The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Wednesday 31 August 2016

All The Cs

Until recently western political and economic history has been characterised by five Cs: control, competition, conquest, colonisation, and consumption.

We have attempted to control everything from natural eco-systems to the ways in which we relate to one another.  This desire for control has often manifested in a conquest of nature, of other nations and peoples, and even of space.  The conquest of other peoples and lands has resulted in colonisation that continues to this day via economic means.

We have consumed our way through history.  We have consumed the resources of the earth at an ever increasing rate so that we are now witnessing the peak production of many of these resources. Western nations have consumed the lands, the forests and the fisheries of many indigenous nations around the world, leaving those people bereft of sustainable living conditions.

Now it would appear that our unrelenting consumptive lifestyles are threatening the very systems upon which we live; the inter-related system that is the Earth.

Four Other Cs

There are signs, however, that we may be moving towards a future characterised by four other Cs: connection, communication, creativity, and consciousness.

1.  Connection.  After many centuries of viewing ourselves as separate from others, separate from animals, separate from nature, there is a growing understanding that we are all connected, that everything is intimately connected with everything else – what Thich Nhat Hahn calls interbeing.  Of course, many eastern philosophies and indigenous cultures have been saying this for millennia.  In the last century though, western science has also begun to assert this truth.  Beginning with quantum physics and then other sciences such as meteorology, biology and genetics we can no longer claim to be isolated individuals.

2.  Communication. We have always communicated – that is true.  One difference today is that our technologies allow much faster, more widespread and more accessible means of communicating with one another.  A second difference is the techniques of communication that are being opened up via research and experimentation.  The skills of creative (or active) listening were not as widespread as they are today, even a couple of generations ago.  Nonviolent Communication (NVC) was only developed fifty years ago, and is now taught in around 40 countries.  The skills of conflict resolution, mediation, forgiveness, and restorative justice are gaining widespread acceptance.

3.  Creativity.  We have tended to ascribe creative talent to painters, writers, sculptors, dancers, musicians and other artists.  However, many people are recognising that we all have creative abilities.  Furthermore, we are exploring the realms of collective creativity – some are calling this co-creativity.  Tom Atlee has written extensively on co-creativity (and other related subjects) and notes that,1
“…when we are really proficient at co-creativity … we enhance productive self-organising systems … enhance serenity and … enhance openness and ability to learn.”
4. Consciousness.  We have been through the Agricultural Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and the Information Revolution.  We are now on the cusp of the Consciousness Revolution  It is in our collective consciousness that we must put our trust if we wish to pass on to our children and grandchildren a world that is worthwhile.  Xiuhtezcatl Martinez (the teenage founder of Earth Guardians) has eloquently expressed the need for a re-awakening of our consciousness:
“The biggest challenge we face is shifting human consciousness, not saving the planet.  The planet doesn’t need saving, we do.”
The signs are there – our consciousness is shifting.

Discovering, or re-awakening, our collective consciousness involves all three of the other Cs.  When we tap into our collective consciousness we discover our connections, our inter-relatedness, we learn to communicate effectively, we utilise our creativity.  Importantly we tap into the core of who we are as human beings and we notice that at that level we share a commonality with all others, including the myriad sentient beings upon the planet and indeed, the planet as a whole.

Are we shifting fast enough from the historic five Cs to the future four Cs?  Are we too late, meaning that we will descend into another two Cs – calamity and catastrophe?  Or are we evolving sufficiently for us to journey into the Cs of compassionate cooperation?


1. Tom Atlee, The Tao of Democracy, The Writers Collective, Cranston, Rhode Island, 2003

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Throw Down The Sword

“I have to be a warrior, a slave I cannot be
A soldier and a conqueror, fighting to be free.”
So went a couple of lines from the 1972 song “Warrior” by the English rock band Wishbone Ash. Man the Warrior has been, and still is, a “legitimate” career and profession for many men, with a number of countries now also permitting women to join the front-line of their militaries.  Man the Warrior has also been a prevailing archetype for many men for centuries, possibly millennia.

Men have been the the conqueror, the hunter, the provider, the powerful one in the interplay between men and women.  Today, many of these gender role divisions are breaking down and being redefined and redistributed.  And, not before time.

