this together and we’re going to make it happen. That’s why we’re here, right? That’s why we’ve been born at this time to take the largest step that humanity has ever taken before, right? To step from an old world dying into this new world that’s being born.

Kosmos: Yesterday Nick Joyce said, “I really came here hoping I would meet a mentor, either an indigenous elder or an older person that I could connect with,” and he said, “I haven’t encountered anyone that I want to emulate.” What do you think about that?

JG: When I woke up and started to come of age, I had no mentors. I had no one to welcome me into this world, no one to help guide
me on my path. I think today’s young people are starving for elders—dying for love and connection and to be seen, to be held. We’re living in a culture where we’re coming of age in a society where our parents and our grandparents haven’t been initiated. What we’re being called for is to initiate each other into something that’s never existed before and so how do we do that? Who’s leading the way? It’s a new paradigm of mentorship where young people are mentoring their elders and elders are mentoring young people and together, we’re co-creating something new.

Kosmos: Why do you think so many are awakening at this time?

There is a convergence of crises that is awakening us and it’s calling us to rise to an entirely new way of being human on this planet. There’s a global consciousness that is shaping and forming that’s a part of this awakening and it’s coming through technology. It’s helping awaken us to the many cultures of our world and the many different ways of living. The environmental crisis itself is calling us to wake up and step into a new way of being human on this planet and to be in relationship with Mother Earth in a new way. The challenges are waking us up but also I am a deep believer in the evolution of human kind. I really do believe that we have come out of life, that we are an evolving species. So for me, adolescence is the age of awakening. It’s the time when we consciously come of age. Just like an individual goes through a process of awakening to our mature selves the human species also goes through a similar process. Right now we’re moving through our adolescence as a species and stepping into our adulthood and there’s a process of awakening unfolding as we develop from our younger selves as a species to our older selves.

I’ve faced the hardest of times. I spent years believing that there was no purpose or point or meaning to life at all and I almost gave up and I almost took my life. So I know how overwhelming these times are and how hard it is to believe that anything matters and that there is hope and purpose. I realized I was only focusing on one side of the story and it took a while to realize that there was a whole other side to the story of our times. Our world is broken and that is so true, but there’s another story unfolding and if you’re not connected to it and if you’re not aware of it, I just want to invite you to seek it out and begin to kind of step out of your comfort zone and seek out people who are part of a different story. Find people who are actually creating solutions. Find people who are saying no to this old world that doesn’t work and who are saying yes to a world that does work. Find people who are not just talking about it but creating it and they’re having fun. These are the revolutionaries. The artists, right? The entrepreneurs. The people who are on fire with creativity and they’re using that creativity to regenerate, renew, restore and refresh our world.

photography | Hege Sæbjørnsen, Dot Maver
photography | Hege Sæbjørnsen, Dot Maver

Top to bottom/left to right: original Findhorn garden gate; fire ritual to release what no longer serves; Jodie Evans shared her experience as a powerful activist for the new story; Sophy Banks gave a provocative talk on Transition Towns; one of many meditations at the plenary; Rachel Bagley stirring the crowd with her music; Charles Eisenstein, Bayo Akomalafe, Manish Jain being filmed by Rhonda Fabian and Andreas Hernandez in the garden; Leslie Quilty had the crowd in tears of laughter; Latin America open group that included Johnn Liu, Robert Steele, Ryan Lucky and Letisha Rigatti; Satish Kumar one of our respected elders; Andean medicine chief, Puma Quispe Singona, and Elisabet Sahtouris: Rhonda Fabian loving the Findhorn garden.