Joanna Macy

Buddhist Scholar, Systems Theorist, Ecologist, Teacher : b. 1929
The most remarkable feature of this historical moment on Earth is not that we are on the way to destroying the world—we’ve actually been on the way for quite a while. It is that we are beginning to wake up, as from a millennia-long sleep, to a whole new relationship to our world, to ourselves and each other.


Joanna Macy bridges worlds, faiths and disciplines. As an author and experiential workshop leader, she brings Eastern and Western thought together, links the past and future with the present, and joins human consciousness with perspectives from other life forms. Macy calls this the "Work That Reconnects," and its purpose is to help people realize that being alive at this time is an extraordinary opportunity to influence the fate of the Earth and the survival of future generations.

Macy believes that a vast movement toward a life-sustaining society is gaining momentum against what she calls the Industrial Growth Society (IGS). The IGS, says Macy, treats the world as "our supply house and sewer". "You will not see this revolution [against IGS] on television," she says, since most media have been subsumed by the growth society. On her website, Macy chronicles the growth of movement that she and others call "the Great Turning".

Whether the life systems on which our existence relies can survive the IGS is the critical question. But, we don't need to know the answer in order to act, says Macy; the stakes are so high that intentional action to change our course is imperative. "The truth is that all aspects of the current crisis reflect the same mistake, setting ourselves apart and using others for our gain," she writes.

As a deep ecologist, Macy draws upon her doctorate in Buddhism and systems theory, on her experiences living in India and Africa and teaching, and on poetry and science to address the the grief, fear, sadness, uncertainty, and numbness that prevail in modern life. She turns our attention back to what is sacred and true, the wondrously interconnected and intelligent web of life.