However, the warrior image remains embedded within men’s psyches and modes of being.  Even parts of the men's movement continues to give credence to the image.  Many writings on masculinity suggest four archetypes: King, Magician, Lover and WarriorA number of attributes are associated with The Warrior archetype, including; purpose, vigilance, courage, adaptability, decisiveness, loyalty, skillfulness, discipline.

The warrior metaphor, unfortunately, also conjures up images of power over, hierarchy, aggression, conflict, dominance, competition, and uncomplaining stoicism.  This image has marched young men off to war at the decree of hawkish political leaders.  This image has led men to become the puppets of captains of industry and capitalism.  Psychologically and emotionally the image has been elemental in the high incidence of mental health issues for men.  All three of these effects of the Man as Warrior metaphor are linked.  As an example consider the fact that the number of US war veterans who commit suicide significantly outnumber the number killed in active service.
The psychiatrist and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) researcher, Bessel van der Kolk, relates the story of a Vietnam War veteran he was working with.  When the veteran heard the wails of a child he “found himself suddenly flooded with unbearable images of dying children in Vietnam.”  This is just one aspect of the psychological impact of PTSD on men.

But trauma can be brought about by a compounding of incidents.  Men are cajoled to contain their emotion from a very early age.  Men are pressured to “man up” from their teenage years onwards.  Any sign of “feminine” emotionality or unmanly behaviour (such as gayness, bisexuality, or transgender tendencies) are likely to lead to being bullied.  After decades of this onslaught is it any wonder that men may be experiencing sublimated PTSD?

Not only is this warrior image damaging to men, it is devastating for women, children, other cultures, and the planet as a whole.  The domineering and hierarchical images within the warrior metaphor lead directly to misogyny, domestic violence, rape, environmental destruction and war – the crucible of the warrior.

I Don’t Have To Be A Warrior

But we men do not have to be warriors.  We can, and are, transcending this archetype.  Years ago Carl Jung asserted that within men there were the same qualities as within women , and vice versa.  Men can tap into these qualities: qualities of compassion, empathy, forgiveness, humility, and most importantly vulnerability.  We men must shed our armour of invulnerability, lay down our shield of invincibility.  We must throw away our swords of domination and aggression. 

There are signs that men are doing so.  For many men this a frightening journey because it challenges most of the stories that we have been told about what a  man is.  This should not prove too difficult though.  After all, one of the stories that we get told is that, as men, we must face our challenges.

Yes, we men must put aside the Man as Warrior archetype.  Interestingly, when Wishbone Ash recorded the song “Warrior” for their 1972 album1 the song that followed was “Throw Down The Sword.”

Men – it’s time to throw down the sword. 

1. Wishbone Ash, Argus, Decca Records, 1972

Wednesday 17 August 2016

A Smile to Break the Ice

They’re called icebreakers – those quick, fun, active games that get thrown into workshops, seminars or symposia.  Some are used to deliberately interrupt a session to relieve possible inattention.  Some have a learning element.  Some are used just as the name suggests, to break the ice, and have a bit of fun.
What better way to break the ice than with a smile.  Smiles can be contagious.  Try walking down the road and smiling at people.  More often than not you’ll be rewarded with a smile in return.  Here’s a quick icebreaker game that uses smiles - and frowns.

1.  The facilitator asks participants to pair up.
2.  Once in pairs, ask the pairs to quickly touch one another on the shoulder.  Then announce that the person who was quickest to touch the other is person A and the other is person B.
3.  Have the pairs face each other.  Then announce that when you say “go” person A is to smile and person B is to frown.  Advise participants to keep their eyes open during the game so that they can see the face of the other person in the pair.  This game is best done without either person in the pairs speaking.
4.  Tell participants to relax and to allow whatever happens to happen, to not force anything. 
5.  Say “go” and let the pairs see what happens.
6.  After half a minute or so announce the end of the game.
7.  Ask for feedback, comments, or insights.  Get a show of hands as to how many pairs experienced the smile passing from person A to person B.  Ask if the opposite happened for any pair (i.e. the frown passed from person B to person A).

