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, 28 June 2017

Creating Us (Book Review)

In a world in which the neo-liberal globalising project robs us of our creativity and our souls, a book titled Creating Us is worth checking out.  So it is with Peter Westoby’s latest offering.  The sub-title - community work with soul - suggests that this is a book worth more than checking out – it is a book worth relishing.

For decades, centuries even, community workers and social justice activists have sought a better world.  We have sought that world in the mountains of idealism and the peaks of activism.  Community work has been redolent with visions, goals – an ever upward striving.

Westoby, in this book, encourages us to divert our gaze (at least occasionally) from the mountain tops towards the valleys and dales where soul resides.  He succinctly notes that “soulful energy within community work practice is … oriented towards gravity and earth, thereby implying a depth perspective.” 

Why is it important, or useful, for community workers to descend towards soul?  Westoby offers a number of answers to this question.

Soul allows us to experience life in greater quality.  Much of our socialised life is quantity driven – the need to get results and to make things happen.  Soul, Westoby claims, wants us to let go and “invites an embracing of community work as a responsive dance.”  Perhaps tragically, community workers can become so locked into making things happen that we forget the meaning of what we are doing.  That is what, he says, is what bringing a soulful approach to community work can guard against.

Looking around the world we can see the dominance of ego.  The ego, Westoby suggests, “wants control, domination and an unified story.”  Soul however, is more comfortable with “multiplicity and complexity,” and seeks these out, if we let it.  Increasingly it is becoming obvious that we must recognise and understand the realities of complexity.  Soul allows us to do this.

The reader of this short book (it is only 140 A5 pages long) will not be disappointed by Westoby’s more detailed musings on these and other answers to the question as to the importance or usefulness of soul in community work.

It is foremostly, a book of reflections.  It is a soulful book.  It is a enchanting book.  Westoby colours in theoretical outlines with stories from his own practice and pertinent quotes from soul thinkers – e.g. Rabindranath Tagore, James Hillman, Mary Watkins, and Thomas Moore.  Adding to the colour and poetic quality of the book are ten delightful Leunig cartoons.1

For those of us seeking a soulful approach to community work, social justice advocacy, or anyone desiring a better world, Creating Us is an excellent place to begin that journey, or indeed, be reminded of that journey if one has already begun.

To watch a 13 minute clip of Peter Westoby discussing the concept of soul in community work click here.

Notes:

1. Michael Leunig is an Australian cartoonist known for his wonderful, and sometimes cynical, yet always whimsical, commentaries on life and the human condition.

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