Smile Research

There is a well known saying that advises
 “smile and the world smiles with you, frown and you frown alone.”
In 1991 two researchers from North Dakota State University decided to test this age-long piece of wisdom.1`  They studied the likelihood of someone responding to a smile with a smile, a frown, or a neutral response.  They looked also at what happens when the subject is faced with a frown.  Their results showed a clear support for the wisdom of the ages.  Over 50% of their subjects responded to smiles with a smile.  However the likelihood of a frown eliciting a frown was significantly less – about 7%.

The researchers also studied the difference between men and women.  What they found suggested a definite difference between the sexes.  Women were more likely to respond to a smile with a smile irrespective of the gender of the person offering them a smile.  Men, however, were more likely to respond to a smile with a smile if the person offering the smile was a woman. 

Both sexes responded to a woman’s smile with a smile themselves with about the same incidence.  However, if the smile originated from a man the likelihood that a man would respond with a smile dropped by almost one-half, whereas for women there was no noticeable difference.

The likelihood of a frown eliciting a frown in response was very low with a variety of other responses being more prevalent, ranging from bewilderment to neutrality.  It was noticeable that if the originating frown came from a man then the likelihood that the response would be another frown was higher than if the original frown came from a woman. 

Why the difference between men and women?  The researchers did not offer much speculation on this beyond suggesting that “although males are capable of intimate interactions, they choose not to.”  What is going on?  Is it an evolutionary throw-back to times when male leaders of a clan were unwilling to enter into an intimate interaction with other males for fear that they might be wanting to overthrow them?

If this is so, then men must seek to find the key that will allow them to find release from this trap.  The days of domination and hierarchies are dissolving and men must look to their consciousness and hearts to find ways to feel comfortable in a new reality.

Put a Smile in Your Bag of Tricks

Those facilitating community development or social justice processes have a bag-of-tricks that they go to for various situations.  This icebreaker game is one that you can pop into that bag and help to elicit some smiles in your workshops.


1. Verlin B Hinsz & Judith A Tomhave, Smile and (Half) the World Smiles With You, Frown and You Frown Alone, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol 17, No 5, October 1991, pp 586-592 

Tuesday 9 August 2016

Happy Polluters

The Happy Planet Index formula
This week two events occurred that need to be thought of together.  The World Happiness Report 2016 was released, and on 8 August the Earth reached Overshoot Day.  The first, obviously, reports on human happiness.  The second is a chronological recognition of the day that we humans have used up more resources and added more waste than the Earth can sustain for that year. 

Why think of these together?  What comfort is it if we are becoming more and more happy if we are polluting the very system that sustains us and allows us to seek lives of happiness and well-being?

The World Happiness Report is the fourth to be released – the first one being in 2012.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, the happiest nations on Earth are the western-styled nations, with the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden) along with Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand and Australia making up the top 10.

At the other end of the scale the bottom 10 are made up of eight African nations, plus Afghanistan and Syria.  Undoubtedly the war in these two nations have significant impacts upon the happiness levels of people living in those nations.

However, a table in the World Happiness Report traces the changes in happiness from 2005-07 to 2013-15.  It is noteworthy that all of the top 10 happiest nations had either no increase in their happiness levels in that time, or decreased in happiness.

Yet, as Overshoot Day illustrates, in that time we have consumed more and more and wasted more and more.  In 2005 Overshoot Day was 29 August, and in 2013 it fell on 10 August – almost three weeks earlier. 

Overshoot Day is calculated by comparing our ecological footprint with our biocapacity1 and determining when our ecological footprint overshoots our biocapacity.  If we look at the ecological footprint on a per capita country-by-country basis then a disturbing fact emerges.  Of the ten happiest nations on Earth, all of them are in the top 31 most unsustainable nations on Earth in terms of their ecological impact.  In fact, three of them, Australia (2nd), Canada (4th) and Sweden (9th) are amongst the ten most unsustainable nations on Earth (per capita).

Are we in the western-styled nations exulting in our happiness at the expense of an ever unhappier planet?

Our consuming and wasting lifestyles are not providing us with greater levels of happiness.  Indeed, it could be asked whether the deterioration of the eco-system that we live in has a negative impact upon our happiness levels?  if that is true, then indications are that levels of depression, anxiety and suicide are likely to continue to rise over the coming decades.

This all begs the question: can we be happy and live sustainable lives at the same time?

Another index is helpful when considering how to answer this question.  The Happy Planet Index (HPI) produced by the new economics foundation in the UK combines four elements to calculate the HPI.  The four elements are: well-being, life expectancy, inequality of outcomes, and ecological footprint.

When this formula is applied on a country-by-country basis we get an altogether different picture of the relationship between happiness and sustainability.  Those top ten happiest nations slip embarrassingly backward.  Highest is Norway at 12th, but then the rest fare badly indeed with Sweden at 61st, Canada 85th and Australia not even making the top 100 – at 105th.  140 nations make up the HPI listing.

At the top of the rankings (for the third time) is Costa Rica which abolished its army in 1949 and diverted defence spending to education, health, and pensions.  The Caribbean nation obtains 99% of it’s electricity from renewable resources and has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2021.

It would seem that it is possible for humans to be happy and for the planet to be happy also.  It takes commitment.  Do we have it?


1. Ecological footprint is defined as the area of biologically productive land and water required to produce all the resources a population consumes plus the ability to absorb the waste it generates.  Biocapacity refers to the capacity of ecosystems to regenerate what people demand from these systems.  It is the capacity to produce the biological materials used by humans and absorb the waste material generated by humans.

Tuesday 2 August 2016

Three Simple Name Games

When groups first form there will be many within the group who do not know each other.  Knowing the names of others in the group is an important first step in group formation.  But many of us are not very good at remembering names, mainly because we do not practise.   However, we do know that if names are repeated, especially if said aloud, then the possibility of remembering those names is increased significantly.  Here are three very simple exercises that groups can use to help participants get to know the names of others in the group.

Hullo Adam, I’m Betty

I’ve named this game after my parents, and because A and B are at the beginning of the alphabet.

Group members sit (or stand) in a circle.  One person starts by saying “Hullo, I’m Adam” (or whatever their name is.  The next person in the circle turns to them and says “Hullo Adam, I’m Betty” (or whatever their name is.  The third person in the circle then looks at the previous two and addresses each of them in turn, saying “Hullo Adam, hullo Betty, I’m Charles” (or whatever their name is)

This continues around the circle, with each person in turn saying “hullo” to each of the preceding people in the circle.  So, for example the sixth person in the circle may say “Hullo Adam, hullo, Betty, hullo Charles, hullo Debbie, hullo Eric, I’m Fran.”  And so on.  This continues until the circle is completed.

If people forget names then the rest of the group should help them out.  This is not a competitive game, with the winner being the person best remembering names.  it is a collective game designed to help everyone in the group begin to know the names of others in the group.

Variation:  When the circle has been completed, the person who began the introductions (Adam in our example) then repeats all the names in reverse order, ending with “… hullo Charles, hullo Betty.”

Bouncing Names Around

This name game needs a simple prop such as a cuddly toy or a small ball – something that can be tossed easily around the group, and easily caught.

The person beginning picks another person in the group and asks them their name (if they do not already know it.)  They then toss the object to that person, meanwhile calling out that person’s name.  That person, in turn, chooses someone else in the group to toss the object to, calling out the name of the person as they do so.  This continues, so that everyone in the group has had the object thrown to them.  Keep repeating this until people think that they have got the name of everyone else into their memory. 

Find Me

This game needs a small piece of paper or a card for each person in the group. 

Each person prints (legibly) their first (and maybe the initial of their family name) name onto a card and places it in a container in the centre of the room.  Once everyone has added their name to the container each member of the group then picks a name from the container at random.  Their task then is to find the person with that name by moving about the group asking others if they have that name or if they know who it belongs to.

Once everyone has identified the person with the name they picked the cards are replaced in the container and everyone draws out another name and attempt to find that person.

There can be more than one person in the group with the same first name.  In order to distinguish between people with the same name the family initial can be used.

Once this has been done four or five times the group returns to a circle.  Each person then takes it in turn to introduce one of the people that they “found” in the previous part of the game.

Have fun with the name games.  Invent your own.  Remember it is not a competition and others should help those who are having difficulty remembering names.